Cars went along the main road. Afternoon sun. Leaving the house, Dave said: ‘Fuckin landlords.’
‘How d’ya mean?’
We were walking down the steps, towards my car. He went on: ‘Just because you’re payin them rent doesn’t mean they can look down on ya, d’you know what I mean?
‘Why was he a bit…?’
‘Ah you know, just the way…here, do you see that place there, number two?’
I looked over, saw a white door. Painted carnation across the paned glass. Ground floor flat. Looked dark and danky, musty maybe, got an image of a floor with unopened post and a murky mirror with an old dusty coat stand.
‘With the white door?’ I asked.
‘Yeah, and the dirty paint beside it.’
‘Yeah. Looks empty.’
‘Your man from in there hung himself about six months ago.’
Dave put his eyes apoplectic – hands around the imaginary cord at his neck.
I said: ‘Serious?’
‘Yeah, with a dog chain.’
A dog chain?’
‘Yeah, d’you know them chains they have for walkin dogs, they kind of go around the dog’s neck like…’
He thought, said: ‘Well, he didn’t really hang himself, he sort of used a railing above the door into the boiler and wrapped the dogchain around his neck and…’ Dave closed his eyes here and imitated someone slowly going to sleep, then continued with: “He let his weight put a pull on the chain until he went unconscious.’
A cop car rolled by, slowed, looked, kept going. I said: ‘Was he alright, was he fucked up in the head like to go doin that?’
‘Ah he was bad with drugs and had all sorts of problems. Living on his own in there he was. Very depressed like, never went out much or nathin towards the end, we hardly ever saw him. Always thinkin and thinkin and thinkin. He had a missus with four kids over the road. Not sure if he ever saw them much. He was six days in there before anyone found him.’
‘Who found him?’
‘The landlord. Lookin for the rent he was. The fuckin prick, the dirty fuckin bastard. He rang the man’s missus and told her to come and get all the stuff out. She was about two weeks trying to do it, between the funeral and the kids and all…’
Dave lit a smoke. Two women wheeled by with prams. Dave let them go on, then said: ‘The ex girlfriend had to get the dead fella’s brother to help her move all the stuff with his car, and it was fierce sad man, you know, I went down to the flat when they found him and you should’ve seen his eyes…bulgin out of his head….but do you know what the strange thing was?’
‘His heart was still beating?’
‘Did they try to save him?’
‘No, sure he was brain dead.’
‘I know. But I’ll tell you somethin about Landlords now. After the funeral, when it was all said and done, and everyone was tryin to get over it and all…next thing the landlord started ringing the ex girlfriend saying where’s my money, and what about the rent and all that shite….’
‘Did he fuck?’
‘He did. And these were daycent people now, so they got together, and worked out what they owed and scraped it out, and they goes over to the landlord and they paid him all up and he took the money in his hand and he counted it… and d’you know what he says to them?’
‘You’re a hundred short.’ He says.
‘A hundred, how, why?’
‘Thaz what they asked him, how could we be short they says, it’s all paid up there… and do you know what he says?’
‘What about the money for the six days he was in there hanging? Who’s payin the rent for that he goes….’
Novel – El Niño (in Paperback).
El Niño is the exciting debut novel from Mayo man, Mick Donnellan. Slick, stylish and always entertaining, the story is a rollercoaster of drama and tension that hasn’t been seen in Irish fiction for a very long time. Charlie is our protagonist, the pick pocket that steals El Nino’s wallet and then falls in love with her. She’s the wild femme fatale, beautiful; enigmatic and seductive. She rocks Charlie’s world with her smoky wiles and drinking ways and her tough girl ideals. This is Noir at its best. Dark and edgy with crisp fresh dialogue and a plot that engages the reader from the first line and keeps them up all night – right through to it’s powerful finish.