Pairic’s house had a warm range and bright lights and a lino floor.
Out in the country, real country, twenty miles from the nearest town.
A dog called Patch that smelled like a wet sheep.
The wife came in and she said to Pairic: ‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘I’m changin this over.’ He said.
She looked at me then.
Forms out on the kitchen table.
‘Changing what over??’ She said.
‘Never mind.’ He said. ‘I’m savin money, that’s all you need to know.’
‘THAT IS NOT all I need to know – what are you doing? If it’s anythin like last time we won’t have lights for a week.’
‘Aragh will you shag off! Where’s my dinner?’
‘Your dinner. Your dinner. Your dinner. What am I, your slave?’
‘Is it there or not?’
‘Tis, but, don’t be signin anythin stupid. That’s all I’m sayin, Pairic. Honest to God….’
The daughter arrived in then. Looked at me.
Forms out on the table.
And she said: ‘What’re you doing dad?’
‘I’m changin this over.’ Said Pairic, with tested patience.
‘No you’re not.’ She said. ‘Remember last time? I’m tryin to study. Don’t mess anythin up.’
‘I won’t mess anythin up, sure! This man says there’ll be no problems.’
‘Oh this man.’ Said the wife in practiced sarcasm. ‘And where’ll this man be when we’re walkin around in the dark?’
‘Sure it won’t get dark, well it might if we have to keep payin the the bills we’re payin, but sure, who cares about that, let Pairic pay that, sure he’s only an ass….’
‘What’s wrong with you, dad?’ Asked the daughter.
‘He’s cracked.’ Said the wife. ‘Stone mad.’
‘Ok, I’ll tell you what I’ll do.’ Said Pairic, like a man that had had enough. ‘I’ll get my own account for myself and I’ll pay the cheap price, and ye can all club together then and pay the dear one, and we’ll see who’s laughing then in six months time.’ He looked at me. ‘You can do that, can’t ya? Split the house in two and let them feck off and do their down thing?’
‘Not really, no.’
‘Ah, shittt so.’
‘I think you took the wrong tablets this morning, Pairic.’ Said the wife.
‘Just leave it!’ Said the daughter. ‘Don’t change anything!’
And she walked out and slammed the door.
The wife left down the dinner.
Big thick chops and a mountain of carrots and mash.
He sat down to eat and had to dig in from the top down so his elbows were elevated. He looked like someone about to imitate a chicken.
‘Now.’ Said the wife. ‘I think I’ll go watch the telly.’
‘Are you not goin to make this man a cup of tea?’ Asked Pairic, pointing a fork at me.
‘You make it.’ She said. ‘You brought him here!’
And she left.
‘Isn’t it awful?’ He said. After she left.
‘Aragh, she might be right if you’re nervous about things goin wrong.’
‘Sure they won’t go wrong, will they?’
‘They shouldn’t. It all seems fine.’
‘Now. Well. Isn’t that it?’
He took a an indulgent slug of milk.
Ate some more.
Seemed to remember I was there and asked: ‘What do I sign?’
With a full mouth.
Then he got up before I answered and filled me a cup of tea from the kettle off the range. ‘D’you want milk and sugar?’
‘Just milk. Good man.’
He rattled the spoon in the cup as he brought it over.
Ting ting ting.
‘Drink that. Are them the forms there?’
‘Will you have a bitta chop?’
‘No thanks, Pairic. You’re grand.’
‘Good man, good man, good man. Are you long at this?’