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Rated: 13+ · Short Story · Ghost · #2315003
Paddy inherits a fortune. 3rd in Senior Center Forum, February 2024.
Paddy McGinty’s Ghost

“Sure, and you’ll not be drinking with the likes of us now,” said Seamus O’Leary, as he looked up at Paddy from his pint of Guinness. “Never met a man who inherited a fortune and didn’t take on airs at the same time.”

Paddy McGinty, who had been about to draw out a chair and join his friends at their table in the pub, looked down at the speaker with a sneer. “And you, Seamus, never knew anyone that lucky. It’ll be a cold day in hell when the few coins I got from me Great Auntie Siobhan put a stop to me drinking in The Pig’s Ear.”

As the little group burst into laughter at Paddy’s words, he pulled out the chair and sat down. He took a deep draught of his pint and emerged with a moustache of froth upon his upper lip. A little man with stubbled chin and sunken cheeks leaned over the table at him.

“I heard you got more than a few cents,” he said. “Your great aunt had the biggest house in Killaloe and word is the booze was free at the wake.”

Paddy laughed. “And you could’ve had some if you hadn’t been asleep in a ditch somewhere, Kieran. I’ll not deny I gained a few euros in the will but no more than I’ll need to buy you lot a few drinks tonight.”

Kieran grinned and leaned back into his chair again. “Ah well then, ‘tis a fine thing indeed if that’s how you mean to continue. There’s many in here tonight whose grip gets the harder, the more they have in their pockets.”

“There’s truth in that,” replied Paddy. “And I’m wondering how you knows it, since you never have two coins to rub together when it’s your turn to shout.”

A hurt look appeared on Kieran’s face. “Is it my fault that life treats me so bad?” he asked. “There’s none that’ll leave me a bit in their will, let alone die to prove it.”

Paddy shook his head in mock sympathy. “Ah, Kieran, seems you need to find yourself a better class of friends.” He paused then before adding, “Or great aunts.”

All four at the table laughed at this, then raised their glasses to their lips, as if to drink a toast to Kieran’s choice of friends. Thirst quenched for the moment, they wiped the froth from their mouths as the glasses met the table again. The fourth member of the group spoke for the first time.

“Just how much did she leave you, Paddy?”

“I’ll be honest with you, Liam,” said Paddy. “I don’t recall the exact figure but it’s in the region of five hundred punts. Or euros, I s’pose I should say these days. I don’t think I was her favourite great nephew.”

“That’ll not go far in this day and age. Best stay sober tonight and save a little for the rent.”

Paddy smiled. “Ah there you go, always the serious one. It’s alright, Liam, I can afford to buy us a drink or two tonight, that’s for sure.”

As if to prove his statement, he turned to catch the barman’s eye and signified another round for all of them. When Paddy looked back to his friends, he faced a circle of contented smiles all round. It didn’t take much to keep his pals happy, it seemed.

Then an old lady appeared at Paddy’s shoulder.

“Is this what you call a minute?” she asked, hands on hips.

“I just wanted a quick drink with me friends,” he complained.

The lady crossed her arms in resolve. “You’ve had more than enough for a sip and a word,” she said. “Now, are you coming with me or do I have to make you?”

The chair scraped backwards on the floor as Paddy rose to his feet. “I’m sorry, lads,” he muttered, shame and regret in every line on his face. “Duty calls, you know.”

Then the old lady grabbed his elbow, turned him around and marched him to the door of the pub. Paddy’s friends, shocked into silence, watched them go.

Outside the pub, the old lady walked beside Paddy as they headed down the road towards the river. Paddy’s steps were heavy with reluctance but he went without apparent protest. When they reached the corner and turned to follow the river down to the bridge to the east, he ventured a thought, at least.

“Thank you for letting me go for one last time,” he said. “I’ll not be seeing them again and it’s hard to say goodbye.”

“I know, I know, Paddy. But I was sent to get you and I shouldn’t have allowed even that little favour. And it’s your own fault in the end. If you hadn’t been so silly after seeing the lawyer, and stepped into the road right in front of a number nine bus, none of this would have happened.”

“‘Tis true, Siobhan, I’ll not deny it. But I was so happy to have all that money. It’s more than I’ve had in my whole life before.” His spirits seemed to be rising, for his head looked up and a spring had entered his step.

“Well, you won’t be needing it now, will you, silly boy?”

“It was great while it lasted, Auntie.”

Word count: 886
For Senior Center Forum, February 2024.
Prompt: None.
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