"Are they broken down?" Cahal's father shouted.
He could charge them fifty euros, Pouldearg there and back, Cahal considered. He'd miss Germany versus Holland on the television, maybe the best match of the Cup, but never mind that for fifty euros.
"The only thing," he said, "I have an exhaust to put in."
He pointed at the pipe and silencer hanging out of Heslin's old Vauxhall, and they understood. He gestured with his hands that they should stay where they were for a minute, and with his palms held flat made a pushing motion in the air, indicating that they should ignore the agitation that was coming from the pit. Both of them were amused. When Cahal tried the bolt again it began to turn.
He made the thumbs-up sign when exhaust and silencer clattered to the ground. "I could take you at around seven," he said, going close to where the Spaniards stood, keeping his voice low so that his father would not hear. He led them to the forecourt and made the arrangement while he filled the tank of a Murphy's Stout lorry.
When he'd driven a mile out on the Ennis road, Cahal's father turned at the entrance to the stud farm and drove back to the garage, satisfied that the clutch he'd put in for Father Shea was correctly adjusted. He left the car on the forecourt, ready for Father Shea to collect, and hung the keys up in the office. Heslin from the court-house was writing a cheque for the exhaust Cahal had fitted. Cahal was getting out of his overalls, and when Heslin had gone he said the people who had come wanted him to drive them to Pouldearg. They were Spanish people, Cahal said again, in case his father hadn't heard when he'd supplied that information before.
"What they want with Pouldearg?"
"Nothing, only the statue."
"There"s no one goes to the statue these times."
"It"s where they're headed."
"Did you tell them, though, how the thing was?"
"I did of course."
"Why they'd be going out there?"
"There's people takes photographs of it."
Thirteen years ago, the then bishop and two parish priests had put an end to the cult of the wayside statue at Pouldearg. None of those men, and no priest or nun who had ever visited the crossroads at Pouldearg, had sensed anything special about the statue; none had witnessed the tears that were said to slip out of the downcast eyes when pardon for sins was beseeched by penitents. The statue became the subject of attention in pulpits and in religious publications, the claims made for it fulminated against as a foolishness. And then a curate of that time demonstrated that what had been noticed by two or three local people who regularly passed by the statue a certain dampness beneath the eyes was no more than raindrops trapped in two over-defined hollows. There the matter ended. Those who had so certainly believed in what they had never actually seen, those who had not noticed the drenched leaves of overhanging boughs high above the statue, felt as foolish as their spiritual masters had predicted they one day would. Almost overnight the weeping Virgin of Pouldearg became again the painted image it had always been. Our Lady of the Wayside, it had been called for a while.
"I never heard people were taking photographs of it." Cahal's father shook his head as if he doubted his son, which he often did and usually with reason.
"A fellow was writing a book a while back. Going around all Ireland, tracking down the weeping statues."
"It was no more than the rain at Pouldearg."
"He'd have put that in the book. That man would have put the whole thing down, how you'd find the statues all over the place and some of them would be okay and some of them wouldn't."
"And you set the Spaniards right about Pouldearg?"
"I did of course"
"Drain the juice out of young Leahy's bike and we'll weld his leak for him."
From Cheating at Canasta by William Trevor, copyright © 2007 by William Trevor, published by Viking Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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