Unrevenged in Irish speak

Written by

Kele Okereke – Tenderoni

At the crowds back were two men. One, 39, was named Penn. Penn was tall, well dressed, and looked to the floor with insistence, as if forever in search of something or nothing. No feature discerning or impressive. He was a fluent man with a vintage lust; both virtues lost to the past.

The second, 44, held the self-claimed “unfortunate” name of Kelly Kelly, although from even a young age he would spell the first Kelly as ‘Kele’. He was shorter that Penn, certainly wider, and his neck spun from side to side with restless inquisition.

Penn was one of the final shadows to turn up to Howard Tyne’s funeral. Around the open grave were the huddled crowd – huddled not by companionship, but by a scarcity of umbrellas. A crowd starved for a conclusion to a day that offered little but rain and the impending cover of dark sky.

Penn approached the back of the crowd just as Kele had parted from the pack to put out a cigarette. Meeting as strangers, Kele spoke first.

“How did you know him,” Kele asked, pointing to the grave and not the coffin.

“We met many years ago, but we weren’t close,” said Penn.

“He wasn’t close to many it seems, not many at all. Sad life, most certainly. By his own hand, though… well, so others would have you believe. I asked for no certainty, no notion, but stories spun in the air for weeks after. It was hard to miss it – hard to tear yourself away from the whispers.”

Kele didn’t need to ask Penn, who was unmoved by Kele’s immediate openness, if he was sure as to what exactly was being spoken of. Penn nodded and waited. Kele continued, moving weight from his right leg and then to his left, shifting with each spit of wind.

Moving closer until their shoulders kissed, “Didn’t he swerve towards that young chap?”

“Swerved, he did. All they said to me is all I know. He swerved. No accident. He swerved and hit him and he took joy from it, he did.”

“Says she, the wife, they actually came from the shop door first on hearing the bang and saw the glass and broken concrete and the boy on the floor – that plastic tricycle of his, the blue one, a mess it was. It was in several pieces. Blood on the path they couldn’t remove for weeks after. He was some distance from the car; throwing distance, and pardon my phrasing. Minus a sliver of damage on the hood, admittedly a chunk of a sliver, the car seemed apart from the incident.

“I didn’t ask about it further.

“He was fucking on the lookout for someone and the story, as told by all, tells it that way, that’s for sure. What was done is what he wanted done. Don’t take what I say as perfect. Take your confirmation of the happenings at home. Trust your own. Ask your own.

“To tell you the Jesus truth, well, aren’t we all glad? They say you wouldn’t wish it on your enemy, but it doesn’t take much thought to wish it. A lie to wish nothing but goodness on any man, especially him. If ever a hungry cancer was a good cancer, this was the one. Did everyone a favour, it did.

“We’ll call a spade a spade here, him and his jittering ways – a bad man and nothing more. Be God, the one woman he loved, the faintest bit of man in him, didn’t love him back. It wasn’t the wife either. The mother it was. The moment she laid eyes on his delayed, wrinkled face she had made her mind.

“I suppose he must’ve thanked her in his prayers for an excuse then,” stuttered Penn, finally.

“An excuse to be bad? Aye, possibly,” concluded Kele, before mouthing a prayer he was unsure of.

Like cereal to a bowl, the thrown soil punched the coffins front with speckled noise, short vibrations eating the fog air. The strap that held his final home strained through the dry hands of those who held it, and they staggered a little with the weight, the wet ground and soil lessening the violent thud that could have been as the coffin bounced off one side of the grave to the other. Penn took a breath deep within him and held it for as long as moments would allow. Exhaling, his sight blinded by his own escaping white lungs, he buttoned his coat. He scraped his shoes on the gravel and shook Kele’s hand.

“I’m not glad with this end, friend” Penn muttered. “Not entirely. It wasn’t by my hand that he passed.”

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