Tea poured, sandwiches on plates, the only sounds to be heard were those of people gently stirring lemon and sugar into their tea cups.
I surreptitiously searched the table for cream and finally gave up without the nerve to ask, stirring lemon and sugar into my tea as well.
I shook my head slightly amused by the fact that I’ve always been a weak tea drinker, “first pour” my father’d say. This stuff looked like 40 weight oil and could likely have stood one of those silver teaspoons up in it and here’s me with no cream.
Mrs. Kirkpatrick cleared her throat. “Well then Miss Karen…maybe you’ll be about explaining to me where my Buadhach is, and what exactly Roibhilín has done to afford himself such pretty new bracelets?”
I’m caught again…deer in the headlights, tea cup half way to my mouth, lips pursed to slurp “Fuck!” I think as Robert starts “now…..now Mama…”
“Silence!” she barks. “I’m after asking this young woman!” as one, everyone at the table turns to look at me and I can’t help but think again “plant a potato, get a potato”…. they all 3 of them carry their mother’s visage.
I blink once or twice and put my cup down, thankfully in the saucer.
I clear my throat as I look to the eyes of the 3 people I’ve spent the last few days with. “Well uhmmm, you see Mrs. Kirkpatrick…it’s like this” I begin and fade off.
“Yes child?” she prods.
“Well there was this accident see, and Barry he kinda got hurt but it’s okcosRosiealmosthadhimfixedandGreyandRobert
I pause for a breath and realize that Rosie, Grey and Robert look stricken.
“An accident?” she says stressing the word and then nods briskly. “and the bracelets?” she asks.
Now I’m scared and going for broke…I don’t have a flaming idea which direction to go in but think the truth is too over the top even for me…and I saw it with my own eyes so….
“uhmmm…it er that…uhhhh it was kinda funny sorta” I begin hesitantly and look up in time to see Robert give the slightest shake of his head.
“yes?” she asks again
“well I wanted to see how they worked and then I lost the key and then we had no choice but to cut them apart!” I race in one breath. “really it’s all very silly” I finish.
Robert, Rosie and Grey sigh in unison.
“Well,” she says and then stops to sip her tea. “a fine story that is. Now….who’s going to be after telling me the truth?
Do.Not.Make.Me.Ask.This.Question.Again!” she forces out with such quiet vehemence that I’m sure the finish is blistering off of the table and possibly even the chair I am sitting on.
The four of us sit with our heads hung.
I can’t imagine what exactly can get any worse when I hear the screen door at the front of the house slam. All four of us jump at the noise, Mrs. Kirkpatrick sits unsurprised.
In unison we turn to face the kitchen to hallway door as into the kitchen steps a police officer, tall, muscular, red headed and unmistakably another of the Kirkpatrick brood.
“Ah, Constable” Mrs. Kirkpatrick announces with a smile on her face, “will you be joining us for our tea?”
“No Mama, I won’t” the policeman says and my jaw literally hits the table.