6. The Presentation

Brian was a fairly dour man it has to be said. Seeing all those thousands passing hands when his salary barely reached 4 figures bugged him. He didn’t have much of a sense of humour at all. Much of it was to do with his wife. She was as miserable as sin even on sunny days. He openly admitted she’d got a face a dog wouldn’t lick and a mere week after their marriage, he was resigned to a sexless life after he’d mentioned something about her getting a nose job like the one Cilla Black had.

He last had sex, if you could call it that, 12 years ago fumbling about under the canal viaduct, water dripping down his neck from a green mossy like thing dangling from the roof and her telling him to hurry up because she thought she could hear the 9.35 bus coming.

The presentation of the cheque was to be a low key affair, on the insistence of Siobhan. This suited Brian as he wasn’t really a champagne and glitz man even though he was jealous to death of those who went to exotic locations to present cheques. The presentation was in the pub. It was over in a flash. Siobhan just said thanks, snatched the cheque and stuffed it down her bra. This suited Brian, he could pack his bags and get off home. Not that he relished going home that much but he couldn’t see much on this island that would want him to stay any longer than possible. Tomorrow Siobhan would take the cheque to the bank in Derrylin on the mainland and put it into her own account then consider whether her husband Sean was to be part of it.

She wanted to go to Majorca or Las Palmas and lounge about in the sun, he wanted to go to Poland and Latvia to look at war memorials and concentration camp sites. She wanted a pastel coloured E-Type Jag and cruise by the palm trees at Monte Carlo whilst he wanted a potting shed to replace the one destroyed in last year’s winter storms plus some new wellingtons. You could hear them arguing even above the howling gale.

The weather by now was foul. In the distance far out to sea, an oil tanker was moving as if in slow motion. The waves were washing over her bow, the spray still visible as far back as the bridge. The cloud drifted down from the mountains and hung low over the village, it was black and dismal. Joe’s whitewashed pub stood out like a beacon in the murky conditions. Especially the big red and green neon Smithwick’s sign.

Occasionally the black clouds would break, only to be replaced by even more threatening yellow ones which would swirl around changing the direction of the rain for a few minutes before turning black and emptying their whole contents in a matter of seconds. The forecast was for a week of this sort of weather.

Brian rang Brady to see if there was a chance of him getting a lift off the island but the loud beery belch and the clatter of background laughter from the other end of the line told it’s own story. As a last resort he rang the air sea rescue who politely told him to “bugger off and stop wasting our bloody time”. It was worth a try. Well, at least he wouldn’t have to worry about his nagging miserable wife for a week.

Suddenly he felt a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. He made a monumental decision as he sat forlorn in the corner near the window of Egan’s. He decided he would not ring his wife all week. When he got home he would tell her the telegraph poles had blown down in the storm. No, perhaps the ferry sank. No, that’d have been on the news. He’d just tell her the phones didn’t work. Which was partly true.
Inishbog only had generator powered electricity and apart from a brand spanking new green phonebox, which wasn’t wired up yet, only the pub and Kelly’s shop had telephones. The telephone cable ran from the harbour to Bluebell End under the sea and for whatever reason, when the sea was rough, kept cutting off.

He couldn’t believe he’d actually done it. He’d made a decision without having any guilt, although to be perfectly honest, he was stuck on Inishbog for the unforeseeable future whether he liked it or not. Normally he’d felt guilty if he did anything without asking Hitler, as he secretly called her. It felt good. He felt liberated. He didn’t drink much, 2 pints of lager when he took Madam Hitler out, was his absolute limit, in fact it was he who convinced her that 2 pints was just under the drink drive limit.

It probably well under the limit given the watered down slops he was served in some of the dodgy pubs he went to. Even after a derisory two pints she’d hurl abuse at him, saying he “stank like a brewery”, “no better than a dray man’s horse” and “should think about Alcoholic’s Anonymous the state he was in”. Today, he would get absolutely bladdered and not give a toss. He was getting quite dizzy just thinking about it. He cackled out loud much to his own and everyone else’s surprise.
Brian ordered a bottle of champagne to celebrate. There wasn’t any. So he had a pint of Inishbog Stout which was effectively home brewed beer that Egan made in his barn and at 9% was far too strong but as none of the bottles had labels on, nobody knew or cared.

He was well on his way after his second pint and after his seventh glass he passed out.
“Bollocks!” was the first word he uttered. Wingnut found him, slumped against the luminous green phone-box in the middle of the boat yard with a cork lobster pot float as a pillow. The dog walked round him a couple of times, licked his face then cocked his leg up on him. There were a dozen mangled up cigarettes strewn around him and a burnt out box of matches down by his foot. “Wash yer mouth out, yer dirty peasant” came a voice from the crowd now gathering round him. “Bollocks” he slurred again.

A globule of saliva slid from his mouth involuntarily. He tried to smile but only one side of his mouth responded exposing a few grey filled molars. He tried to get up but slumped against the wall, rolling gently over a fresh piece of dog faeces in the process, courtesy of Wingnut. He didn’t normally draw a crowd but it was most likely because he was stark naked except for his y-fronts, which were round his right ankle and he had chicken feathers in his hair.

Wingnut was milking the attention. He’d not been stroked since his owner had died. He’d been locked up for a few days and was savouring the freedom so he pee-ed on Brian again. Siobhan kicked out at the dog and missed then threw an old bed sheet over Brian to spare his blushes. It was the one she used to rub their dog down with when it had been out in the rain. She then proceeded to drag him down the street to her house.
“He’s stopping in Egan’s” shouted Sean “Take him there, what the hell do we want him in our house for?”

After another blazing argument with her husband Sean, she managed to get Brian into their bathroom, turned the bath taps on, slammed the door shut, leaving him with a towel, some soap and when he’d come round a bit, a sense of acute embarrassment. “Your trousers are in the wash, there’s a pair of Sean’s hanging on the door and a rugby shirt” came the voice from the other side of the bathroom door.

Sean was a man of average stature whereas Brian was going on 42” waist, 50” chest. He sat there with a towel round himself and contemplated the mess he’d got himself into. The clothes didn’t fit by quite a few inches, the belt held the trousers up but the rugby shirt looked like it had been sprayed on. Brian resolved to diet when he got off the island.

Later that day, Siobhan took his dry clothes to Egan’s bar. Nora didn’t really want him staying in the bar if that was how he was going to behave, but there was nowhere else to stay on the island.