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Dead Man Talking

Roddy Doyle
New Island


I met Joe again the night before his funeral.

Let me explain.

When I was younger than I am now, I knew a man called Joe Murphy. In fact, I knew him before he was a man. I knew him since we were kids.

We were best friends.

But I hadn't seen Joe in five or six years. We'd had a fight.

A big fight.

I know what you are thinking. At least, I think I know what you are thinking. 'It must have been about a woman.' But you are wrong. The fight had not been about a woman. It had been about a horse. It had been about a horse and three women.

But the story isn't really about the fight.

I don't know where to start.

I can start in Joe's house, the night before his funeral. Or I can go back to the time when we had the fight. Or I can go all the way back to the time when we were two small boys playing football.

We were best friends, kicking the ball against the side wall of Joe's house. We were both going to play for Manchester United and we were never, ever going to fight.

If I was reading this story, I would want to read about meeting Joe the day before his funeral. Because it is a bit mad. It is not something that happens every day, is it? If it was the day before his funeral, Joe must have been dead.

That is what you are thinking.

And you are right. He was dead.

He was dead. But then he started talking to me.

I don't know where to start.

I don't even know if I want to start.

But I have to.