The body of Michael Cairney was taken into St Stephen’s church at six pm. I can’t say I knew him that well. I met him a few weeks ago on the lane at the high flats that runs parallel to Dalmuir Park. We had the usual kind of non-conversation about how we were getting on. We were both great. I asked him where he was living now. He used to stay in Glendevon with him mum Linda and his dad Mick, a minute walk from me. I’d been in there house a few times. Met young Mikey in the local pub and walked home with him when he lived down this way. Then I lost track of him, as you do, but heard a few stories that he’d crashed a car drunk. I laughed. We’d all done that. Sometimes I bumped into him when I was working in Parkhall. I think he had a mate up that way. I’m not sure what he said when I met him that day. He might have said he was living in Mountblow or the moon, I wasn’t really listening. Then he was dead. That was a shock because he was young. Somebody said his ex-girlfriend found him. Others that he’d killed himself. I don’t know and it doesn’t really matter.
We shuffled into church following the pall bearers and the mourners. There’s plenty of room inside. The priest welcomes us to St Margaret’s, but quickly corrects himself, St Stephen’s. Any other time we would have laughed. I squeeze into a pew beside John Mitchel, who smells of booze, Clank, who smells of John Mitchel’s booze because it’s cheaper that way. Fra’s phone goes, it’s on silent, but he looks at the screen. It might be something important. Clank takes a peek too. What strikes me is how quiet the congregation is. The bidding prayers remain unanswered. ‘Immaculate Mary’ at the end of the service unsung. Mostly everyone just stands, shuffling about, waiting for it to be over. And it is. Twenty minutes.
Mikey’s dad is the first to stride down the aisle away from the coffin and the church. I’d know his walk anywhere. And if I went to Hampden Park and scanned the crowd I’d be able to pick Mick out. But if you asked me to pick out his wife Linda from an ID parade with two females it would be 50/50 I’d pick the right one. The earth for them has stopped and the air grown thin. I’m sorry for them. But what can you do? I don’t know. They bury their son tomorrow and that’s tragic. For the rest of us life moves on.