Academic journal article TriQuarterly


Academic journal article TriQuarterly


Article excerpt

Ah, but if it wasn't a Verona kind of day from top to bottom! thought Teddy Mulvaney as he strode down Parnell. He filled his lungs with air and clutched the box of diapers closer to his chest. Webs of early-morning fog still hung about in the gullies and yards, nuzzling the curbs and gutters and lying in patches in the empty street. It was damp and overcast. A fine day for an anniversary, he thought. Verona would be pleased. They'd been together for three years now. A personal best, he thought proudly. A long-term commitment was what it was. And wasn't that just the right thing? Wasn't that just what they recommended? Was it not something to be proud of? It was.

He glanced up a little nervously at the sky. Pendulous banks of clouds were scuttling in from the west, beetling about the spires of St. Mary's and clogging the rooftops. The paving stones were damp and glistening. Bullets, he thought, fired on such a day would hit their targets with a wet dull thud. A limp, persistent dripping pattered out at him from the side streets as he walked, as if the city were squeezing out its last nocturnal juices, dribbling its fecund luminous drops into the main artery in a last-gasp attempt to inseminate the intransigent morning. Limerick was milky and still in the gray light, an autopsy of mucous and veins. A miasma of waste and rotting vegetables was oozing out at him from behind all the clapboard fences. The city was pulsing, organs and secretions, wounds and aching joints. Even the metal pin in his hip was sweating.

He shivered and quickened his pace. Clearly, he thought, you had to feel good about yourself. That's what the book said. Be your own best friend. Be proud of what you were, without worrying about what you might have been, whatever that might have been, or be, whatever you might be now, as it were, to cut a long story short, or so it went, at least as far as he'd read, for he hadn't yet finished the book.

The basic problem, of course, remained unsolved. But now, given the odd new configuration of events that had, as it were, pursued them, overtaken them, surrounded them, the question was simply how to feel good about yourself and be all that you could be. His gaze ran off dizzyingly along the cracks that dissected the cobblestone street. The grid moved under him like the moist brown back of a cockroach. He shifted the box and focused his gaze up the street. Indeed, you had to feel good about yourself. He took a deep gulp of air and swallowed happily.

Verona would be pleased. She was wetting herself again, the darling. Leaving mysterious midnight puddles on the floor like a malfunctioning refrigerator. The result, he knew too well, of his clumsy repotting. She had soil problems, the little dear, couldn't adjust to the new lighter mix of perlite, couldn't hold her drink, in a manner of speaking. A tipsy Nephrolepis exaltata was what she was. A feta of extended dimensions. Winner of Best Boston two years running at the County Clare Botanical. And she was getting better with age. Her foliage. Now there was a subject for rumination. His fingers spread on the front of the box and pressed it tighter to his chest. A sultry shamrock green, she was. Laced to the teeth with shadows and lights, shimmering and whiskery. An outright slap in the face to the bony Roosevelts and Ruffles of Chaps Ahem and the Murphy boys, that was a dead-certain fact.

A low sports car wheeled round the corner off Mallow and stalled in front of the pharmacy. An old Jaguar, he saw, with the driver's half of the front windshield blacked out. He slowed his steps, came to a stop.

A woman got out of the passenger's side of the car. She was laughing. Her pumps were wet, as if the car held water. Her face was wet as well, as if she had been weeping. Teddy felt his teeth aching. The cat's radiator was hissing out jets of steam through its chrome grill. The driver was invisible. Gassed, thought Teddy. Gas to pull teeth. …

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