Keep goin til ya hear the bang….

One time in Australia I was drinking with a fella and we were talking about cars, and lightning storms, and floods in the Northern Territory. We were in Broome, or Katherine, or Hall’s Creek, one of them. The air was soft and warm and the Jim Beam&Coke was going down well on his porch. And there was more porches, and people drinking, and everyone worked in the mines. He was saying to keep an eye on the temperature and if it goes up, no matter how much, even a bit, then get it checked and it’ll save the car in the long run. Now I’m down by the Shannon Weir in Athlone and the temperature is gone up to the last. There was nowhere else for it to go. It was like it was trying to escape, breakthrough the dashboard and into engine. If it was a game of Snake or Pacman it would go through the wall on the right and come in through the wall on the left again. I was waiting for the bang, the smoke, the plume of mechanical and financial disaster that usually followed. Same as the Insignia in Edenderry and the Qashqai in Claremorris and the Astra in Galway that time. And let’s not mention that fuckin Peugeot. My immediate plan was to park somewhere handy for a truck to tow it away. This was important. It was only seconds before all the lights came on and the engine would blow, and the power steering would die and then there’d be no hope of getting it anywhere.

            But this time nothing happened. The gauge stayed high, but the car continued to drive. Up by St. Peter’s Port and onto Connaught Street. The sun smiled on and people wandered by like nothing was the matter. Usually by now there’s a crowd gathered, and extras giving unwanted advice, and a smell like burning tyres and mechanical piss. Yet, the Focus glided through the panic like there was nothing wrong at all. No warnings, no stutter. I pulled in. Surprised and optimistic. Time to look at the engine like I knew something about them. The bonnet can only be opened with a key. One of them fancy ideas that never took off. Either way, I fucked it up about three months ago and now there’s a steel stick that does the job. You have to angle it through the front grille like you’re doing a blind endoscopy and then it clicks and slicks and you’re in. The engine was a bit hot but nothing solar. Plenty of water and coolant, no lack of oil. Time for Youtube. There was lads talking about sensors, and waterpumps, and putting eggs in the radiator. And click here, and like this, subscribe and follow, but there was no need, sure cos the needle was gone down by now and the car was grand. Sure they’re all mad in Australia anyway, and on Youtube, time to drive on, keep goin til ya hear the bang, and there was no bang yet. Might buy six eggs just in case but that’ll do.

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.

The Conquering Twilight of Dublin.

All the hotels in Dublin were gone. Gone. Stone gone. Not a hope, sold out, and forget it, Micky. Go somewhere else. Shopped around, booking websites, Air B&B, standby rooms, all gone, gone, gone. There’s one or two places out of reach, maybe. How’s 250 euro a night? Will that do?  

You’re sound, thanks.

Eventually ended up getting a hostel. Back to the roots, the good old days on the road. Sure it’ll be grand. It was a six bed dorm with a fella that couldn’t stop blinking. He had an accent like Billy Bob Thornton and he was after a long flight from somewhere. Omaha, Ohio, Oregon, Dakota, one of them. He was up for talking shite, about life, and travel, and Ireland. And isn’t Dublin a nice city? And does it really rain as much as they say in Ireland? 

There was a stir across the way. A sort of a creak of the metal frames of the beds and then a blond strand of hair came out over the pillow. You might be expecting some sort of a Swedish bombshell, somehow staying in a cheap hostel, but no, it was a blue-eyed lad with airpods and an opened book that he didn’t really seem to be reading. It was like he was waiting for something, some sign, or a phone call. Had the look of a lad on Annual Leave from a UFO cult but now he was bored and wanted to get back to work. Maybe there was a convention down the road. Some place with balloons shaped like alien’s heads and lads with beards selling DVD’s of extraterrestrial autopsies. Billy Bob Said: ‘I was thinking of going to Galway, too.’ 

‘Do.’ 

I went downstairs, through a horde of Spanish students, all loud and jumpy. Two other men were at the lift, had the temporary look of confused Ukrainians, still getting used to things, it was all a mystery now. The lift, the Spanish kids, the sweet smell of sweat and leather and vague piss. I said: ‘How’s things?’  

And walked out. 

There was a bus stop outside. About 25 people were waiting for the 46 something. They all looked around, frozen for a second, their eyes like cyborgs cameras fixated on this apparition from the hole in the hostel wall. Time herself forgot her purpose, struggled against gravity to keep the world moving. That woman in the white jacket and her hair tied tight and her big kryptonite stare like diamonds impossibly embedded in her pale severe skull. The moment passed, the curiosity waned in tandem with the arrival of the green dragonian bus. It heaved up like a tired ass, snottering and hissing, and spreading her gills like the doors of a trojan horse, and all the commuting Greeks hopped off, hopped on, disappeared into phones and the monoxide fumes and the loud tick tock of the big yellow indicator.  

Went around the corner, Temple Bar, sun dipping, traffic calming, people smoking their problems, their impatience, their time, as they waited for the next great moment, only ever a moment away, through the nicotine clouds and dwindling day and the soft hint of the conquering twilight. Big shtuff.