The Irish Heart of the Matter (True Fiction)

…Picking up in Chapter 6 because I wanted to get to the [Irish] heart of the matter to pay homage to Joseph O’Bromely and all such kindred souls. HaPpY Saint Patrick’s Day Y’all. (Psst I think it’s a 99¢ St. Patty’s sale.)

…….

“I have to go to ER.” Clara calmly announced after she returned the telephone to its holding place. “I will go with you.” Mary told her, tossing her bag to Levi, “Keep up with this until I get back.”

Levi and Maggie stared as the two quietly exited without further explanation.

“I have to go to ER.” Clara calmly announced after she returned the telephone to its holding place.

“What was that about?” Maggie asked shaking her head.

“Clara’s father.” He told her, concentrating on the mental picture.

“Oh my lord! Is Mary telling you this? What’s going on?”

“He’s not going to make it.” Levi said, shaking his head sorrowfully.

Mary’s left hand was locked tightly inside Clara’s; with her right hand she pressed the silver colored disk on the wall that allowed them entry to the emergency room. She could see Jim pacing beside the clear enclosure. The same place that it seemed only moments ago Mary MacDougal O’Bromley had breathed her last breath.

“Have you seen the outcome?” Mary asked just above a whisper and Clara nodded. “Then you are ready?” again, the woman nodded. Turning loose of Mary’s hand, Clara rushed to Jim with open arms.

“Are you alright sweetie?” she asked wrapping her slender arms around him.

“I’m fine. I’m fine.” He repeated as if trying to reassure himself.

“We knew this was coming but it doesn’t make it any easier does it?”

“No. No, it doesn’t” he answered smudging a stray tear from his whiskers. “How are you Mary?” he asked pulling her in for a hug.

“I’m good.”

The women looked like children hugged against the massive man.

“You walk between the yin and yang.” Mary said, smiling up at him.

“It beats the lonely road that brought me here.” He said with a weak grin.

Clara watched through the clear wall as Dr. Lawrence pushed medication into the veins of her dying father. Easing away from Jim she pressed her forehead to the plastic glass and waited for Joseph O’Bromley to look her way. When his faded green eyes finally met hers he smiled and winked and motioned her to come in. She in turn held up her index finger indicating in a moment and winked back at him.

“They know not to resuscitate him, right?” she asked without taking her eyes off of the first man she had ever loved.

“They know.” Her husband answered, “The doc said they would just push a few cardiac meds and see if that will patch him up.”

“Their pharmaceuticals won’t fix a broken heart.” Clara replied with a quiver, “He will be with Mama before long and I don’t want him seeing you grieve Jim. He needs to know you’ll be okay.”

“I know. I know.”

Clara didn’t have to look to know that his cheeks were wet, that his beard was spattered with droplets like an autumn field in the early morning dew. She could feel his mourning; see the sobbing child in the dim corner of his subconscious and the terrible sadness that had overshadowed them both since the passing of her mother. A shared sadness more about the state of the man now on his journey to reunite with that woman, the one he could never live without. In an odd way Clara felt at peace with the fact.

“We’ve done as much as his living will allows us to do but I’m afraid it won’t be enough Clara… again, I’m sorry.” Dr. Lawrence carefully announced.

“How much time do you guesstimate?” she asked still frozen to the sight of Mr. O’Bromley.

“One hour… maybe three hours tops. This one’s hard to call.”

Dr. Lawrence had an uncanny ability to estimate death down to the hour. He considered it a matter of scientific reckoning though Clara argued if it were science the art should be prevalent in most doctors, it was not.

“Will you ask Maggie to write me off the clock? I want to be with him until it’s over.”

“I sure will. I’ve been meaning to stop in there and visit with her anyway; this will give me an excuse.”

“You all can go in now.” Lisa told them after she had tidied the room and smoothed the thinning gray hair of her patient. “We’re not going to admit him so if there is anything you need just let me know.” The three smiled and nodded graciously before entering the room. Mary seated herself against the wall while Jim and Clara stood silently on either side of the bed.

“You two should have a seat. This might take a while.” The old man announced without opening his eyes.

“I’ll stand for just a bit if you don’t mind.” His daughter said, smoothing the wrinkles on his cold blue hands.

“What about you Jimbo?”

“I can’t sit with a lady standing Joseph.” 

“You can if she insists.” Opening his eyes slightly where she could see them he added, “Clara Bell why don’t you insist he take a seat.”

“Please sit down honey, I insist.”

“Alright then.” Jim obliged.

“Who is that across the room?” Mr. O’Bromley asked squinting at Mary.

“It’s me – Mary, Linda’s mother. If you would like for me to wait outside I will understand.”

“Heavens no.” He gasped, “Come over here and give me a hug.” Mary quickly rose and hurried to the bedside. Leaning over she hugged him and asked, “How are you?” Immediately she regretted the inquiry. It was a stupid question, one asked out of polite habit. She knew how he was – he was dying.

“I’ll be better soon.” He smiled as he took her hand, “It didn’t take you long to lose that accent once you got to Texas did it?”

“No sir.”

“Is that a wedding ring on your finger? Who’d you marry?”

“His name is Levi Turner.”

“That’s Maggie’s dad ain’t it?”

“Yes it is.” Mary blushed.

“Didn’t take y’all long to-” Mr. O’Bromley’s words were cut short by a fit of coughing that left his lips a deep shade of lavender.

“Let’s put some oxygen on.” Clara said bringing the mask toward his face only to be met with a weak hand clutching her wrist.

“No now, let’s don’t prolong it. I’ve got a date with destiny.”

“Ok Daddy. I just want you to be comfortable – as comfortable as possible.” She told him in a tone as bold as she could muster.

