USA 1991

‘Say that again’, I said. The bearded stranger said it again - I was right, it was an English accent. Who brought him to this party? Why had he chosen to sit at the table with us?  He looked around at the four of us as our faces grew grim.  I looked him in the eye while I told Sean to get us four more bottles of John Adams, Boston’s finest beer. Four bottles, not five: the English could get his own. We carried on talking, with the beers helping us to relax after a week’s hard work fighting fires in Boston. The stranger listened quietly, occasionally asked a question. We ignored him. The hostess, perhaps feeling a tension, came over to tell us he was a friend of hers. Anyway the beer was loosening us up and gradually he became part of the conversation. In the end he seemed likeable enough. We only knew about unlikeable English: those our family stories talked about, those who caused our ancestors to flee to America from Ireland a hundred and more years before.