15: On A Slop Spilled Snot Stained Counter

When Pah Wah and the Slug emerged on the street they decided to leave the car and walk the hundred yards plus to Gardiner Place to clear their heads. The rain had passed. In the East the sky was filled with puffy, fluffy cotton-wool clouds silently drifting westwards, gearing themselves up to piss bucket loads on the ring of faery forts between Kilkee and Kilrush. The Slug eyed them. “We haven’t seen the last of it yet,” he prognosticated. But they had, and the streets of Dublin would be dry for an hour or two yet.

Leaving the Irish weather then to its own mysterious devices he mulled over the intricacies of his present predicament.

He remembered Mooha, the young Cork rookie harrier who, not long out of uniform, had volunteered the previous year, to infiltrate the Peacock. A more glorious victory the Slug had never known of courageous optimism over every species of sound judgement and common sense. On the very day he resigned from the force Mooha told Slug about the conversations he heard there. The casual comments of those tipsy with booze about where they would shove the poppies of the poppy sellers if they had stumbled across one, had made his hair stand on end. And the ravings of some fellow in a blue mac coat and tribly hat, and him expounding to a cheering audience that the Special Branch were nothing but a scabby bunch of mother fucking, slurry loving culchies who should be de-loused and sent over to England.

And others singing ‘Jesus was an Androgyne’ in between yells of ‘The Famine was Genocide’ and that the Pope was a disgusting bodily appendage he couldn’t bring himself to name. All of which gave him a sort of lingering, festering, pulsating kind of dreaded lurgy sort of thing in the pit of his stomach, and further along, somewhere in the back of beyond, in the deep caverns of his arsehole he sensed a shivering disturbance. A gravely unsubtle kind of a tectonic shift which reminded him of the ominous sensation he experienced once on his first undercover job in the Blue Lion, while he was disguised as a female Moore Street dealer. Then someone, probably the scurvy looking chief bottle washer behind the slop spilled snot soiled counter, out of unmitigated malice and pure spite, had slipped a mickey finn into his pint of the quality which caused his bowels to atomize seconds before he could remove his semi- sheer black tights and left him to slip out of the god forsaken premises into a bustling Parnell Street, smelling like a mephitic cemetery.

Slug shook his head and turned down Hill Street. “Where yeh going?”

“Just for a piss, here cover me.

“Aahhhh,” he enthuased, as he liberally splashed the lower half of Paddy Headon’s garage door.

Pah Wah laughed as he noticed a woman in the ‘Peach Tree’ small shop across the road give them an unfriendly glare from behind the plate glass window. There wasn’t a sinner to be seen on Gardiner Place when they turned the corner.

O’Donnell and Murphy had left the Peacock after a few quick pints. They passed by Headon’s Garage door.

“Look,” said Murphy, pointing towards the pool of steaming piss,” some lazy fucker from Tony Burke’s pub not even bothering to use the pub toilet.”

“Maybe Plopps had planked himself in it, he sometimes goes in there,” suggested O’Donnell as Murphy shook his head.

They turned on to Gardiner Place and noticed the two figures in the heavy overcoats standing on the steps of number 7. They hurried towards them.

“What are youse two tramps doing around my hall door?” demanded O’Donnell.

“What are two gougers like them loitering in these respectable environs, is what I’d like to know,” added Murphy.

“We’re looking for your cunten brother for one,” said the Slug to O’Donnell.

“Yep, he’s disappeared into thin air along with a few other ne’er do wells,” explained Pah Wah.

“That’s right, him, Bates, Casey and Redican. Not a sight of them. Know what that means?” asked the Slug.

“It means that you’re going blind from too much wanking,” suggested O’Donnell, who, at still a tender age, had not completely divested himself of the religious superstitions that had been drilled into his as yet unformed brain over too many years by the teachings of the Christian Brothers in O’Connell’s CBS.

“Unless they’ve headed off on a pilgrimage to Lough Derg, it means that something nasty might be going down,” the Slug countered.

“But don’t youse worry, we’ll get to the bottom of it, won’t we Festy?”

“Oh begod we will. I have all the details in me book and in the Castle records. The details on yis all, or nearly yis all,” the Slug shouted triumphantly.

“The lot of yis,” confirmed Pah Wah.

“And anyone who is not in it or who has been removed by this mysterious mole will be in it very fucking soon, seed, breed and…”

All this was just so much blarney and bluster to the Republican pair, who unlike the harriers, were still sober enough to engage with the common sense of the matter.

“Is my brother in this fuckin’ book of yours, are his details in your fuckin’ records?” O’Donnell asked.

“Is he in it!!!” the Slug laughed, “the only thing that’s missing is the length of his cock.”

“Who gave youse permission to scratch down details of us behind our backs,” demanded Murphy as he lunged forcefully at the Slug, with malice aforethought in his mind and murder in his eyes.

The kicking match which followed, forced some elderly devotees, on their return from the evening devotions to Saint Francis Xavier in the nearby Jesuit Church on Gardiner Street, to step onto the roadway. A speeding Morris Oxford narrowly missed one old lady. Others tried to shield their ears, offended by the foul names that the combatants were shouting at one another.

Nobber had just finished an energy sapping game of handball in the alley of Fitzgibbon Street Garda Station with the Mayo man Tom Langan. He was furious with himself, having, as they say, snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. He had been serving at 19-19 and had the Mayo footballer stretching to save a ball that was crawling down the wall to his left hand. Langan returned the service weakly. It came back from the front wall and hopped once in the centre of the court. Nobber raised his arm to deliver the killing shot that would leave him serving for the match at 20-19. As his arm moved forward his eye caught Langan’s vestless, hairy back slightly to his left. His concentration went haywire. In front of him he saw the vulnerable back of a hundred defeats, of jibes by Steroid Chest, Lugs Brannigan’s pal who was refereeing the match, of sneers by the snot nosed young fellas that Langan sometimes coached in the alley and who looked on him as a God. He hit the ball, covered in elephant skin, as hard as he had ever hit a handball. The ball, travelling as fast as it ever had, struck Langan in the lower spine.

“Jesus, me fucking back,” Langan roared.

“Hinder,” shouted Steroid Chest. “Serve again,” he ruled after giving Langan’s back a quick massage.

Because he was now completely flustered, Nobber’s second serve was weak and was quickly killed by Langan low into the left corner of the singing alley. He then went on to serve out the match and win 21-19.

Nobber, still lost in the disastrous endgame, was heading past the park on Mountjoy Square when he heard, in the distance, some fearful shouting and swearing.

“Good Jesus,” he muttered to himself, “someone is having his gizzard skinned.” Despite his weariness he took off at full speed.

On the Georgian side of the square a woman was strolling along with a dachshund on a lead. The dog was spotted by a horny mongrel which happened to be marking a tree in the park. The mongrel, completely surrendering to its carnal desires, took off at full speed. Not bothering to look left or right, it came out through the park railings like a rocket. The galloping Branchman seemed to take into an airborne dive. He landed on the footpath and crashed head first into the cast iron legs of one of the street seats.

Oblivious to the nearby hullaballoo an elderly woman had prayed on in the church after the devotions. She was praying to Saint Francis at the side altar dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, for the safety of her son who had scarpered to London, having deposited a bun in the oven of his next door neighbour who happened to be the only girl in a family of eight.

Her attention was drawn to a man who was standing in front of the candle-stand in a blue mac coat and who had not removed his trilby hat. She was surprised to see him take a fistful of candles from the candle stand and pocket them. When she looked again, he was nowhere to be seen.