SI Vault
Bryan MacMahon
December 06, 1954
This work of a young Irish writer is included in 'The Red Petticoat,' to be published by E. P. Dutton
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December 06, 1954

The Return Of Paddy Kinsella

This work of a young Irish writer is included in 'The Red Petticoat,' to be published by E. P. Dutton

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Far away the train whistled. The sound moved in rings through the rain falling on the dark fields.

On hearing the whistle, the little man standing on the railway bridge gave a quick glance into the up-line darkness and then began to hurry downward toward the station. Above the metal footbridge, the lights came on weak and dim as he hurried along. The train beat him to the station; all rattle and squeak and bright playing cards placed in line, it drew in beneath the bridge. At the end of the station the engine lurched uneasily; then it puffed and huffed, blackened and whitened, and eventually, after a loud release of steam, stood chained.

One passenger descended?a large, awkward man with scarred brows and a flattened nose, a boxer with little of the boxer's grace. He was dressed in a new cheap suit and overcoat. A black stubble of beard littered his scowling jowls. The eyes under; the cap-visor were black and daft. In his hand he carried an old attache-case tied with a scrap of rope. Dourly slamming the carriage door behind him, he stood glaring up and down the platform.

A passing porter looked at him, abandoned him as being of little interest, then, as on remembrance, glanced at him a second time. A hackney driver, viewing with disgust the unprofitable door handles, smiled grimly to himself at the sight of the big fellow. Barefooted boys grabbing cylinders of magazines that came hurtling out of the luggage van took no notice of the man standing alone. The rain's falling was visible in the pocking of the cut limestone on the edge of the platform.

Just then the little man hurried in by the gateway of the station. His trouser-ends were tied over clay-daubed boots above which he wore a cast-off green Army greatcoat. A sweat-soiled hat sat askew on his head. After a moment of hesitation, he hurried forward to meet the swaying newcomer.

"There you are, Paddy," the small man wheezed brightly, yet not coming too close to the big man.

The big man did not answer. He began to walk heavily out of the station. The little man moved hoppingly at his side, pelting questions to which he received no reply.

"Had you a good crossing, Paddy?" "Is it true that the Irish Sea is as wicked as May Eve?" "There's a fair share of Irish in Birmingham, I suppose?" "How many fights is it you've won, in all?" Finally, in a tone that indicated that this question was closer to the bone: "How long are you away now, Paddy? Over six year, eh?"

Paddy ploughed ahead without replying. When they had reached the first of the houses of the country town, he. glowered over his shoulder at the humpy bridge that led over the railway line to the open country. After a moment or two he turned his gaze away and looked at the street that led downhill from the station.

"We'll have a drink, Timothy," the big man said dourly.

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