You know what I get to wondering, Maurice?

Tell me, Charlie.

About death, Moss.

Here we go.

Is it as raw a deal as they make it out to be?

Come again?

Is it not in some way an ease when she comes calling? The Black Angel? . . . Hush now . . . Listen? . . . The gentle flapping of her wings . . . You hearing it?


Are we as well off out of it, Maurice? Is what I’m asking. With all the bollock-acting that do be going on?

I’m not seeing a picnic coming, Charlie. Death-wise.

You think it’s the end?

I’m not saying it’s the end. I’m just not seeing a picnic.

I have a happy enough view of the Big D. So happens.

What are you seeing down there, Charlie? At the end of the road?

I’m not seeing a meadow full of flowers. I’m not saying that for one minute. Not seeing a moonful bay neither. With all your old birds there, and they lined up, waiting on you, one after the other, in the peach of their youths. Their rosy cheeks and their glad little eyes. I’m not seeing that by any means. But what I am imagining, Maurice, is a kind of . . . quiet. You know? Just a kind of . . . silence.

Lovely, Maurice Hearne says. Restful.

When you think what we put up with in our lives? Noise-wise?

It’s a cacophony, Mr Redmond.

We come into the world on the tip of a scream and the wave of our poor mothers’ roaring.

Our poor mams with the straw nearly ripped out of the mattresses.

And the first thing we do? We start roaring and bawling our own selves. We open the lungs and let rip. We give it what-for. And how do we go out? At the far end of life? Often enough in the same way. Roaring out of us!

And what goes on in between?

Noise, Maurice. Nothing but noise and consternation.

You look for the quiet spaces in a life, Charles. And do you find them?

In your hole you do.

Or in love, maybe.

Maybe so.

I loved her, Charlie.

I know that. I’m very sorry.

For a long while. I knew her, you know? Cynthia. I knew who she was.

Do you think about where she’s gone to now?

I do, yeah. I’m not seeing a picnic, Charlie.

You mean, what if it’s just . . .

More of it.

On the far side. What’s if it’s just . . .