Vandalism

She was taking the company van. I was going working somewhere else. Ireland’s best sales team was getting disbanded after a record breaking spell of hitting no targets whatsoever.

She hadn’t much experience driving. As far as I could tell she didn’t even have a right license. There was some version of a government issued Romanian document from back long ago but it was hard to know if it was something to do with being on the road or a gammy dole card from Eastern Europe. Didn’t matter a fuck to the crowd in Dublin. They were too tight to pay for the petrol to have it drove back and they wanted her out selling so it made perfect sense that way. The other minor stuff like insurance, experience, ability or general safety never came into the equation. I gave her the keys and she said: ‘Where is spare tyre?’ 

‘Wha…’ 

‘Tyre. For Spare. Where does this be?’ 

‘I dunno. Why?’ 

‘In case. Flat. Whoosh. Puncture. It’s ok for boy. What about me? Woman. Alone. Dark and no tyre…’ 

‘I had a transit one time and the spare was under the floor at the back. Probably the same with that…’ 

‘Under the floor? Oh my God. How will I take out?’ 

‘You can ring the breakdown….’ 

She laughed, said: ‘These fuckers don’t pay for breakdown. They don’t even pay wages….’ 

She had a point, but I was already gone and finding it hard to get excited. Then she said: ‘I can’t drive manual. I need automatic.’ 

‘You’ll figure it out.’ 

‘And I never drive left side of road. Right only. Romania is right.’ 

‘Oh right.’ 

‘Yes. I will call Tom.’ 

‘Who’s Tom?’ 

‘He is my friend. He will help me with everything.’ 

‘Sound, I’ll go.’ 

I called back a week later. Tom was there. A saintly type with a van full of tools and a desire to help at all costs. They’d had a few driving lessons during the week that didn’t go well. There was talk of a gate getting a smack in Ballymahon and a pillar getting knocked in Moate. There’d been plenty of road range and a few parking confrontations around estates in Tullamore. And still no sign of the spare tyre. But Tom had a plan. The back doors of the van were open like a horrified mouth and Tom was climbing inside with a black and decker drill and tufts of grey hair under his cap and over his ears. ‘Tis down under here, I’d say….’ 

And he started on the screws around the base. Pulling up the timber, tearing it where necessary, announcing progress as he went along. ‘No sign of it yet, anyway…we’ll try another one…’ 

Soon there was hammers, drills, screws and broken bits of timber and stuff like sawdust strewn around everywhere inside and outside. Meanwhile she was up in the cab, tearing up the front seat in case it was under there and she might save Tom the trouble of destroying the van entirely. The screws had an angry growl as the drill caught grip, bit like a big dog when you try to pull a bone from its clenched teeth.  

‘You find?!’ She shouted from the front. 

No… said Tom, but sounding determined. ‘Not yet….’ 

I had a feeling this wouldn’t go down well in Dublin. Maintenance, repairs, destruction, generally having to pay for anything always caused a wide eyed look of wonder and mystery at the audacity of being required to spend money. They might even blame me if they heard I was there looking at them. Shtop.

I’ll keep going, I said. I’ll leave ye at it.  

 

 

 

 

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….’

Mayo Launch of Mick Donnellan’s new novel – The Naked Flame.

You are invited to the launch of

Mick Donnellan’s new novel 

The Naked Flame 

Ballinrobe Market 

On Easter Saturday

16th of April

**Time 1.30pm**

Media Contact: mickdonnellan@hotmail.com

You can read The Naked Flame on Kindle here: 

The Naked Flame on Kindle

You can buy The Naked Flame on Paperback here: 

The Naked Flame in Paperback 

About The Naked Flame:  

Set in Athlone, the heart of the Irish midlands, The Naked Flame is a story of love, loss, betrayal, and passion. John joe is engaged but doesn’t want to get married. He’s not sure how to break this to Karen. Then it’s time for the stag party in Madrid. There he meets Marilyn. They spend the night together and everything changes. Now the wedding is cancelled, the police want to talk to him about a double murder and the phone is ringing with mysterious requests to come to London. John joe suddenly finds himself in a surreal world, full of unusual characters and extreme danger, with no obvious way out. Met with impossible choices he can only trust the alluring woman that offers all the answers – but at what cost?  

