by Brendan Strong
It is cold and Matthew Martinson is waiting on the street, right by the entrance there. He is waiting for her. She should be here. She will be here, despite it all. It’s been two weeks, which is time enough. Hopefully.
In the heat of a pub’s open fire Micheál’s face reddens. He drinks a shot of Jemmy, straight. Hot inside, warm out. The heat makes the close air heavy. Hard to breathe. He is looking through the crowd, past the edge of the bar, through the arch between it and the wall, to the door. It opens and closes. Cold air would breeze through it when it opens; he knows that. But it does not reach him. Does not refresh him. He steps toward the crowd, then back. Yes, says the girl behind the bar. Pint and a Jemmy, says Micheál, rubbing the back of his hot neck, trying to muscle up a fan of cooler air.
They – they always say – always say it is never enough to have. One must do. And these ideas swirl round, like the vortex spiralling down a plug hole. So much used water to be expelled. Nothing done with it. The water is used, like a mind, but then turns to refuse. Like a mind. Mind you, it cannot be all bad. It cannot be all. It cannot all be. If you see what I mean.
They hunted for some time. Enjoying the cold air, cutting through lazy last-night heads. Looking out over grass, toward something. Toward game. One raises his iron, lines it up with his eye, and with a quick shudder to his shoulder and a crack to the air. What next? They wonder. They wander.