4: An Anti-Revisionist Interlude Ends
The Slug was just beginning an unimportant interrogation at Bridewell Garda Station. Some wee scruff, a clerk maybe or a builder’s labourer, probably a clerk for he looked like the weight of a well-filled hod would scarify his narrow shoulders and break his scrawny back, had been apprehended on Saturday selling a Commie Rag at the entrance to the G.P.O.
Nobber’s curiosity had been caught by the title of the rag in question. Usually these subversives arse-wipes were disguised as Ireland’s this, or Workers’ that, but this one openly proclaimed itself, The Irish Communist. Nobber had never seen anything so brazen. Suspecting this was a flowering that might best be nipped in the bud, himself and a uniform had invited this Irish Communist round to the station for some tea and biscuits and a bit of a chat. After a routine kicking then to set the tone the scruff had been left to stew away his Sunday in the cells. Now it was Monday and time for him to account for himself to the Slug. And the Slug was looking forward to the proceedings. Like Nobber he was intrigued by this love that for once dared speak its name.
The Slug arrived in the Bridewell after first calling in to Murt Leonard’s pub in Dame Street. The night before there had been a little too much drink consumed and in consequence a bit of a misunderstanding with this large cleaner from Rathmines when the Slug had, completely innocently, mistaken the sign on the ladies’ toilet door. Today he made sure all the staff there knew that a Garda’s a gent whatever it says on the door to the boghole he shits in. A few pints and several large ones hammered the point home in fine style. All that for breakfast. And a commie for lunch.
So, the call from the Castle came to him as a bit of an October downpour, opening up at exactly the wrong time, precisely to rain on his parade. He had barely got into the higher decibel range of some of his favourite shouting, had hardly hit the stride of his standing long jump into ungovernable rage (with Nobber primed to interject, begging him not to “kill this poor fucker like ye did the last one”), when the door of the interrogation cell opened and a lean and hungry Pah Wah entered, wringing his miserable hands and apologising for what he called “the interruption, Festy.”
The fires in the Slug’s normally cold, dull eyes burned out as he dropped into anti-climax, then stepped into the corridor where Pah Wah passed on Cullotty’s command, as O’Rawe had phrased it, for him to drop everything and go find “that Tipperary twat, Ernie Bates.”
“So much for fun and games then,” he thought, “its back to the dreary oul grind.”
“There’s mischief afoot,” the Slug whispered to Nobber, “toss out that Stalin scutcher ‘cause I have to race over to the Castle an’ pick up me cosh, knuckleduster and notebook. I fear that we may be needing them before the fucken day is wrapped up an’ put to bed.”
Book Lying Open In The Cell
“Get outa here,” shouted Nobber giving the unsuspecting Marxist a kick into his bony backside. “Get up to the nearest Church and get Holy Communion, yeh fuck.”
“Gestapo,” the communist shouted as he hurried down the corridor.
Not much later the Slug, having picked up his accoutrements, slunk out the Castle gate into what he thought of as His City, those parts of Dublin he had once described to O’Rawe as Sodom and Begorrah.
When he thought about it, as he did more often than his colleagues would ever have suspected, The Slug considered himself a Patriotic Irishman. And he had a clear notion as to what that Ireland was to which he pledged his unfailing allegiance.
Not a cultural construct of diddley dee, bainne na monas, stained glass windows and the harp that once. No! No! None of that bored oul’ failte energised The Slug, made his heart race, his fists clench and his boots swing. Not at all.
What buoyed Slug’s boat, to settle and to float it, was the idea of Ireland as a mode of being - a state of ordered ranks, a piece of legal tradecraft in which laws were tinkered with, tailor made, and not so much applied as bespoke. In which a father of ten who stole a loaf of bread to feed them got a kicking round the nick and six months in the House of Joy, while a father of none who raped ten got a bishopric and the Artane Boys’ Band for Christmas.
The Slug knew that fairness and equality were laws of a state of nature that had to be, all the flora and fauna of it, every bit, abhorred. Which he duly did. Nature to one side then and trampled underfoot, his ideal was a state of social being: a well ordered hierarchy with One Law for Power, another for the poor.
The Slug genuflected to the Great Be All and End All in which all other being ceases. He knelt to the Emperor of Seem who had broken Behemoth to his hand; who rode roughly shod Leviathan. And through it all The Slug esteemed himself, by virtue of his virtuous service to this state of things, A Patriotic Irishman.
When the Slug returned to the Bridewell cell he found Pah Wah sitting on the bare wooden, wide, plank which was hitched to the grimy, graffiti strewn wall and acted as a bed. He was reading the confiscated ‘Irish Communist’ paper.
“Nobber had to go to Fitzgibbon Street. What’s this dialectical and historical materialism stuff?” he asked with a puzzled expression on his grey face.
The Slug shrugged. “It’s supposed to be an explosive that they smuggle in from Russia. Its like, yeh know, cocaine that they have in the States. Blows the braincells all over the place making them completely delusional and wanting to confiscate everybodys’ property and give it to the state. Yeh shouldn’t be reading that stuff unless yeh want to end up with a fucking loose screw. Put that away cause we’re going to have to head over to Gardiner Place an’ see can we get the dog to see the rabbit.”
The Slug took the book from his overcoat pocket and began leafing through the pages. He became agitated as he leafed backwards and forwards. A grim expression endeavoured to crawl over the flabby face. “Did you have this book?”
“Your book!” exclaimed Pah Wah. “What the fuck would I be doing with your book? Why?”
A cloud cast a barred shadow on the dilapidated wall.
“There’s an A and a B and a C missing,” the Slug announced.
“What the fuck are yeh on about, an A and a B and a C?” retorted an angry Pah Wah.
“I’m sorry,” the Slug apologised. “I didn’t mean to accuse you. It’s just that someone has tippexed out the details of some A.”
“Arsehole,” muttered Pah Wah.
“The details of Bates and Casey have also disappeared.”
“Just like them,” observed Pah Wah.
“Back to the Castle, the file room, there’s duplicates there,” ordered the Slug as Pah Wah grabbed his coat from the squalid door.
“This beats Cathy Barry, and then some,” muttered Pah Wah as the engine of the Morris Minor spluttered into life.