Tuesday, April 13, 2010

ALMOST ORIGINAL SHORT STORY TIME- "Maggie O' Shea's Irish Wake"


One
Little Jimmy O'Shea sat down at the table with his brother Joey and cousin Frankie, just hours after Little Jimmy's wife Maggie was laid to rest in the hallowed grounds of the St. Agnes cemetery. Little Jimmy motioned Kasey the barmaid for three more pints for the table.

Joey, middle aged, round, and balding, looked at his wispy older brother. "You're holding up remarkably well, Jim". He picked up his beer and sipped. And he waited for a his brother to say something, but he didn't.

"She was a good one, Maggie was," Cousin Frankie chirped. "She always reminded me of Maureen O'Hara, with her red hair and green eyes."

A grin stretched Joey's face. "Yeah she was one fiery redhead", he said. Still no reaction from Little Jimmy O'Shea.


Jimmy looked over to Kasey...he pointed two fingers out. Kasey returned with two fingers of Jamison's in a shot glass.

Little Jimmy picked up his pint of Bass Ale and gulped down some brew. Then he long last spoke "Fiery you called her? Fiery? Kind of romantic...'fiery'. No Joe, no Fran....my dear deceased Maggie was never fiery. She was pissed off. For 24 years pissed off."

Good....Joey and Frankie thought. He's dropping his stoic front, and at least letting his emotions show. He's held it together for 10 days, from the time he heard of her heart attack and death, and of the arrangements to return her body to the United States, to the time he received her remains at Santucci's mortuary in New Brunswick, through the viewings, and today's Mass and burial...no emotion from Little Jimmy O'Shea at all.

Little Jimmy sat back in his chair, and in one felt swoop, downed his shot of whiskey. "Guys drop the pretense. She bugged you all the time we were married. Joey, you always thought Maggie didn't like you, am I right?"

Joey looked at his brother, startled, but did not speak.

Little Jimmy went on. "No need to say anything Joe. I'm your brother. I could always sense the chill. And if you think that was bad, you should have tried living with her".

And it was enough- that which was never said was said after 24 years. Then Little Jimmy, Joe, and Frankie began telling their Maggie stories, about all of the terrible, thoughtless, and cruel things she had done to the three of them, and to many others, over the last 24 years.

Two

They told the story of when Maggie counted the months after Joey's marriage to Fiona FitzRoy and the birth of their first daughter; Maggie would have sworn an oath on Bibles stacked to the moon that Fiona was pregnant when she married Joey.

And there was the time Little Jimmy was locked out of the house by Maggie for two weeks because he lost $56 at Freehold Raceway on a day out with Frankie. Little Jimmy had to take Maggie on a ten day vacation in Fort Myers Beach as a peace offering....but then Maggie made Little Jimmy sleep in a separate bed during their stay. One day at the hotel's pool poor Little Jimmy, deprived of sexual relations for what seemed to be an eternity, watched two young nubile things for a bit two long as they passed Mr. and Mrs O'Shea.. Maggie took the umbrella out of her Pina Colada and poured the ice cold drink on Little Jimmy rapidly expanding ....."private parts".

Little Jimmy was nagged day after day for 24 years. You need a better job, Jimmy. Clip your nose hair, Jimmy. Put the seat down after you use it, you lazy bastard! You think I'm a bad cook, Jimmy O'Shea? Go back to your mother, if she's sober enough to get out of bed! I should have married Johnny Harris when I had the chance! I could be living in Belmar right now! I'm not cleaning up that mess from your dog!

And it was the same thing, day after day, month after month....and months became years, and years decades. Jimmy and Maggie were old school Irish Catholics- divorce was out of the question. And Little Jimmy was too inept and angst ridden to ever become a successful cheat and look for satisfaction outside of marriage.

As for Maggie? Even remaining as physically beautiful as she was well into her middle years, she stayed with Jimmy for no other reason as no sane man in New Jersey would want this walking complaint department with great legs.

There was one blessing in this mess of a marriage- there were no children to witness it.

Maggie's demise came rather quickly and unexpectedly. Little Jimmy had won $10,000 in an instant scratch off game from the New Jersey Lottery. Before Little Jimmy could do anything with the check, Maggie cashed it and went on a spending spree...some new clothes, a spa treatment.

And a ticket for an Eastern Mediterranean cruise. One ticket.....she was going solo. Rather than being angry about the loss of the $10,000 Little Jimmy only felt a sense of relief....two wonderful Maggie-free weeks!

So Jimmy dropped Maggie off at Newark Airport, where she got on a plane bound for Athens; her cruise itinerary would take her to Istanbul, then on to Haifa in Israel (with a bus trip down to Jerusalem), then on to Egypt before embarking for Rome, and back to the United States.

About a week after Maggie's departure, Little Jimmy got a phone call. It was from the police in Jerusalem. Maggie was dead.

"My God!" Jimmy cried out....."How?". Little Jimmy was dreading the news he was sure he was about to hear. A bomb blast, and Maggie was an innocent victim of terrorism. But that was NOT the case.

"Sir...your wife had a heart attack and died instantly. She felt no pain."

"A heart attack?"

The police sergeant went on, "Yes sir. She was eating lunch at a sidewalk cafe. She had some words with a waiter about the quality of her food....she started to yell at the waiter...and then she dropped dead." The sergeant caught himself making such a heartless remark. "I mean sir...she passed on. You have our condolences".

A few hours passed....and a mortician from Jerusalem called to finalize funeral arrangements.

Three

Now becoming more than slightly drunk, Frankie and Joey looked at Little Jimmy and saw a mildly contented man, one who felt little visible grief at "his loss". In fact, Jimmy looked ten years younger after being freed from the shrew who tormented him for nearly two and a half decades.

Joey put down his beer glass, and turned to speak to his brother. "Jimmy, if you don't mind me saying so, you don't seem to broken up about Maggie's passing on. But you must have loved her. How much did it cost to have her body brought back to America?"

Jimmy paused for a few seconds....."Well, the cost of transporting her, the funeral here, the burial plot, the hall for her wake.....I guess its about $15,000 so far...and rising". Then he motioned Kasey to bring one more round of beer for the three of them.

Moments later Kasey appeared with three more pints. Little Jimmy spoke,"The mortician in Jerusalem called and gave me the rundown. It was going to be expensive to send Maggie back to America. Then he told me he could embalm her, get a burial plot in Jerusalem, and bury her there for $375".

At that point both Frankie and Joey stopped drinking, their jaws dropped, and it was Cousin Frankie who asked the "million dollar" question.

"Jimmy....you spent $15,000 to ship Maggie back her and bury her....and you had to BORROW the money to do it? And you could have buried her in The Holy Land for only $375? ......WHY???? Why didn't you just bury her in Jerusalem?"

Little Jimmy put down his glass and looked at both men squarely. Then he spoke.

"Well, 2,000 years ago the first Christian died in Jerusalem, and He rose again in three days......I was NOT going to take a chance on that with Maggie".

At that, the three of them hoisted their glasses and clanged them together in a toast....and in unison they said.....

"Amen".

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