Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A short from The Harralton

We have been through so much together. When I first met him, he was still a little boy. Could not have been more than 14 or 15 years old and he was starving and living on the street. He looked like a high wind would blow him over and he was so bloody innocent. There was one wet, cold evening when I decided to buy him something to eat out of the blue. I don’t know why, I didn’t care about anyone or anything back then. I felt I just should. I had seen him a few times up till then.  He was so polite and so grateful that it really moved me. This poor little boy had no choice but to be out there selling himself.”

"A few weeks afterward, I saw him again. This time he was beaten so badly that I almost did not recognize him. Some devil had abused him and dumped him in a rubbish bin in an alley off of Oxford Circus. He was in hospital for month.  In the beginning, he was not expected to live. I went and sat with him for a little while every day until he finally opened his eyesI talked to him, held his hand, did whatever so that he would know he was not alone. Again I still don’t really know why because I was so mixed upmyselfbut he was just so sweetHe still is. You know how some people are just so good regardless? So good, you just want to be near them?”

“He’s just like that. But of course, you know that already. Anyway, when the authorities finally figured out who he was, they sent for his stepfather to come and collect him. He begged me to take him out of there even though he was still in no shape to leave hospital. He was so desperate to get away that I knew I had to do it. I knew what kind of a beast his stepfather was, I had gotten away from one of those myself, so I took him back to the flat I shared with two other girls and took care of him. They were angry that I had taken in this grubby little boy, but soon enough they were in love with him as well.You could say he brought out the good in all of us.

“He did everything he could think of to pull his weight in that flat, Sandra went on smiling. The place was immaculate the entire time he stayed with us. There was always dinner on the stove. The washing up was always done, our beds were made for us. The lavatory was spotless. He carried the laundry to and from the Chinese down the lane.And he was always willing to run the odd errand. He made that shitty little flat a place we wanted to come home to.
“He has returned it all to me a hundredfold over the years. When things got really dark for me, when I was still using, he actually knocked some sense into me and took me to treatment. He has always stood by me. He introduced me to my husband Roger, you know. They were mates at a racket club in Kensington. Nearly every good thing that has happened to me in the last 15 years, he has somehow been involved in it.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Anderson Melee at Monaghan Funeral

Rose knew she was coming down with something when she woke up feeling spaced out and clammy.  It had started with a tickling feeling in her throat.  At first, she thought that because she had fallen asleep with the bedroom window open that was why it was sore, but by the time she got out of the shower she realized this was more than a dry, raw throat.  This was all she needed, to be sick. She had her final critique of the semester coming up and so much work to do to prepare for it that it was ridiculous.  On top of that she had holiday shopping that she had planned to do and a few other small projects.  She did not have time to be sick!

 She dragged her butt to school and clung to life until about two thirty when she realized she had a full blown cold.  Her head was totally plugged and she felt like she had a softball in her throat.  She also had a case of rapid fire sneezing that completely bugged Ray Paul out.

“Go home you sickie! He said not unkindly.  I don’t want what you have!”

She tried to kiss him on the cheek and he squealed like a girl much to her amusement.  She ended up taking his advice and taking her painting home with her so she would still be able to get some work done.  She left a note for her counselor telling him what her plan was and that she may not be at school tomorrow if she continued to worsen.  She did not think it would come to that but she just wanted to be prepared.  She never took any time so she was sure this would be okay with him.

By the time she got home, she knew she made the right decision because she felt absolutely dreadful.  She was totally ready for a nap.  She was bona fide sick if she needed to go to bed in the middle of the afternoon.  She put on her comfy sweats and laid down with Lemmy, who was delighted and cuddled up to her immediately.

She woke up blearily a couple of hours later to Seamus sitting along side of her and looking down at her with a serious expression.

“I had no idea you were home, he said quietly. He touched her face affectionately.  Are you okay?”

“No, she replied. I woke up sick…”

“Me poor Lovely!  He said pushing her over gently and laying down beside her.  He spooned against her affectionately.

“You had better be careful, she said. You don’t want this….”

“Uh, a little late for that I’m afraid, he said snorting headily.  I’ve probably already got whatever it is……”

Rose kind of chuckled too.  This was true.  They had been all over each other in bed.  If there was any contagion about, it already had spread with a vengeance.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” she replied savoring his closeness.

“I got worried when I called you and then texted and you didn’t answer,” he said touching her scalp gently making her tingle.

“I’m sorry, I was just so tired when I got home, I didn’t even hear my phone.”

