“He won’t talk to me. God knows I’ve tried.” She sighs and reaches into her trouser pocket to retrieve a handkerchief. A clatter of coins pours out onto the wooden floor in the process.

“Fuckit, Ruby Ruby Ruby. Fuckit, aha aha aha.”

He suppresses a giggle and waves his hand over in the direction of the large brass cage. “Can you not turn that thing off just for a little while?” Not even a hint of a smile on her face, the merest shrug of shoulders. He bites his lip. “Must be really bad so this time. What did he do?”

The parrot makes the sound of her blowing her nose. She blows her nose. Normally she’d laugh now. Not today. He looks at her intently. She slides the evening paper across the table over to him.

“5 year old missing,” he reads and skims through the text under the bold lettered heading. “Last seen walking away from a children’s party at McDonald’s on Kylemore Road in Dublin holding the hand of a young man or teenager …” The photo still from the security camera is blurred, but he doesn’t know anyone else who would wear a tartan hoodie that has a gaping tear at the right shoulder and top that outfit with sporting a Texas style cowboy hat. It’s him alright, has to be.

“He’s locked himself in his room upstairs. Won’t let me in. Told me to leave him alone. Said I wouldn’t want to see, wouldn’t want to know, wouldn’t want to see.” Her voice so fragile now. He forms a fist then stops himself from letting it thunder down onto the table. Gets up off his chair instead with tears in his eyes, kneels down beside her and rests his head in her lap.

She strokes his hair. “We’ve lost him now, Martin. Call the guards.”

(C) Ash N. Finn, 2012

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