Fireworks –


Left the market on a Sunday morning. Sun shining. Michelle and Nairobi in the back. Bags of toys and trinkets in the boot. All calm.

Driving a Volkswagen shitbox from 1998. Great engine, but didn’t look great, kinda like an antique of immense scrap metal value.

Then – ‘That’s the guards,’ Said Michelle.


‘Up ahead there, look. Are you alright for everythin?’

‘Not really, no.’

‘How d’ya mean?’

‘No NCT.’

‘Is that bad?’ She asked.

‘Depends on the guard, I think. What are they doing here on a Sunday morning?’

‘They do it every year around Halloween. Checkin people for Fireworks.’


‘Cos they’re still illegal in Ireland. Did you not see all the chancers in the market trying to sell them from under the stalls?’

‘Oh for fuck’s sake. I’ll pull in here.’

‘They can see you.’

‘I don’t know, can they?’

‘They’re looking right at us.’

‘Sure we could be pulled in for anything?’

‘Like what? We’re driving down the road and suddenly decide to pull in casually when we see a Checkpoint?’

‘Shtop annoyin me, we’ll wait until they get busy, and then turn around.’

‘You can’t!’

‘Why not? Sure they won’t notice.’

‘Oh my fuckin God….’

‘Here, look, there’s another fella talking to them there. Fuck this.’

I put it in first, swung a U-Turn. Took off up the road.

They were behind me in seconds. Lights flashing.

Sirens going.

Felt like O.J. Simpson, midlands style.

Tried to convince myself it wasn’t me they were after.

Then I gave in.

The first one came around to the driver’s side, asked: ‘What’re you at?’

‘I thought I forgot somethin at the market, so decided to go back quick before it was gone.’

He raised his eyebrows, looked at the other fella, said: ‘Look, I’m doing this job for the last 20 years. I’ve heard it all. Now tell me why you really turned around?’

‘I’ve no NCT, but I’ve it booked in for the morning….and thought you’d take the car off me.’

‘Why would we do that?’

‘Just in case, like, you wouldn’t know.’

‘How long’s it out?’

‘Couple weeks.’

‘Less than 28 days?’


‘Are you alright for everythin, else? Tax, Insurance….?’


‘So why’d you turn around then?’

‘I don’t know. I need the car for work and….’

He stood back, looked at the car, then asked: ”What do you work at?’

‘Well I’m a writer…but I….’

‘You need this car to be a writer?’

‘Well, no…’

‘Show me you licence.’

‘Here it is.’

‘That’s a social services card.’

‘Oh, sorry. Here, it’s this one.’

He looked at that, said: ‘You know we’ve another lad on a motorbike up the road. Either way, you were goin to get pulled.’

‘Sorry about that.’

‘Turning around at a checkpoint is the worst thing you can do.’

‘That’s becoming clear to me now, yeah.’

‘Where are ye coming from?’

‘The market there.’

‘Any fireworks?’

‘No. Are you stuck for some? Unless…hang on,.did you say you bought fireworks there…Michelle?’

The guard rolled his eyes. ‘Go on will ye, and don’t be wasting our time….’





** Buy Mick Donnellan’s Novels here **

The car –



The market –












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