It was in the medium afternoon of that November that a solitary figure, bearing in his left hand a furled whalebone umbrella, might have been seen, had any been there to give a fuck, making his unsteady way from the corner of Squillean Road and O’Connell street to the butcher O’Brien’s of Murramacdeale.

Upon the sporrugated asphalt a rank mist was gathering, and crowds of muttering doves gathered greyly on the slates. One or two matrons passed, returning home from chapel or reading-club but otherwise the streets were empty.

O’Cannon the butcher had hung up his apron for the night, and his wife was in her nightgown making tea.

Drrring! went the doorbell! and without waiting for a response in most uncivilly blustered our old acquaintance from Ballymaclean.

– Oy there! Mister O’Cannon, shouted this personage. Oy!

The butcher was a heavyset man with a face like a side of mutton, slow-moving and slow-witted accordeonly. He let a great fart onto the ragged leather of his stool behind the counter; waited to reflect upon the odor, for this was his only line of communication with his innards, otherwise a hostile and quarantined country; and then rose ponderously and shuffled forward, not without a gleam of bovine curiosity, into the lamplight.

– Kafetskoygo Khodorov, said old Ballymaclean, shkhatelnik dakh prazvetny nyeskodol.

The butcher snorted contemptuously. A farrago of obscene rebuttals came to his mind, and he selected one of the savouriest.

– Gasprazkin! he sputtered. Khalablosky gasprazkin!

From the top of the stair came the anemic voice of Mrs Mildred O’Cannon, to which her crinkled nightgown lent no added volume. – Who is’t, Frank? she piped.

– Sure it’s only a dirty gasprazkin, muttered the butcher, with another contemptuous glance at the man in the raincoat. Well, you gasprazkin, he growled, what’d’ye want.

But without favouring him with so much as a glance Mr Ballymaclean strode to the staircase and in three leaps was at the top, and – O earthly Paradise! O miracle on the mezzanine! O joy! – had Mildred in his arms, her crinoline nightgown crinkling against him, and she giving little squeaks of gay astonishment between his vaporous kisses.

It was only for a moment that O’Cannon was taken aback. His wits, being heavy and stolid, could not desert him on so slight a shock. He stomped out of his stool and seized a great gory snickersnee that he used for carving gizzards. And then –

But what is the use of describing the shocking scene of carnage that followed, O reader? Surely you were better off improving yourself by reading something more civilized, like one of Father Taylor’s sermons.

And so farewell, and to bed.


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December 21, 2012 · 10:22 pm

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