The Pig Comes to Dinner

The Pig Comes to Dinner by Joseph Caldwell Page B

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Authors: Joseph Caldwell
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before. With the tank top.”
    Kitty took mental note of which part of Brid’s anatomy he most readily referred to. The tank top. The breasts. The unblemished flesh. The slender arms. The delicate hands. She was ready to accuse him outright of infidelity, a breach of troth—whatever a “troth” might be. He was in love with Brid. She had all the proof she needed. Her wrath demanded a confrontation: just what was expected of them by their friends and neighbors. The populous was not to be disappointed. Her gathered accusations, her accumulated invectives, her hurt, her cries for vengeance—all were to be unloaded now. At the Dingle Races. For the benefit of strangers and Travelers, too. In front of the jockeys and their trainers, the owners and the bookies. She and Kieran were still close enough to the grandstand to be assured of a worthy audience. Would she strike him? Would she weep? A quick image of throwing herself onto the turf passed through her mind, but she didn’t want to get that far into character.
    Now she was ready to begin. She would start with a repeat of his phrase, “With the tank top!” but spoken with a sarcasm that would alert him to imminent danger. The words were already on her tongue. She had only to open her mouth and set them loose upon the world. Killer bees. Outraged wasps. Nettle-tongued midges.
    Then another thought came to her. The time had come to rid the castle of its ghosts. They had to go. Means could be found—and she would find them. Where they would be sent off to she did not know nor did she care. They would take their bereavements with them, their sorrows and their perplexities. Her marriage would be saved, her savage breast tamed again to the ways of conjugality. No more would Brid and Taddy wander at will—if wills they had. No more would they appear at whim, then dematerialize when it suited their fancy or purposes. They would be free to wander where they would, the two of them, off to whatever haven was reserved for marriage-wrecking ghosts.
    Somehow the thought of their wanderings—together— gave her pause. Why should Taddy be included in the expulsion? He was blameless. He was hardly a threat to her connubial expectations. He was content to be in the castle. The pig would miss him. Yes, Taddy could remain. But Brid must go.
    Calmed by her rational self, Kitty walked alongside her husband, now taking his hand in hers. A fat man in a black suit, worn to a shine, with a white shirt gone gray with use and a tie marked with evidence of the meals that had contributed to his corpulence, smiled and nodded his approval as they went by. Old Mrs. Fitzgerald with the bright blue eyes said softly as they passed, “God be with you.” Both Kitty and Kieran responded as their upbringing required: “God and Mary be with you.”
    Without breaking stride, Kitty, in a voice so lilting that it shamed the birds, said, “Wearing a tank top, was she? I’d forgotten. Didn’t she have on a black miniskirt?”
    â€œDid she? I hadn’t noticed.”
    Oh, the hypocrisy! Kitty was about to return to plan A but restrained herself. Soon all would be well. All would be wonderfully well.

6
    A s was his custom when expecting a parishioner of some affluence, Father Colavin had managed, when Kitty arrived, to be poring over the parish ledger. As was also his habit, he invited her to sit down while he finished one little matter in which he had been deeply involved. He then traced a pen down the columns of the ledger, emitting little gasps and a few groans, but no words. Kitty was treated to this familiar rubric until the good priest sighed, pushed his chair away from the dining room table where they were both seated—he on one side, she on the other, in keeping with procedural etiquette prescribed back in his days in the seminary: when alone with a woman always keep some barrier between the two of you. The reasons were obvious: no

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