ROSE emerged from the kitchen, and placing the blackboard up over the fireplace, started writing the specials of the day on it.
“How are you, Rosie, any scraps for Tiny today?” Pat enquired from his corner.
“Don’t I always, Pat, just don’t you forget them when you’re leaving.”
Nobody had seen ‘Tiny’, Pat’s little Jack Russell, in years. They suspected that he had died some time ago. In fact, by their calculations, Tiny would be around 25 if he was still alive.
Yet, Rose still threw a bag of food together for the dog, every day his master visited. Mick always added a few slices of the roast of the day ‘in case Tiny would like a bite in the evening’, and Pat never refused, on the grounds that ‘for a small dog, Tiny has a great appetite’.
Friends and family of the deputy principal from the local primary school were gathering in Molly’s later that day to celebrate his retirement, after 45 years of service. Rose busied herself with the preparations.
“Jesus Christ, I thought he was dead,” mumbled Pat from his stool, “shur, he’d be my own go.”
Rose, wiping down tables, setting them with cutlery and glassware, threw her eyes heavenwards.
“Don’t be talking nonsense, Pat, and you with one foot in the grave yourself, you’ve at least a decade on him, maybe even two.”
“Well, if that’s what educating youngsters does to you, thank God I never went teaching,” Pat replied.
“And I’d have worried for the future generations of Kilroche, if I’d ever seen you in the vicinity of a school,” Rose said, folding napkins and placing them neatly beside each setting. “Horses for courses, Pat, horses for courses.”
O’Connor’s Drapery store was on an incline at the top of the village. Shop to the front, living accommodation to the back, the whole building was as impeccable as its well-heeled inhabitants. Mick approached the front of the building slowly, and lifting the brass knocker, hesitated momentarily before rapping gently on the front door.
Gosh, it felt strange standing here all these years later. The silence within suggested that nobody was home. Just as he was about to leave, the door swung open and Maura stood there, pale-faced and dishevelled looking. She eyed Mick warily.
“Hello Maura, how are you?” Mick asked quietly. “I just heard the news about poor Hannah a short while ago. I’m very sorry. I’m in complete shock. We’re all wondering how the surgery went?”
“How is poor Hannah? Poor Hannah?” Maura interrupted, “well let me see now, Michael, your question is roughly 20 years too late! So save your insincere platitudes and take yourself back to your bar.”
With that, the door slammed and Mick was left standing there red-faced, as mass-goers drove slowly past, en route to the church on the opposite side of the street.
A loud rumpus towards the back of the pub caught Rose’s attention. Someone singing, if that was the word for it. This wouldn’t be wholly unusual in Molloy’s, except for the fact that it was a Sunday morning.
As the newcomer emerged from the dark back hallway, it turned out to be none other than Din Rua, swaying from side to side.
Rose nodded in his direction. Holding his arm aloft, he asked if she would like to hear a secret. She shook her head discouragingly.
“Ssh, so, and I’ll tell you,” he said loudly, jabbing his chubby index finger roughly against her lips. Rose recoiled, pushing him away.
“Oh, for God’s sake, take yourself home and get some sleep. You’re a disgrace to that uniform you’re wearing.”
“Ah, stop that Rosie, and throw me up a drop of Paddy will you. And remember these words: Kilroche has a killer in its midst.”
“What killer are you on about? Nobody is dead. It’d be more in your line to head away home, have a shower, and sober up,” Rose said, a revolted look on her face.
“Well, maybe she didn’t kill this time, but she’s well capable of it. And trust me, I know.”