Looking at his plate, James shook his head disbelievingly. “This is not my breakfast, surely?” he said.
Mrs McGarrigle shook her head, and quietly informed him, that indeed it was.
James protested: “I always have my full Ulster Fry every morning. It’s what helps to keep me going through my hard slog at the University. You know that!”
“I know, and it was our agreement, but today, it simply cannot be done.”
The previous day, Mrs McGarrigle had done her usual round of messages: bread from the bakery, fruit and veg from the greengrocer, milk from the dairy. All was going well until she reached the butcher’s. There appeared to be a terrible commotion both inside and out.
Smyth the Butcher was standing in the middle of his shop surround by a baying crowd of customers. All were clamouring for their usual orders. But none was able to be served. The stock simply wasn’t there.
Smyth was standing still, unable to think, let alone talk amidst all the confusion. His usual unflappable self-control was letting him down today. He simply did not know what to do next.
Into the fray stepped the bold Mrs McGarrigle. Well respected, the landlady of the Purple Duck Inn knew all present and had a commanding voice from years clearing them out in the bar.
“Hold your whist, would ye’s all!” she said loudly.
The room hushed, wondering what was to come next.
“What’s all the clamour about Smyth?”
“I’ve no bacon,” replied the butcher, quietly.
“No bacon, you say? Whatever has happened?”
“It’s all to do with the Scouts up at the Big House. They’ve some sort of big jamboree on, and all the bacon throughout the county has been bought up. You know how they only eat bacon, or something…”
“Aye, I have heard that said, but what’s got everyone here clamouring for your neck?” asked Mrs McGarrigle.
“Well, like you, we’re all creatures of habit,” replied Mrs Nichols, “we always buy the same things. Our husbands, sons, and tenants, only known one breakfast—the full Ulster Fry. They need their bacon just as much as their sausage or potato bread.”
“I’ve plenty of sausages,” interjected Smyth the Butcher. “I’ll even let you all have them at half the price, if you’ll just leave me alone. It’s not my fault I’ve no bacon.”
Thus it was that the menfolk of the town all woke up this morning to the smell of sausages. Sausages frying everywhere. Nowhere was there any smell of bacon.
James continued to protest. But there was little to nothing he could do. All he could do was get on with eating his breakfast: six sausages and all.
“I like sausages, Mrs McGarrigle, you know I do. But two sausages don’t make a rasher.”
Written in half-an-hour at The Inkslingers writing group in the Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1, on Saturday 13th August 2016.