“No apologies,” he said stroking her hair. 

“What time is it?”

“6:30 thereabouts….”

“Oh my god! I didn’t mean to sleep that long!” Rose said with exhausted disgust. She tried to sit up but he hugged her to him.

“You stay right where you are. Are you hungry?”

“I don’t know, she said relaxing back into his embrace.  I don’t feel hungry.”

“I’ll get you something nice, he said sitting up and kissing her on the cheek.  You may not think so but it may help. Anyway, you’ve got to eat something.”

She didn’t argue.  She fell back asleep seconds after he left her to go to the store for her.


Over the next several days, she was up and down with the bug.  She had not been this sick in years, but she really tried to get through it and finish her work for her final critique.  Seamus was not happy about her exerting herself when she clearly should be home in bed.  Of course, the day of her critique, she felt the absolute worst.  It took her forever to get out of bed.  Seamie insisted on driving her to school because he didn’t think she should drive herself.  He carried her painting into the studio for her too and ordered her to call him the minute she was ready to be picked up so he could take her home. 

She had to admit that she loved his concern and coddling.  Hank had never worried over her like this.  It was Kimmie’s overly dramatic assertion that Seamie was flashing on memories of Adan.  Rose didn’t know about that but just enjoyed the attention despite feeling so crappy.

“Oh my god! Rosie!”

Rose heard Seamus say it but everything was gray and she couldn’t see him.  She could feel herself going down but just to where she was not sure.  It seemed like Seamie was far away too even though she could feel his hands on her wrapping themselves around her waist.  The whole room went on tilt which gave her the overwhelming desire to throw up.  What the hell was going on?

“Holy shit…..! she heard Kim say excitedly.

She felt more hands on her but she still could not see.  It was like a weird dream.

“Get her into a sitting position with her head between her knees,” Kim said quickly.  Rose felt herself getting manhandled.  The room felt like it was being tilted on it’s side again and then light started to slowly show through the grayness.  The room righted itself and suddenly Kimmie was directly in front of her and Seamie was kneeing behind her.  She was leaning against him.

“Wakie! Wakie! Kim said smiling at Rose when she saw that she had woken back up.  Welcome back…”

“That’s it, she heard Seamie say tightly. We’re going to hospital right now….”

 "No, I’ll be ok,” Rose said softly when she realized she must have fainted.

“You’re burning up, Lovely,” Seamie argued stubbornly.

“Seriously, it might not be a bad idea, Rose,” Kimmie said siding with him.

“But they’ll make us sit there all night, Rose complained weakly.  I hate waiting in emergency rooms….”

“Too bad and too sad, Seamie said using one of her ”isms” on her and putting his foot down.


After a surprisingly short wait in the ER at Kaiser on Geary, only an hour and a half, it turned out that Rose had walking pneumonia and a sinus infection, both secondary infections to the nasty cold.  The doctor prescribed antibiotics which Seamie ran off to the pharmacy to pick up for her.  The doctor also provided her with a note so she could take the next couple of days off and rest properly.  It did not matter really at this point, school had ended and she could take as much time as she needed to get over this.  She would call Brian and her school counselor in the morning and tell them what was happening. She had a personal appointment with her counselor in the next couple of days to go over her work plan for next term, hopefully she would be over this soon.

It was only 7:00p.m by the time they got back to the house.  Seamie put her back to bed, brought her medicine to her and made her finish a tall glass of juice in front of him.  He deposited the cat next to her in bed too so Lemmy could put her to sleep with his purring.


Some time in the early morning hours, Rose woke up to the sound of Seamie’s cellular phone ringing.  At first she thought she was dreaming it until she heard Seamie curse sleepily besides her.  She turned her head and watched him bend over and grab and fumble for his phone out of his pants pocket.

The conversation went right into Gaelic.  It had to be Niamh as he always spoke to her in Gaelic and because she was able to pick out “mam” a couple times in the conversation.  His tone waffled between questioning and excitement, and not the good kind.  She also picked out the word “Belfast”.  She hoped there was nothing wrong but she got the distinct impression there was.  Seamie’s mother never called at odd hours so this was worrisome.  Rose’s first worse thought was it might have something to do with his grandpa or grandma or Uncle Con.  Seamie spoke rapidly for several minutes and Rose curled up against him trying to silently show her support.

She thought she picked out her own name once or twice too.  Finally, Seamie hung up.  He sat there for a moment and did not say anything.  The silence was thick and made Rose nervous.

