As well of being too proud of his name Patrick Martin was a lazy man. If there was an opportunity to turn over and pull back the covers for another few minutes more in his bed he would take it.
It had taken him some years to realise that a shave in the morning was all but a waste of time if all that he was going to do in a day was walk through the field with his cows and take a drive at his tractor before stopping in the pub. There was no one to bother him about his stubble, at least no one that mattered after his mother had died, and so he took to taking an additional few minutes in bed each morning during the week, Monday to Friday, and he would leave off a shave until Saturday. Siobhan, his wife, would tell him for a while that he was too rough to kiss, but then there were benefits in not kissing him so she kept quiet after that.
On the Saturday morning after he’d been slapped round his chops with a mackerel Patrick Martin stood in front of a dirty mirror and blinked and then stared in his face. The sink was full of hot mild water and he had ready in his left hand a dab of white shaving foam and his right hand was in the water ready to cup it up to his face so that he could rub the softening foam into his whiskers. He blinked and stared again.
The mirror was dirty and old and and silver sheen at the back that gave the reflection to his face was cracked. But he had been looking at this mirror for twenty odd years and he could see that something was wrong.
‘Siobhan,’ he shouted. ‘Are you down there? Come look at this and tell me if I have some dandruff here on my chin.’
He stared again peering close now at the mirror trying to look down focus as he did so. His eyes were still bleary from the beer and as he stared the colours started to blur.
If he had been able to bring his eyes into line then he would have seen that caught in the rough black scrub on his cheeks and chin were the fine silver pink flakes of a slapped mackerels scales. Their colour was dull in the dim light of his bathroom but if it had been bright then there was enough of them caught there to have lit up the bottom of his face.
But Siobhan was ignoring him and he lifted his right hand and washed the flakes from his face before rubbing in the shaving foam. As his fingers moved over the skin there was a slight tingle and tightening of the nerves from the forgotten wet slap of the previous night.