Mullingar and the signal in the noise.

There was big talk about Mullingar, the holy Mecca of sales. Did you not hear about Belvedere Hills, and Lakepoint Rise and what was the name of that other place, Dalton Park? Oh, there’ll be sales falling from the sky like the frogs off Magnolia that time. So went the theory from the two ninjas that were destined to make us all rich from their performance on the Midlands campaign.

I got there around half two. Supposed to be there at 12 but I didn’t like missing the start of Joe Duffy at 1.45pm.We were supposed to work til 8pm but I was hoping to be back on the road again for The Hard Shoulder at half four on Newstalk so the window of opportunity was closing fast. The two Wolfs of Wall streets were already there, rolling smokes and discussing the price of train tickets. We drove around and found a place with a quare Irish name and parked up and got out and looked about. One lad said he’d go up here around the corner and the other said he’d go down there behind the playground and I said I’d hang tight here and keep an eye on the car and do some admin. Ya know yourself.

Later, the sun was steel blue sharp and warm like the heat through your neighbours wall. There was kids crying in houses, and dogs barking, and lads in vests drinking cans in gardens. A soft voice came from somewhere, a signal in the noise. I looked around, couldn’t see anything, then heard it again.  

Excuse me, mister, can I talk to ya…? 

It was a girl in a school uniform with jet black black hair. Standing there, waiting. I said, yeah? 

My daddy wants ya.  

And she went back inside the house behind her.  

I walked over, pushed the door. There was a smell like a blocked toilet and Chinese food in the bag too long. The girl was walking ahead, down a long corridor with thick concrete walls that were wet with condensation that looked like slime in a cave. The floor was torn lino and there was a door at the end with blinding bright solar prisms coming through the cracked panes.  

She led me into a room, noise here. The patter of a dogs feet, a telly with a show full of canned laughter. People sitting around a bed. Daddy musta been the fella under the sheets, holding a crutch in one hand and the remote control in the other. Mammy must have been the woman beside him with the ketamine eyes and the American t-shirt (Chicago Bears? Harvard? Something….) 

There were others too. More kids. They were all eating some kind of takeout from tinfoil containers. There was the sound of chewing, sucking, licking and cutlery scraping, like cars going fast on the motorway at night. One lad was in a wheelchair but I didn’t know if it was his or he just needed a place to sit. He looked up at me cross eyed and then horsed down some curry chips and said nothing.  

Mammy kept smiling at the telly. I was afraid she might slide off the bed and fall out on to the floor. She had that gravitational slant going on, and the reflexes were definitely on the blink.  

Daddy used the crutch to make a point, rose it towards imaginary memories as he spoke. The last fella that was here told him lies. And he wanted a good price. And what could I do for him? I asked him how he was fixed with bank accounts, Ibans, Direct Debits, that kinda thing. 

 No he said, not a hope. I do everything through the Post Office. Thank fuck, I was thinking, but said, unfortunately we can’t help.  

Lave it so, he said. Thanks anyway.  

Here’s the dog now, trying to bite my shoelaces, after shitting soft little pebbles across the floor. The girl in the uniform stood up, asked: Do you know you’re way out? 

And I left.  

 

 

 

Stargate Athlone

 He got out on a Friday, mad for drink, craic, mayhem. First place he found was a closed restaurant and decided to rob it. Kicked in the door, American Roadhouse style, got into the kitchen and raided the presses, cabinets, anywhere that looked like it might have money or a key to a safe or even just a box of change to keep him going. He found nothing but half drank bottles of wine and buckets of margarine. He took the wine, and left the buckets. Broke back out through the window and decided he needed a car.  

Our carpark downstairs was his next port of call. Not sure how he found it. Instinct maybe, fluke, or he followed down some innocent tenant that opened the secure gates like an invitation from car robbing karma world. He was well drunk now, not in a fit state to discriminate car models.  Which was good cos there was a few. Fancy new SUV’s, BMW’s, and one or two electric yokes. After that, it was all downhill. 10 years old and better. There was even a Corolla covered in dust and cobwebs that stirred envy and nostalgia in anyone born before 1995. It was the older cars he went after. No alarms, simpler to hotwire, probably easier to drive too as he’d been in jail when the newer ones were invented. He hit a Fiesta first. Got two euro worth of change. Then went for the Peugeot something. 203, 303, who knows. There wasn’t much in that, maybe a jacket and a pair of shoes and an old bottle of water. He broke the window in disgust and kept going. Eventually he found a Polo and somehow got it started. I suppose it was time to go at that stage. Cameras, nosie, broken glass, curious passers-by. The Polo was small with great power, which was good because he didn’t know how the gates worked. If he chose the exit gate it would open automatically but, if chose the entry gate, he’d have to drive right through it. He chose the latter and smashed into it with a loud clang and clatter that oddly woke nobody. The gate itself looked wounded, knocked, twisted like it was trying to do yoga and got stuck half way into the waiting street. He went again, and again, and again until it gave and landed on the road and he was able to speed off in the front wrecked Polo into the wine drunk night. Guards by now had been notified, made alert, told what was happening. The people at the restaurant had called first, and now this Fast and the Furious effort going on in the nearby carpark. They had an idea of who it was. Had been known for this kinda thing. They knew it would be an eventful weekend. Just didn’t expect it a few hours after he was released. It wasn’t that hard to find him either. Once someone put in the report of the car on fire about five miles up the road it all came together like a Sherlock jigsaw. They arrested him close by. Still with the wine, burnt clothes, and the few euro he stole from the Fiesta.  He woke up the next morning again, back in jail, charged with more of the same as before and sure twas all the one. Great night out altogether.