"You're very late tonight."
"I know. Traffic."
"They're in bed."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm grand. Tired. Why?"
"It was hot in the car. I should have opened a window. But you know, all the fumes."
"Are you upset about something?"
"How was work?"
"Work was fine. It's the commute. I can't..."
"Ah, nothing. It's just tiring is all."
Just getting out of town takes an age. I fucking hate Thomas Street. I hate that old bitch in the silver Honda Civic who feels the need to let every single fucker from every fucking side street pull out. Look, politeness is grand, I let people out too, but not every single fucking time. Maybe she has nowhere to be, no dinner to eat, no kids to see. I start honking after the fifth or six one. No reaction. You go ahead sure, my life is barren.
The M4 is moving but slowly, slowly. And my back. I have this pain in my leg, my hip, my lower back. Everytime I clutch, it shoots. Go to the doctor, Lorraine says. For what? To spend sixty quid for him to tell me to buy one of those cushions. I have one of those cushions. It cost me sixty quid. It doesn't fucking work.
Four smokes later we get to Enfield. Get off here, or go on to Kinnegad? It's a gamble. It's moving here, like I say, and the Kinnegad way is shorter. This one might be empty, it might be fucking packed. You never know. I stay on. Light another fag. The tracking on the car is kind of fucked. You can't really let go of the wheel. I need to get it done. That Civic cunt is long gone but yet another asshole breaks suddenly while I'm trying to light up. For fuck's sake. Yeah, I'm probably a little too close to him, but it's fine, it's grand. I try to get going again in third, and almost cut out. Jesus.
Kinnegad. I don't think I believe in God anymore, not since Conleth was born, but I say a prayer anyway. Please let it be clear. Please Jesus. Please Mary. Please the Holy Fucking Ghost.
Yes. Suddenly not a soul. I roll down the window. I turn up 98fm. I open the fucker up. The feeling of release. Like being stuck in a lift for two hours and the door opens and you just charge the fuck out. About five miles from home now. I love this road when it's quiet. Couple of twist and turns, but I know it well. I'm in fourth, fifth and I'm fucked if I'm putting my foot to the clutch between here and dinner. Lorraine makes the best fucking bolognese. I can taste it already. The sun is only coming down now. I dread the winter, leaving work in the dark. But now, right now, I feel good. There's time for one more smoke too. I can't smoke in the house with the kids and even if I just sneak one out the back Lorraine looks unhappy. So one more now.
I dropped the lighter that last time, when I almost cut out. It's under my legs. I reach down. And I think I've hit something. I slow, looking in the mirror. And I see something lying in the road behind me. I stop. Get out. Walk back. It's an old fella. His bike's in the ditch. I don't get too close but I can still see that his face is white and his eyes are open. I turn away. I get back in the car. I drive home.
"They didn't bring mince. I didn't have a chance to get to the shop, so I ordered pizza."
"It's in the oven."
"You stink of cigarettes."