“Everything ok?” Rose asked softly after a moment.  Seamie kind of started like she had pulled him out of deep thought.  He turned and looked at her with the strangest expression.  He looked like he had just seen a ghost.  There was a pregnant moment before he answered.

“Pat’s dead.”


“Me da. He’s dead.”

“Oh my god, Seamie! Rose said starting an ugly round of coughing with her outburst.  She tried to sit up but plopped back trying to catch her breath.  Gawddamnit!

Seamie instead slowly laid back down and faced her.  She did not like the look on his face at all.  He was clearly at a complete loss, which never happened.  He always had an answer, was always full of confidence.  Right now, he was shocked and devoid.  It was eerie.

“What happened?”

“Mam said it was a traffic accident.  He got hit by a lorry in Belfast.”

“Oh my god, I am so sorry!”

“Stupid bastard was drunk, no surprise,” he went on with a strange mingled edge to his tone.  It was a mix of anger, spite and sadness.  He almost sounded like he may cry.

Rose took his hands in hers but didn’t say anything.

“Fuckin’ hell!” he said looking angry.

“I’m so sorry, Seamie, Rose said. It didn’t help much but she really did not know what else to say.  Seamie may have hated Pat, but he was still his father.  She was just trying to be respectful of that simple fact.

“Me mam wants me to come home and go to the funeral with her.  She’s in a real state…..”

“Oh, I’m sure,” Rose said sympathetically.

“They’re going to wait till Tuesday to hold it so I can get there…..I fucking hate Belfast.”

No, you hate this whole thing, that is really what this is about. Having to go and honor your father at his funeral when he doesn’t really deserve it. Rose thought. 

“I want to come with you,” Rose said suddenly.

He did not smile but his expression softened when she said this to him.  He reached up and touched her face affectionately.

“You can’t Rosie, he said sadly. You’re too ill……”

It was true, she could barely raise her head off the pillow.  Her passport, which she had applied for on a whim last year was somewhere in Sebastopol, probably locked up in the family deposit box at the bank.  Her mother was out of town and couldn’t go get it for her.  Tuesday was two days away, there was no time to wait for her to come home and go get it either. The more these facts presented and compounded themselves in her mind, the more ineffectual she felt.  The frustrating reality of it made her start to cry.

“Oh, Lovely, he replied gently.  He pulled her to him and held her. It is what it is, it’ll be alright.”

“I just want to be there for you, she mumbled into his chest. Take care of you.”

“You are.  This will not be a good trip though.  Stay here and mend yourself.”

 “I’m sorry,” she whispered tearfully.

 He kissed her softly on the forehead, her cheek and ended up at her lips.  The kiss deepened as he tasted her and he suddenly climbed onto her.  She was so weak from being sick that she just laid there and let him do whatever he wanted.  He was always gentle but he seemed particularly affectionate right now, probably because he needed it as much as she did, if not more.  It was an unusually slow but sensitive round of lovemaking that ended explosively with an elongated swooning sigh from Rose.

When Rose woke up the next morning, Seamie was already out running errands.  He left her a note saying he was bringing her back some breakfast.

Kimmie did not appear to be around either. Maybe she was with him.  As Rose was coming out of the bathroom, the house phone rang.  She hated answering this line as there was never good news on the other end it seemed, but knowing it was probably important, she lunged for it and picked it up just before it went to the third ring and voice mail.  There was a pause for a few seconds after she said hello?

 “Yes, who’s this now?” it was a little old lady with an Irish accent that could be cut with a knife.

Oh shit. Maybe she should not have answered the phone.  She could plainly hear Seamus saying that it would not due for any of his old country relatives to know he lived with two girls.  Ugh, she hoped he did not catch any nonsense over this!

“This is Rose,” she answered as sweetly and politely as she could.  How may I help you?”

“Oh, hello Rose, this is Margaret Monaghan, the little old lady replied.  Her tone was distant and gave Rose goosebumps.  I’m looking for my grandson James….?

It took Rose a second to register that Margaret was using the anglicized version of Seamus.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, he stepped out for a few minutes, Rose said regretfully.  Can I have him call you when he comes back?”

“Aye, that will have to do.  Thank you Rose!”

“Mrs. Monaghan?”

“Yes dear?”

“My sincerest condolences on your son,” Rose said soberly.  We’re all very sad about what happened.”

There was an awkward pause.

“Thank you for the kind words, Rose,” she said evenly.

