CC 108: Daniel
By sean mcnulty
‘Emer, come here.’
‘I want to ask you –‘
‘Okay, do so.’
‘Have I changed?’
‘In the time since you went, do you think I’ve changed?’
She huffed testily.
‘Do you want the good news or the bad news?’
‘There’s bad news?’
‘There’s always a bit of good and a bit of bad, you must be aware of that.’
‘Yes, sounds about right.’
‘I’ll just give you the bad then.’
‘Just the bad?’
‘Because that’s all you really want, isn’t it? You wouldn’t be asking me otherwise.’
‘No, well, I don’t mind the bad, but if there’s some good too, you don’t have to hold back.’
‘I think it’s best just to give you the bad.’
‘Because that’s what you can take back with you to improve upon. What’s good is good. It won’t change at all if you know nothing about it.’
‘Okay, fair enough.’
‘Good for you. Well, here it is. Are you ready?’
She aimed a finger at my head, and slowly moved it forward until it rested on the gateway of my cursed recession.
‘Your baldness is unfortunate,’ she said, her finger then flicking at the random furs I had there which flopped disappointedly over the barren areas. ‘It’s worse than I remember.’
‘Much worse. I’m so sorry to tell you this, Pascal.’
‘It’s okay, I’ll survive.’
‘Good for you. That’s quite devastating, that one, so I’ll give you a good one, a good change, to make up for the shame of your revolting and increasing baldness.’
‘Great,’ I said.
‘You’re more positive than before – you don’t seem as thoroughly opposed to everything as you used to be, a bit more self-assured.’
‘Really? I don’t know how that could be. I haven’t been very active in the last while.’
‘Well, I can see something in you. Vim. Like you’re ready to get stuck into your life again. Maybe all that time off has allowed you to build up strength, I don’t know. I wish I could have just taken time away from things myself. Might have a better outlook now.’
‘Why? I thought things were grand with you.’
‘Ah, they’re not so bad, but it could be better. Whereas you’ve got a glow about you.
‘But you saw me earlier. I nearly had a fight with Geary. What was that about? ‘
‘Actually, I liked that. The fucker deserved it. ‘
‘I found it very weird being in there.’
‘Yeah, well, me too. It wasn’t exactly the way I thought the night was going to turn out, you know. With you there. I thought it was Paidi you were going to thump.’
‘Would you have minded if I had?’
‘Ah, I don’t know. Maybe not. Actually, yes. Because he probably would have beat the shite out of you. And I wouldn’t have wanted that.’
‘What do ya mean? How do you know how it might have gone? I’m a wee whippet, you know, when I’m set off.’
‘He beat you before in a competition years ago. I remember. And he’s got the height and the build over you. I’m sure he’d have kicked your head in, Pascal. You’re not the fighting type. I mean, you’re an aggressive wee fucker when you want to be, but you’re not the type that’s still standing afterwards. You’re not the type who wins medals.’
‘I won a medal that day when I fought Paidi. I came second, remember.’
‘Ah, here. With three people in the whole event? You’re havin’ a laugh. When I look back on it, you were like Daniel in Karate Kid when you went up against Paidi that time.’
‘Daniel won in the end, I’ll have you know.’
‘Maybe he did. That might have been an illegal kick to the face though, but that’s beside the point I’m trying to make. Daniel won in the end, yes – you didn’t. But you fought like him. You kind of flapped around like a wee chicken – heroic flapping though it was, I’ll give you that.’
‘Sure I’d knock seven shades of shite out of ya. And you know that to be true.’
‘Okay, I get it. Paidi’d batter me, you’d batter me. Let’s bring Cuchullain in on it too. I’m sure he’d like to batter me senseless as well.’
‘Well, of course,’ she said, adding more laughter for good measure.
‘Are things serious with him? With Paidi?’
‘It’s not serious. But it’s just what I need, if I’m honest.’
‘You think you’ll still be with him in three years?’
She laughed, and rubbed her left cheek with her thumb. I remembered she always did this when she had something taxing on her mind, but didn’t want to show it. I think giveaways like that in me must have overflowed, and I bet they were so much easier to see.
‘Who knows? Probably not. I know what you’re getting at, by the way.’
‘What?’ I said, all innocence.
‘Divorce. That’s it, isn’t it? Will we have decided on a divorce by then? Around that time, we’re allowed to, aren’t we?’
‘Yeah, I think it’s four years.’
‘Well, even if so, I won’t be marrying Paidi, if that’s what you’re thinking. I’m no fool. He’s a great chap, but he requires a fool to fully back his hubris. I’ve completely gone off the idea of marriage.’
‘My oh my, you’ve changed your tune.’
'Yep, and I like this one. Purrs along nicely.’