Shoes and Chinese beach blues.

This woman had a room for rent and a policy of no shoes. I had one shoe off when she asked: ‘Are you parking there, like that?’

I said yeah, and she said no. That won’t do. It’s dangerous for her car when she’s trying to pull out and she might hit mine and could I park it up the top there instead.

            I put the off shoe back on and got back in the car and started backing back, back towards the trees and the empty pond, and the horseshoe groove that kept cars safe and undinged. It was a calm blue evening, leafy suburb, Newstalk on the radio, banging out ads about famine and starvation. Not too sure where the Peugeot came from. One second I was about to lock to the left and then there was the pokey eyes of reverse lights coming in the gate. We did a bit of gush, and push, and awkward acting the bollix, and ended up stuck beside each other in the driveway. Now there was two cars parked badly and no way out the gate. Our lady, Breda, yelped from the doorway. “Michael! Michael!”

            ‘Yeah?’

            ‘Let that man in.’

            The guy was Polish, Latvian, Hungarian, something. Double chin and smig and big belly behind the wheel. He shrugged, said: ‘I’ll only be 10 minutes anyway.’      

            A fourth character appeared; stairs left. Previously unseen, unnamed, unheard of and unexpected. Shorts, blonde hair, pale green eyes and an agitated voice. She stood beside Breda, bare feet, squinted at the two of us, tried to assess what was happening, then asked: ‘Are ye delivering my Chinese?’

            Come in, said Breda, just come in.

            We both walked towards the door. Crunch of stones, caffeinated blood from a long day on the road. Thoughts like haunted ghosts flitting round black tormented rooms. Coming, going, living dying, breaking through, electric saw blades on concrete.

             Shoes again, please, said Breda.

            Got the two of them off this time. Good job I bought decent socks in Dealz last week. Your man’s name was Justin. Breda was excited because he was the best handyman around and didn’t often come unless you were a valued customer. Even at that, his time was precious. More precious than the bad parking tenant and the girl looking for her Chicken Szechwan. He was going changing a plug, and the plug was broke for a long time, and we couldn’t let him go now or we wouldn’t see him again for weeks. I took the chance to escape up to the room. Small, functional, towel, window. Unpacked, got ready to chill, embrace silence, do fuck all. Then I heard: Michael….? You can move your car back now. Justin is gone.

            Shoes on. Parked. Shoes off.

            And did I know anything about broadband. There was a lad here at the door last week and he sold it to her and it was pure shite. And now Eir were going taking money out of her account and she had to ring them. And isn’t it awful, and the doorbell rang, and who’s this now, must be the Chinese, have you seen the beach yet? You should go down for a walk. It’s lovely.

            I will. Which way is it?

Maverick and the Never Ending Story.

Made a complaint about getting scammed on the booking site. They said to contact the property and see if they’ll give you a refund. The property was more of a rubbish dump than a place to stay so I hadn’t much hope of any digital gold flying back through the phone lines. There was a direct message system, or a text option. I tried the direct message first. DECLINED. Great. Said I’d chance a text, fuck it. She messaged back and said no. Imagine that? Sure she probably had the money spent on cheap cans and loose tobacco and rollie papers. Surprised she even messaged at all. Must have unlimited free texts on a shite phone with big buttons and a faulty charger.

         Back to the site. Said they couldn’t help, and they told me this already, but I could make complaint if I wanted. And how could I do that? Here’s an address, they said, a postal address, for some kind of regulator, in Brussels, and you all you have to do is post them the letter and I’m sure they’ll help and here’s a survey, and how was your experience today?

I’ll send ye a letter and let ye know.

         Found an alternative place in Dundrum. Cheaper, legal, looked like it did in the pictures, had reviews that didn’t sound like they came from people sprayed with Napalm.

         Later, decided to go see Maverick. Got parking at the town centre. It only took half an hour and a few laps of the car park. Found a spot at the back beside some kind of Porsche. Good company for the Focus. Free parking too, took the sting out of the scam. Walked over to the cinema, through the damp evening and the azure twilight, through ghostly generations of nervous lovers and actors souls captured in antique posters. Up the steps and pulled the door. There was a security guard talking to a crowd of young lads at the entrance. Warning them about something, anti-social behaviour, smoking, litter, who knew. Inside, plush carpet, screens advertising what’s on. They were doing a good deal. €9.95 for a film and a popcorn combo. Sound.  Dinner and a movie, all in one at 9pm.

         9pm came and it was fairly empty. Back in the time of the first Top Gun they’d show you ads for more films coming like Terminator 2 and Rocky IV and Honey I shrunk the Kids. You were on a dark train of endless screen theatre and imagination. The Never Ending Story.  Now there was ads for Amazon Prime where you could watch films at home and didn’t need to come to the cinema at all. Then there was more ads for mortgages, and banks, and phone companies and broadband and Jewellery shops and eventually the other people started wandering in and the movie started and, I don’t why, but the best bits seemed to be the flashbacks of the first one.

Rent, Road Rage and setting fire to the rain.

The four horsemen of the rent apocalypse were chasing the Ford Focus up the M50. You could kinda hear the thud and squeal of their wheels between the trucks and motorbikes and morning mayehm traffic. The phone was hanging off the yoke on the dashboard and the maps were on, talking shite about exits and roundabouts. All the signs to small universes whizzing by. Southbound, Dundrum, Sandyford, Stillorgan. I changed lane and some lad went demented. Started the crazy beeping and the gesticulation. Giving the wild advice like I could hear him through his passenger window. And his kid in the back, strapped to a babyseat, looking at him like he’s mad. He took off when he was finished with the news for the traffic deaf and I lost him behind a fat cement lorry.

The maps were getting excited now. Destination not far.

A small pebble hopped off the road and bounced off the windscreen but I wasn’t worried cos the windscreen was already cracked from a bigger stone last week so the pebble was out of luck tryna fuck up my day. I’d asked around and got numerous quotes to fix it. €297 here. €250 there. Offer cash. Cancel your insurance and then renew it, but add cover this time. And how long would that take and when is the NCT and you better get it done. Settled on a place for €200 and getting it done next week, let her crack away til then, might as well get my money’s worth for something rightly fucked instead of fixing a teardrop on the glass.

Switched on the news. Bad idea. Changed the station. Good idea. Adele kicked off with set fire to the rain. A soft massage on the cerebellum, a serenely sonic needle and thread, adding meaning to the colourblind clouds. The maps said to take a left. Take a right. Stop here. You’ll be there soon. Parked up. Let the orb spin and the gravity settle. Quiet dust across the moon, storms in Jupiter, distant diesel engines and road raging school runs. The engine relaxed, licking the fumes off her paws. Spotted a lotto ticket under the handbrake, left quietly there by the mother, said you might be lucky. Scanned it through the app and let the data packets bounce and the satellites sing through the ozone. And sure lookit, isn’t it fuckin mighty.