Rose heard the front door open behind her and sure enough, Kimmie had been out grocery shopping and running errands with Seamus.  They both had their arms loaded with bags.

“Oh! Seamie’s here, hang on…”

“Yes, dear.”

She held out the phone to Seamus who put his bags on the hall table.

“It’s your grandmother Monaghan,” she whispered.  He nodded and looked unhappily at the phone as she handed it to him.

Rose went back to her room to lay down as the simple exertion of going to the bathroom and answering the phone had managed to burn her out.  Her head was pounding and her tummy was all jacked up from the one dose of antibiotics she had taken.  She was also embarrassed that she had dropped the ball and answered that phone. 

After a few minutes, Kimmie came into the room with a cup of tea with lemon and honey for Rose.  She sat crossed legged on the end of the bed and looked at Rose soberly.

“How is he?” Rose asked in a small voice.

“Tripping hard, Kimmie replied in a low voice. Who wouldn’t be though?”


“He’s already booked his flight, Kimmie said. He’s leaving tonight out of SFO.”

“I wish I could go with him so I could take care of him, Rose said looking at Kimmie with a very sad expression.  This really stinks.”

“Not in your condition, Kimmie replied.  You’d never make it.”

“I know, Rose said getting kind of teary.

“Hey, Kimmie said reaching out and squeezing Rose’s foot through the blanket.  He’ll have the Dohertys to look out for him.  Don’t worry, it’ll be ok.  He says he’ll be back by Thursday too.”

Rose nodded but still felt terrible.  Seamie pushed the door open and came in and joined them.  He sat down next to Rose and touched the top of her head in his familiar way.  

“How’s grandma?” Kimmie asked.

“She’s hanging on, you know her, he said shrugging.  She was concerned I was not going to come home.”

Kimmie rolled her eyes with a little annoyance at this.

“Yeah you had your issues with your dad, but you would think she would know you, and him for that matter, better than that! Kimmie said with a little bit of temper.  Jeezus, damned Monaghans can be so hard headed and clueless..”

“Aye, it is what it is, Seamie said with almost a smile.  He looked down at Rose and petted her head some more. How’s me Lovely today?”

“Miserable, Rose said softly.  I wish I could do more for you.”

“Oh hush, he said gently. I already said you do.”

Rose rolled over and put her head in his lap.

 “I leave tonight, Seamie said gently to her.  But Kimmie promised me that she will take good care of you.”


Seamus’ mood was up and down the rest of the day as he went about preparing for his trip.  In a burst of energy, Rose had tried to help him pack but he had sent her back to bed with a humorless tone.  He came back a few minutes later with a tender apology for being a “right caffler”.  Rose told him not to be silly.

“It’s ok to feel,” she said hugging him.

The house phone rang off and on over the course of the morning.  By the eighth or ninth call, frankly Rose had lost count, Seamie finally lost his temper and actually pulled the telephone line out of the wall.  Rose heard him from her place in bed, but Francis was the only one who actually witnessed it.  Rose grew more and more worried for him.  Clearly it was all snowballing on him and he was not handling it well at all.  He was trying too hard to be a rock.  His head was going to pop if he kept up his tough guy act.

Francis immediately took Seamie out somewhere for about an hour or so for what she assumed was an attitude adjustment.  She was vacuuming up the plaster off the hall runner when Kimmie returned from a running a quick errand.

“What happened? Kimmie said with wide eyes when she saw the plaster on the runner.

“Momentary freak out, Rose replied.  It was just ringing too much.  Francis just took him for a walk.”


When Francis and Seamie returned about an hour later, Seamie was more than just a little drunk.  The upside was, he was mellower than earlier but clearly more muddled than he should be.  This annoyed the hell out of Rose because she was concerned that he might not be allowed on the flight in the state he was in.  Kim was thinking the same thing as she scolded Francis for allowing Seamie to do this to himself.

“Jeezus Francis! They’re gonna take one look at him and not let him board the plane!”

“Not to worry, Francis said trying to placate her.  I’ll make sure he gets on that plane. Even if I have to buy a plane ticket and hand him over to his grandda in Dublin meself.”

They were all standing out in the hallway when this was going on, except for Seamie, whom Rose assumed had gone to the bathroom.  When she saw the door to the bathroom standing open she went and looked in his room. He was not there either.  She was passing the door to her own room when she heard him in there.  He was sitting on the bed with his back to her and talking quietly on the phone.  When she got closer, she realized he was on her cell phone and not his own.

