Hello. My name is Malachy McCourt, and I’m stuck here in this house waitin’ for my big brother, Frankie. Och, he’s a dreamer he is. Mam says we can go down to the cinema after we go to the shops and the market to pick up dinner. Tonight it’s fluffy potatoes with butter, carameled carrots, and slices of ham, thick as the Gospel of John if you please.
To top it off I helped Mam bake a double chocolate cake, and we’ll get a bit of toffee, too, with our mugs of hot chocolate. None for Frankie, though. He’s a bit of a pudge these days, always sittin’ on the stairs waiting for angels and thinkin’ about his excitement.
Dad’s hired the best therapist in Ireland who says Frankie’s obsessed with chamber pots and those urchins from Dickens, whatever that means. We just humor Frankie when he marches in the front room singing about freedom for Ireland and Cuchulain.
At lunch instead of eatin’ the nice ham sandwich with the nice tomato slices, he takes the bread and tries to toast it over the fireplace coals. (Not the brightest fire in Limerick.) He sneaks Woodbines, too, and smokes late at night when he thinks we’re sleepin’. The therapist has encouraged him to write it all out in his journal.
Dad got a promotion last week and we’ll soon be moving to that mansion in the country where Frankie roams about—when he ditches school—beating his excitement at the town and embarrassing the hell out of me.
Dad also bought the lion’s share of the Guinness plant, so now he’s the toast of Limerick, and him a runt from the North. Ironic how Dad doesn’t drink a drop, but Frankie stumbles about the house swinging a tankard, acting like he’s three sheets to the wind and singing rude songs about “My Lovely Pussy” and such.
The twins’ Latin lessons are just fine, thank you very much, and they’re doing swell even though Frankie runs about saying how they’ve died and “will you come to the funeral please?” I myself have “died” three times now, and I told Frankie I’d box him next time he says the consumption has sent me to the angels.
His other favorite trick is to take the coal dust and rub it under his eyes, across his cheeks and arms. He then takes off his shirt and drags it through the fireplace, takes his breeches and cuts holes in the knees.
After, he begs me to go with him as he runs from door to door beggin’ for a crust of bread or a glass of milk, if you please. He’ll moon about the pubs, too, and hope some drunk will take pity on him if he sings the right song about Ireland in his lilting soprano.
Tomorrow, Mam promised us an afternoon ride in the new convertible automobile. We’ll be driving by Margaret’s house, and Frankie’s got his eye on her. I told Frankie to quit putting mascara on; the girls don’t like it—especially Margaret—and it makes his eyes red and seepy and he looks like an oul’ bitch.
Father Houlihan says Frankie can join the boy’s seminary anytime, but Frankie doesn’t listen and runs off down the road to collect coal. Dad just bought Aunt Aggie a new house in the lane and gave Pa Keating a horse and cow of his own, just for no reason.
We’re going to Italy next week, and the week after we’ll be in America and we’ll see the Statue of Liberty. Dad’s speaking to the U.N. on the history of philanthropy in Ireland, and Mam will be meeting with a designer to show off her laces and line of Irish fashions that me and Frankie are supposed to model.
I told Frankie to behave and don’t be such an eejit, but he just runs off, pockets full of pounds and toffee, the excitement poking from his new breeches. I don’t know what will become of Frankie, but I s’pose it’s a grand life. ‘Tis.