 Mick Donnellan’s fourth novel is rich in comedy, tragedy, hints of the absurd and undertones of a man in existential crisis. The story thunders along with unexpected twists and ominous turns that culminate in a devastating climax. A unique tale, it strikes an emotional note, and is guaranteed to supply an entertaining read. 

About Mick Donnellan 

Recent Awards/ projects: 

Mick Donnellan is the author of three previous novels. El Niño (2012) Fisherman’s Blues (2014) and Mokusatsu (2019). 

The Naked Flame was completed during a retreat at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in late 2021. 

When not writing fiction he works as a successful Playwright and Screenwriter. Film credits include Tiger Raid (2016) adapted from Mick’s Play Radio Luxembourg.  He has recently received the Agility Award through the Arts Council of Ireland and the Mayo Theatre Bursary through Mayo Arts Office.  

His most recent Play Nally was supported by Westmeath Arts Office and aired in May 2021 as a Zoom/Youtube performance. It was attended by over two thousand viewers on the night and many more since.  

You can watch Nally here: https://youtu.be/FiJYuaa5x2Q  

In May 2020 Mick had a monologue (The Crucified Silence) chosen as part of the Scripts Ireland Play festival. After a week of intensive workshops with Playwright Eugene O’Brien, the monologue was directed by Jim Culleton (Fishamble) and performed by Aaron Monaghan.  

Mick is currently part of the Galway Theatre Development Programme run by Andrew Flynn in conjunction with Galway’s Town Hall Theatre. He is also listed on the Irish theatre institute here:  http://irishplayography.com/person.aspx?personid=47564 

About Mick Donnellan:

Mick Donnellan completed the MA in Writing at NUIG in 2004. Since then, he has worked as a novelist, travel writer, teacher and Playwright. He completed his first novel, El Niño, in 2004 and immediately secured a literary agent. He left Ireland soon after and went on to live in Spain, Australia, and Canada. While traveling he worked as a journalist and co-founded the Arts Paper – Urban Pie – in Vancouver. Upon returning to Ireland he went on to work with Druid (2009) and RTE (2010)  and El Niño was published in 2012 with excellent reviews.   

Later, Mick established his own theatre company, Truman Town Theatre. All Truman Town Plays are written, directed, and produced by Mick. The company exploded on to the theatrical circuit in 2011 with their hit Play – Sunday Morning Coming Down. Following a national tour, they went on to produce (and tour) two more hugely successful Plays Shortcut to Hallelujah and Gun Metal Grey. These dramas eventually became known as the “Ballinrobe Trilogy.”  

Moving slightly from rural settings but not themes, the theatre company toured a fourth Play, Velvet Revolution. Set in a stark urban landscape, it created interest in Mick’s work among the film industry. He followed Velvet Revolution with his fifth Play – Radio Luxembourg – and it was immediately optioned by London Film Company Dixon/Baxi/Evans and adapted for the screen.  

While the film was in development, Mick’s second novel – Fisherman’s Blues – was published. As it rose up the ranks, and enjoyed positive reviews, Mick was taken on board as screenwriter on the Radio Luxembourg project. After some months commuting to and from London, the script was complete, and a shoot was organised in the Jordanian desert. Titled Tiger Raid and Starring Brian Gleeson, Damian Molony and Sofia Boutella, it was accepted into the Tribeca film festival (New York) and was also seen at Cannes and Edinburgh. The Irish Premiere was screened at the Galway Film Fleadh. You can read more about Tiger Raid and watch the trailer here:    

 Other exciting projects include the screen adaptation of Shortcut to Hallelujah with Florence Films. The screenplay is titled Sam and is based around the gypsy curse supposedly set on the Mayo Football team as they returned home as All Ireland Champions in 1951. Set in the present day, Sam is drenched in Irish lyricism and modern-day dark humour. The script has been met with keen interest by film producers and actors throughout the industry.  

Mick has lectured part-time in writing at the AIT (Athlone Institute of Technology) in County Westmeath. The course has enjoyed an exponential increase in numbers since its inception in September 2017. April 2019 saw the release of the well-received Tales from the Heart which is a collection of creative work from the students. It was launched at the college by bestselling author and esteemed politician Mary O’Rourke. 

Mick has worked as a writing lecturer at NUI Galway.

http://www.mickdonnellan.com