“…..so, please, when you do get in, please check in on our Rosie, she is very, very ill…..thanks and safe travels……”

“Who was that? Rose asked with surprise when he turned his head and gave her a sad, endearing albeit lopsided smile.

“Left a message for your mam, he said handing her phone to her. She should be here caring for you…….”

Oh my god, Rose thought.  It had sounded like a civil message from the part she had caught, but she knew her mom would freak out anyway.  It was a good thing that he was a cute drunk.  She decided not to say anything as he had enough problems right now.

“Back to bed with you now, he said standing up shakily and folding back her blanket for her to climb in which she did.

"Get in with me, she said patting the space beside her.  I want to hold you awhile.”

He climbed in beside her obediently and sighed pleasantly when she wrapped her arms around him and pressed herself against him.  Kim poked her head in and went to shut the door to give them privacy when she saw what was going on.

“Come get him when it’s time to leave for the airport,” Rose said to her. Kim nodded silently and shut the door quietly.

Rose woke up blearily to the sound of Kim knocking on the door to let them know it was time for Seamus to leave for the airport.  They had both fallen asleep.  Seamie sat up suddenly and nearly rolled off the bed.  He recovered himself awkwardly.  He was apparently still buzzed.

Rose got up too so she could at least say goodbye to him properly.  She followed him out of the room with her quilt wrapped around her shoulders and trailing behind her.   Francis practically had to pry Seamie off of her when they kissed goodbye as he was not letting go.  When he pulled back from her he had big fat tears coursing down his cheeks.  It was startling against his dazzling blue eyes.

“Ok, enough of that, Francis said not unkindly. You got a plane to catch, Seam.”

“Aye,” Seamie said sadly letting Francis steer him out the front door.

Rose went back to her room and had herself a good, private cry.

When Rose woke up a few hours later, she found her mother laying next to her on the bed reading a book.  She had fallen into another one of those deep, power naps. 

“My poor baby! Mom said putting her book down when she saw Rose was finally awake.

“Hi, Rose said in a small voice.  I guess you got Seamie’s message?”

“I sure did.”

“What did he say?” Rose asked.  She wanted to know just how inappropriate the message was.

“Just very worried, Mom said reaching out and touching Rose’s forehead.

“He was totally loaded and out of his mind when he called you,” Rose confessed.

“He was? Well, he sounded okay, Mom replied with surprise.  Kim told me about his father, I am so sorry.”

“Francis is putting him on a plane right now,” Rose said, looking at her mother sadly.  He has a very long couple days in front of him. I wish I could be with him.”

“I know, honey.”

Rose’s phone tooted quietly from her bedside table.

“That’s been going off for about 20 minutes, Mom said as Rose grabbed it and read it.  It was a text from Seamie.

I love you.


By the next day, Rose thought she was actually feeling better. She was still tired but her crappy headache was fading away and her cough had loosened up.  She managed to take a shower and tidy up her room a little which made for a nice deep nap afterward.  Her mother stayed the night and well into following afternoon.  It was nice to have alone time with her mother as she did not get this much anymore.  They laid around and watched movies, that is, when Rose was awake which was not a lot of the time.  It did cheer her up and took her mind off of how unhappy Seamie was somewhere out there.  Kimmie was in and out as she had an important project due at work.  Rose was barely left alone more than an hour at a time.

While she had not received any more texts from Seamie, she did get a few e-mails from him.  A few of them were oddball.  Some were simple I love yous, or just random things.  His cracked sense of humor shining through which made her feel better about not being with him. 

Her favorite was a picture of what looked like the top of the guys head in the row in front of him on the airplane. The guy was a selfish ass as he had tilted his seat back so far that his head was practically in Seamie’s lap.  It looked like Seamie had taken a sharpie and written “bald fucka” and then signed below it on the guy’s bald spot.  Rose couldn’t believe Seamie’s audacity and she laughed for about 15 minutes.  She knew when Kim opened the e-mail too because she heard her laugh out loud from her room.

With some of the pictures, Rose was not sure what she was looking at. He sent one showing a line of people titled “Fuckin’ Hell!”.  She zoomed in and saw that they were all holding up cameras and appeared to be taking Seamie’s picture.  It must have been at the airport in Dublin.  It was a classic paparazzi mob shot.  There was even a news camera present.

“Oh no, Kimmie groaned when Rose showed it to her.  He was afraid that would happen…”

"Really? Rose said with surprise.  Would they really be that interested in him after all this time?”

