Halloween | Cassandra Voices



I’m sitting down on the steps of an old derelict townhouse, across the road from what used to be my old local. I’m rolling a joint, a packed-out little pinner, and looking at the carrying on that is going on outside the pub. Three kids on bikes have stopped to get a buzz off a guy, probably in his late forties or early fifties, who’s pissed out of his head and is holding himself up by a lamppost, around which he is slowly spinning himself. The guy´s wearing a shiny grey suit that has definitely seen better days. His white shirt, open at the neck, has a dirty big half-pint of stout stain down the front of it. With one hand holding the lamppost, stretched out at arms-length, and his feet planted against the base, the guy is leaning so far out that he´s at a near forty-five-degree angle. He spins himself slowly, around and around the lamppost. Like Gene Kelly in “Singing in the Rain”.
“I´m a dirty swinger, Lads!” the guy shouts.

It´s getting late in the evening and Halloween is fast approaching. Bangers are going off, booming like bombs in the distance, sometimes closer, echoing and reverberating throughout the streets. High above the pubs, takeaways, bookies and closed-up shops, fireworks screech up into the sky, pop and fizzle out. Reflected in the third and fourth story windows opposite, I catch bits and pieces of the soft explosions. Pulsating yellows. Exploding whites. Terrific blues. Glittering greens. Fountain-sprays of red. The smell of gunpowder and the barks and yelps of terrorized dogs enliven the chill autumn air. Gangs of kids, sometimes ten or twelve strong, drag pallets down the footpaths and street. Cars blare their horns and swerve around them but the kids just throw the finger and let loose a chorus of profanities. Sometimes, when a car has gotten a safe enough distance away, an egg or two are thrown after it. Pagan mischief has descended upon the city again and taken over the streets. And the people in cars know better than to stop.

“I´m a swinger, Lads!” the guy shouts again, turning himself around and around on the lamppost. “I´m a dirty fucking swinger!”

But the three kids on their bikes have lost interest. They are looking in through the window of a Chinese Takeaway, Shangri La, at the little Chinese woman who sits behind the counter, her head hovering beside that little golden kitty which perpetually waves it´s pawl. It looks warm inside the takeaway. Every now and then I think I get a whiff of food when a customer or a delivery guy enters or leaves: Spring Rolls, Chung Po Prawns, Roast Duck in Plum Sauce. But the thought of all that greasy food makes me a little queasy. One of the kids gets up on his bike and starts circling around his two friends.
“I speak Chinese now,” he shouts, “Kim Poo Kak! Po Cum Kim! Chong Chong Chiny Chong!”
Another kid starts to mimic the golden kitty, levering his arm up and down, waving and staring in at the woman behind the counter.
“Gizza look inside your fortune cookie!” he shouts.
“Cum Young Son!” shouts the third kid.
“I´m a dirty swinger, Lads!” the man spinning around the lamppost shouts again, “And I´m going to box the fucking head off the next prick I see!”

The few people who are passing up and down the street are paying no attention to any of this. Those who do see what is coming up ahead of them have marked it as trouble and crossed over to the other side of the street in order to avoid passing the guy. He’s still swinging himself around this lamppost, and the kids on bikes are now blocking the footpath. People have become weary of this part of town. It’s been so for a while now. And people are especially weary when night is moving in, especially at this time of year.

A Brazilian student arrives at the bus stop just in front of me. He has white earbuds in his ears and is texting on his phone. When he looks up from his phone at the bus stop’s electronic timetable and seeing that it has been smashed in, he shakes his head and moves on. I light my joint and take three quick puffs on it. From my inside jacket pocket, I take out my naggin of whisky, spin the cap and drink down a good, deep, gut-warming measure, recap it and put it away. I’m invisible to those across the street. I have willed it so. But that could all change in a split second. I´ve packed out the joint and after two more quick hits off it has taken effect. I take another enormous hit and hold it in. Playing traffic lights with myself, I wait until I´m nearly lightheaded before slowly blowing out the smoke. I pull my thick woolly hat down snugly on my head.

With a sizzling sparkler in each hand, a tall, painfully thin girl comes skipping right past me. No more than ten years of age, she’s dressed all in black and her long blonde hair is tied up in a ponytail. I lean out from the steps and watch her as she goes by. Wearing a little black leather jacket, she launches herself into the air, landing and springing up again. Her ponytail lifts and falls above the back of her black leather jacket, where white Coca-Cola style letters spell out “Trouble-Maker” over a red heart pierced by an arrow. Twirling her sparklers, this little impish cheerleader of mayhem skips on down the street, slowing only to turn right at O’Mahony’s butchers. She disappears around the corner where, in black marker on the white wall of the butchers, someone has drawn a huge cock and balls complete with four lines for the jizz spurting out in a graceful arc. In red marker underneath it, and probably by a different hand, is written, “Mandy is a fucking tramp.” And beside that in black marker, “The Pope is a pedo.” Staring at all this, I’m convinced that none of it had been there twenty minutes ago.

A kid comes stumbling down opposite side of the street. By the look of his Seventies getup, I figure that he´s come from the rock bar, The High Stool, just a few doors up. The High Stool is one of the last few havens for young bands to play in and they’re known to go easy on I.D. The kid has long, curly black hair, a light bumfluff moustache and wears a blue denim jacket with band-patches sown on to it, and tight grey jeans. He is no more than seventeen. The rocker-kid totters down the street and stops. He takes out a twenty box of Marlboro red from his jacket pocket, puts one in his mouth and drops the box back into his right-hand inside pocket. Swaying slightly, he tries to light his cigarette, flicking his lighter in his cupped hand, before tottering off again, oblivious to where he is.

Having lost interest in the Chinese takeaway, the kids on bikes lean over their handlebars in quiet conference. They look over their shoulders, up and down the street. Finally, the young rocker gets his cigarette lit. He becomes absorbed by it, puffing at it, then looking at it, then lovingly puffing at it again. Throwing his head back, he exhales huge clouds of smoke.

The swinger has switched gears, and now using his right hand, slowly winds himself counter-clockwise, around the lamp post. Just as the rock-kid comes within range and, without breaking the momentum of his turning or taking his hand from the lamp post, the guy tips his weight in such a way that he picks up speed and, in one fluid movement, comes back around and throws a thick, meat-and-bone fisted punch, landing it squarely on the right side of the young rocker-kids face. The sound of it carries across the street.
One of the kids has had his back to it all but he turns around just in time to see the rocker-kid, blind-sided and stunned, staggering backwards a good four-to-five steps before his legs buckle and give out from under him and he falls back, down on his hands and ass. I missed which way the cigarette flew from his mouth.
“Down in one!”

