Three old men from the North sit near the door, a 10 euro note already on the table, under the tiny white vase stuffed with wilted valerian.
Half-mustache orders a pot of clipper tea for three, which they drink with a little milk and profusely buttered scones. Talk drifts, of Chesterfields, suit-cuts, Wal-Mart, and those who didnít come back. There is laughter, quiet, resolutely intimate, full of unfathomable things.
The laughing way of the man with the clear tube through his nose is unforgettable. Each chuckle is quickly followed by a gasp, chuckle-gasp, chuckle-gasp, chuckle-gasp, like endlessly waltzing dancers.
. . .
Later I sat alone in the hotel bar, waiting for my friend while reading the Guardian over a glass of iced Pernod. An impatient clean-cut young man demanded, in an accent from Boston, Do you work here, do you work at the bar?
J had been a teenager in Boston, once upon a time, and I briefly wondered what it was like to be a young male in that part of the world.
The ice melted; impurities flecked the Pernod's surface. The young manís friends surrounded the bar like a mob of noisy birds in t-shirts, voices full of American cities and American things and American ways of living. They ordered pints of Smithwickís, Smiticks, and wondered why Bud Light was popular here.
One guy recalled this real tough bitch from Belfast, little girl, tiny waist, pretty as hell but tough, who once walked into a house full of Protestants. They looked at her and said, What the fuck are you doing here? This tough little bitch smiled and said, Iím the babysitter, now who the fuck are you?