Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Rain in Kilrush

Academic journal article TriQuarterly

The Rain in Kilrush

Article excerpt

It had been raining for over a week when Maguire kicked his wife in the back and threw her down the stairs. He stopped himself after that, shut the bedroom door behind him and slept.

It was dark by the time Maguire heard the knock on the door. He tasted the tears in his snot, brought up phlegm from his chest and held it in his mouth. He waited for a moment, laid out on his back in his gray suit. Wind whistled through the windows, drains spluttering outside. He stayed quiet, feeling the invisible damp web of humidity that followed the long downpours of the cold winter months. The fresh smell of rain had disappeared by the third day.

Again the knock on the door. "Dad, are you awake?"

It would have been better if he'd been left to sleep through into the morning. Maguire heard the feet on the stairs. He closed his eyes.

A timid head looked in through the dark. "Dad?"

Maguire turned his head and let the phlegm into the sheet and wiped his heavy lips. "Where is your mother?"

The boy came into the room and hesitated. "Downstairs."

Maguire heard the fear in the voice.

"She's sick," the boy said softly, the words subsumed by the dull static of rain on the corrugated roof of the animal shed.

Maguire broke the rhythm of the rain. "You're an awful cunt, you are."

The boy stopped. Darkness coagulated in the corners. Then he spoke again. "She's hurt." His voice cut through the pure cold in the room.

"Are you making tea?" Maguire said to gain control of the situation.

"She's sick," the boy repeated.

"Are you making tea?" Maguire raised his head as though going to get up.

The boy instinctively moved back. "If you want it." The boy had a face that inspired pity, a creature who looked half-formed with his small rodent-like head. A prominent belly stuck out above his thin legs making him look like a little aged man.

"Well, go on with the tea then," Maguire said finally.

The boy disappeared and closed the door.

Maguire lit a cigarette and stayed on his back, smoking on the iron bed. It eased his head. The sweat of sleep cooled on his body and made him shiver. He inhaled the cigarette and curled the hot smoke with his tongue. "I only pushed her," he whispered to himself, making the motion with his hand. The dark consumed the gesture. "It was nothing at all."

It wasn't the first time Maguire had hurt his wife. But he had never touched her face. He had that much restraint and judgment. All her injuries were covered by coarse wool jumpers. Even he had never seen his wife's injuries.

It was the boy who started it. Ah, yes, he remembered now how it had started - her siding with the boy as usual, the two of them down there. The cunt could do nothing right, running under the tails of his mother's skirt. Wasn't he lucky enough to have only the one? Thank God for small miracles that a flying kick had served as a crude form of contraception years past. Imagine being stuck with a pack of cunts down there after him now, and there were fathers he knew, right enough, who couldn't lay a hand on anyone for fear of being beaten up in their own house. Now there was a shocking state of affairs for you . . .

Maguire heard noise downstairs. He strained to hear her voice. God knows what she was about downstairs, conspiring as usual for sympathy with the boy. They should have left him sleep.

Something scurried across Maguire's ankle. He gave a sudden start and felt whatever it was moving toward his knee. He sat up and brought the glow of the cigarette to the leg. Insects crept across his ankle. Maguire grabbed his leg, crushing them underneath his trousers. "Cunts." Maguire looked up and saw spiders on the ceiling. Undoubtedly, the heavy rains had driven the insects to seek the shelter of his house. It had rained like this only one other time in all Maguire's life, when he'd been a boy.

The stairs creaked, a cup trembling on the saucer. …

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