The kids on their bikes roar with laughter and the swinger doesn’t say a word. Just keeps turning around and around on the lamp post. Eyes closed, he smiles to himself, his face serene. Miles away now. He’s Elsewhere. The Champ. First round. K.O. Raising his belt for the world to see. But on his third revolution the smile was gone. Opening his eyes, he surveys the street before letting go of the lamp post. He walks over to where the kid is lying on the footpath, propped up on forearm and elbow. He swings a kick at the kid’s face, like his head was a football hovering in the air, begging to be volleyed. The sound this makes sickens my heart. Thrown back beneath the bookie’s window, the kid’s face is ghost-white now. He opens his eyes wide and blinks once. By the second blink his eyes are heavier. Blood pours from where his nose and mouth used to be. When he closes his eyes for a third time, they don´t open again and his head sinks down slowly into his chest. He´s either out cold, or dead.

“Job oxo, Lads,” the guy in the grey suit says to the kids on their bikes. The kids look at him, each of them now standing up straight, hands gripping their handlebars. They watch him as he walks back into the pub, my old local. The kids look at each other, then at the rocker kid on the ground. One by one they get up on their pedals and go cycling out blindly on to the street. Cars blare their horns at the kids as they go racing down the road, zig-zagging each other, shouting and hollering.

The last two hits off the joint burn my fingers and scorch my lips before I throw it away. My eyes feel hot and bloodshot. I take another big drink from my naggin, to steady myself, but make sure there is enough left for three or four big mouthfuls later. I pick up my rucksack, stand up, and swing it around my back and over my shoulders. My legs feel feeble. Car lights zip past on the road. There is no one around, just an old man, bent-double, with a walking-stick on the opposite side, down by the boarded up Centra on the corner. He’s so doubled over that he can only look at the ground. So, it will take him a good ten minutes to cover the same amount of ground it will take me fifteen seconds. Despite waiting for a break in the traffic I nearly get knocked down crossing the road.
Making sure my back covers us from the road, I hunker down in front of the rocker-kid, without touching him. His head is still slumped into his chest. The blood gushing from his nose and mouth has covered his chin. Three bloodied teeth nestle in the folds of his faded black t-shirt now darkened, drenched with his own blood. Looking around, I reach into his inside pocket. And in that very moment, when my hand clutches the package of cigarettes, to pull them free, I´m waiting for someone to walk out of the pub and see us, or for a heavy hand to fall on my shoulder. But, no. No one comes.

Hurrying down the street, I stride past the old, question-mark shaped man who can see nothing but the footpath, his feet and the end of his walking stick, dog-shit and broken glass. My heart is beating so hard I can feel it in my dry throat. But I´m out. I´m gone. I´m free. I squeeze the box of cigarettes in my hand and I can feel by it that it´s pretty much a full, fresh pack. It´s the best luck I´ve had all week.

I pass by a boarded-up pharmacy, the graffitied hoardings of a closed-down sushi restaurant and an African barber. Being open, the barbershop is still lit up, but inside, every chair is empty. Only two cigarettes have been smoked from the pack. Sparking one up, I turn down a darkened side street, and slacken my pace. A few of the streetlights have been smashed. A row of brownstone townhouses are uninhabited, their windows black and For Sale signs displayed on every facade. Near the street’s end, I stop beneath the fitful flicker of a streetlight. Leaning against the lamppost I smoke and wait for the calm to return. For my hands to stop shaking.

There´s a church across the street I´ve never noticed before. Looking at it, I consider going inside for a while. A few minutes of peace and warmth. Maybe some song. A choir. Some candles, some nightlights, might be got. A reading from the Book of Jeremiah. Ezekiel. Or Ecclesiastes. A reading from the Gospel of St. John. A fiver, or a tasty tenner passed around in the tray. When goods abound, my brothers and sisters, parasites abound. But I come among you to pray. To shake the warm and clammy hands of other weary sinners. To ask forgiveness. To confess and to repent. And be not lost. Lord hear us. In your grace, Lord, hear us. To sit in silence. Then kneel in prayer. Close my eyes. A God´s body dissolving inside of me. And hope that, in prayer, my mind might be drawn toward higher things.

Curious as to the name of the church, I search for the sign and behind the spike-topped black railings, I spot it. Spade Enterprise Centre. In the windows I see the ghostly glow of two computer monitors, the green hills and blue skies of their screensavers. Disgusted, I flick away the end of my cigarette and keep moving.

My boots crunch against shards of glass on the ground from the smashed-in windows of the Citizen Information Centre. Spray painted graffiti, cryptic tags and slogans, run the length of the building, jump onto the next shop-front, and the next, and continue on across the battered iron shutters of an old, burn-out Post Office. “Take Back the Streets”. “Vote Maybe.” “God is Love.” “Take Back the Streets.” “Live Dublin. Die Young.” “Let it Come. Let It Go.” At the top of Smithfield, a pink pram has been left on the street. An empty pouch of rolling tobacco and a black woolly hat on its seat. Two pieces of bloodied white tissue paper lay on the ground beside it.

Smithfield Square is all lit up. A Third Reich modernity about it. The green light at the top of the distillery look-out tower. The huge light-standards all lit up red for Halloween. If only the flaming torches on top of them were lit. Triumph of the Financial Will. Hotel room lights all lit up. Apartment windows all lit up. All warm and lived in. All the windows look down on to the Square. Smithfield Square structures the night and holds it at bay. People walk about across the Square. Going out, coming home. Groups of friends, couples, clutches of tourists. Going out to pubs. Going out to restaurants. A Halloween Horror double-bill in The Lighthouse. “What are you having?” “What you wanna go see?” “I´m getting this one in, put your money away”.

I stand and watch the revolving ads on the motorized billboard. “Tell your girlfriend to get stuffed. Chicago Take Away Pizza” “You got a big future ahead. D.I.T. Open Day 30th November – Sat. 1st of December” “It´s the blend that counts. Tullamore Dew”. There´s more in my naggin than I´d thought. I take another drink and go around to the other side of the billboard and watch the ads roll up and roll back. In dramatic, eye-catching, black-and-yellow bio-hazard style design “Renting and worried about losing your home”.

Outside the Fresh Store a woman´s white-framed bike, with a wicker basket on front, is stood up on its kickstand in gentle repose. Unlocked. But I´m tired. And the thoughts of being chased exhaust me. When was the last time I was even on a bike? And a woman´s bike at that. Across cobbles stones too. And nowhere to go or to bring it. Forget it. I go over to the tiers of concrete steps on the Square and sit down. From my jacket pocket I take out my black fingerless gloves and put them on. I light another cigarette and I look up at the windows of the hotel rooms and the apartments. The cold is starting to bite. Like a vampire I have a lust. I have a need. I have a want to be invited in. See me. See me. Come to the window and see me.
Look down and wave.
Invite me up.
Invite me in.

