Evan’s return

Evan Murphy bought his mother’s house. It was a cottage in Ireland. When he returned to the small village where he grew up to become the fine fellow he was, he presented the deed to her. She was now debt free.

The cottage had been her grandfather’s house and his father’s before him. It even had their smells, the smells of generations who lived in that house.

Evan returned to the village a successful man. The priest welcomed him with open arms. He needed a benefactor and Evan was just the benefactor he needed. Work had not been done on the church for years. The roof had a leak.

Each of the villagers came to Evan with a sob story. Evan helped each out with a little bit of money. After all, he had made plenty. In America. His invention had done it for him. And continued to do it. He had licensed it and now he was living off the royalties.

Conal Breathnach had a daughter. Kathleen was her name. When he was twelve, Evan had fallen in love with her. Now he returned to claim his bride. Kathleen was tall with her long red hair hanging to her waist. She had a quietness to her. A calm that could make it through a storm. Evan loved her deeply, and she loved him in return.

Breathnach agreed to the wedding now that his future son-in-law was a wealthy man. Years earlier he had given the boy a no. Now he gladly gave Evan a nod.

Kathleen and Evan walked beside each other out by the stream where the men fished for their suppers. “What’s your intentions?” she asked the man she was to marry.

“My intensions, Kathleen Breathnach?” Evan held her hand as they walked.

“Yes,” she said. “What do you see for the future, Evan Murphy?”

“Aye,” he said. “I see children. At least, two.”

“I like children,” she said, knowing she would be the one to bear them.

“And I see us living in a big house just outside the village. With acres and acres of land.”

“I want to see the world. I’ve seen this village and I’m ready for the world.”

Evan had always dreamed of returning and living in the village as a great landlord. Kathleen did not have this dream. Her dream was to get as far away as she could from the people in the village. They were a small, petty folk, and she wanted none of them.

Evan had seen the world and he knew the folk everywhere were the same. There were those who’d tried to steal his invention. At least, he knew the pettiness and the smallness of the village folk. But then, if this was what Kathleen wanted, he would give it to her. It had been ten years since he left and she had waited on him. She had had offers but none of them had been Evan Murphy.

They walked over the hill and down to the giant tree where they had pledged their love before he left. Kathleen believed in Evan with all her heart. She had known he would return somebody. And now here he was, a man of the world with worldly success.

Finally, Kathleen asked the question that had been bothering her. “Just how much money do you have, Evan Murphy?” If he was to be the father of her children, she wanted to know none of them would starve the way she had in the year of ’07. That year, the hunger had been the worst it ever was.

Evan Murphy assured her that he had enough money for generations to come. And there was more than enough for a trip around the world. Evan Murphy was a rich man. That was for sure.

“I do love you, Evan Murphy,” she said, then she kissed his lips.

It was the first kiss he had since his return. It was not the kiss he remembered. That kiss had a sweetness to it like honey. This one had a bitterness. The bitterness of experience with living with a father who beat her when he came home drunk. The bitterness of losing her mother from the sickness. The bitterness of having hunger as a companion. It was a bitter kiss.

Evan realized that this was not the Kathleen he’d left behind to go off and make his fortune in America. Evan realized that Kathleen had been a romanticized fantasy. The Kathleen he’d just kissed was not the Kathleen he’d left behind. Life had made her bitter then and life still made her bitter.

The memories of all the tears she’d shed to manipulate him from leaving. All the times they had fights. He remembered the sorrow that the village wore from the poverty it had carried like a burden on its shoulders. It had been a hard life he left behind.

But he loved Kathleen Breathnach. So he agreed to take her away with him. They would sail around the world, then they would settle in a faraway place where there was no bitterness, no hunger and the people lived free of all the poverty the world can throw at you. Perhaps then, Kathleen’s kisses would taste like the sweetness of honey again.

The Plan?

The elderly couple sat on the bench in the park. Nobody around to hear them. Only the ducks, and they weren’t quacking.

Jan brushed back her white hair. “So, Tally, did you get the gun?” Jan asked her friend.

“Oh,” he responded, “I forgot. I was so busy trying to figure out what to get you for Christmas.”

“Christmas?” Jan said. “Bah humbug.” Her hair fell onto her face. She pushed it back. It was beginning to annoy her. She’d been debating with herself whether she wanted to cut it very short or not. This decided it. She was cutting it short. “I told you to get the gun. How can we do a robbery without a gun?”

