Chapter 4: Michael Kilkenny’s Wake

Posted on March 17, 2013

4



On account of it being St. Patrick’s day and all, I give you two installments. For the Finneys, including of course Bettey, my mom, and Claire her mom.

Author’s Notes

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

4 Twice Kilt

“A wake! Wailed Michael, as if he had all of the genuine emotions of a mourning man. “I thought dying was going to save meself and here it has kilt me twice!”

“Michael, what could be easier than lying in your good suit like an after-church nap?”

“And how am I convincing the Father to go along?” All heads swung towards the bar where the good father, who clearly had been following the conversation, was chatting with Peter over a pint,.

“These are weighty matters you we are discussing. I will be adding greatly to the poor man’s sins. I can feel the heavenly scales tipping even as we speak,” says the Father.

“Surely, we have a marvelous God, who gives us the chance to balance those scales as we go, and not have the whole weight on us at the end. What do you suppose our poor dear Michael, a man who lately has contributed so much to our poor community,” and here I put my arm around him, “could do to balance the scales?”

“Well, 120d in the plate would do it,” Michael groaned. “Plus seventy Hail Marys, and seven weeks straight him sitting in a pew and not the pub as is his normal constitution.” Michael had gone as white as if he had spent the summer in gaol.

“Father,” says he.

“Eighty Hail Marys, and Eight weeks, plus I should be getting paid for the wake, in advance, say another twenty 120d.”

Michael looked at me. “And I don’t suppose, Father, you could be sparing wee glass of the holy spirit tonight on account of I won’t be able to partake when me final debt comes due?”

“I will even arrange for the ladies to make the casseroles.”

And so they clinked glasses of water of life to seal the deal.

Next morning, I sent Thaddeus, the tailor over to the widow’s. It wouldn’t be no fancy suit, but it wouldn’t be no fancy wake neither. After Thaddeus left, I sent Roberta, my daughter, dressed in her best yellow pinafore to show Mr. Thompkins around. She’s as purty as a full pint and there’s nothing like a comely lass to set a man’s mind aside from what’s at hand. She was under firm instruction to traipse him over heather and moor until he was as tired as an old saw. And that she did. They were seen up at the monastery ruin and the old stones, down by the hedgerow, but always it seems near the water.

I ran around all day, and finally stopped by the pub looking for Michael. He was recruiting “friends” for the wake, totally unnecessary as not one person in town would miss the theatrical event of the season, a show destined for a one-night run no matter how good the cast. He was into his cups for sure when I found him.

Nobody was more surprised than Michael when Roberta and John walked into the pub in the late afternoon. He fell off his stool in his scramble to hide behind the bar. “What is she doing here? “ he hissed. I looked over and barely recognized her. She was in woolen trews, with a grandfather’s mandarin shirt and had her hair done up under a cap.

“Well, halloo,” says he to me. “Your boy here nearly wore me out.”

“Me boy?” Says I looking across at her, burning in shame to be dressed like a man and belly up to the bar.

“Indeed, isn’t that right Bobby?” He slaps her on the back and I dare say she stood up to it with a bit of spit. “I’m right parched, why don’t I buy all of you a pint? And whatever my man Bobby here wants for the evening.”

At this Michael starts to raise his hand up to the bar to put his empty up for a refill, and I had to slap it down. “Shouldn’t you be getting ready for your wake?” I hissed to him over the bar. He looked up at me, nips a bottle off the shelf he does and scurries out the kitchen. No good could come of that, I thought.

Peter looked over from pulling a pint, gave me a wink and a smile and said “It’s alright, I’ll just put it on his tab.”

I was groaning with my head in my hands.

“I tell you, Peter, there is some mighty fine water here. Fine as anything in the Catskills. Fine as Nova Scotia. It was all I could do not to run back to the Widow’s and grab my rod, but every time I tried Bobby led me further afield. Did you hear back from the lord?”

I was watching Roberta toss back her pint like she was Michael herself and started stuttering. “I, uh, I’ve been preoccupied with the wake, sir, and did not yet track that down.”

“Oh, my manners.” Says he. “Of course. Let’s have another round for poor dear Michael.”

Shamus raised a glass, with a wink and a nod, “And damn poor timing on that, him missing all of these pints to his health.” That broke the tension and they gathered around him to talk fishing and other manly things.

I dashed over and grabbed Roberta as she held up her hand for another pint. “Lass, what are you doing?”

“You said to keep him busy…”

“Not that, that,” says I smacking her on the cap.

“Oh. Well, it’s like this da’, I was on my way and sure enough Paul starts to teasing me. We starts to scuffle and next thing I know I’m rolling in the mud, my best dress ruined and me late to meet the American.”

Paul was my youngest, too young to know when to stop sometimes, and him and his sister carried on like Picts. “And what did you do?”

“I made him take his clothes off and give them to me. I didn’t realize Mr. Thompkins would think I was a boy!” She made a moue in his direction. “I’m a fair comely lass I am, and I couldna tell him so if he dinna see it.”

Oh, her Irish was up I could see it. She had her mother in her.

Speaking of her mother, I had a feeling I would be on her dark side should I make it home tonight. “And did you leave Paulie naked in the lane?”

She put her hand to her mouth as if shocked at the very suggestion. “Why no da’, I gave him me dress, and I told him it better be clean and dry so I can wear it to the wake tonight!” She put her hands on her hips and pressed her lips together.

“You sent your brother off dressed like a girl!”

“And me like a boy! What is the greater shame of it, and you be taking his side on this.”

“And now you are drinking at the bar like a full man, you are taking to this a bit fast I would think. What would your mother think?”

She winked at me. “I’m doing what you asked da’, I don’t think you want her to know.”

I groaned. Why was I paying for Michael’s sins?

“We had both better get ready for the wake, my dear.” She knocked back the third pint as neat as the first and we scuttled out the side after Michael.

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