I sat here one night and watched a Conor McGregor fight on about half a dozen huge, flat-screen TVs mounted up high on the living room walls, through a number of the windows of third and fourth floor apartments. A lot of people were out on their balconies before the fight. Talking, laughing, drinking, smoking. Taking pictures. I was so close to shouting up at them. I could have shouted up too. “Hey! Hey! Can I come up and watch the fight? Came down without my keys and locked myself out like a spa. I know. Sickened. Of all the nights. I got some coke!” They might have taken me in too. For the laugh. More the merrier. Just to watch the fight. And why not. Neighbourly neighbours. Ah yeah. Good souls. Good skins. And I had it all planned out too. Get in. Get to the kitchen. Dump out some coke. Rail it out. Generous like. Grateful. Gratitude. Get that immediate friendly welcome then. Comradery on tap. “Help yourself, Man. Happy Days. Thanks for having me. Yeah, can´t get a fucking locksmith ´til tomorrow”. Accept a beer. Take a shot. Compliment the gaff. Get to the bathroom then when they´re all roaring at the TV. One-minute shower. Nick bit of shampoo. Bit of shower gel.  I could do it in forty seconds. Dry off. Bit of toothpaste. No need to be a total scald. I have my own toothbrush and everything. No one would have copped it at all.

But I left them to it and watched the fight through the windows instead. And I could see a good bit of it too. Few bumps of coke gave a fluency to my own running commentary. I had a great time. I felt capable and alive. Mercifully distracted from the sharp cold of empty hours.

Two kids walk past. One with his hands down the front of his grey tracksuit pants. They slow down when they clock the unlocked bike. They take a quick scan around and they see me, looking at them. They keep walking and I flick the end of my cigarette away.

Tied by a luminous green leash to the chalkboard outside of Fresh is a little dog so small that I hadn´t seen it when I first sat down. I get a rush of recognition when I see it. My stupid blood thrills at the sight of that little fucking dog. That´s Aido´s dog. Definitely. Little Jack Russel-Chihuahua. And the red and the black brace around it for the leash. It fuckin is an´all. No mistake. I take off my woolly hat and let the cold air at my head. I take a look at myself. A once over. I fix my hair and smell myself. I stand up and stretch the tension, the anxious anticipation, out of my extremities. I start a little pacing then, to and fro, in front of the steps.

“Aido. How are things? Alright Aido. Long time.”
Speech doesn´t seem slurred. A cold shiver runs up my spine and I shake myself. Giddy as a fuck. Thought you were done though. Thought you were done. But this is chance happening. Street Magic. I sit back down on the steps. My right leg is jigging up and down with a kind of sprung rapidity. I slide my rucksack off my back without taking my eyes off the door and place it down next to me on the left. From my back jeans pocket, I take out my little baggy and, holding in down in between my knees, I tear off enough for two fat joints from the pungent bud. I put the makings, loose, in my right-side jacket pocket and put the baggy back in the pocket of my jeans. I suck the taste from my fingers, fix my eyes on the doors of Fresh, and wait.
Sure enough, out walks Aido carrying a bag of shopping. Tracksuit pockets bulging too. He leans forward, talking to his dog, unties the leash from around the chalkboard and starts walking away.
He stops and turns around. He peers over.
“Who´s tha?”
“Andy, Man.”
Tugging on the leash, he walks over.
“Ye man. Good, good. Good to see ya man. Been ages.”
“Been a while, alrigh.”
“Hello Floopy. Haven´t seen you around for a bit.”
“Ah yeah, was away for a bit.”
“Ah right. I never heard. You back into it?”
“Ah, doin a bit you know. Wha ya after?”
“Meant to ask you. Did your sister-in-law ever do that exam?”
“Fucked if I know, Man. They´re gone to Canada.”
“No way.”
“Yeah, over in Calgary. Doin’ the business.”
“Nice…just eh, remember that, when I said I´d do those classes with her…for free?”
“When was tha? A year ago?”
“About that yeah, I think.”
Aido sniffs his nose and spits a tangley mess of phlegm up on to the grass behind me.
“And…you remember I said…I said I´d cash in with you sometime, when I was stuck?”
“Wha, you got nothing on ya at all? I´ve nice stuff there for a score.”
“I´m skint man. But here. You´d be doing me a solid. I won´t ask again.”
“This shit doesn´t run, Pal.”
“That´s alright.”
Aido looks down at me and changes the bag and leash, behind his back, to the opposite hands.
“You sick for it these days or somethin’?”
“No…not at all. Are you still smoking?”
“Yeah, course. But there´s no green around here man. Nothing for the last two days. It´s a fucking joke, so it is.”
“Here…I have enough for two nice big spliffs. I was gonna save it. It´s the last bit I have…”
“Do ya yeah? Where´d you get tha?”
“An old mate of mine, Phil, in town, there. He harvested a batch last month and that is the last of it. He´s not doing any more. He´s getting paranoid.”

Aido moves and comes and sits down on the steps beside me. He smells fresh, of deodorant and aftershave, of warm spin-dried clothes. Floopy totters across and smells my boots, and the ends of my jeans.
“Blue Cheese.”
“Is it yeah?”
“Fucking lovely stuff.”
“Yeah, I´ve had it before. Throw it out there.”
I put the bud on the ground between us. Aido picks it up and smells it.

A big, round-bodied young woman comes out from Fresh, carefully carrying a big Halloween pumpkin under one arm. With her free hand she holds the door open behind her for a builder in a high-viz jacket whose going in to the shop. The woman shifts the pumpkin around to her front so that she can carry it better, in two hands, and heads off down Smithfield Square. Every now and then she looks down at the pumpkin, making sure it´s alright.

“Cheers, Pal.”
Aido stands up then and my heart sinks.
“I´ll be getting tar in the day after tomorrow. Twenty-five a pop, alrigh?”
“I´ll defo take two, three off you for sure man, nice one. And I´ll have the cash…could I just get that one off you now though…remember when I said –”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…fuckin memory banks here.”
Aido sticks a finger into his mouth as though he were going in to pull out a rotten tooth. He throws it at me. It bounces off my knee and falls right in front of the dog. Floopy goes for it too. But before she can get her little nose or tongue to it Aido pulls at the leash, hard, and the little dog yelps and runs back behind her master´s legs.
“Ya thick,” Aido says.
I don´t know if he´s talking to the dog or to me.
“Thanks, Man,” I say, holding the little warm wet ball tightly between finger and thumb. “Thanks a mill.”
“See ya…and…yeah, day after tomorrow too, right?”
“Yup,” Aido says, without looking back. “Twenty-five.”
“I´ll have it man,” I say. “Definitely.”
I wait until Aido has moved on, then get up and split from the square.

