Knightrider

On the road again, motorways, tolls, dying twilight and reluctant dawns. Dense fog like a symbol of the future. Sometimes the car sucks in the condensation and is slow to warm up. Chugs a bit, struggles through the gears, doesn’t fully commit to fifth. And then you have lads coming up the fast lane trying to flash you out of the way. One fella in a Polo got real emotional. Flash Flash Flash and drove right up so close you could see his dirty eyeballs. I pushed the rearview to the left so I couldn’t see him and let him drive around me. He was delighted, all thick revs and stressed acceleration, and took off. I gave him the fuck off flash back and turned up the radio and listened to all the good news which didn’t take long because there wasn’t any. Later, found a car park in Dublin close to the hostel where I was staying. It was tipped to be world class, great atmosphere, safe and friendly. And now It’s 2 o’clock in the morning and there’s a fella standing over the bed in a leather jacket. There’s a rucksack behind him against the wall and there was screeching and drunk skittering in the corridor outside. Your man said: ‘That’s my bed.’

            It was a four bed dorm and all the beds were full with people that were sleeping up until now. An American lad in the corner spoke and said, I think you’re in the wrong room.

            Your man was like something out of Knightrider with the collars up and the hard to see features. A woman to the left gave a dramatic toss from one side of the bunk to the other and there was a squeak of metal under pressure and the agitated sigh of someone that wished she’d paid extra for a hotel. Outside, through the window, there was two lads arguing at the wall of the Liffey and taxis strolled by and there was some girl with purple hair shouting at her friend up the street to come back, or hurry up, or some other variation of the intoxicated shriek.

            The Hoff looked around, figured it was a tough crowd, and picked up his rucksack and left. There was an almighty blast of light as he opened the door, like a portal into the sun, and you could see heads and legs running past. Think they were some kind of foreign language students playing fuck having a party. Things almost settled then, the room assembling itself into sense from the nonsense but I’d a fair idea your man would come back. Had that kind of vibe, like he’d walk around for a while, and try a few more doors and rooms, get quare looks from the students, and then arrive here again and start pulling at blankets and insisting he be allowed to stay. So I got up and went downstairs, through the blinding light and down the concrete stairs and asked them at the counter what the story was. The fella there was on a chair so low you couldn’t see his body so he just looked like a floating head. He said they’d had a few complaints already, and they were trying to find him, and did I know where he was, and could you let us know if he comes back, and sorry about this, and they were looking for him now and it shouldn’t be a problem soon, and sleep good, and enjoy your stay. World class. Great atmosphere. Safe and friendly.

Five Star Fomo. Black Mirror job.

Your wan had a French name and a place up fairly cheap. Nice pictures, spacious, safe, all that. The site had a big red warning that said: LAST PLACE LEFT for your dates. Nothing like Fomo to get the booking going. Tore open the wallet, fired in the card number, nearly broke the screen trying to get digits in fast, fast, fast, it’ll be gone! Then, sound, said the lively robot, you’re booking is confirmed. Good man yourself, got a good deal, sure thinking like that is how you save big money and no need for them demented hotels at all. Sleep good, pack your suitcase, get ready for the road. But. Somewhere in the ether, a devil began to laugh. At first it was stifled in a vague icy doubt and eventually descended into the falling fog of concern and buyer’s remorse. Had I checked the reviews? Was it refundable? Reliable? Too good to be true? The phone felt heavy and uncertain when I picked it up, like it was biting its lip, saying maybe you don’t want to know? I found the place again, scrolled down, and drank in the truth of the dark premonition.

First lad was straight in with SCAM!

And it got worse from there.  A broken shower, pictures of dirty rotten beds and bare live wires that could jump start an airplane. The nice pictures were of somewhere else, someone else’s house apparently, or maybe this one a long time ago, before it fell into the hole of dire disrepair and was listed for booking on the wild reliable site that caught me with the LAST ONE LEFT trick. I scanned more. No stars, lots of warnings, complaints, warning of danger inside the house due to everything being fucked and outside due to it being a dodgy area. Sure ya wouldn’t know, might be refundable? I checked the site and it was written in big bold thick ignorant letters: Non-Refundable.

