WAITING FOR MRS O'BRIEN TO DIE
The kitchen window in the old house looks down over the vale of Tralee to the steeple of St John's Church and beyond to the Slieve Mish mountains. It's only a small window and allows poor light; if the house were to be built today it would be twice the size so that the new money could appreciate the view that they'd bought into. But this house was built a decade before the famine when views were ten a penny but glass was expensive. Because it's a small window the kitchen's dark but it's still my favourite room in the house. I'm moving the last bit of fried egg around my plate and staring out of the window at the view. It's not as great today because sheets of rain are cutting down the visibility and the Slieve Mish are just a suggested brooding shadow rather than a clearly defined range. Jack's sat under the table eating a bit of bacon that I've slipped to him. He won't go out in the rain; he's got more sense this sheepdog. I look at the clock and it's five to nine. I get up and put the kettle on, take out two cups, put tea bags in them and wait for the kettle to boil. It's all done by a minute to nine. I put the two brews down on the table and sit back down, taking a sip. It burns my lips so I rest it down again. The old man comes in from working outside, picks up his cup and eases himself into the chair next to the stove. "Turn the radio up," he says and I do. We do this every day. Nine o'clock. "Radio Kerry has been informed of the following deaths: Thomas McKelligott, 79, of Castleisland..." the voice drones on; a list of names. I don't know any of them. "Padraig Moran, 68, of Killorglin; Mary Keane, 84, of Dunquin; Dennis Harty, 62, of Tralee..." The list ends and the presenter moves on to the local news. The old man stands up and drains his cup. "Feckin' bitch," he says and goes back outside.