There is music in me now. I´m in tune with everything. I look up to the sky to thank the stars but see only heavy grey overcast cloud. Thank you, I say, quietly to myself. To the beneficent spirit who walks beside me. Shouts and screams up ahead, from the playground area. A woman shouting. That woman I´d seen. She´s shouting in Portuguese on her phone. Looking around her for someone to help. She points down to towards the Smithfield Luas stop. I look and see the backs of two, maybe three kids on bikes, zig-zagging each other, quickly disappearing out of sight. People pass by the woman, ignoring her distress. On the ground beside her, the smashed-in head of her pumpkin, it´s bright, orange, pulpy sweet brains a mess on the cold, dark cobblestones. I veer away.

A huge black and white mural on the wall. Dublin, City of Homeless Families. The Council won´t be long in coming around to attack that with their cherry-picker and grey paint. Can´t be having that.

At the end of Burges Lane, that tough-looking fucker I always see around is holding himself up with a hand against the wall, and is bent over, retching, hosing the ground good with cidery vomit. He´s always in the same pale blue jeans and black hoody with the tacky design on the back of it: the silvery mountain wolf howling at a blue moon. When he finishes, he pushes himself back off the wall, wipes his mouth with his sleeve and stumbles backwards, staggering, cock-eyed. Hasn´t a clue where he is. He holds his arms out, then folds them around a body of air, as though he were embracing an invisible dancing partner. He staggers backward, waltzes around and around, babbling about something I can´t make out. He continues to stagger backward and is nearly clipped by a Luas too as it goes by, its bell ringing, its windows all lit up in the dark. The last three carriages of the Luas are all splattered and splashed with vivid pink paint.

Down Coke Lane, I keep my eyes on the ground. One night, I found an eight of hash down here. Another time, two twenty-euro notes, folded into one another. Thought it was just the one. Double score. I scan the ground. Wide-eyed. Avid-eyed. Seeing all that I can see. If there´s something here I´ll see it. My eagle eyes are notorious. I´ve got this intuition. Divining senses. A compass. I can feel it. A magnetism for all the lost and forgotten things.

Up ahead the red neon of Frank Ryan´s pub. People sitting at two cheap pine picnic tables, drinking beer and eating pizza from the pop-up, stone-bake oven housed inside of a brightly lit smoky white gazebo. Three people who look like they´ve been here since after work are drinking beside the big potted shrub. A guy stands on his own under the awning, smoking, looking down into the glow of his phone. I smell weed, not as good as mine, as I pass by and head straight in the backdoor.

The old warm boozy tavern air hits me with a bang of beer, sweat and incense. Blues music plays loudly through the speakers. The place is dark. It is always dark. Save for the classic canopy light pulled down low over the pool table. This is the brightest part of the pub, just inside the back door. This pub is always dark and loud around this time. That´s why I like it. Drinkers sit around small tables and have to sit close in together, intimate like, to hear themselves talk over the music. The candles on the tables dazzle their tipsy, glassy eyes. Whether amorous or platonic, a little dancing shadow and candlelight on the face is seductive. It keeps them blinkered.

What happened took no more than four or five steps to accomplish. My wits lit up the second I crossed over the threshold. No one, thankfully, had been playing pool. A couple were in the corner at the far end of the pool table, too busy canoodling to see anything but themselves. Their pool cues discarded on the table. On the right, as I walked in, were three empty bar stools at the wooden counter. Its own little alcove. Two near-empty pint glasses and a full glass of red wine.

I don´t look out of place in a pub like this if I keep moving. Just passing through. Don´t catch the bartender’s eye. I narrow my way past people, polite and smiling as I go, standing back at times to let others pass by me. I set the now empty wine glass back down at the end of the bar, and follow a young guy out the front door who, without looking back, holds it open for me. The door bangs shut behind me, unexpectedly, and it makes me jump. A little red wine dribbles from my mouth down to my chin. Quickly across the road, between traffic and blaring car-horns, I am past the Dice Bar and half-way down Benburb Street before I swallow the last of the wine. They´re just lucky they didn´t leave a coat or a bag or a phone behind them. I look around behind me but I know I´m safe. And what of it? Five fifty. Six fifty a glass. Put the next round on your card. Not looking where I´m going I nearly trip over the stripped skeleton frame of a mountain-bike that, still chained to a lamp post, is lying dead on the ground. With a quick step and a skip, I right myself and look around. But no one has seen me. Goodnight, Ladies and Gents. Thank you and goodnight.

When I get back to the bridge, I see that the light above the door of James Joyce House is still on. I´ll have to wait a while longer. I take up my place on the concrete seat in the middle of the bridge, look down into the river, at the ghoulish green lights under the arches of Queen Street bridge, and wait. I squeeze the pack of cigarettes in my hand in my pocket. Press my elbow against me to feel the naggin, still safe in my inside pocket. In my jeans pocket, I roll the little ball of powered warmth and comfort between my forefinger and thumb. Eyes become unfocused. I zone out. Soon the world and I within it become a seamless, pointless blur…

This bridge over the Liffey, and this long stone seat upon it, is the day-time seat of the Dublin City Shadow Council. Each morning, between seven and eight, Franky, Charlie and Des appear, take up their seat overlooking the river and wait for the off-licenses to open. They buy what they need, then reconvene to the bridge again and are here, usually, and without interruption, until their curfew at six in the evening.

Franky is the biggest one and the most silent. He looks like a medieval executioner who has lost his black hood. Not five minutes pass in the day that he doesn´t get up off the stone seat on the bridge and start looking down on the ground around him for something he seems to have lost, before sitting back down again and taking a worried drink from his can, squinting at the brightness of the day. Franky´s huge, about six foot three, fat, and has long black hair, balding on the crown. A big black grizzly beard hides most of his face apart from his brow which is smooth, pale, unfurrowed, unblemished, almost babyish. His t-shirts never come all the way down over his big pale beer-barrelled belly and, when he walks, it seems like he is being lead in every direction by his belly, behind which the rest of him must slowly follow. He´s gone through at least three pairs of cheap black runners that always seem to burst at the front so you can see his dirty socks, or sometimes his big, rusty brown-nailed toes.

