couldn’t see his face, so he asked him to turn around, but Jono shook his head.
“What’s wrong, Jono?”
“I have a sore tummy.” Marti knew there was no sore tummy. It was all a holy show. Jono was just sad because he would have to go back to school tomorrow and have no best friend to talk to and have a laugh and a joke with. Marti was sad too but he wanted to go on the train and a boat or maybe even a plane.
Mam started calling him to bring the bag and pick a toy fast. “I have to go, Jono,” said Marti. She had taken the notion into her head, and Dad said once Mam had taken the notion into her head there wasn’t a pack of terriers to be found that could flush it out. She was a holy terror for acting on a notion all right, always had been, he said.
“Marti,” shouted Mam again, and then the bedroom door was flung open. “When did he get in here?” She had a mad angry look on her and Marti wondered why she would be so annoyed to see Jono when he was forever in and out of his room.
“Jono was helping me pick a toy,” he said.
“Well, you can say goodbye to him now. He’s off home,” said Mam, and she grabbed Jono by the arm and lifted him up off the bed in a hurry.
“Bye, Jono,” said Marti. “Bye … Bye…”
“Will, Marti be back, Mrs Driscol?” said Jono, and Mam turned her head to the side and said, “Back where?”
“Bye, Marti. Bye,” said Jono, and he was led away very quickly by Mam.
Marti watched his friend taken home across the back yard to his own house. Mam walked so quickly that sometimes Jono’s feet were lifted off the ground entirely but he still shouted, “Bye, Marti, bye,” with every step he took.
Now that was something, thought Joey Driscol. Sure it wasn’t every day you saw three pelicans flying in a row. But there it was, three of the big white fellas up in the sky with their saggy jowls flapping as loudly as their wings against the bright blue sky. It was a grand sight to see, so it was, but sometimes the melancholy Celt came out in Joey and he wondered did he really deserve to be in this place. In Ireland they would have said it meant something. Three of anything in a row would have brought bad news, like a black hat on a bed or an umbrella up indoors. He knew his own mother would have been splashing the holy water around, lighting candles in church and praying to her patron saint at such a sight as three pelicans flying in a row. But there were no pelicans back in Kilmora, and weren’t blue skies there only half as rare?
Joey walked into the house and called out, “Marti, are ye home, son?” There was no answer. “Marti, Shauna, are yees home?”
The place was deadly quiet, he thought. He looked in the kitchen and he looked in the living room but there was no soul to be seen. He lit a cigarette, inhaled deeply, and breathed out slowly. Wasn’t it the queerest thing? Shauna had hardly raised herself for days and here she was now, up and out. She’d have to be dressed and made up to face the world. Perhaps their little talk had worked. Was she finally shaking off the Black Dog? Joey smiled to himself and put his cigarette back in his mouth.
Jaysus, this could be just grand, he thought, Shauna making the effort now. And mustn’t she have young Marti with her, that was grand too – didn’t the boy need the attention of his mother. A father could only do so much, what with the working and earning their keep. No, a mother was definitely needed to raise the child properly.
Joey bolted back to the kitchen. He scanned the fridge door for a note from Shauna, but there was none. Maybe that would be asking too much of her. She was only after getting over the Black Dog, wouldn’t notes and the like come with time. He was happy to think of Shauna, fully recovered and off treating Marti to some manner of visit or other. He imagined them together, laughing and smiling, Marti pointing at all the new toys in the shops and Shauna saying, “Maybe for