Simon. Simon. You hear me. It’s me again, into the porches of your ear I’ll pour. You hear me, but nobody else does. It can be our little secret honey. Go ahead, busy yourself with me. Blow out my ashes. Once. Twice. There you go. Now finger your tobacco a little. Two fingers. Good boy. Mmm. Fondle me with those two fingers maybe? That’s it. Yes. How naughty of you, poor simple Simon. Rub me a little more, my maidenhair. Mina Kennedy can’t see you, and Lidia is pretending not to look. Listen to her sing.
Yes. A little Latina sabor. A little something else too. Feeling thirsty? You can order a whiskey from her. Mmm. Don’t worry about skinny Dilly or Boody or any of them. They have your five dollars and some change. Never mind that now. Just fill me up baby and listen to Lidia. Dry in here. How about some nice fresh water and a little whiskey to keep it company. Here’s Lenehan. Listen to him. Your son’s been buying drinks. He has an income he isn’t sharing with you. Yes. You need a drink after hearing this. Go ahead baby, just a half glass. Wet your whistle, I won’t tell.
I had been waiting all day, watching the pawn shop. Instructive. Then he came round the corner, half drunk. The look of him. An embarrassment. On whose shoulder will I rest my head, coming from a situation like this? He had money.
Melancholy God, how long had she been standing there looking like her uncle with her head on her shoulder. She’ll get curvature of the spine if she doesn’t watch out. An embarrassment standing there. Wants money.
I smelled he had been drinking now, but I learned from him how to get what we need. Wait awhile, I thought, and I talk something out of him. Just wait awhile. He gave me $5.00. It was short shrift for a long day, watching the pawn shop for hours. He’ll leave us first chance he gets. He says so, but we are still stuck with him. We are worse off for him but if he died? Even worse. Watching all day. He said he got ten bucks but I know he has more. Can’t he look money somewhere? Well, he is funny, my dad.
I was not drinking, then. Who taught her to talk like that? Insolent pack of bitches. They’ll get short shrift and a long day from me. I’ll leave them. They’d be happy to see me dead, curse their souls. She should watch that pawn shop, learn something. Told her I got $10.00 from Jack Power. Where am I going to look for money? It’s not like it’s just lying around in the gutters waiting to be picked up. She got three more quarters out of me. Skinny thing needs to eat something. I’ll be home with her soon. My girl.
A series of stretch suv’s (one bearing flags) enters a highway cleared of cars.
After the funeral Tom Kernan hovered near me. Both converts. In the same boat in other ways too. Treacherous to be the only ones. Our ill-kept secret. Is he a mason? They have better funerals. I wanted him to speak to me and he said: I ah uh weoowection ah uh wife — youcheg a man imok heaw. Well damn that to hell. Once you are dead you are dead. The resurrection and the life; the last day idea. There’s a rabbit hole for you, hard to come forth from that one. Get up! Last day! Rise and shine. Then all of the dearly returned digging around for livers and kidneys and inmost hearts. Find damn all of yourself in the morning. Left my heart behind. No hearts in there these days. Removed first. Broken out, then sewn up. How many broken hearts buried with Paddy Dignam? None. Inmost heart. Kernan’s maybe, but Paddy’s? No touching that. Touched Simon’s, he broke down when we were near Mary’s grave. Simon said she’s in heaven if there is a heaven. But she’s better where she is.
He looks a bit like Shakespeare, or so they say. I see it. He’s an intelligent man, doesn’t deserve his cyclical life. Drunk wife, dancing around in a kimono with an umbrella that time, pawns furniture, he buys it back. She sells it again Friday and he starts again Monday. Sisyphus without the rock. Would wear the heart out of a stone. It was just after we saw the tiny coffin, white, Martin tried to turn the talk away from. Poor little thing in that coffin. Well out of it as Dedalus said. In the midst of life we are in death. And we all understand what that means perfectly well. Don’t we? I mean, I always believe. At least for me. Take Rudy for example. Sweet little dwarf body weak as putty. They say a mistake of nature. Meant nothing, better luck next time. He doesn’t have to. Or at least he will never. Hell with this, what was I saying? Death in the midst of life. Yes. Nabokov said the cradle rocks above an abyss. You see? Life is a pinpoint of light surrounded by eternitites of darkness. Where we came from, where we are going: the same place. Oh they look on suicide badly enough, greatest disgrace to have in a family, cowardly, temporary insanity was Cunningham’s charitable view. But I don’t know. It is a route at least. It’s one way to get there. Poor Papa. He was in a room with hunting pictures on the walls. At his hotel. The bottle was there and they said they thought he was asleep at first. But then saw the yellow streaks on his face. I didn’t want to look and see him differ from. And the letter. For my son Leopold. No more pain. Rattle his bones. Over the stones. He’s only a pauper whom nobody owns. Nobody owns.
