A story by Susan Millar DuMars
Luke swallowed the bird on a cold, clear December night – trees of bone, the river in a silver-black sulk. He’d waved off a taxi, needing the air after all those back-slapping pints. Crossing the bridge toward the cathedral, he thought how the dome at night was a great green helmet; the windows, unreadable eyes. He remembered funerals, several, in the past year. Muttering responses to prayers, following the coffin out slow and stiff-legged. Luke crossed himself without knowing he did it. As his hand fell it brushed the old stone banister of the bridge and he thought for a moment of the river beneath him, God and Death in front of him. Himself suspended in a comfortable middle age. How lucky. How very lucky.
Though even as he plumped and pinked with a sense of good fortune, another voice inside him contradicted. “Earned! Surely, earned.” He lifted his other arm and gazed at what he clutched. The book. His book. Bringer of Light: The Life and Poems of Malachy Flynn. Launched into the world this evening in a modest, yet satisfying, ceremony.
The applause had been warm and lasting. Loyola had beamed. Afterward, in the pub, many pints of Erdinger were bought him. Loyola had drunk half an orange juice and had driven herself home to prepare a late supper. He’d promised to be home before the meat turned tough.