The Invisible Hand

I bought them in Specsavers a few years ago. Went to a lecture later that day. The writing on the board was easier to read. Political philosophy, the invisible hand that guides our nations through history. This is what it was all about. A sense of intellectual clarity and progression. A lot of books being read, exams being done, hard on the eyes, time to look the part. After, we went for coffee, and she said I looked really preppy. We bought cappuccinos and wondered how to pass the afternoon. Maybe her house, maybe mine. She was wearing blue jeans and a purple plastic raincoat. There was people all around us talking, like a choir, a chorus, background music. They were going doing postgrads, going travelling, getting jobs, getting drunk, getting married. Everyone had a plan, options, ideas. There was a smell like toasted cheese sandwiches and wet shoes and cardboard. She crossed her legs and asked if I was going to the religion lecture later. We always sat beside each other there. Tethered, talking telepathically, listening to the world getting broke down into molecules of social science. After, we’d walk somewhere in the calm, soft rain. The showers were always polite and rarely interrupted us. If it got too bad we’d stand under a tree and she’d put a book over her head and we’d stand there watching the light crystals fall like years of our memories to come. At night, we fitted together like two calm continents in drifted peace. There was always a moon through the window making shapes, like a lamp on a dark road designed to show us the way – to let us know we were on the right path. If it was her place it smelled like makeup and foundation and her scented perfume everywhere. On every chair and piece of clothing. You could open a door and get the fragrance on your hand after. The house itself was addicted, drank her up, thrived on her elegance. All those moments now like centuries of experience, passionate lifetimes in short intimate nights, the infinite unknown wealth of lovers.

         I found them again today. Both lens still intact, the arms a bit loose but otherwise the same. The lectures are over now. The postgrads come and gone. The travel all done. The drink all drank. The raindrops on the window are more pronounced but everything else is less clear. Sure these days we don’t talk at all. Nothing to say, too much unsaid. Time poured over the past like concrete we can’t break. We met once or twice by accident. Compared our kids ages and talked about the towns where we live now. Unlikely places with unlikely people. A wave of the invisible hand over all that was missed between us. A mixed urgency to stay or to run away. To keep things together or to blow them all apart. To sit down and drink coffee and wonder maybe her house, maybe mine.

O’Connell Street.

Parked at the Lilac Centre. No point fucking around with all that weird on street parking shit. Always that feeling that there’s some fat clamper hiding behind a tree waiting for you to park one inch too far across his imaginary line, and he won’t let you go for any less than a month’s rent. Did a fast u-turn at the Dealz and spun towards the car park fast. Stopped to let a blind man cross at the entrance and then got the ticket and drove up two flights and parked between a Range Rover and a Merc. Good company for the 1.4 Petrol from Mayo, with the Galway registration and 300 thousand miles on her 15 year old engine. Went for the lifts, burnt the floor number into my head, floor one, floor one, cos I knew I’d forget it later and spend half the day wandering around the wrong level suspecting car theft and awkward phone calls to guards and a haype of forms to fill out and no way home.

Emerged at Cassidy travel, people everywhere, souls purgatorial drifting through the commercial river. There was a place selling a can of coke and a pizza for 6 something but I kept going. Out onto Parnell Street, passed Chapters and around by O’Connell Street. People like lost stars in the cosmos, floating around, waiting for buses, people, something. Spotted an all you can eat buffet for 12.99 and made a mental note to attack it later. Passed out the GPO where Liam Neeson tried to blow it up one time and decided to go to Easons. Haven’t darkened their door for about 20 years. They take over 52% from the price of a book just to stock it on their walls so I was in a sorta boycott mode. Then again, I could be missing something crucial, some access to great literature unavailable anywhere else. I had an image of a warm shop, with some kind of government chairs where you could read, research, enjoy the smell of papyrus and dear coffee from an overpriced machine.