“Absolutely, Kim replied with real disdain.  The Monaghans are still a household word there. Right up there with The Chieftains.  I am sure it is all over the news there”

Kim came into Rose’s room a little while later with her laptop.  She had googled “Padraic Monaghan” and come up with several obituaries about Pat.  Most were sober and respectful in tone for the most part, but then there were a few related shamelessly sensationalistic articles.  Kim brought up the most upsetting one which was the picture of Seamus at the airport looking completely out of character.  He was unshaven and looked exhausted.  Frankly, he looked wild. He was holding out his smart phone and taking a picture of the photographers as they photographed him.  He had his classic disgusted look on his face, his brow all knitted up.  Ordinarily Rose thought this expression was adorable because he looked really Irish when he pulled this face, but here it just made her feel so bad for him.  The caption with the picture was even worse, Monaghans’ Seamus, Estranged Son of Padraic, Returns for his Father’s Funeral.

“Just what the hell do they know about it? Rose said suddenly really angry.  They’re making Seamie out to be an asshole!”

“It sells papers, Rose, Kimmie replied a little sadly.  Kim Youtubed the awful headline and some actual news footage came up.  Jeezus Christ, they did not waste anytime posting this stuff!

The footage started at the point that Seamie took his own pictures and followed him about 15 seconds as he walked to a black Land Rover that was waiting at the curb.  Seamie threw his bags in the back of the SUV and slammed the hood down hard.  The footage ended with him turning and throwing a filthy look into the camera before he climbed into the front passenger side.  There was a moment where the cameras caught sight of the driver, a little white haired man.  Rose wondered if that was his grandpa Doherty.  As the Rover pulled away, Niamh could be seen in the seat behind Seamie’s.  She looked very sad.

As if any of them need this right now, Rose said with disgust as she pulled out her phone.  She e-mailed him an “I love you!”, right then and there.

“Lovely!” Seamie said when she picked up her phone when he called her about 4:00p.m. Monday afternoon.

“Hey! Rose said excitedly.  How’s it going?!”

“Well, we’re here, he said quietly.  Just bracing meself for tomorrow.”

“Oh, lovie…..”

“How’re you feeling?”

“I do feel a little better today actually,” Rose said.

“Grand. Did your mam come?”

“Yes. She stayed the night and left this afternoon.”


There was a pause before Seamie spoke again.

“Me mam wants to speak to you.”

There was a pause and Niamh’s sweet voice came on.

“Hello Rosie, she said sounding almost upbeat.  How’s my poor dear?”

“I’m much better today thanks, Rose said.  More importantly how are you doing? I’m so, so sorry….!”

“Oh, we’re pulling through, love.  Once we get tomorrow behind us, it will be much better.”

“I really wish I was there to pay my respects, Niamh, Rose said with genuine regret.  It really bothers me that I can’t be there to help.”

“Oh no! I appreciate the sentiment but you’re lucky you don’t have to be around all this, Niamh said gently.  You just mind yourself and get better.  I’ll make sure Seamus brings you to us under much happier circumstances!”

“That would be totally awesome,” Rose replied.

“Here, I’m handing you back to Seamie, Niamh replied.  You be a good girl now!”

“I promise,” Rose tried to joke.

There was a second of muffled conversation on his end before he came back on.

“Bald fucka! Rose said to him when he did.  He started to laugh which was music to her ears.  I can’t believe that guy leaning back on you like that…”

“I have one better still, Seamus replied cheekily. He was one of those photographers from that other picture I sent you…”

Rose guffawed at this and ended in a round of coughing.

“Caffler didn’t even realize it was me sittin’ behind him, Seamus said starting to really laugh at the sound of Rose’s amusement.  So, I left him an autograph!”

Rose laughed, or rather, coughed harder.

“Listen, I said I was coming back on Thursday, but me Uncle Con wants me to stay a day or two longer, Seamie said with a tone that sounded like he was asking her permission.  I’ll be home Monday, instead….?”

“You really should, Rose said cheerfully, although she had a flash of momentary disappointment.  You don’t get to see them that often anymore, take full advantage of it…”

“Grand!” Seamie replied with some relief in his voice. I won’t stay beyond Monday, Lovely, I promise….”


Kimmie had set herself up to receive e-mail alerts to keep up with new tabloid entries as she had said she knew more was to come.  Francis had loved the bald fucka thing and groaned heavily when they showed him the scene at the curb at the Dublin airport.

