Shtop, this fella could fairly talk. We were doing a day’s work and you never know who you get caught with. Lucky bag style. And here he was into story number three now and I had lost track twenty minutes ago. As far as I could tell he had discovered U2 but hadn’t gotten the proper credit and was eager to let the world know. Bono was in a van one time, with two or three more, and they were starting out, and they needed a gig, and along comes himself and sets them up with a microphone and a few speakers. Some brown place in former Ireland, where they still had pound coins and everyone smoked like they’d die if they didn’t. He gave images of a carpeted pub, and small stools with thick legs and torn cushion tops and the stage lights were dirty and it was always raining through the draughty windows. The toilets smelled of cheap detergent blocks and piss and the Guinness was stale yellow in the hands of men with black fingernails and thick black jackets and wind torn island faces like the scars of Atlantic scorn. And the van was old, with doors you pull back, and amps, and denim jackets, and earrings and the Vietnam war wasn’t long over, and the IRA were patrolling the hills and the RUC were on the roads. I said I better to the jacks to get a break cos I thought my ears might start bleeding, but here he was coming with me, not missing a beat, and now it was a Play one time, and there was a big cast, and the money was good, and the audience were curious one night, full house, dead silence, because someone forgot a line, and nobody knew what to do, but he saved the day himself, with an impromptu blast of dialogue and everybody was relieved, and the show went on. And they thanked him for his inspiration, something funny, generic, country, a hint to the lead actor, a dialectic compass to tell him where to go next. And he got plenty of work after that, but then the money dried up, and he went driving a taxi, and he always arrived for a fare an hour early, in case he got a puncture, or the customer had an emergency, and they’d need extra time, and these customers had big money, BIG money now, not small stuff, no pennies, always fifties, which was BIG money back them times, and sure did I ever do extra work? There was a film before and they had to stand beside a famous fella, and not pull focus, and the director said they were the best extras he’d ever seen, but that comes with experience, and he can’t do it now because he has two bad knees, and will we go to the shop? They have nice sandwiches, and chips, but it depends on what you want, and isn’t it a lovely day, and that’s some sun, boy, see that place over there, used to be a cinema one time, and that place over there, the bands they used to have, and if we could get Bono down there, I’m telling ya, and do you know something about The Beatles? There was a fella one night, we were in Liverpool, he came up to me, and asked me could I give him a hand, and I thought he looked kind of familiar, and you’ll never guess who he was? And fuck me, if we didn’t have the best night of drinking, and I’d swear half the lyrics I hear sometimes comes from the stories from that session….Anyway, back to the Vietnam war, Nixon was after getting in and this was before Watergate, and that’s another story I’ll tell you about after this….
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.
You can now read…
Mick Donnellan’s new novel
Click here: Buy The Naked Flame Now.
You can now read The Naked Flame on KINDLE below:
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:
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