By sean mcnulty
When thunder comes there is always that initial disturbance as though one has never heard the sky surge and bay before, even if it is a bygone conclusion you will hear it, you feel as though newly born to the natural world of sounds, but moments later there you are getting on with things, minding your own business, as the sky is falling down around you.
The first boom brought the interview to a halt, and all eyes looked to the ceiling, as if it were about to break apart, louder pops began to punctuate the crackle from the fireplace, and Fatty Arbuckle’s picture shook. Once filming wound down, their shock cleared and everyone adapted to the outside shellacking.
Imogen walked to the back of the room and was instantly approached by Mr Brennan – it was to her great surprise for she had shared barely a word with the man since coming to the house and assumed he was mute or roundabouts. Brennan had a concerned look on his face. He was holding up his newspaper as he came towards her and when finally in front of her he held it up without uttering a word and showed her an image on the front page which crucially resembled Devin. There he was, her paramour, getting whacked by an RUC man at a football match. She looked a little closer. Yes. It was him surely.
You’re a tattle-tale, is that it, Mr Brennan?
Me? Oh no, no, I...., bleated the postmaster. He became all chagrined then, so he took his paper and shrunk away back to his chair.
If the photo had been shown to any other, it may have thrown up some doubts over the continuance of a relationship. Imogen however was unmoved. The illusion of the past hard-man which Devin presented had dwindled in the last year. She didn’t quite believe it all anymore, though she was unwilling to tag all of it a lie. There was some truth in there, she postulated, parts of it she thought though exaggerated. She was at least happy to see him in action, throwing a punch even was better than not throwing one. And he was throwing one in that picture. He was.
He missed. Granted, if he was a Dublin man, she would not be so accepting, for that would merely be a hooligan and nothing more. Being the Belfastard that he was, a spot of hooliganism was easier to accept as the policers up there were deserving of some pushback, from what she knew of it all.
Imogen was shaken by Ismay Tasse’s description of Elder as a liberateur and when they reconnected at the piano she decided to press her on it – off-camera. Ismay told her that meeting Elder had been a liberation as he shared her belief in extraterrestrial activities in the skies. Imogen was perplexed as she saw in Ismay the kind of woman she hoped she would become in her later years. Elegant. With a good eye for style still. She was about as old as her parents who were not in nearly as good shape, her father a babbling television addict and her mother now chief gossip in an area renowned for its violently and bitterly active gossips. She hoped she would not be that. But also, she now desired she would not herself become food for whimsy, as the fabulously dotty Ismay Tasse seemed to have become. You could learn more or less from living, even briefly, with a broad bunch of ages. And they were within a decent generational spread here, though young on the whole. In their 50s and early 60s were Elder, Frances Buckley and Ismay Tasse; Mr Brennan, Sullivan and MacKenna were all in their 40s; and in their 30s, Sasdy, the Stewarts, and Crispin Collins; and youngest of all were Devin, Imogen, Knox and Abby Kane, all still in their 20s. At varying ends.
He reminds me of my father. In that he just sits there.
Who? Mr Brennan?
Does he look like your father?
He does when he’s sitting.
Yes. I think that too.
My father, or your father?
My father. I started this.