CastleJordan –

Took a wrong turn. Up a dark country road. It was endless and narrow and populated by dogs and fog and by trucks and dark fields either side and non committal road signs. The type of signs you see at a fork in the road and could be pointing either direction or maybe someone twisted it the wrong way around in 1975 and  no one’s bothered to change it back. The Google maps were no good because the mobile data doesn’t exist out here and the satellites can’t keep up with the pace of rural events.
Then. Castlejordan appeared like a Halo in the evil of the lost night.
A metropolis of one pub and a streetlight.
Pulled up outside and there was life inside.
Opened the light door with an exaggerated squeal.
  Interior. cold draught. Dusty bar stools. Bar man studying the dirt under his fingernails. He was thirty odd, plenty of stubble, dressed smart for work in a cheap fleece and a bored expression. Had the look of someone that would prefer to be home playing online poker or watching something on a big telly.
Other than that. There was a big crowd of three customers. Two of them at the bar working on pints of Heineken and looking at shite cars on DoneDeal.
A third in the corner with an old leather jacket and  playing the poker machine.
They all looked when I walked in.
I felt like ET.
No one said anything til I asked: ‘Lads, where the fuck am I?’
The fella at the poker machine turned and said: ‘Castlejordan, what the fuck’re you doin here?’
‘Tryin to get home.’
‘Where’s home?’ Asked Heineken.
‘Moate.’
‘MOATE!” said all three together.
‘Yeah.’ I said. ‘I took a wrong turn I think.’
‘You fuckin did. This is Castlejordan.’
‘Oh right….how do I get back?’
‘Up Tyrellspass.’ Said the Barman.
‘No!’ Said the poker player. ‘Back to Rhode and up to Mullingar.’
‘Sure whaz the difference?’ Asked the Heineken. ‘He could go back to Edenderry.’
‘What the fuck would he go back to Edenderry for?’ Asked the third. Then turned to me and sincerely asked: ‘Do you know the roads around here?’
‘Not really. No.’
‘There’s a hill the far side of the cross roads, if you go up over that and you come to a junction, you’ll know it because the signs are all covered in shite and there’s a big house with a red car outside on your left….’
‘No, he’s gone.’ Said the barman.
‘Is Paddy gone?’ Asked the Heineken.
‘He might be back now.’ Said the Poker player.
Barman turned to me. Pointed at the wall. Went: ‘Tell you what you do….you go out this way again. Go up passed the big tree….ok? There’s a sharp bend to the right and then you go straight for a good while…it’s a bumpy road and you’ll start seeing signs for Kinnegad….’
‘Kinnegad?!’ Went the poker player.
‘Yeah.’ Said the barman. ‘Why not?’
‘Just go back to Mullingar.’ Said the Heineken. Go down about eight miles the other way and take a right at the roundabout. And you’ll go back up the motorway.’
‘Sound.’ I said. ‘So take a left when I go out?’
‘Yeah.’ Said the Barman.
‘No.’ Said the Poker player.
‘You can if you want.’ Said the Heineken.
‘But you don’t have to.’ Said the other Heineken, then added ‘You can go the other way too.’
I let that settle. No one really knew what to say next. So I said. ‘Thanks, so.’
‘You’re grand.’ Said the barman.
Outside. Fog settled around the car. Flies or moths or something danced in the solitary streetlight. The cold weaseled into my bones like invisible chilled water. Dark houses sat on the  distant  hills with lonely kitchen lights and smoke stacks from chimneys under attack from safe turf fires. Got into the car and drove down the first road I saw for another twenty minutes. Soon there was something white in the distance. I was afraid to believe it was a road sign in case it was a moon mirage. But I didn’t need to worry. It was a real sign. Pointing in a real direction. As I got closer I could see what it read: CastleJordan.
Great.

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