I waited for them in the usual spot, beneath the swinging iron sign for the Nag’s Head.
Sure, it was a cold night. Winter had just given way to spring but still the air had bite. I couldn’t wait to get inside. Inside it was glorious; a roaring open fire and the warmest smiles ye ever did see. Inside they had the ceol, the craic and, of course, the cailin. A céilidh wouldn’t be a céilidh without a few free-spirited, buxom darlings and I sure as hell wasn’t there for the dancing.
I rubbed my hands together, stamped my feet and checked my watch. Already, twenty minutes late. The low, rhythmic beat of the Bodhran spilled from that inviting doorway and I shot a glance back over my shoulder at the pub’s orange-gold glow.
I spat on the ground and, sure as I’m stood here, it froze solid in mid-air. The little green icicle landing on me boot with a thud. They’d had long enough.
Whipping out me phone and with numb fingers, I fired off a text: FKING FRZING AM OFF INSIDE.
And, I did just that.
The heat took me breath away. Some drinkers looked up at me, others ignored me in favour of the two beauties dancing in the area clear of tables, and O’Kelly yelled at me to: ‘Close the door, ye fecking eedjit.’
I took his advice; heat like that was too precious to waste.
It wasn’t long before the coat was lost, me clothing loosened and I’d settled into a seat at the bar. The air hummed with excitement. Me feet danced away on the kick-rail to the melody of Phealan’s fiddle. The whole place was buzzing. And, I was grinning like a madman.
The world swirled and heaved in time with the music and I found meself on the dance floor arm-in-arm with the gorgeous Niamh O’Malley. A quickstep, a little waltz, and a frantic jig. Glasses rattled on the shelves and bottles slid from the bar as the pounding steps shook the bar. The music died and I leaned in to steal a wee kiss from those cherry lips.
The front door burst open, slamming into the wooden frame with a bang.
‘What the…?’ Mick McCann yelled from the doorway.
All heads turned to look.
‘D’yis all not know what’s happening?’ Slugger stared at the crowd of blank faces.
‘You bastards are late, that’s what,’ I snapped. ‘Sure, if I’d waited for ye, I’d have frozen to death.’
‘Not that, ye gowl, come see.’
And, I did.
The whole village lay in ruins around us. Hell, the whole of Ireland did as far as I could tell. Houses had fallen, people were screaming, everywhere I looked lay devastation.
‘What happened?’ I asked.
‘Earthquake? Sure, we didn’t feel a thing.’
The three of us stood there, staring at the wreckage of our lives. The heat from the pub warming our backs.