Having shaved his face Patrick Martin sat down in his kitchen and ate four thin fillets of mackerel, dredged in plain flour and cooked in bacon fat. The rich taste of the fish, which had been out of sea less than 24 hours, settled his stomach from the disturbances of the previous evening and he put out of his mind the the white flakes he’d seen is beard that morning. Having finished his fish he put on a dirty green coat and pulled on a pair of muddy grey boots and went out for his day. There was a field of heifers that needed moving. He would not be back before evening.
Siobhan had kept out of his way the time he had shaken himself out of bed, shaved and eaten his breakfast. She knew he had been full on drink the night before but she worried that somewhere in the clamour of his brain he might have caught the image of her bearing down on him with a mackerel in her right hand. But apart from the questioning over the dandruff on his chin he had suspected nothing. She went about her day and tried not to remember the pleasure that had coursed through her as she had taken the fish to his chops.
Three weeks went by and there was no further incidents with mackerel. He continued with his drinking and she resumed her cursing and shout as he sat dumb and stupid late at night at their kitchen table.
But it was early summer and the fish were coming back to the bay to feed in quantity and there were not many days that went by when there wasn’t a man and his boat by the pier ready to giving a bagful of the fish away. If she past past the pier Siobhan would eye up the silver fish and then walk on quickly putting the thought behind her.
But there was one Friday she had to pause and before she could stop herself she was walking up the length of the pier to were Joe Tobin was tying up his boat. She pulled out a plastic bag from her pocket and asked if he had a few fish to spare.
He had and he passed over four of them which she carried back home in her bag.
The following morning Patrick Martin was again stood in front of his mirror and for a second time he paused before lifting the water to his chin puzzling over the white silver flakes that covered the lower part of his face. But he was unthinking man and having stopped with his blinking he lifted right hand and ran the hot water over his face. When he had finished his shave and rinsed the residue of of foam away he looked again in the mirror and there on his left cheek he could see the faint red and blue shadow, the mark of where he had been slapped with a mackerel.