Advertising | Metro Eireann | Top News | Contact Us
Governor Uduaghan awarded the 2013 International Outstanding Leadership Award  •   South African Ambassador to leave  •   Roddy's back with his new exclusive "Brown-Eyed Boy"  •  
Print E-mail

Old Folks by Roddy Doyle - Chapter 8

Last update - Saturday, September 1, 2012, 00:51 By Roddy Doyle

‘You are going to a party?’ said Dariya’s husband, Bogdan. ‘Yes,’ said Dariya.She was standing in front of their mirror, trying to decide if her scarf was right for the occasion, or very wrong.‘With a man?’ said Bogdan.

‘An old man.’
‘A man who is not me.’
‘A horrible old man,’ she said.
She smiled at Bogdan’s face in the mirror. He was standing behind her. She could feel his breath on her neck, even through the scarf.
‘But,’ she explained to his reflection, ‘it is not a normal party.’
‘I heard you, yes,’ said Bogdan. ‘It is a party for dead people.’
‘But you are not dead, Dariya.’
‘That is correct.’
‘What about the horrible old man?’ Bogdan asked. ‘Is he dead?’
‘Not yet,’ said Dariya.
She immediately felt guilty – just slightly. But she so enjoyed flirting with her husband. And she thought that Mrs Touhy would have enjoyed listening to their exchange. She didn’t really care what Mr O’Rourke, the horrible old man, would have thought.
‘You should not be jealous,’ she assured him.
‘No,’ she said. ‘It is not really a party.’
‘But he is really a man.’
‘A horrible old man, yes,’ she said. ‘How do I look?’
‘Ask the horrible old man.’
‘I will,’ she said, and she kissed Bogdan on the mouth and they stayed like that for quite some time. Dariya was tempted to stay there, exactly there. But the horrible old man was waiting.
‘I must go.’
Bogdan followed her to the door. So did their son, small Bogdan.
‘Bring home cakes.’
‘Bring home beer.’
But the horrible old man wasn’t waiting.
‘What?’ he said, when he opened the door after Dariya had rung the bell three times. She hadn’t let herself in, because she was not working.
‘Hello, Mr O’Rourke.’
‘What?’ he said again.
‘We will go to the wake? ’
‘Oh, that,’ he said.
She saw now that he was, in fact, ready to go. He was wearing a black suit, with a purple tie. He’d shaved and his shoes were shining.
‘Mr O’Rourke,’ said Dariya. ‘You look very nice.’
‘I love wakes,’ he said, as he locked the front door.
‘Please, why?’
‘Cos I’m not the fella in the coffin,’ he said.
Dariya decided that the time was right to say something that she thought – she hoped – was quite Irish.
‘Mr O’Rourke, I think you are a horrible old man.’
‘That’s lovely,’ he said. ‘Thanks.’
He was pleased with the strange compliment.
They were walking to Mrs Touhy’s house. It wasn’t very far and, for the first times in many days, it wasn’t raining very much.
They walked slowly past the betting shop. It was still open.
‘Ah,’ said Mr O’Rourke.
‘You want to go in? ’
‘No,’ he said. ‘Come on.’
And they entered. Dariya watched him write some figures on a piece of paper. She watched him bring the paper to the counter and hand it, and twenty euro, to the woman on the other side. She followed him to the back of the room, where they watched horses racing on eight televisions.
‘Mr O’Rourke, she said. ‘We will be late.’
‘The dead woman won’t mind,’ he said.
He was probably right. But his choice of horse obviously wasn’t, because he threw the piece of paper on the floor and walked out of the shop.
‘Mr O’Rourke,’ she asked when she caught up – he was surprisingly fast. ‘Why do you bet horses?’
‘Excitement,’ he said.
‘That was very exciting?’
‘That wasn’t even mildly exciting,’ he said. ‘That was only shite.’
She laughed, then stopped. Poor Mrs Touhy. Dariya had been sad all day and she’d cried the night before as she’d told the big and small Bogdans about her death. Now, going to her wake, the night before her funeral, Dariya was laughing. It was bad, she thought. Although, really, she knew it wasn’t. She would miss Mrs Touhy, especially in the next days and weeks, when she’d have to remind herself that she wasn’t going to Mrs Touhy’s house, and that she wouldn’t be going there anymore. She’d always miss Mrs Touhy; Dariya knew this. She’d been her first Irish friend.
There were lots of cars parked outside, along the street.
‘This is the house,’ said Dariya.
‘The grass could do with a cut,’ said Mr O’Rourke.
‘You are a horrible old man.’
‘The door could do with a lick of paint.’
Dariya rang the bell.
‘They’re taking their time,’ said Mr O’Rourke, just as the door opened.
It was the granddaughter, Mary.
‘Hiya, Dariya.’
‘Mary, hello. Hiya.’
Mary looked at Mr O’Rourke. She looked confused, even a little frightened.
‘Is this your husband?’
Dariya started to laugh. So did Mary.
‘I’d want to be desperate before I’d marry that one,’ said Mr O’Rourke.
‘Grand,’ said Mary. ‘Come in.’

© Roddy Doyle 2012

Latest News:
Latest Video News:
Photo News:
Kerry drinking and driving
How do you feel about the Kerry County Councillor\'s recent passing of legislation to allow a limited amount of drinking and driving?
I agree with the passing, it is acceptable
I disagree with the passing, it is too dangerous
I don\'t have a strong opinion either way
Quick Links