Skully was a man of ritual. Every lunchtime he would unfold his fishing chair, opened his tupawaire lunch box, removed his apple and peeled it with his carpenters knife. “What shall we discuss today Dennis?” Skully loved a strong healthy philosophical debate but detested arguments.”Money is the root of all evil”, I postulated. 

“Ah, that old Biblical misquote,” said Skully.

“But the pursuit of wealth and social position encourages ambition, this is surely a welcome mindset isn’t it?”

“Not always,” he said, his thick eyebrows knotting as he stared across the valley, his knife poised at the top of the half peeled apple. “Dennis,” he said, suddenly very serious, a characteristic I only ever saw within the man on this one occasion. “I killed a man once. I took his money and buried him in bog at Kildargen. I needed money.

He was a drifter, came into town and I saw him buy some food at Kerry’s. I saw his thick wallet and planned to just rob him. But I hit him with a hurling bat – idiot I was. Killed him instantly. Prove I was an idiot I buried him and clear forgot his wallet! Had to dig him up and bury him again.

No one ever found him. There was no police search, no papers, nothing.

Then one day, exactly ten years later, I saw his photo in the obituaries. The message read: ‘Michael Welsh, disappeared, assumed dead. If you’ve seen him please contact his daughter Cheryl,’ “. He took his wallet from his trousers and removed a piece of folded paper. He held the paper, without unfolding it and continued from memory. “If you’re just reading this and have never seen Michael, then please say a prayer for him and all the lost souls of the World.”

At this, he bit into the apple and ate it. I watched Skully eat the apple. Our eyes made no contact. Once he had finished he stood up, folded his chair and we returned to work.

We never again spoke of this conversation. I only recount it now because Skully is three years dead today. May his soul; and all those who are lost, live and rest in peace.



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