“I don’t want to hurt anybody,” Tally said. “Why don’t we just use water pistols?”

“They don’t look real enough. Only a gun looks like a gun.”

Tally squeezed the bridge of his nose between his eyes. He was concerned about the gun. Mostly he was concerned about forgetting it. He’d been forgetting more than usual. Maybe he had the Alzheimer’s that everybody at the apartment complex talked about lately. So much so that they’d been making book on who was next.

“But what about your present?” Tally asked. “You don’t want me to get you a Christmas present.”

“You want to get me a present. A gun would be present enough for me.”

Tally removed his fingers from his face. He turned to his friend and said, “You’re not afraid you’ll shoot yourself?”

“I won’t shoot myself. I’ve been practicing.”

“I don’t know. I don’t think this robbery business is a good idea.”

“What other choice do we have,” Jan said. “They cut our social security. My husband’s pension isn’t enough for one. Much less two. And we can’t get a job. Who’s going to hire a seventy-year-old.”

“We could play the lottery,” Tally said hopeful.

“That’s throwing good money after bad. No, it’s a robbery or nothing.”

“Okay,” Tally gave in. “I’ll get the gun.”

“Don’t forget the bullets.”

“Bullets? What are we going to do with bullets?”

Jan shook her head in frustration. “They’re for the gun. You know. In case we have to shoot it.”

“We can’t shoot it. We’ll hurt someone. And they might shoot back.”

“I know. I know. And that someone might be one of us. If we shoot one of us, we’ll leave them behind. It’s a win-win.”

“A win-win?” There was anger creeping into Tally’s voice.

“Yes. If they die, then they won’t have to worry about getting less on social security. If they live, they’ll get good medical care and free room and board.”

“They’ll get prison.”

“That’s what I said,” Jan explained. “Free room and board.”

Tally stood up and said, “Okay. I’ll get the bullets. What else was I supposed to get?”

“The gun.” Jan said, frustrated.

“What kind of gun do you want?”

“Any gun will do. Just make sure the bullets match the gun.”

“Bullets have to match a gun?” Tally shook his head. “I’ll never remember all this. I’m going home and take a nap.”

Jan thought about things for a moment, then she stood up. “All this planning is making me tired too.”

As the old couple walked away, the ducks excitedly started quacking. Someone should have reminded the couple. Tell a duck a secret and they will quack it all over the place.

Joe Duck said to Maggie Duck, “Geez, these humans are crazy.”

“You’re telling me,” Maggie said. “Don’t they know they can sleep in the park for free. And people will throw food to them.”

“So should we tell the police?”

“About what?” Maggie Duck asked.

“Boy, you sure are getting forgetful. About the robbery.”

Maggie answered, “Yeah. Let’s tell the police. But first we have to get the quack-so-ologist to translate for us.”

Joe Duck turned to Maggie. “Maybe we shouldn’t tell the cops. Maybe we should tell the bank.”

“What? And not get paid?”

Joe Duck said, “Yes, but I am tired of being paid chicken feed.”

Uncle Bardie’s Movie of the Week: Celie

Once a week on Monday, Uncle Bardie shares a movie with his Readers he gives a big two thumbs up. It will simply be a short excerpt or a trailer. From time to time, a reflection on the movie will appear below the video. So pop some popcorn and give yourself a treat. This week’s movie celebrates Black History Month. It is “The Color Purple” (1985):

Celie is a poor black girl. Celie is pregnant with her daddy’s baby. Celie’s daddy takes her baby girl child when she is born. Celie is sold to a black farmer. Celie goes to live with a farmer. The farmer has three children by another wife. The house the farmer lives in is the messiest house you ever did see. Celie cleans it from top to bottom till it is spick and it is span. Celie’s younger sister comes to live with Celie to escape her daddy’s lust for her. The farmer lusts after the sister too. Celie’s sister will not give into the farmer’s demands. The farmer chases her off the farm. Celie and her sister don’t want to part. The farmer forces the sister to go away. Celie and her sister are separated. Will they ever see each other again?

This is the life of a poor black girl in the South. This is the story of a poor black girl surviving. This is the story of that poor black girl becoming a woman. This is the story of how love overcomes all things.