I felt like doing another set of sketches for the "Shuffle Challenge" tonight, another ten little snippets from Mick Carpenter's life, inspired by a random sequence of songs from my iPod in shuffle mode.
This time, all of them happen to be set in Mick's past as I have laid it out in my string of stories, with some of his past loves making an appearance. Sorry to all fans of Evelyn that she only gets a tiny cameo this time.
1. The Pogues: Gartloney Rats
The band was playing one of these quick Irish dances, something I wasn't usually very comfortable with because I thought it made me cut quite a silly figure.
But I know Rosie loved that kind of thing, and so I let her grab my hands to drag me on the dancefloor where I whirled her round and round so her skirt and hair were flying, spinning her until both of us were laughing, giddily, dizzily, and at some point some of the other dancers simply stopped in their tracks and watched and cheered.
Pat, the barkeeper, gave some ear-splitting catcalls, and Rosie kissed me exuberantly with everyone looking on.
2. Kings of Convenience: Love Is No Big Truth
I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stop thinking of her. Missing her while she was away, visiting some relatives, had me almost as badly upset as I had been when we had first fallen in love.
Grandma shook her head exasperatedly, she couldn't grasp why I behaved like that. "Dear God, she'll only be gone for a week! What're you going to do when she goes back to Boston?"
That was one thing I certainly didn't want to think about. I knew Eliza would be going back to her family sooner or later and our future was anything but certain, but I pushed the thought into the farthest corner of my mind and hoped something miraculous would happen that would make her stay for good.
Maybe I'd have to make it happen and propose to her rather sooner than later?
3. Kansas: Dust in the Wind
I sat on the porch of my house in the warm evening air, an open bottle of beer on the table, a cigarette in my mouth.
It was one of those days when the memories of all those things that were gone for good made me feel so lost and alone, when the knowledge nothing could last brought me down into a sadness so profound that I wondered if a heart could actually break.
I gazed over at the sea, beautiful, blue and indifferent in the distance, the only constant in my ever-changing life.
4. Carla Bruni: Il vecchio e il bambino
"Grandpa", I cried, "can we go swimming today?"
"I've got work to do, lad, lots of work! Much as I'd like to take you to the beach, I'm afraid this is not a good day. You can help me, though."
"But it's such a beautiful day! We haven't had bathing weather for ages!"
I pulled a face, utterly disappointed, and dragging the tip of my shoe through the gravel, looked away so that he wouldn't see my tears, biting my lip to force them back, staring blindly into nothingness.
And then there was a big hand on my shoulder and a gruff voice saying, "Maybe you're right and we should seize the day. Get your swimming trunks."
5. The Waterboys: Meet Me at the Station
"Hey there, pal!" Billy shouted when I had barely poked my head through the door of the train as we arrived. "Good to have you back!"
"Good to be back!" I replied, jumping down on the platform, tossing my bag carelessly on the ground. "I just can't bear that awful place any more. I wonder what my mother sees in it. All the small-town gossip, all those small-town minds."
I took a deep breath, almost smelling the sea.
I was home again.
6. Roxette: It Must Have Been Love
She was gone.
The moment I had dreaded had come, and Eliza was back with her parents, back in her world of society events and college and promising eligible bachelors.
She had promised she'd write as often as she could and that I was always welcome to visit her in Boston and that she'd surely return here to stay with her aunt for a while.
I wanted to believe that we had a chance, I wanted to believe that we could make it, despite the distance and the social differences, despite the fact that her parents certainly had better plans for her than to marry a penniless fisherman.
I wanted to believe all would be well in the end, I really wanted to.
But in some hidden painful place in my heart, I knew that this was the end.
I loved her so much, and yet I knew it just was not enough to make it last.
7. Leonard Cohen: I Can't Forget
I got up from my bunk at dawn, hungover and scruffy. It had been far too late again last night, and there had been far too much booze and far too many cigarettes that left nothing but a disgusting aftertaste in my mouth that was almost as bad as the aftertaste of what had happened on that dreadful evening in Harry's bar.
Rosie, my Rosie, my sweet resolute Irish girl, had ultimately betrayed me.
It had been more than three months now, but every night I lived through it again, the fight between the tables, Morris Beauchamp spouting what I had wanted to take for slander but had turned out to be the ugly, ugly truth.
Every night I tried to drown those images, and every night I failed.
I simply could not forget.
8. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Clarinet Concerto in A major, K. 622 – Allegro (1st movement)
They were entering the stage, picked out by the spotlights, as sweet music filled the air, seven pretty girls in colourful period dresses, their hair elaborately coiffed, their faces made up so they appeared much older than their fifteen or sixteen years.
She was in the middle, as regal as her role demanded in a scarlet robe.
Hadn't it been just yesterday that she danced through the living-room on her fourth birthday, in a tiny pink dress?
My little girl had grown up, and I sniffled.
"Just something in my eye", I told Evelyn when she gave me a questioning look.
9. Loreena McKennitt: Samain Night
I dragged the little dinghy down over the sand to the waterline and carefully climbed into it, pushing off, paddling away by the light of the full moon.
Grandpa would have had my hide if he knew, but he had been gone for more than half a year now, and Grandma was so poorly that she didn't inquire much about my coming and going.
I wasn't going to paddle out too far, I was way too experienced to do such a stupid thing, but this particular mood with the cold white light casting a sparkling path onto the water and hardly any sound except for the low splashing of the oars as they broke the surface of the sea had a strangely soothing effect on my troubled, sorrowful mind.
10. Loreena McKennitt: All Souls Night
Nell was leaning into me, shivering a bit, and I wrapped my arm around her shoulder to keep her warm and, when she still complained she was cold, gave her my scarf to wear in addition to the thin kerchief she'd tied around her neck.
We were walking our favourite path along the cliff top on a chilly autumn day, and once again, she poured her heart out to me about her mother's illness and her father's cruelty.
Whenever we spoke of the things that truly occupied our hearts and minds, it was on one of these walks, with the breeze in our hair and the salty tang in the air masking the sting of tears.
It was already growing dark now, and one by one, the beacons of several lighthouses went on in the distance as the last sunlight slipped away and Nell stopped to kiss me softly on the lips.