But I still had a plan. Time to ring the bank. Lately I told them to stop ringing me every time I buy something, I know what I’m doing, don’t need ye checking my transactions every two minutes. Now here I am, big shtuff himself booking gammy accommodation. Got through after a while, a lovely girl with a soft Munster accent, said: ‘We can’t help you there, it’s gone through.’ She said something about making cases, filling forms, complicated madness. I hung up. Contacted the site, more demonic laughs from the shadows on the wall. It was night, see, and the phone’s screen illuminated the anonymous dark. It was a bit like being on The Matrix, or getting sucked into some virtual video game like something out of Black Mirror. The FAQ put me on to the chat. The chat put me on to the FAQ. It went on like that for a while, the bank card still thrown on the couch, out of breath after such an unprovoked assault, and the money long gone, probably spent on that bitch’s 20 fags in her dodgy bungalow with dirty light bulbs, and her hair frazzled from the last time she got a belt of high voltage trying to turn on the WiFi and see who’s after booking now, who fell for it tonight?

Social warming in Smithfield

 

Another evening, another booked out night in Dublin except for the hostels. Parked the car somewhere close to Smithfield, 6pm, ticket required til seven.Minimum purchase 20 cents.

Still had two 20’s left under the handbrake, orphans abandoned at the Enfield toll. Time to give them a home. Walked up to the ticket machine, a stubborn, disheveled effort, like a fella still drinking three weeks after a wedding. There was graffiti and a splash of random paint and a vague smell of piss or vinegar. One time there was a place for a card but that was blocked so it was cash only now. I pushed in the first 20 cent. It was tentative, unsure, wouldn’t commit, the tiny round shine still peeking out. That’s when the big Times Square newsflash appeared on the screen. Machine out of Order. Just in time for the 20 cent to fall and be lost forever in the disordered, discounted and unacknowledged abyss. Could be worse, coulda been a euro. Time to find tonight’s abode. It wasn’t far. 70 meters according to the phone. Inside, Pride Flags everywhere, calm loud music, pools balls clattering somewhere. Your man behind the counter was in Mayo lately. And did I ever climb the reek, and could he see my license, and here’s your key, and your room’s over there, just through the rainbow forest, and beyond the blue door. Got there, four bed job, well separated, bit like Spacepods on a film.  Only one fella here so far, trying to sleep, jetlag, age, some ailment, hard to know. The door was designed to fall closed with a loud angry mix of locks arguing with door frames and grumpy bolts and this made him move, grunt, sigh.  Dark interior, thick navy walls, window open, keeping out the microbes. Better go for a walk, no point sitting here in the dark, listening to your man snoring like a dying dog. Then I remembered they said at the counter they do good food, and he recommended the chicken burger at the bar, and all you need is here, and there’s even a pub crawl later if you’re up for it. Went out to the bar, few extras sitting around drinking gammy pints, talking shite about something that happened somewhere and generally making noise with words. The girl at the counter was all smiles and strange hair and piercings and bad news. We’re not doing food today, or tomorrow, but you can buy something outside and bring it in?  

 Outside, more flags. Restaurants advertising burgers and Mexican stuff. The distant sound of people’s minds screeching, like the brakes on a train about to derail. The badly oiled friction of the internet against reality. All the dopamine running dry, like social warming.

 Found a place across the road and took a seat and ordered, this is the life, in the big city, chicken burgers and spacepods and I wonder where would you get a cup of tea. There was a fella with a beard and a huge belly across the way studying the menu like it was a good news article about himself and he wanted to read more and more. The people around him were talking and yapping but he didn’t care, this was it, the big event. Sure it was all happening in Smithfield.