“It ain’t near as bad as it looks honey… or as bad as it sounds.” He wheezed and licked at his dry lips. “You could get me a shot of whiskey to wet my whistle though.”

“You don’t drink whiskey.” Clara grinned.

“I do on special occasions and this here is pretty darn special I’d say.” His attempt at joking lead to another bout of hissing coughs which gave his mouth a darker appearance.

“How about you quit trying to be funny. There’s no need to rush it by-”

“By what? Laughing myself to death. I can’t think of a better way to leave here.”

“You’re right pops. You always did love to joke. I guess you can’t help it.” Clara subtly turned her head and swept the wandering trickle from her jaw line.

Mary stood vigil holding the old Irishman’s hand and viewed the clear memories on his outer cortex. The picture playing out in color of him as a small lad holding to the tattered pocket of his father’s mud stained khakis.

On a cobbled Chicago street he had stopped to spit shine their shoes with a dingy handkerchief laden with holes before stepping onto the sidewalk. He removed his woolen flat-cap and spoke to what looked like a butcher in a stained white apron,

I see ye have a help wanted sign and I sir am looking for work. They’ll be nothing I can’t do and do well if ye give me but a chance, I’ll prove it to ye.’

She could see Joseph hang his head so his father would not see him ashamed and crying when the cruel man answered, ‘Gawl darn white trash! Why don’t you first learn to read? The man then slammed the door where the sign was clearly visible through the glass pane

NO IRISHMEN NEED APPLY!

Maybe in another hundred year’s wee Joseph.’

The memory had apparently pained Mr. O’Bromley most of his life, not for himself but for his father’s desperation… for the humiliation.  Had it not been for the MacDougal’s they would have frozen or starved to death in the alleys.

I’d recommend you tone done yer accent Isaac and say yer a Scott. Drop the O in O’Bromley and maybe even try to pass yerself as a Brit- would certainly make life a bit kinder. That was Mr. MacDougal’s advice to Joseph’s father.

I’ll not do it. I cannot deny who I be no more than I could deny Christ himself. Tis by His mercies and good men like ye Marland MacDougal whom He put in me path – I’ll find favor. And me little Joseph will one day be a respectable citizen of these United States.

Mary continued watching, enthralled by the man’s mental history and squeezed his hand tighter at the sight of young Duffy.

The boys were instant buddies, playful and happy. She concentrated on every word, every gesture and movement of the adolescent MacDougal. She cheered him on as he slid onto the makeshift base in a game of ball played with a thick cedar limb and a heavy wad of masking tape. ‘Safe!’ a young girl yelled from the batter’s square and instantly the vision of Duffy was gone. Joseph’s full attention lighted on the smiling child with hazel colored eyes. The girl he knew he’d marry when they were old enough.

“Clara tells me you got the gift of seeing. And that you helped her.” Mr. O’Bromley forced the words out in short gasps. 

“She helped me more than I helped her, I’m sure.” Mary smiled at Clara who was entranced in her own theatre of the man’s reminiscences.

‘Duffy would you make me a cup?’ the expectant Mary O’Bromley was asking, ‘and mince a sprig of mint to ease my troubled tummy.’ The burly barefooted man smiled sweetly and obliged. Moving gracefully for his size Clara noted as he tenderly handed his sister the warm chamomile tea with fragments of wild mint floating toward the edges of the shallow cup. ‘Little Clara likes the chamomile.’ He’d told her.

“I still like the chamomile.” She said aloud.

“Who you talkin’ to baby girl?” her father asked, “Do you see your mama comin’ for me?”

“Not yet.” Clara whispered and went back to watching what was left of Joseph’s recollections.

‘I wish you would settle down and make a family. I miss you so much when you’re out gallivanting all over the county.’ Mrs. O’Bromley was pleading with her brother, ‘There’ll be no heir to carry on the MacDougal name `less ye produce one.’ 

A bright eyed Joseph O’Bromley squatted across the room tapping the last miniature nail in to a freshly made cradle before testing its sturdiness. Don’t harp on the man Mary. Could be ain’t no woman would have him and you’re gonna make him feel bad about his self ‘cause he aren’t as handsome as me.

Duffy laughed, shook his head and took her hand in his, ‘You worry too much sweet sister. If it be me destiny I’ll have a troublesome wife of me own and a dozen mean boys to give fits to my ugly brother in law. But if not, so be it. Time will tell.’  Time was what the young Mary feared, knowing that Duffy’s was running out.

Joseph…

Mary Magdalene and Clara simultaneously heard his approach.

Joseph, are you ready old friend?

“I am.” Mr. O’Bromley wheezed, “Is my Mary with you?”

She’s waiting.

Clara squeezed her father’s hand and motioned for Jim. When he stood Mary reluctantly released her hold along with the sparkling image of the beacon and allowed Jim to stand in her place.

“Please know I love you and how grateful I am that you made me family.” Jim’s voice cracked when he spoke causing both women to sniffle unexpectedly. Joseph weakly pinched his son in laws hand and mouthed a few inaudible words.

“He says he’ll see you on the other side.” Clara told him.

It’s time to go now Joseph O’Bromley.

“Good-bye Daddy.” Clara whispered.

Mary watched from the end of the bed as the man’s body went limp. When his eyes glazed over she inconspicuously placed her hand on his foot to catch a glimpse of the departure. She could see the faint outlining of a door that appeared out of nowhere. “What’s it like?” She heard Joseph ask to which Duffy replied, “You’ll know in a moment.” And just before the flickers of shattered light faded… the transporter turned to Mary and smiled.

Read the entire story wherever you buy books. Read the entire series.

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