Eva and the Irishman

Excerpts from the book.

From Part I, Chapter 9:

Liam could hear the crowd inside Flannery’s and felt a little queasy. He shook it off as he walked to the storage room. His senses took in the stinking heat from the bodies packed into the room. Even with the few windows open for ventilation, it was stifling. The tobacco smoke and body odor were nearly unbearable.

Jimmy and his two cohorts were already there. They looked frazzled. Perhaps they were wondering if their choice in Liam had been a wise one, even though he had won his first fight last week. Liam greeted them with aloofness and mild disdain. He liked to think it kept them off balance, never knowing what was coming next from their presumed ace-in-the-hole. It amused Liam greatly.

“Sure wish ye had trained more this week, Dady,” Jimmy said.

“Yeah, well I had business to attend to,” Liam snapped.

“What kind o’—” Jimmy stopped, seeing the ominous look in Liam’s eyes. He picked up Liam’s shirt. “Let me fold yer shirt and place it where it won’t get soiled,” he said sheepishly.

God, Liam thought. Can it get any more amusing with this eejit? He made sure his face did not show his amusement.

Liam’s fight was up first. It was with the winner of a fight he had seen the first week, before he stepped into the ring. Liam had watched the bloke’s moves, and he knew what he had to do. Move in fast. The bloke had danced around a lot in his other fight. This knowledge would give Liam a slight edge. His opponent didn’t know a damn thing about him. He was well aware that, after a few fights, everyone would know his strategy. It was best to win as much money as he could before he became the one to beat.

The referee announced the first fight.

“Gentlemen, in this corner, relative newcomer Liam Dady. He’s said to have had success in Londonderry, and Dublin with some callin’ him ‘The Iron Fist.’ He’s the underdog in this fight.”

Jimmy, the wee eejit, Liam thought. Makin’ up stories about me.

Bets were made. Jimmy and his boys put down a lot of money on Liam. The odds were in the other man’s favor since he was known, therefore a surer bet.

Liam walked into the ring to booing mixed with a few claps, mostly from his managers. He happened to catch Shaughnessy skulking in a corner, standing with his arms folded and chin down, eyes beading in on Liam. There was a faint trace of the bruise Liam’s fist had no doubt left a couple weeks ago.

The bell clanged and Liam charged in fearlessly. He started with a right hook to the other man’s jaw, making him lose his balance. He quickly followed with a jab to the nose and finished him off with a powerful left upper cut to the chin.

As the favorite fell backward on his arse and flopped into a heap on the filthy floor, the crowd looked shocked. Liam’s knock-out was clean and easy. He didn’t get a scratch, other than abraded knuckles. The silence in the room was stunning.

The referee held up Liam’s arm in victory, and the crowd reluctantly clapped for the surprise winner. Liam heard his eejit managers yell, “The ‘Iron Fist’ does it again.”

Liam made much more money than he thought he would, but he was no fool. Not every fight would go this way. Eventually, he would get battered again like he did in his first fights. At least Dolly and Annie would breathe a sigh of relief upon his return tonight.

Liam collected his winnings from Jimmy, and a few men in the crowd patted him on the back. Liam reluctantly stayed for a pint with his elated managers.

When Liam made his way out the back door to leave, he looked around for Shaughnessy. He spotted him in the same corner, but got a different reaction from him than earlier in the night. Shaughnessy quickly broke eye contact in a seemingly submissive way. This pleased Liam, but he gave the dangerous snake no look of satisfaction. Shaughnessy, he concluded, was by no means less treacherous. He could be seeing Liam in a whole new light, not just as some eejit who once luckily got the upper hand, but Liam knew he must always be vigilant.

From Part I, Chapter 10:

While the rest of the family headed away from the shade and toward the races, Eva decided to stay for the time being. Happy with the day so far, she poured a glass of mehu, and gazed around the field to see all the people. Standing just inside the edge of the woods, a person caught her eye. She looked with intent and saw that it was Eino. She lost her breath in shock, and she gasped trying to gain it back. Putting her glass down on the bench, she looked around for Mamma Mattson and spotted her walking away with her parents. She looked back at Eino. He gazed at her for many moments, then turned, and walked further into the woods. His eyes had been so beckoning, so compelling, she found herself following him. Nothing, short of Victor physically pulling her away, was going to stop her from following Eino. Just before she entered the birch stand, she looked back at her family. No one seemed to have noticed her, so she walked in a ways. About a hundred feet in she found him waiting for her, leaning against a birch, his blue eyes mesmerizing. She walked right up to him.