Charlie is smaller, about five four. Under his faded navy corduroy paddy cap, squats his small, soured, red face and those hard, bitter, pale blue eyes. A thin, little black and grey moustache. He walks stiff-legged, bowlegged and with the help of a brown walking stick. His clothes are always a motley combination of charity shop donations. Purple cardigans, grey jumpers, and dark blue jeans. He looks a little like Charlie Chaplin. All he needs is the bowler hat.

Yesterday, around lunch time, Charlie was lying on the footpath, on the corner of the bridge, at the junction on the quays, right where people usually pause to press the button on the traffic lights and wait for the traffic to stop. A young guy in his mid-thirties, in a business suit, was standing over him and talking on his mobile phone. He was calling an ambulance, or the police. Charlie´s walking stick was lying on the ground beside him. As I walked past, I heard Charlie whining from the ground. “It´s shit. It´s all shit…and I¨m shit too.” And I kept on walking.

This afternoon he was back on the bridge, sitting on his seat overlooking the river, a can of cider in one hand, his other hand balancing and steadying himself on his walking stick between his legs, his eyes tightly closed, and he was belting out a song I didn´t recognize. A middle-aged, curly red-haired woman was sat beside him with a freshly swollen black-eye that looked like a plum. She was singing too. They were having a great old time. Franky was sat beside them, squinting at the river and beside him was Des.

Des is tall and thin. He never changes his clothes. He wears a faded black wax-jacket that´s covered in slobber and stains. Beneath his wax-jacket he wears a faded black suit, faded black trousers and his old black shoes are stained too. He has sore-looking red and brown-green scabs on his head and the few spare teeth he has are surrounded by browned and blackened tarry gum-holes. Des doesn´t drink. He sits cross-legged and chain-smokes rollies. He rolls them with too much tobacco. His shaky, agitated, black-nailed spidery fingers are smoked-stained, orange and burnished yellow. He never uses filters. He slobbers the end and puffs in silence. He usually throws half of the rollie away…and starts rolling again. Over the course of a day Des will usually only ask two questions. “Cigarette?” and “What time is it?” He will usually answer yes to any questions. “Are you cold Des?” “Yes.” “Are you tired Des?” “Yes.” “Are you alright Des?” “Yes.” By way of conversation, he may say. “I´m tired.” The most he´ll say is. “They should let us sleep on in the morning. Six a.m. Too early to be woken up.” Throughout the day, as the rest of the city goes on living busily around him, he´ll frequently say, to no one in particular, “I´m tired.” Sometimes he´ll stop smoking, lean forward and hold his head in his trembling hands. Des looks like a mortician that is slowly turning into a corpse.

And so, if it´s company I want during the day, this is the company I keep. It´s the most regular company I have. It´s enough to come and sit among them. As long as these meetings of the Dublin City Shadow Council can continue each day, that they’re allowed to sit here, unmolested, and are allowed to continue their sessions, I can feel as though the balance in the world is being upheld.

But this afternoon there was a new addition, someone I didn´t like. A properly dangerous fucker. Young fella. Shaved red hair. Vicious scar down the side of his head. Hate-filled-killer-eyes. One of his legs was gone at the knee. His tracksuit was rolled up and tied in a knot so it looked like a cocktail sausage. He had crutches, crossed over his lap. When I came and sat down, he was changing his sock. He balled up the old one and threw it over the bridge and into the river. As he was putting on a fresh sock, he took one look at me and said “Oi. Casper. Roll me a joint.”
“I don´t have any.”
“I know you do, you rangy fucker.” He took up his crutch and pointed it at my face. “I won´t tell you again. I know what you have. Roll me a fucking joint.”
“I don’t have anything.”
“I´ll cut your fucking leg off!” The sudden force in his voice and his look made the blood turn cold in my guts. I got up and walked away. He threw his crutch at me and hit me lightly on the back of my legs. “You´re fucking dead!”

But I kept going. I wanted to go back though. Pick up his crutch and beat the fuck out of him. Continue what the scar had started and crack the rest of his fucking skull in. Force my thumbs in through his eye sockets and wriggle the jelly about inside. But I knew, just by looking at him, that he was connected to a network of murderous fuckers. That look he gave me stuck to me. It followed me across the road and into the Spar. Before I knew what I was doing I was back out of the shop and walking away from the bridge, down the quays, drinking from a naggin of whisky. Arming myself for a fight I didn´t want.

A massive explosion in the distance shakes me out of my thoughts. The quarter sticks of dynamite are out now. The stone seat I´m sitting on is cold again. The light in the James Joyce House is still on. Another huge explosion in the distance. Kids are starting to put bangers in glass bottles, putting them out on the streets or up on walls and lighting them when they see people coming. Little fuckers have graduated to roadside bombs. IEDs. Some kid running home screaming, a hand covering his face, blood and burst eyeball gore streaming through his fingers. Happy Halloween.

I look over at the house again and stare at it.
That´s the security light that´s on.
No one is in there.
No one had been in there all this time.

I get up off the concrete seat and leave the green-lit arches of the bridge and the lonesome cold of the night.
“It´s shit like this that´ll do you in in the end…stupid prick…pay attention…fucking pay attention…or that will be the end of you…Do you hear me…? Pay-a-fuc-king-tention… Stupid shit.”

I jump the spiked black railing at the James Joyce House and disappear down the iron stairs to the basement, out of sight from the streets. Doesn´t look like anyone has been down. Nothing seems to have been disturbed. That won´t last. But for now, it´s good. For now, it´s still mine. I start to get the place ready for the night. I cleaned up the mess that was down here. Spent a good long time at it too. Must be two weeks ago or so. Just before dawn and worked ´til the afternoon. Got two big black bags from the Brazilain guys over at the Spar. Filled them bags full of crushed beer cans and energy drinks. Plastic bottles and spirit bottles. Crisp packets and sweet packets. An old mangled umbrella. Two rancid condoms. An old weathered, sad-looking, mildewed, black Converse runner-boot. An old filthy election poster. Maire Higgins. Vote Labour. It took me a long time. Worried about getting spiked by a dirty needle, I went slowly through the carpet of refuse, picking up everything, carefully, between forefinger and thumb. Pulled up weeds too from out of the ground that had grown through the concrete and from out of the walls. Above my head, as I worked, morning traffic had picked up on the quays. People passing on their way to work. No one stopped to ask me what I was doing. A glimpse down might have suggested a landscaper, or a volunteer. I never turned my face to look up. Few people, if any, saw me. Maybe no one saw me at all. I had willed it so. Don´t see me. Don´t disturb me. Leave me be. Let me work in peace. I kept my eye on the prize. A clean, concealed space of my own. Off the streets. Easily overlooked.

