Eleven Pipers – (day 11)


Helena Butters

“Knees together, McGreevy, you’re flashing your junk at the widow.”

“Piss off,” Tim McGreevy grumbled as he drew his legs together.  True to whispered rumor, he wore nothing beneath his kilt.  Presented with the appropriate audience, Tim would further clarify that he wore nothing “except lipstick” beneath his bagpiper uniform.  The old ladies gathered in the Fellowship Hall at Our Lady of Infinite Compassion were not such an audience.

Kevin Clancy had studied Tim closely – the way women would sidle up to him after performances and coyly ask if the rumors were true; the way Tim would deliver the lipstick line; the way the women’s mouths would open in mock horror as they playfully slapped his shoulder.  Kevin practiced delivering this line to the bathroom mirror each time he donned his kilt in case a woman inquired about his undergarments.  No one ever had.  It was just as well, anyhow, as Kevin always wore white cotton briefs under his kilt.

Kevin had been playing the bagpipes since the age of nine.  His mother, once married into the Clancy name, took on being Irish with formidable gusto.  The four generations separating her new husband from the Emerald Isle were no deterrent.  Kevin’s three sisters, Erin, Meghan, and Shannon, had all been required to take years of Irish dance.  Of the two pursuits, Kevin had to admit that playing the bagpipes was notably more profitable.  He’d played at weddings and church services for most of his early twenties before joining Erin’s Own Bagpipe Brigade two years ago.  Erin’s Own was a troupe of twelve bagpipers who marched in parades, performed at assorted St Patrick’s Day celebrations, and played Taps at the funerals of anyone who’d elected to honor their Irish heritage before passing on. (Read More)

So Played the Pipes in Arras – (day 11)


 Janet Lingel Aldrich

Harry McDonald shuffled down the hall to answer the door. He found his regular mail carrier with an oblong box in hand. “Good morning, Mr. McDonald! Ready for Christmas?”

Taking the box, he raised a bushy eyebrow. “Happen I am, lass. Happen I am.” He put the box on the nearest flat surface and took the clipboard he was offered. “Where do I sign, then?”

After he closed the door, Harry stared at the box for a long time before picking it up.  I know what it is and I know what it means. Bloody hell. And at Christmas of all times. He was expecting his grandson any day, home from Afghanistan on furlough. I’ll put it aside for now.

As he passed down the hallway, he searched through the framed pictures on the wall and stopped at one of them. He ran his hand over the picture, looking at each of his mates in turn. Sandy, Hamish, Alasdair, David… all the twelve of us. Gone one at a time. And now, Jamie-lad. Only me left. Only me.

  (Read More)