The worst came on Wednesday though when Francis was visiting with Katie.  They were sitting in the living room after a nice Chinese take out dinner.  Rose sat watching the baby, sad she couldn’t hold her because she didn’t know if she was in any way communicable.  She didn’t want to make Katie sick.

“Holy shit,” Kim said suddenly.  She was on the couch with her laptop open on her lap.

“What?! Francis asked with wide eyes sitting on the floor with the baby climbing on him.  Rose got up and sat down next to Kimmie to see what she saw.

“Yeah, you’re gonna love the title of this one, Kimmie said sarcastically. Anderson Instigated Melee at Monaghan Funeral…”

“What?! Francis answered again more excitedly.

Kimmie ran the video back to the beginning.  The funeral was a traditional Irish funeral where the coffin was carried by pallbearers and no hearse was used.  It was all done on foot.  The procession was a long one as there appeared to be about a 1,000 Monaghans present at this thing.  They were a silent wall of people slowly keeping pace behind the coffin.  Rose could clearly see Seamus and his mother and an older woman who might be Margaret Monaghan in the first line of processors.  Seamie looked so nice and polished in his suit, quite a change from his harried look the other day at the airport.  He really stood out.  Handsome!

“Is that your grandma?” Rose asked Kimmie.

“Yup, that’s Margaret, Kim replied.  She’s a tough old bird…”

Francis stood up and picked up the baby and sat down on Kim’s other side so he could watch as well.

“Sweet Jaysus, he said, that’s a turn out!”

“Where is this? Rose asked. She thought the funeral was in Belfast, but this looked like a village, not a big city.

“Ballymena, Francis replied. North of Belfast.”

The procession moved like a living breathing river moving slowly down the center of the street.  It was very impressive.  Both sides of the street were lined with on-lookers.  The Guarda was a conspicuous presence.

“That’s a lot of cops,” Rose joked humorlessly.

“You never know what can happen with this lot,” Francis said absently.

The cameras managed to keep up with the throng until it cut to what looked like a funeral reception at a public house.  There were still a lot of people, but they were spread out and milling around, socializing.  There were so many people that they did not all fit in the pub, the street and sidewalk was covered with people.  The camera suddenly zeroed in on Seamus and his mother who were standing outside the front door greeting everyone.  It was crowded but the mood seemed  mellow and somber.  Seamie’s Grandma Margaret was nowhere to be seen at this point.  A boy, probably about 16 years old and inappropriately dressed for a funeral as he looked like a thug, walked up to Seamus and his mother and said something.  The kid got right up in Seamie’s face making him put his hand on the kid’s chest, pushing him back about a foot.  Niamh took the cocktail she was holding and threw the contents in the kids face.

“Ach, the fuckin’ Anderson! Francis spat angrily.  He can’t even show any respect at a bloody funeral!”

“Who?” Rose asked not taking her eyes off the video.

“Fergus Anderson, Francis explained. He’s Seamie’s half brother, little arsehole….!”

“Alleged half brother”, Kimmie corrected him calmly.

“Seamie has a half brother?” Rose asked completely lost.

The kid came back from the dousing and grabbed for Niamh but Seamie blocked him.  That was when Fergus sucker punched him.  Seamus came back and grabbed the kid by the front of his jacket and returned a punch right in the center of his face.  The expression on Seamie’s face was alien to Rose, pure outrage.  Niamh was grabbing his arm and trying to pull him off of Fergus.  That was the last straw, the scene in front of the pub descended into a complete riot.  Rose lost track of Seamie and his mother as it was a suddenly a sea of flying fists and wild kicking.  There easily had to be at least a 100 people involved in the fight and more were including themselves by the second.  Several guarda came running in as well.

“Aye, there he is!” Francis said excited.  He pointed Seamus and Niamh out to Kimmie and Rose.  Seamus had his arm around his mother and was moving her bodily threw the pub door as well as the little white haired man that Rose had seen driving that Land Rover in the video at the airport.  The pub door slammed behind them.

“Is that Grandpa Doherty?” Rose asked pointing him out.

“No, that’s Seam’s Uncle Con, Francis said clearly annoyed by what he was seeing.  I don’t think Mr. Doherty was there.”