“Eino, I’m—”

“Sorry you slapped me? Sorry you broke my heart?”

Tears brimmed in her eyes. “Yes.”

“Well, I don’t forgive you. You are making a big mistake—”

“Enough Eino! You are just jealous, and you need to accept that I’m with Victor,” she said angrily, her tears flowing.

“I don’t have to accept anything. You are a foolish girl.”

“And you are a foolish boy. Don’t ever talk to me again. This serves only to strengthen my feelings for choosing the right … the honorable brother. Goodbye Eino.” She was hurt that he didn’t accept her apology. She turned and started to walk out of the birch stand. She heard steps coming from behind. Eino grabbed her arm and spun her around, pulling her to him. He kissed her, more passionately than he ever had, pushing her body into his with his hands. She found herself roused by his aggressiveness. She could feel he wanted her … to take her. And her body wanted him in kind. She wanted to feel his hands ripping her clothes off, putting his mouth on her breasts… It took all her strength not to give in. The kiss ended. Tears filled her eyes.

“I’ll hate him forever for stealing you from me. The honorable brother …” he said with distain. He let her go, and with an icy stare, he turned, and walked further into the woods away from her.

Left standing alone, she sobbed. She knew she had to get back to everyone. When she couldn’t see Eino through the trees anymore she too, left. Rage at her confusing encounter with Eino built inside her. With her fingers, she furiously wiped the tears from her cheeks and eyes, and forced herself to stop crying as she headed back to her family.

From Part II, Chapter 4:

The five o’clock evening train was about twenty minutes out of Virginia. There weren’t that many on board from Duluth that Saturday in late-November, just a handful of people.

Liam had been riding for hours, his drunk wearing off. He had just fallen to the floor between the two seats. “Oh, Christ, I just pissed me trousers,” he yelled. His voice was hoarse with sickness. He had a terrible cough.

The conductor came to him. “Sir, please stop yelling. You’re scaring the other passengers.”

“I don’t give a fuck about any passengers. I want to get off.” He felt awful. He started to cough again.

“We’ll be in Virginia in about ten minutes. Then you can disembark.”

“Virginia? I thought I was headin’ north?”

“We’re in Minnesota, sir.”

“Can ye help me get up?”

“No, sir. If you’ve pissed yourself, I don’t want you to wet the seat.”

It was cold on the floor. With the alcohol wearing off, his misery was returning. How long in God’s name can I keep on doing this, he asked himself. His next thought as he lay helpless, God, can ye help me? It was time.

From Part II, Chapter 4

It was just about five thirty when a startling rap came on the front door. Eva and Saimi were in the kitchen, tending to supper preparation. Eva opened the front door to a cold wind and two train station workers supporting another man between them.

“Good-evening, Mam,” said one of the workers. “This is a man in need of shelter right away. He said he has money, if ye have a room. He seems sick, too. We can stay to help you get him situated. He’s gonna need a bath, bad. If ye have a phone, I can call Doc Andersen for you.”

“Vell den, come in,” Eva said. “Phone on … table … right here.”

Saimi came out to the foyer. “Ve can giff him sauna, if you can help us.”

“We’d be glad to help, Mam.”

“Let’s get door shut, come in den.”

The men helped the ill man into the foyer. He coughed badly.

“He sounds like bad sest,” Saimi said.

“Oh, do you mean a bad chest?”

“Yes. Maybe not get udder people sick. ‘Course, it sound verdy bad.”

“Eva,” Saimi said in Finnish, “get some night clothes. We are going to put this man up for a few days. He needs a sauna. These men will help.”

Eva spoke in Finn. “We can put him in Ellen’s room for now. I put clean sheets on her bed this morning. Ellen can sleep with Pappa and me. We can get the cot.”

“Bring him trough kitsen, ve go outside to sauna,” Saimi instructed the two men.

Eva got the things Saimi had asked for. She went into Victor’s drawers for the night-shirt and socks, grabbed his extra boots and coat from the hooks in the kitchen, and then joined Saimi and the two men in the sauna with the much-disheveled, unshaven, smelly, sick man.