Will Gatti & Daniel Finn

Story Bag

A connection lost


A birthday story for Angela

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‘I’m on the train,’ she said. ‘Can you hear me?’


‘I might lose connection.’

He often lost connection, he thought. Looking out of the window was a sure way to go wandering. He should put his desk to the wall. Not even a picture. Just the woodchip yellow, then he would probably stare at the little bumps and start thinking about the Sahara and Beau Geste; the mud fort, the dead soldiers propped up on the parapet, rifles in their stiff arms, all to fool the enemy. Who were the enemy? He couldn’t remember.

‘Are you listening?’

‘Yes, of course. Something to do with the oven…’ A muted, slightly fuzzy squawk at the other end of the line… though mobiles had no lines did they, merely odd, invisible signals flitting through the air. ‘Only joking. No, really, I know exactly what to do.’

He asked about the interview and it had gone well, which was good; but he was losing her, her voice breaking up, slipping away. He remembered that story about the damaged goose….



Pap Coyle said it had come into his small farm one day early in the year and it had had a bit of a stagger in the way it walked, like there was something hurting in its foot. You’d have thought, Pap said, that the farm geese would have battered it away but that didn’t happen at all. He had two, both white, as farm geese are, but the wild one was a Barnacle all the way over from Greenland or some such place beyond the sea. A beautiful bird, he said, with a fine dark head and a neat white collar, like a priest, dark wings and then a white breast. The wild goose’d go about with this pair as if they were family. They were a fine sight, Pap said, down there by the ditch he’d widened into a bit of a pond, and then up at the road verge cursing anyone who might come by. Jim never liked them. He had to pass by on his bicycle on his way in to collect the pension in Geesala every Tuesday and they’d be there, sure as rain, hissing and honking at him, and him putting the hammer down, peddling as fast he could.

‘And I thought this fella,’ Pap said, talking about that wild goose, ‘would be there for all time, you know; and maybe he would breed and the young ones would be different because of the touch of wild they’d have in them.’

But the thing was, that goose took to making little flights about the farm. The other two paid no mind and stayed right there by the pond, not even looking up, but that wild goose, after his little bit of exercise, would always come back down and join them.

Of course there was more of this and the flying was a little longer each time it seemed and Pap said he had a notion what would happen, and it did happen, right as he thought it would. One day Pap saw long skeins of geese up in the air, on the move back to wherever it is they go to; and then the next moment his own half-wild goose was beating his wings and the moment after that he was gone.

He circled around the farm, like he was saying goodbye now and I’m off.  Then he took a straight line over Muingdoran and out towards  the long strand. And he was flying a lot faster than Jim ever could manage on his old bicycle, that was for sure.

Pap didn’t know what came over him then because, without thinking, he jumped in the van and followed right after that bird. Nearly lost the road a couple of times because he was looking up at the sky, keeping the goose in sight. ‘I pulled in down at the banks just in time to see thirty, forty, maybe more Barnacles rise up like and join your man, as if – and this is the thing- as if they’d been waiting for him all along.’

And then like an arrow they took off out over the bay, beyond Duvillaun island and on out to the Inishkeas and beyond them too; but of course Pap had lost sight of them by then, though he said he kept on standing and looking for a long while. ‘Like a man gone simple or like a fella who has lost the connection, when you’re on the phone, and not a man to come and put back the line.’



He’d always liked that story and also the little coda Pap told him which was how for some years after that , when the geese returned to that strand, as they do every year, he would sometimes see the odd one passing over head, like that goose was taking look at the old farm, but he could never tell if it was his one or not. ‘It’s not like he would come back knocking on the door,’ Pap had said. ‘But I was the one who felt lost, you know, not him. ‘

His mobile crackled and then his wife’s voice suddenly was clear as a bell. ‘So you’ll be there to pick me up?’

‘Of course. Up by the shops, I know. Where I can pull in.’