There was a woman smoking on the steps on the way in, white shirt, black leather pants, curly raven hair, maybe some picture of a film she saw one time and here she is now living it out in the big city. The doors came back with a cheap whoosh and I was in, underwhelmed and confused. Where’s all the big shtuff ambience? Isn’t this the flagship store? More like just another newsagent that sold books in fancy shelves. Not too sure where the 52% was going. Asked the security guard was I in the right one. He told me there was two more. One on Nasaau Street and another on St. Stephen’s Green. “But this is the biggest one…”


Gave it another whirl around and said fuck this. Back to the Chinese. It was busy with gluttons trying to look fancy, like they had culinary taste and experience, but they really just wanted the brown shlop with a fistful of chips and the ignorant fried rice. I paid your wan and got a plate and stocked up.Not sure what kinda mongrels they were cooking but twas dire stuff and I ate anyway. Nearly time to get the car now aswell. What floor did I say again…1 or 2…..?

Lunch in Portharlington

They rang and said they wanted the company car back but they’d give me a van instead. Wouldn’t you love a van? No, says I, what the fuck am I going to do with a van? 

–  You’ll figure it out.  

            Later, it was time to collect my team. Romania’s finest was waiting, patiently playing Backgammon on her phone and no interest in going working at all. She sat in, asked: ‘What is this?’ 

            ‘It’s a van.’ 

            ‘A van? Where is car?’ 

            ‘They took it back.’ 

            ‘Why? This is no good.’ She pulled down the flap yoke on the passenger side, freaked and said: ‘No mirror to see my lipstick??’ 

            ‘I know it’s a tragedy.’ 

            ‘We don’t need a van for this job…’ 

            ‘We do now.’ 

            ‘Where do we go today?’ 

            ‘We’ll chance Portharlington.’ 

            We got there about an hour later. After Moate, through Tullamore, bypassed Edenderry and straight in, just on time to be two and half hours late. Early sales are key, they say. Crucial to get ahead, can do attitude. We were tired after the drive and figured twas time to get the lunch. Raided the local Centra for chips, rolls and diet coke and found a park somewhere in the middle of the town. There was grass and kids and trees and a bench with a bin beside it. She opened up her roll, said: ‘What is doing Bitcoin?’

            ‘What’s it doin?’ 

            ‘Yes, what is doin it?’

            ‘I don’t know. Goin up, or down….

            ‘It’s goin to crash. The chart says so.’

            ‘The chart?’

            ‘Technical Analysis. It will go to Zero. And then I will be billionaire.’

            ‘I’m not sure that’s how them things works….’

            Wide eyes, with: ‘Of course. You don’t know how to short cryptocurrency…?’

            ‘No. And I’m probably better off too.’

            ‘You buy the bet token to say it will dive and then…whoosh. It goes down, and my token goes up, and we buy Lamborghini. No more bullshit vans with no lipstick mirrors…’

            There was a lad smoking on a bench across the way, a smell like burnt grass or strong green tea. The wind swept light, like angels made of soft moisture, and the sun was sneaking down, a lazy descent into the bruised midlands twilight. And there wasn’t a sale in sight. No lucky phone calls, nobody shouting across the street begging to give us business. Not a hope of a populated text to management later with any other figure than zero and we weren’t in the Bitcoin Business. It wasn’t the get rich going broke sort of scheme we were on. The best thing to do was take another bite of the chicken roll and hope something might happen. A gravitational change in fate, a slip into a parallel reality where everything made perfect sense and we could hit a moment of calm clarity that didn’t involve work. Your man finished the cigarette and got up and walked off. The first hint of rain fell like a phantom arrow, bounced off my wrist, and waited for the army of drops to follow. Sure this was no good, poor working conditions, unsafe, rained off site.

            ‘I don’t want to get drowned wet like a dog like last time.’ She said. ‘I got flu. For this bullshit? No thank you, sir. Puh. I’m not silly slave for big money companies.’

            ‘Sure we’ll sit in the van for a while and if it gets too bad we’ll tip back to Athlone again and see is the weather any better there.’

            ‘Sounding good. I’ll show you rich methods while we wait. Big money, oh my god, the future is so exciting….whoosh….’