That was where the video ended.  The voice over said that 25 people had been arrested in the melee and several people had ended up in hospital. Extra Guarda had also been called to quell the violence.  Luckily, there were no fatalities.  Hearing that just about made Rose fly out of her skin, she jumped up and grabbed her phone out of her pocket and dialed Seamie.  Leave it to him, he had sent her several e-mails today telling her he loved and missed her terribly and a picture of a pub called Fitzgerald’s, but he did not say anything about being involved in a full blown riot!  Dude was a trip.

“What are you doing?” Kimmie asked her.

"I’m finding out if he is ok, Rose said with a shaking voice.  Her hands trembled as she dialed him.

“He’s fine, Francis said gently trying to placate her. We saw it ourselves.  And anyway, it is 3:00am there. He’s probably asleep, love.”

Rose stopped for a moment and then hung up.  She didn’t want to wake him, but she wanted to be absolutely sure he was alright.

CALL ME. She e-mailed him, then added I love you!


He waited the next day and called her about 9:00a.m. her time.

“Are you ok? She asked immediately when she heard his voice.  We saw the news report about the fight in Ballymena…..”

“Aye, I’m fine, Lovely, he said nonchalantly.  Just a split lip….”


“It’s fine, Rosie, he said gently.  It’ll heal.”

“What about your mom? Rose asked him in a small voice.  Is she ok?”

“Aye, she’s fine, he said.  She’s happy we’re back in Dundalk where it’s quiet.”

“That really scared me,” Rose replied in a tight voice.  She wanted him to realize that it was a very big deal to her.

“Oh Lovely, everything’s fine.  Grand, in fact.  Now I can honestly say I can scrape all this off me shoe…don’t ever have to see a single one of those cafflers ever again…!”

“Who was that little dickhead who punched you? Rose pressed further.  She wanted to hear about Fergus from Seamie himself.

“Oh, that’s just Fergus, Seamus said lightly.  He’s Pat’s other son.”

“You’ve got a half brother?!”

“I would like to think so, Seamus said with an ironic tone. But Fergus doesn’t see it that way. He calls me the mistake.”

That was the last thing that Rose expected to hear from Seamie given the obvious tension between him and Fergus in that video.  He sounded like he kind of bemoaned the fact that Fergus did not want to make the best of the situation and remain as cordial as possible. Again, there was Seamus the kind hearted, peacemaker.

“He says that every time we run into each other, Seamus said chuckling. It’s his way of implying that he is Pat’s real son and that I turned me back on me da.  The really funny part is that Pat would have nothing to do with him or his mam after he was born. Drove his mam mental from what I am told.”

“Oh my god, Rose said.  That’s awful.”

“Aye, it is but he’s just an angry young man, Seamie said diplomatically.  He should be angry with Pat and not me.  It’s not his fault that Pat was a bastard and never got over me mam.”

Rose had so many questions about this but Seamie was in such an obviously upbeat mood she did not want to bring him down again.  She would just have to ply Kimmie and Francis for more information.

“Anyhow, enough about Fergus the eejit, he said in a soft tone. How’s me Lovely feeling?”

Kimmie told Rose that Fergus and his mother were the whole reason that Seamus left The Monaghans and went to live with his Uncle Con in Liverpool.  Mairie Anderson, Fergus’ mother, was one of the Monaghan Singers and had apparently been having an affair with Pat for years.  Pat had been fooling around with her even as far back as before Adan’s passing.  Seamie’s leaving for Liverpool started the whole disintegration of the band and the affair.  When Seamie left, the truth about Mairie and Fergus came out.  That was when Niamh found out and it was the official death throw of The Monaghans.

“It was so ‘As The World Turns’, Kimmie joked and rolling her eyes.  The Monaghans are a regular soap opera....”

“No kidding,” Rose joked humorlessly.

“Pat was so entitled, Kimmie said with disgust.  Most of the Monaghans sided with Niamh and Seamie.  Even Grandma Margaret and she’s a total hardass and was never that fond of Niamh.  She disowned Pat and apparently did not talk to him for years. Being related to the Dohertys, gave them some credibility and some class and when they realized Pat had jeopardized their image and celebrity and they weren’t going to let it go.  Before Niamh and Seamie, they were nothing more than dirt poor Catholic trash from the North.

“I was talking to him about it, Rose said. And he almost sounded like he was disappointed that Fergus has so much animosity towards him.”

“Yeah, that’s Seamie the sweetheart talking, Kim replied smiling.  I think he basically kind of likes the idea that he has a brother.  Too bad they can’t get past all the bad history and bullshit.  Seamie would be a great influence on that little asshat, Fergus.”