Oh weeping God, the things I married into. Drunken accountant and his brother. Stephen the artist visiting them, couldn’t he fly a bit higher than that? Nuncle Richie and Crissie, papa’s little bedpal, his lump of love. And how does that visit go? I’ll tell you, by Christ, same every time. Stephen rings the bell and that cross-eyed Walter with his sir yes sir no sir sir checks for bill collectors, repo depot, summons servers then lets Stephen in to sit in the only chair. Offer up the back ache pills, that’s all there is. And then what? Drunk in the morning Ritchie holding forth in his house of decay. And and and and how is Uncle Si? Stephen says his uncle is a Judge, his uncle is a general. You’re awfully holy Stephen, aren’t you. But you will never be a saint. You prayed to the Blessed Virgin to spare you from drink and to the Devil to spare women from clothes. You’d sell your soul for that, shouting Naked Women! Naked Women! from the top of a city bus. Cry it to the rain kid. And what about that. What about what? You’d read two pages each of seven books every night then bow to yourself in the mirror. Stars in your eyes. Applause! You think no one saw. House not that big kid. Hurray for the Goddamned idiot! Hray! And where are those books you were going to write with letters for titles? Have your read his P? Yes but I prefer U! FW is wonderful but don’t read SU. You were going to write on everything that can be known and the critics would say when one reads the words of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once won. And once one has won the hearts of the one who reads the one that one has won, then one may write one more one like that one but not like the other one, you know the one. Jesus wept, and no wonder by Christ.
We should all thank our stars, death is a horrible thing. Dying, there are good ways to go. But death? No connection, no contact with those who are now. In it, you see. Make room, I’ll ride with you. Here. I’ll get that door. Again. Got it that time. Now what was I saying? What were we talking about? Oh yeah, the woman watching us out her window, grateful to the stars for the mark on her door. So death. No bridging from what will be to what is. Will be always turns to is, and I’ll tell you what the meaning of is is. Look around you. Feel it quickly. Motion, stillness. Stillness, motion. It’s a protean thing. Smell, breathe in. Is that smell you? Yes, and catch that? Listen. You heard a click. Finger on plastic. Tap. Click. All that is part of is. And that’s all there is for the likes of you and me. And that woman there watching us out. Glad to see us go we give them such trouble coming. And once we leave the is? We’re dead, we won’t even know who will undress us and how. Wash us. What do they wash? Cut a new omphalos and pour the fluids in and out. Too much? Fine. Cut our fingernails and hair? Okay I’ll stop. Sheesh. Keeps growing after we die, I wonder how much? Waiting. Sitting on something. That soap in my pocket. Will wait. Move it later. Blinds down. Keep the house dark, hushed. Whispering. There’s a young guy in black. Have seen that hat before. Hey Dedalus, there’s somebody you know. It’s your kid. By himself. Nosy. Full of his son. Crissie is how old? Richie Goulding that Sunday morning. Had two hats on his head dancing around in the street. Shitfaced drunk. Bad back. No insurance, lots of pain meds. If Rudy had lived. He’d have me in his eyes, hold our hands. Somebody to pass things on to. Teach him something from me. Was an accident, really. Happened by chance. Molly at the window watching two dogs going at it. She was dying for it. How life begins. Got big. I could have helped him. Sent him to college. Milly, same thing as Molly watered down. Fifteen now. D Papli, Thrs a yg Im crushin on. Grown up now too. There we go. Nice they rented limos, crushed in here though. What is that on the seat, crumbs? Unless I’m mistaken, that’s not food crumbs. Well, that’s natural.