Got rid of the black bags into a skip in Burges Lane. Skip full of smashed concrete. Old cream-coloured computer monitors and keyboards. Old fire extinguishers. Telephones. Stacks of expired Yellow Pages still wrapped in plastic. Everything I needed and more. All on my doorstep too.

After the big clean up, I was even able to get a loan of heavy yard-brush and dust-pan from the mechanics a few doors down. It was the mechanic’s mother who loaned them to me. Elderly woman, salt of the earth Dub. She reminds me of my grandmother. I´d known her to see. Out every morning, afternoon and evening, in her navy diamond quilted vest jacket, sweeping the ground outside of their garage. She keeps the place spotless. When I returned the brush and pan, she had a cup of tea and a ham sandwich waiting for me. She told her son, who was working under an old black Honda with white racing stripes on it, to let me use the toilet to wash my hands. “Go on” he said, without looking back at me. He wasn’t at all pleased.
When I came out, he was standing under the car, working it´s oily guts back to health. I sat with his mother on one of the two seats she had brought out and set just inside the big, open, double doors of the garage. I took off my rucksack and sat beside her. I drank my tea and ate my sandwich, watching the traffic pass by on the quays outside. She didn´t pry. She didn´t look for reasons or explanations. She just knew. She just sat there in a way that let me knew that if I wanted to speak, or say something, that I could. But I had nothing to say. Despite myself I could still hear myself rehearsing responses, like “This crash was worst the last.” And, “I mistook myself for an exception.” She did say one thing though. “It´s a crime,” she said, “what they´ve done to this country…it´s an absolute disgrace.”

After she had finished her tea, the old woman, I never did ask her name, got up and put her cup down on the chair, then took her brush that I had returned from behind the door and started sweeping the already spotless, smooth garage floor. I was careful not to get any crumbs on the ground around me or let slip any of the big slices of ham from out of my sandwich. I was careful too not to spill any of my tea. The cup of tea in my hands was like a warm prayer.

I sat there, just out of the daylight, out of the fresh autumn sunshine and slowly made my way between my sandwich and my tea. Another small bite. Another few small sips of the good warm tea. I listened to the loud, short bursts of drilling coming from under the car and to the sound of the rough bristles of the heavy yard brush sweeping the smooth concrete garage floor. It was good to be indoors for a bit, with my bag off my back and sitting down. I made it last.

“Thank you very much for the tea and sandwich.” “You’re welcome,” the old woman said, looking down at the brush as she continued to sweep. “You’ve been very good to me.” I knew she could tell something more was coming. “I was wondering, if by any chance, you might have some tarpaulin, or a heavy plastic sheet or covering…where I am at the moment, it’s a bit exposed…I just want to try and stay dry…I’m sorry for asking.” “Paul…Paul!” The drilling stopped under the car. I looked down at my boots. “Tarpaulin?” “What about it?” “Do you have a bit to spare?” “You serious?” I could feel them looking at each other. “Out back.” “Out back,” the old woman said, and she started sweeping again. “Thank you.” Paul disappeared again under the car. The clicking of bolt tightening began as I ghosted past him.

Out back was a small concrete yard. High grey breeze-block walls crowned with loops of razor-wire. The yard was full of old dead car parts. Axels, exhausts, engines, batteries. Tall columns of thick black tyres. The shell of an old windowless and doorless rusty red Hiace van. Old signs from years ago that used to hang over the garage doors, propped up on their ends, leaning against the walls. An old, green, paint-peeled shed. It´s two windows covered over with black bags. The ground was strewn with rusty bolts and strews, nails and springs of various sizes. Some of the springs were huge. Heavy rusty springs with a deadly pointed sharp end that would do some serious damage.
I found some tarpaulin behind the back of the shed, in the tight space between it and the wall. I pulled it out. It was grey and heavy and dry. It didn´t look old or dirty or torn and there was plenty of it. The fact the Paul hadn´t told me where it was and the fact that I had found it myself made it feel like it was now rightfully mine. I flung it out, like a bedsheet, holding it by the two corners, with my arms fully stretched and flapped it once, twice, and then laid it out on the ground. I couldn´t help but admire it. I squatted down and moved around it, smoothing it out as I went. The sun was warm on my back and my shadow was beside me, working with me, keeping me company. It was like laying out the groundsheet of my tent on the first day of a music festival.

After a full and thorough inspection, I managed to fold the tarpaulin up and compress it so that it was no bigger than a suitcase under my arm. It was important to me that it looked neat and that I looked like I knew what I was doing. On my way back through the noisy, cool gloom of the garage, I was nearly back out of the big open double doors, after stopping to pick up my rucksack and sling it over my shoulder, when the work under the car stopped and I heard the heavy ratchet being put down on a stainless steel tray. My plate and cup had been taken from the chair I had been sitting on and the chair had been put away. The yard brush was stood up against the wall, just to the side and behind the garage door. “Here.” I stopped, turned around, tightened my grip on my tarpaulin and walked back to Paul. “Thanks very much for this Paul…I didn´t…” But I stopped when I saw the look on his face. Paul, the mechanic, walked right up close to me. “Listen to me carefully and keep your fucking voice down when you answer me, alright. Nice and soft, like I´m speaking. Do you get me pal? “I do”. “If I ever catch you in here again…or if I hear you´ve been coming round…I´ll cripple ye…do you hear me? Do you?” “Yes, I hear you. I wouldn´t…” “Shut the fuck up and let me finish…if you ever try and lift anything out here, I swear to God, I´ll burst you´re head open for ye. Do you hear that too?” “Yes, I hear you.” “Good. Now fuck off and don´t come back.”

Bedding down now for the night inside my little compact tarpaulin hut, cosy in my cock-pit, my fox-hole, my bunker, now it´s all set up. I found two planks of wood down here when I was cleaning up so I kept those. I stash them close, lie them down on the ground, up against the street-side wall so no one can see them. I prop them up then every night I come down, stand them up and lean them against the wall. Then I take out the tarpaulin from out of a little hole in the stone wall, just under the iron stairs. It´s dry in there. I put the tarpaulin over the two planks of wood. There´s enough tarpaulin to give me a wall of it behind my back. Protection. Between my back and the stone wall. There is a little left over too to cover the ground so I´m not sitting on the concrete. There is just a flap then for the door, on the right hand side. The tarpaulin doesn´t reach all the way to the ground. Try and fix that tomorrow. Maybe redesign the whole layout. That´s where the cold gets in. And it is getting colder. But I´m off the streets. Out of sight. Down here in the shadow and the protection of the cellar of the gaunt, neglected house of The Dead. Natural shelter. Above my head, outside my little hut, sparse night-time traffic rolls by. Cars, buses, articulated trucks. But it´s getting quieter now. Dying down.
I have a red bicycle light. Click once for red light, click twice for blinking red light, click again for darkness. I keep the red light on. Makes the place look like an underground club. Or a dark-room. Everything red and black. Warm colour tricks the brain. And my woolly hat too. It´s good enough. Sleeping bag on the ground under me. My rucksack to my right to block the draft and cold coming in from the door. I go through my bag every night. If I remember. If I´m able. I forget about half the shit I have sometimes. I go through my bag and keep one ear with me all the time while my other ear is up there, out on the street, keeping sus. Listening.

