Killarney to Dublin, Ireland.
In the surprisingly hot summer of 2006, I was returning from Killarney, sitting in the train, watching sheep and cows passing by on the green sea of the Irish midlands. At one of the stops, she got on the train, dragging her feet looking around for a free space and finally sat down beside me with a muttered complaint. She had that look of uncertain age, when you really can’t tell whether that person is very old or life has treated her so badly that she looks much older that she really is. Her hair was short and quite greasy. Her face bloomed with crevasses. Her mouth was surrounded by facial hair and held less teeth that it should have. She was wearing a pale top that perfectly displayed her hanging breasts. Her arms were defaced with DIY tattoos. From a plastic bag she took a pack of six cans of Dutch Gold, and started drinking. I couldn’t help resting my eyes on the text tattooed around her arms. There where a couple of indecipherable drawings, few names (one of them crossed out) but the prominent one was a tombstone cross with R.I.P. on it above a banner which held the name “Patrick”. She caught me looking at, and started talking
“Me Patrick… de nicest boy ye ever seen”
She took one of her Dutch Gold and offered it to me. Then she kept going
“Was me first kid, a lovely little boy… always laughin´”
She was looking at me, but her sight was lost in her memories.
“I was young ya know… didn’t really know wha´ was doin´…”
She kept telling her story as if I was a priest in confession, having the power to redeem all her sins.
“I really didn’t know how to mind a child… I had serious problems wit´ de booze”
Even though I didn’t want to hear the monologue of her miseries and I couldn’t understand much of what she was saying, I got hooked up, like when you’re watching one of those South American soaps.
“He never wanted us, all the time fuckin´ around… but I was mad fer him… I was young and stupeh”
Patrick’s father suddenly appeared in the story. Apparently, not a very responsible lad. She opened the third Duchie and kept talking
“I knew he was stealin´ me money … couldn’t even pay de baby’s food…”
A bitter flavour ran from my throat to my stomach. She was describing a terrible picture; I kept listening with morbid attention.
“We had a fierce row, an´ he lef´ me. Didn’ care about me or the baby annymore… den I lost it… was always drunk”
Her eyes were trembling, the hand holding the can was shaking, her voice turned bitter
“I found him dead in the cradle one morning; I´d been too drunk to take care of him”
She graved her last Dutch Gold, opened and gave a long sip.
“Since then I quit de booze forever”