We were called out to a house, to come quick, because the guards were waiting. The body had to be taken to Limericks Regional Hospital. The Regional as we say. Dad had just finished his dinner and rushed to the sitting room, where I was, and pushed some words out of his mouth at me. I understood from this he was in a hurry so I grabbed my jacket and we shot off in the hearse.
“Where are we going?”
I like to know so I can prepare mentally. I have a persistent fear we may, one day, go to collect a corpse at the house of someone I know. A peer of mine, someone I went to school with. I still don’t like school and hate to be reminded of it by bumping into walking, talking, interactive artefacts. But I was lucky in that respect this time.
“Do you know the turn for Connie Ryans’ place? Just there. A house on the right.”
Only a few minutes away.
When we arrived I went around to the side of the hearse to get out the trolley as dad shook hands and went into the house. It was a small, pink cottage, just a door between two small windows and a neglected, overgrown lawn. I got out the trolley, expanding it at the back of the hearse, and waited for my father to remove the fibreglass coffin we use for these situations. After a minute or so I hear voices from inside.
“I knew something was wrong when I rang the FAS crowd and they say he hadn't been in for a while. Hadn’t gotten his check.”
This was Monday and it was about two in the afternoon. The man with my father seemed short but that may have been to do with his head lolling on his neck. He would, over the course of the next half hour or so, caress his brow in his right hand for the most part. His glasses would dangle from his left hand at his hip until he needed them or his hands, at which point he would put them back on his nose. He continued.
“That blind there on the left was open when I passed last Friday. He would always have them closed when it’s dark. But he could have been drunk. You’d never know. When I got home I rang but he wouldn’t answer if he slurred his words. Didn’t want me to hear him slur his words.”
My dad would nod and I just listened from where I was, maybe ten feet away.
“I drove past over the weekend and the blinds were still open. But we thought he may have gone to work or something. Me and the wife gave a knock but there was no answer. He might have been drunk too.”
The local sergeant arrived just then.
“Well John”, he said to my father. “We’re meeting a lot recently.”
Everyone shook hands and the man lead the sergeant to the house. I pulled my father aside and asked him what I could expect when I go in.
“Oh, he’s not that bad.”
As the sergeant got to the door, the man said: “I hope they’re not your good boots.”