Gloves to the left. Pack of Marlboros. Sixteen left. Lighter. The last of the naggin. My little bit and my weed. My own pack of rolling tobacco. Skins and filters. That´s all there. All sorted. Nice little pile. Still have my little handy length of wood. My beating stick. Don´t like knifes. Can´t stand them. Hate the thought of having to drive a knife into someone. Or getting stabbed in the side, up under the ribs. Or into the chest. Or having my neck slashed. Or my face. I prefer the stick. It´s heavy enough too. If there´s trouble I run. But down here I´m cornered. One on one, ok. Two on one, maybe. Three on one, I´m fucked. Has to be the stick though in all cases. Has to be fast and brutal. But not fatal. Well. That will depend. Three black t-shirts. Can´t smell them but they seem clean enough. One long white-sleeved t-shirt. Old red jumper. Two pairs of boxers. Three. Four pairs of odd socks. Toothbrush. Toothpaste. Need to get more. Deodorant too. And candles. Do all that tomorrow. Put all that shit over there for now. Copy of Dracula. Four euro eighty. From the Secret Book Store. Promised myself I´d read it before Halloween. Good edition too. Oxford World Classics. Nosferatu on the cover. Following the shadow his clawed hand up the stairs. Looks even better in this red light. Notes at the back. An Introduction. It passes the time. Going through my bag. Something about it I like. Something military about it. An orderly inventory. This is my bag. There are many like it but this one is mine. No bookmark in the book. No dog-eared pages. “…modern subjectivity, mysterious to itself, labyrinthine…” No. Save it. But read it this time. Sit in the park tomorrow with a coffee and read it. All of it. The whole way though. Start to finish. Don´t use it for bog-roll. Jesus, that was rough. Still. Had to be done. What one was that? Was that not newspaper? Torn up, shit stained pages. Here´s another one. William James? On a Certain Blindness in Human Beings. Jesus. Where did that come from? Lovely little book. Where the fuck? Hodges Figgis price tag. Six eight. No idea. Five little essays. “Is Life Worth Living?” Page thirty-three. “…to the profounder bass note of life. Let us search the lonely depths for an hour together, and see what answers in the last folds and recesses of things our question finds.” I need a pen. A pencil. Do I? No. I do. Front pocket of the bag. I´ll study this. But for now, put it to the left. What else is there? Pair of jeans. Raincoat. I have loads. More than most.
“Ah! No way!”
Kinder Egg. Nice! Bit melted. Bit dented. But still good. Forgot about that too. Found that, must have been the day before yesterday. On the ground, behind the Four Courts. Little surprise inside. Breakfast tomorrow. First thing when I wake up. Little mascot then. Hope it´s one you put together. Little robot or something.
Bottom on the bag now.

Still there. Still safe. Still wrapped in the Lidl bag. The old glasses case. Fresh works and the rest. Fucking Aido and his shit that won´t run. God bless M.Q. And the three other little baggies. Looking especially passable in this light too. And nothing but torn up, shredded Yellow Pages. Crazy how much it looks like fluffy weed. Learnt that from three Mexicans that ripped me off in Seattle. Years and years ago. Drunk of course. Downtown at three a.m. looking to score something. Anything. One of them had a bandage around his upper arm. “New tattoo?” “Got stabbed ese” He actually said ese. They seemed legit anyways. Hooked me up too. Took myself back to the Motel. Baggie all fluffy and soft. That was with Fergus. London Fergus. Lying on the other bed drinking gin and tonic and watching TV when I came back in. “We´re smoking tonight amigo.” “Fuck off. You actually found some? You fucking mad man!” Sat at the table, at the little desk in the motel room, and got everything ready. Then just looked at it. Properly. Stumped. Burnt. But impressed. “What´s up?” I looked at the stuff. Unrolled a soft shred of yellow-green something. Saw printed numbers and a dash. Looked like a bit of a phone number. “Well played lads. Well played. That´s actually fucking genius. I bet they call them tourist baggies. It´s Yellow Pages dude. Fucking torn up, shredded bits of Yellow Pages.” I threw the shit in the bin. Fergus was hysterical. Too right in fairness to them. Back when I had money to blow. But now. For me. That´s anything from a hundred to a hundred and fifty quid right there. My rainy day fund. Still a few more full pages folded up in the bag somewhere too. I can make what, a few hundred quid if I´m lucky and smart and space it out over the next few months. Can´t be going around flooding the market with Yellow Pages. Know my face. “That´s the guy!” Funny though how it always plays out the same way. The script and the product, in fairness, are golden. At night, under the street lights, to drunken eyes, it looks like weed. And to tourists. Only to tourists. Never hit the locals. Dame Lane is good. Andrews Lane. Down on the boardwalk. I´ll start varying places soon. “Should be fifty, Man but I have to get rid of it. Got mad bulk delivery and have to shift it. You´d be doing me a favour…Well, what can I say? You caught me in a good mood tonight. I´m feeling generous. Spread the wealth right. Can do it for twenty-five actually. Fuck it. Just need to get some cash to get a cab home. Fucking lost my wallet somewhere tonight. Come on we walk this way. Think I recognize some plain clothes there.” Quick exchange. Can´t be beat. But it´ll catch up with me one day. Always sprinkle a little bit of my own shit on the top. If they go sniffing while I´m still there with them. “Yeah man. Blue Cheese. Go easy on it man. Mad shit…Enjoy…Have a good night.” I´ll get something anyway for Halloween. Replenish the funds. Fifty to Aido and get that tar. Twenty-five walking around money. Sorted. Now. Everything back in the bag. One by one. This is a happy bag. This is my bag. Full of tricks and treats.

