A Mackerel Slapped Man – Part One

Now did you hear about the feck Patrick Martin and his disappointed wife.

He was a bit too pleased with that name and would let no man call him Paddy.

‘If it was the Saint Patrick standing here in front of yer you would not be calling him Paddy. So if was good enough for a saint it’s good enough for me and so you can call me Patrick.’

He’d say that sitting in here and there wouldn’t be a smile on his lips and the feck couldn’t see those that might be smiling about him. So we kept him happy and when he was here we called him Patrick and he’d knock back a glass with us but once he was out of the door we called him anything but.

‘Mostly we called him The Feck,’ the man said. ‘Give a man enough rope and any of us could answer to that after enough time has passed.’

There may have been that talk of his name and a saint but that didn’t stop him coming in here on a Friday night and drinking his way through the evening.  And when he had finished he’d climb into his car and make his way back up the hill to his home. There are corners on that road and plenty of trees and after a few years his car became just a bent corner of rust with the things he’d knock into to get home. When he was there he’d sit for a while at the table he had his kitchen listening to his wife have her say at him for being drunk again and the damage he’d done to the car and then he’d take himself off to bed.

His wife was Siobhan and there was a mystery as to why she had married him and after twenty five years it was just as much a mystery to her as to anyone else. She worked for the two of them and had his meals on the table.

‘Now that is right,’ the man said. ‘There was a mystery around Siobhan Martin.’ He wiped at his mouth with his fingers.

There was nothing Siobhan could say after twenty five years to get him to put a halt to his Friday nights and on the Saturday morning he’d forget what had been said to him and she would put it behind her.

But there was one Friday night she was having her say at him and he was sat at the table a stupid look on his face and his eyes half up in his forehead as he got ready for sleep and some of the frustration of the wasted twenty five years took a hold of her and words were not enough for once and she needed to take something up against him. She had sense enough not to hit him with something hard but there by her sink there was bucket of mackerel she’d picked up from the pier that afternoon. She took up one of those fish by its tail and held it tight in her fist and forcefully lay it across his two cheeks. First on his left cheek and then back across the right.

He sat there still his eyes up in his forehead and so she took the fish to his cheeks again. She did it again but this time with more force and with that the fish slipped from her hand and slid across the kitchen floor.

He took himself up then standing with a bent back and shaking his head he made for the stairs and to bed.

Siobhan gathered herself together and picked up the fish. She filleted it along with the others in the bucket so the evidence was gone and then she went to sleep to dream of mackerel and she put to the back her mind any thought of the morning.

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