There was another two weeks that went by before the feck Patrick Martin was sat in here again on a Saturday morning. The curtains had only just opened and it wasn’t past midday but he sat here on one of those tall stools and put his arms on the bar.
“Mary. Mary, can I have a pint now and be quick with it. I have no time today to let it rest and Mary can I have a follow up quick to help it go down.’
Mary filled the pint glass as she always does and she didn’t give it any hurry. As she let it rest on its tray she filled a small glass with Powers and put it front of him. He drank at it quickly.
‘I’ll have another one Mary.’
One of the other men stood at the bar was about to say something but he paused when he saw Patrick’s face. He was clean shaven and on each of his cheeks could be seen the distinct mark of a mackerel, its head and eye and half opened mouth etched a faint pink on his skin.
‘You can see it can’t you. How the feck now did I get marked with a mackerel like this. I am here last night and I have a few pints, I go home and I go to bed and I stand in front of my mirror and as I shave my feckin’ beard off this morning these feckin’ fish appear on my cheeks. And I come downstairs after that and she’s cooking the feckin’ things for my breakfast. I told her, give them to the cat, I’m not eating them today. What the feck did I do to a mackerel to have them on my cheeks like this.’
“You had for breakfast didn’t you?’ the man said.
‘Every feckin’ man has mackerel for breakfast but that doesn’t mean he starts his day with the feckin’ things on his cheeks. If I wanted a tattoo there’s a place in Bantry that does it but I don’t want a feckin’ tattoo and I don’t want a mackerel on my face.’
‘Were they there yesterday?’ the man asked.
‘How the feck should I know if they were there yesterday. Yesterday I had a beard. I shaved the thing off this morning and now I have these on my cheeks.’
Mary put the pint in front of him and he drank at it greedily almost half the glass gone before he put it back on the bar.
‘Have you thought about not shaving?’
‘No I have not thought about and do you want to know why. I don’t want a beard not all the time. I want to be able to shave on a Saturday morning and not have a fishes eye looking back at me in the mirror.’
‘Did Siobhan say anything?’
‘Siobhan isn’t talking to me and on the whole I am happier with that. the woman is nothing but tongue when she does talk. All she does is give me a plateful of fish and expect me to eat it looking like this. She does not say a word.’
The man doesn’t say anything and he lets Patrick Martin finish his pint. But the man has in his mind the bucket of mackerel he saw Siobhan Martin pick up from the pier that Friday afternoon and her determined walk as she took it back home.