Mary, Lake Of Porter, Rogers discussed on The New Yorker: Fiction

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She left without even making a cup of tea. She wheeled her bicycle down the alley, and into the street, the front tire was dead flat. She pumped for ten minutes, but it remained flat. The frost lay like a spell upon the street upon the sleeping windows and the slate roofs of the crumbling houses. It had magically made the dung street white and clean. She did not feel tired, but was relieved to be out and stunned by lack of sleep and the beauty of the morning. She walked briskly, sometimes looking back to see the track that her bicycle in her feet made on the white road. Misses Rogers wakened at 8 and stumbled out in her big nightgown from brogan's warm bed. She smelled disaster instantly and hurried downstairs to find the Lake of Porter in the bar and the ground hall. Then she ran to call the others, poured her all over the place every drop of drink in the houses on the floor, Mary mother of God helped me in my tribulation, get up, get up. She rapped on their door and called the girls by name. The girls rubbed their sleepy eyes yawned and sat up. She's gone ethnic said, looking at the place on the pillow where Mary's head had been. Oh, a sneaky country one, Doris said, is she got into her taffeta dress and went down to see the flood. If I have to clean that in my good clothes, I'll die, she said. But misses Rogers had already brought brushes and pails and got to work. They opened the bar door and began to bail the Porter into the street. Dogs came to lap it up, and Hickey, who had come down, stood and said what a crying shame it was to waste all that drink. Outside it washed away an area of frost and revealed the dung of yesterday's fair day. O'Toole the culprit had fled, long John salmon was gone for his swim, and upstairs in bed, brogan snuggled down for a last minute heat and deliberated on the joys that he would miss when he left the commercial for good. And where is my lady with the lace dress, Hickey asked, recalling very little of Mary's face, but distinctly remembering the sleeves of her black dress, which dipped into every damn thing. Sneaked off before we were up, Doris said. They all agreed that Mary was no bloody use, and should never have been asked. And twas she set out to a mad egging him on and then disappointing him, Doris said, and misses Rogers swore that O'Toole or Mary's father or someone would pay dear for the wasted drink. I suppose she's home by now, Hickey said, as he rooted in his pocket for a butt. He had a new packet, but if he produced that, they'd all be puffing in his expense. Mary was half a mile from home, sitting on a ditch. If only I had a sweetheart, something to hold on to, she thought, as she cracked some ice with her high heel, and pitied the poor birds who could get no food as the ground was frozen hard. Walking again, she wondered, if she would ever go to another party, and what she would tell her mother and her brothers about it, and of all parties, were as bad. She came over the top of the hill, and suddenly saw her own house, like a little white box at the end of the world..

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