‘What do you go back for? You are here for your two weeks in the summer and you’re back here again when you can and I’ve heard you say it that away from here you’re never really sure if you’re ok. Away from here and no feckin’ pint in your hand it is only “I think.” well what is the feckin’ good is “I think.” ‘
‘Sinead,’ he said. ‘Will you set up two more pints for us both I have to tell this man something and he needs to listen close.’
He steadied himself with his hands against the wooden bar. His hands were big and heavy and the joints in his fingers were thick with use and the weather.
‘Now I’ve asked you that question and I know your answer. You have a nice home there to go to and a job that pays for it all. But what the feck is a job. A job is a way to knit your bones together and when you are tied up in knots and can’t move well then you drop dead and what the feckin’ use are you dead.’
He picked up my right hand and pushed at the palm hard with his thumb. He looked at me with his blue eyes and I had to look away to where Sinead was pouring the pints.
‘Your fingers are soft with money,’ he said. ‘Back there you’ll sit at a chair and there’ll be a screen in front of you and you’ll tap at some words. Is that what you do? Feck the money’ll be good but you’ll be a fool to want it for that.’
He put my hand down as Sinead put the pints in front of us. We picked them up and drank at them keenly. We were onto our fourth pint.
‘Look out there,’ he said. ‘The rain it will stop soon and there’ll be mackerel out in the bay. You’ll take your boat out and catch some tomorrow but wait ’til the late afternoon and the tide will have turned and you will get a bucket full then. Cook them and eat them straight out of the water and you will be done.’
‘You’ll be half right,’ he said. ‘It is not so good here when you are here every day and its not stopped raining for a month and there is feck all to do but catch fish that are gone and sit and talk about the weather. The ground here is hard and when its not hard it is thick with mud and try make your peace with that. But there’ll come a time or a day when the knots that come with all that will start to unravel for a while and you won’t get that back where you come from.’
‘Listen,’ he said. ‘Listen, I’m talking shite.’ This time he put his hand over mine on the bar and I could feel the weight of him pressing down before he took his hand away to pick up his pint.
‘Now a pint will unravel you soon enough but I come back to my question and why do you go back?’