As Plain as the Nose on Your Face

by Liam Heneghan

Barcelona I learned through a mutual acquaintance that O’Cinnéide, that great embryologist, had died, so I attended his funeral mass at St. Vincent DePaul’s in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. He had recently turned sixty, and had died according to the note I got from O’Neill “in distressing circumstances.” O’Neill added that he would appreciate advice on a matter of O’Cinnéide’s legacy. Along with a few of the regular morning mass-goers and some heavily aromatic homeless men sleeping in the pews at the back of the church, there were no more than a handful of us there that remembered him. These were mainly his former university colleagues. O’Cinnéide took an early retirement after which he severed contact with most of us. After condolences had been offered to his wife, a handsome, doleful and seemingly capable woman who had, in fact, seen little of him in his last months as he had been under the constant care of his doctors, a few of us retreated to the Local Option a block away on Webster Avenue. It was a crisp April morning, certainly not so warm that a person would have overcome his resentment at harsh treatment from another miserable Chicago winter; certainly not so warm that one had yet forgotten, as a Chicagoan typically does during the summer months, one’s resolve to flee. We settled into the back of the bar, ordered our pints and toasted the dead man. “A great Irish genius”, one of us said. And the rest of us mumbled into our pints, “Aye; that he was.”

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