Pat J Mullan lives in Co Kildare. His short stories have been published in Spontaneity, The Galway Review, Paper Swans i-pamphlet The Incubator, Deep Water Literary Review, Shift Magazine and Word Bohemia. He was shortlisted for the Francis McManus Short Story Competition and his entry was broadcast on RTE Radio.
By Pat J Mullan
I got her present out of the boot of the car in the garage and staggered on tip-toes to the back door.
It had been some session all right. We had worked in the morning, if you could call it work. Then headed to Ryan’s of Parkgate Street for an early lunch at twelve. We didn’t eat until seven and it was nearly eleven by the time they stopped serving.
Some of the lads were in a bad way, and I must admit I was pretty wasted myself, but at least I had the sense not to head back to Eddie’s place in Ranelagh for a nightcap. I had unlocked the bike and headed for Harold’s Cross in the frozen slush.
To be fair, I’d put the tree up last weekend and had helped her picking the Santa things on Tuesday, but an undercurrent of guilt remained somewhere in the pit of my stomach all day –but quite not strong enough to pull me away from Ryan’s. Angela would not be happy.
There were no lights on as I freewheeled into the driveway and locked the bike. I held the bunch of keys tightly as I eased the key into the back door lock and gently turned it. I put Angela’s present under the tree. So far so good. I was just straightening up the star on the top of the tree when I heard a noise in the hall. Angela. Arms akimbo, eyes blazing.
“Give me your phone,” was all she said. She switched it on. Twelve missed calls and five text messages. “Don’t forget to pick up the turkey in Reilly’s. They close at 4.30”
Should have gone to Eddie’s place.