Packed-out pinner rolled and put behind my ear for later. Cigarette behind the other. Nothing on my sleeping around me now. Just the naggin, pack of cigarettes and gloves. All belted up. Didn´t want to be back on the spike again and needle dancing. Fucking Aido and his shit. Fuck it. Still a bit shaky. Giddy hands. Giddier veins. Chill. That injecting workshop in M.Q. probably saved me from a few trips to A&E anyways. Or worse. Never knew you could shoot it up your arse. Don´t see that in the movies. Could try that with the tar. Bit of a waste though. This shit won´t be worth it, I´d say. But. If you´re gonna to shoot up, learn to shoot yourself. And if you´re gonna shoot, always, always, shoot in the direction of the heart. Right. Fuck it. Half. And see. Then half again. If you can. It´s been a while. Right. Might want to look away…just…ah…haha…o-kay…fuck…sweet Christ on a bike…Fuck me…quick…click of the light…dark…

I´m standing with two or three or President Lincoln´s advisors by the window of a pinewood cabin. Out the window I can see a coastline far below. Two Pterodactyls fly over the surf in the distance. One of the advisors turns to me and says “Ah, I see the sharks are back…”

I´m in an outdoor food market. Through the crowd I can see two old friends, Phil and Jo. Phil is wearing a black velvet jacket and old-fashioned grey tweed trousers. Jo is wearing a purple dress. They have bags of shopping and look like a couple out enjoying the weekend markets. When I see them through the crowds, I´m happy but feel embarrassed too, for some reason. When I get close, we greet each other and I say, “Don´t worry, I wasn´t following you…”

I´m with someone´s father. I know he is anxious about his son. I know the son is in trouble. I know that the trouble is that the son is suicidal. I´m helping the father search a house. It´s day time. We move from room to room. There is a feeling, like a hum, a strange ominous hum in the atmosphere all around us. In every room. We go up the stairs and into another room. It feels like a new room, recently added to the house. It´s a big room. Bright. Out the window, I can see green trees. I can tell that this room is to be used as a walk-in closet. On the threshold, we hear movement inside. The son is in there. “We´re coming in,” the father says. “Don´t point the gun at us” I say. “And don´t point it at yourself, ok? Don´t point the gun at flesh.” The father follows me into the room. The room is bare besides the carpet. New, baby blue carpet. From behind an alcove the son walks out backwards, a rifle held in his two hands, one down on the trigger and one around the barrel. The barrel is pointed into his open mouth. We freeze. He walks backwards and stops. His head doesn´t move but his eyes look at us. He pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. But on the sound of the click his father beside me faints and falls to the floor.

I wake up cold in the darkness…a sour reek of vomi
…don´t know where I am…
…voices…above my head…
…up on the footpath…
…three of them…
…I hear them…
“You say there´s anyone down there?”
“Down there. Look.”
“Oh shit! Yeah! Look at that! Fucking hell man, it´s getting worse and worse around here, isn´t it?”
“Come on to fuck will ye. It´s fucking freezing out.”
“No. Hang on a sec.”
“Shhh. There might be someone in it.”
“What you mean shush? I hope they can hear me…Hey! Hey! Sleepy head! Wakey wakey!”
“Dave, Man, shut the fuck up will ya and come on.”
“Nah, hang on. Is there someone in it?”
“Hey! Come here! Look! We´re after winning big in the casino tonight…we´d like to share our winnings with you…yes, You. You down there…come on out…I´ve enough here for you to buy yourself a big warm jacket…maybe up-grade you to a tent…No? No takers? Alright. Suit yourself…”
“They´re going to be building a new treatment centre next to us here”
“Another one?”
“Triple the size of the one already there.”
“For fuck sake!”
“There goes the neighbourhood. That´ll bring down your value, won´t it?”
“Maybe. I don´t know. Tenants are having an emergency meeting about it next week.”
“Lads, there´s no one down there. Let´s go.”
“I fucking bet there is man.”
“Could be a fucking psycho, Man. Come on!”
“Hey! Come on out! Don´t be scarred! We´re your friends.”
“Lads, I´m going…”
“Alright, alright.”
“I´d say there´s two scaldy heads inside, sleeping together in their own filth.”
“That´s rotten.”
“´Member the one we saw outside Dara´s gaff? The silver paint all around her mouth from huffin´ and she was taking a shit outside his gaff…manky granny fanny on her…”
“And the long pair of shitty granny knickers there on the street for weeks.”
“The hack of her.”
“Ah lads, for fuck sake. Will ye come on? I´m headin´.”
“Come on, we all hop down and take a looksy. We´ll call down for a cuppa, a night cap, with our new neighbour…Here! Slap on the kettle down there will ya?”

…I touch the place around me…through the darkness…feel the sleeping bag…feel the wet…I can´t…I wouldn’t be able to…my bag…where is it…no…be still…there is nothing down here….no one…nothing but peace…and stone…and darkness…nothing…emptiness…

“Will we jump down?”
“Nay, fuck that man. Come on. We´re just around the corner here.”
“Alright alright…just give me a second…”
“What are you up, Man?”
“What the fuck, Dude?”
“Are ye not recording this?”
“You´re fucking tapped man.”

…I hear it start to rain…raining on my tarpaulin…just above my head…pouring rain…pissing rain…it´s hosed down on top of me…he´s making sure he´s covering as much of the area as possible…up and down…and all around…foul musical rain…he must be writing his name…drawing shapes…piss-painting…a smiley face…marking his territory…it streams and flows and drips down outside on to the concrete…close to me…all around me…it sounds like another joins in…
“Don´t cross the streets man! Don´t cross the streams!”
…their piss thunders down aggressively…the force of it concentrated just above my head…I close my eyes and slowly…slowly…slide down onto my side….and slowly turn onto my back…I fold my arms like an X over my chest…like a vampire…palms flat…fingers touching my shoulders…I lie still…dead still…silent…and invisible…

…´tis the season…for pissing on graves…smashing headstones…for general desecration…I bare my teeth…a quiet snarl in the darkness…I can barely hear the rain…
…I´m drifting…
…slowly dissolving…
…behind my eyes I see fireworks exploding…colourful…dazzling…sparkling arrays…burning up bright in a night sky that only I can see…terrific blues… exploding whites…pulsating yellows…glittering greens…fountain-sprays of red…fizzling out…fading away…
…just let me lie here…
…let me sleep…
…but come find my corpse…
…on Halloween…


About Author

Andrew McEneff is currently a PhD student at University College Dublin. His short stories have appeared in Commotions, an anthology of creative writing from the Oscar Wilde Centre, in “College Green,” and in “Icarus: 50th Anniversary Edition.” His essay, “The Lost Beat Generations of Ireland,” can be found on thebohemyth.com. Most recently, his essay “A Stranger Still: In Memorium Anna Kavan,” was published in 2018 by the Stinging Fly.

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