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. 

 

 

Yoda in the Skoda

There was a Mondeo in Bellmullet. Test, no tax, “….she won’t need much….” after that it was all Ballina, Ballycastle and Castlebar. Passats, Hondas and heaps of Insignias. There was Insignias everywhere. All washed, looking good, but dead inside. “Engine light on, not sure, probably just a sensor…” which is Chinese for that oil seal yoke that blows the engine that everyone suddenly knows about and is dying to tell you only after you buy it. Been there, done that, burnt the fuckin t-shirt. One lad had a Skoda for sale but had no keys. The car was locked but you could look in the side window and if you liked what you saw you could tow it away. No tax, test, and no logbook “…hence the price…” 

On went the dream. A Kia in Limerick. A Tuscon in Crossmolina. Cars in the North at crazy cheap prices til you add the VRT and the wonderful Nox. An Avensis in Headford. A Focus in Roscommon.  Lads offering PCP. Sure PCP is easy. Almost certain to get it. Here’s one now, a nice 1 litre, affordable, reliable, guaranteed. Call today, drive away. Yours by lunch, no credit crunch. Take the wheel, enjoy the steal. Want to go far, then buy this car. Sure that’ll do, time to get out of the dregs, into the big leagues, shiny at the football pitch with the child, big shtuff. Here we went, just a case of picking it up. There was breeze, a bruised sky, and an uncertain salesman. Yeah, them deals were a while ago, where’d you read that?  

– Internet. 

-Oh right. See. Well. Let’s try.  

We tried. There was paperwork. Questions. More questions. Questions about questions. Bit like giving blood. Then there was forms. Beloved forms. Upload this, scan that, make sure it’s this date and from these places only. Now we’ll think about it. Hit submit and we’ll be back within 48 to 72 hours and we might need more. Depends on if you fucked it up. No car today, no steal of a deal or fancy wheels making lunch time reels around shiny new leather roundabouts of long term debt and wonderful guarantees of reliable travel. 

Back to Donedeal. Even the Skoda with no keys was gone by now.  

The phone rang, then. The dealer that bought the Peugeot. Christ, Jesus, why’s he ringing me? Didn’t I tell him it didn’t work? He was hardly wondering about the weedkiller in the engine? 

I answered with a tentative, hello? Like I wasn’t sure who it was. Casual, innocent, blameless in this whole mess.  

He didn’t buy it, asked: ‘Have you got a new car yet?  

‘Heh?’ 

‘Are you still lookin for somethin? I met your oul fella downtown. He said you were lookin…’ 

‘I….am. Well, just waiting on a PCP….’ 

‘I have a yoke here for ya.’ 

‘Oh yeah?’ 

‘Yeah, two months test, tax, and in good shape. I’ll call around and show to ya.’ 

‘Eh….’ 

‘Are you at the house?’ 

‘Ya.’ 

‘Sound….I’ll be outside in two minutes.’ 

And he was.  

 

  

Notes on the real artist.

He works in a small town and decides he’s got a voice and wants to be an artist. Things the kid wants to do, things the kid wants to say. Most nights he drinks to stop him thinking and hopes to sleep but can never quite get there. Some voice, some emotional turmoil, something wrong with the way things are. A distant hum in the ether of reality, a curve in the emotional space time. A door to be unlocked and the key is somewhere out there. Just needs to be found. Friends laugh, family don’t agree. Hey, what about your job, another recession coming. Gotta get that house, build on that site, settle down with that nice girl. S’all the same, no matter where you go. Gotta do that engine Tuesday. Gearbox gone in that Toyota. NCT due on the Opel. We know what that guy’s like, real particular. Real cheap too, finds something wrong, he won’t pay. Thinks we’re all animals here. Thinks we’re all dumb mechanics. Always on the phone, doing some job, some kinda Wall Street, clean shoes and that expensive suit and those rings. Educated type, uses big words, asks if we got a website, asks if we do e-mail. Ain’t no e-mail here. Had an e-mail once, lost the password, waste of time anyway. Gotta spray that transit, guy wants to sell it, make it look good, springs coming up through the boards, let’s nail them down, pass me the drill. Keep it going for a while, same with all these English cars. Salt on the road, see. Comes right up and causes rust and then they sell them over here when they’re about to fall apart. Let’s get a drink tonight. I can’t drink tonight. Our hero’s working on something, some story, some play, some book. He’s thinking about a film, that song he heard the other day. He was changing the oil filter on the Insignia and it came on, moved him somehow, meant something. Would look good in a movie. That collection at home. DVD’s up to the ceiling. S’all Netflix now but the broadband around here is too bad. Good thing too, he thinks, more substance, less choice. You gotta watch what you got and watch it right and learn. Learn what a story is, learn how to add a song, learn how to write what people say. That girl with the Ford Focus, smelled nice, in some college somewhere, studying something. Something to do with points, forms, applications and those damn e-mails. Maybe could ask her. Ask her how. Ask her where. Ask her when. Where does a guy start, telling that story, putting those thoughts in order. Breaking through. Here’s the girl with the focus now, speak of the devil, she knows all about it, says there’s that big festival on in the city. here, you want a brochure, I got one last week. He takes it off her, brings it home. Reads it that night. Too many big words, too many big ideas. Culture, diversity, inclusion, stability of the organic societal perspective from an artistic standpoint. Man just wants to tell a story. Doesn’t want to send e-mails, drink the wine or wear the good coats. Just heard the song when doing the Insignia, can see the scene, just like the stack of DVD’s that all came before. Man’s got ideas but he’s tired now. Too tired for culture, and diversity and artistic standpoints. Needs to finish that Passat in the morning and the Peugeot’s back with a rattle in the bearing. And that guy with the suit, they say he’s some kind of director, on some board, film board maybe, what’s the film board, who knows, probably more inclusion, and e-mails and metaphors and big words like archetypal and fostering the rural imperative in the Post Celtic Tiger era. Here, pass the WD40, there’s a squeak in the window, Almera nice car. Doesn’t let you down. Japanese. Great culture there I bet. Supposed to check out that festival tonight, what’s the point, won’t fit in. Can’t understand a damn thing they got going on. Let’s get that drink instead. Six cans in Tesco and a binge of Scorsese.

Mick.