An Early Childhood Chapter 14 Part 3

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Guests of the New Republic (Part 3) OR VISITORS TO THE COUNTRY OF ETHNIC SAMENESS (Part 3 as well)

An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster. This chapter is a parody of Frank O'Connor's short story Guests of the Nation.

Continued from Part 2 of Chapter 14.

            Every morning, before the crack of dawn, the 5.40am Drogheda to Kingstown Express Steam Train Full of Britishers pumped its way past the farmhouse, ignorant of environmental bylaws, noise pollution, and indeed, our very presence at this wonderful Bed n Breakfast run by the wonderful hostess Mildred Ackerman. Five stars in Yelp and four in Trip Advisor.
            But not this morning came the natural alarm of industrialisation. Oh, no, begorrah. This morning, it was delayed due to a convenient shortage of coal that had been organised by the Big Fellow, Michael Collins his very self. So I slept through what would’ve been my twenty to six a.m. wakeup call, and instead was summoned from slumber by a surprise visitor.

            Michael Collins showed up into my bedroom and he was already dressed in his wrestling gear when he came in, a flower pot tied around his groin as a kind of a jock strap, clanging two metal pans from the kitchen together to wake me up and then he roared out of him:
            “How are ya, Paddy-boy!” and then he pulled up my cover and he broke wind loudly under the blankets and he held my head under the cover so that I’d have to smell it.
            “Get that whiff, boyo!” he insisted. “That’s pure Cork charisma, man!”
            I got out of bed and we started to do our wrestling, me in my underpants, and him in his sumo kit. After a bit of bear hugging and flipping each other on the floor, the C-in-C’s flower pot smashing over my head in the melee, Michael Collins finally wrestled me to the rug, pinned me for a count of seven, and got up, slapping his hands together and putting on his very best Confirmation suit, blessed by the good archbishop him very self.
            “Right, that’s that settled then, boyo! Now, I need ye to kill the two Englanders! Tonight!”
            “Yeh what? Ah, here now, Michael Collins.”
            “I’m tellin’ yeh, boyo. They shot our boys. Ye Kildare Boys have to kill dere boys. Boyo!”
            “But – but – but! Michael Collins!”
            “All jokin’ aside now, Paddy Boyo, I’m on my ruhhher – the Irish word for a bike, right? I’m runnin’ round the country on my big feckin’ Penny Farthing of a ting, from Billy Barry Murphy in the heart of the Ribil Cooonty, to Jackeen Guinness up at St James’s Fince, tillin’ everyone to be wiping out the fickin’ Englanders. I had that fickin’ Lloyd George or whoever it was in me sights in London a few years back and I should’ve blown that philandering Wilsh bistird’s fickin’ brains out. I didn’t. Do you know why I didn’t, Paddy Boyo? Do you know how come?” He looked at me with the good glint of a folk hero embedded into his eyes, and punched me twice in the jaw for good measure.
            I shook my head, rubbing my chin.
            “I don’t know, Michael Collins.”
            “I had had to pump up the Penny Farthing’s big feckin’ tyre ten minutes earlier. My trigger shooting finger had had its fair share of action that day coz of me ruhhherr. So I can’t be goin’ round the country, pumpin’ up the tyres on me ruhher, and also be expected to blow the fickin’ brains out of all of our Inglish prisoners.”
            And quick as he’d arrived, he departed with the order of death hanging over the heads of both Burper and Eaglekins.

 Continued in Part 4 of Chapter 14.

An Early Childhood Chapter 14 Part 2

CHAPTER FOURTEEN: Guests of the New Republic (Part 2) OR VISITORS TO THE COUNTRY OF ETHNIC SAMENESS (Part 2 as well)

An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster. This chapter is a parody of Frank O'Connor's short story Guests of the Nation.

Continued from Part 1 of Chapter 14.
            Of course, the other prisoner, Eaglekins, was a little smaller and more mouthy and clearly an American. He spoke with a very poor British accent, as if he was an American, badly cast in a movie, trying to be British – but there’d be no stopping him winning an Oscar a few years later if he had put his heart and soul into playing a mad dictator, for example. But I could never figure out that accent at all at all.
            Eaglekins always lost at the Monopoly or Scrabble games because he was always more interested in the banther. He’d lose the games, and lose his money, all mouthy and furious. Burper would always win back the money off us, of course, and give little Eaglekins enough seed money to start another game the following night, or help towards the deposit on a house in the new estate up the road that was only bogland at the moment.
            Eaglekins and Burper are actually the only property developers I ever met who had been held for ransom by the State. We had them over a barrel, so we did, and yet while we held our two prisoners, they had actually gone to the trouble of putting down deposits on seven houses that were yet to be built in the local area with the money they made off us from the Scrabble and Monopoly, and they were getting a rental income from a big new apartment building that was already occupied around the corner. They often had private, whispered discussions, about the possibility of buying up some property in Sofia, but it came to nowt.

            Eaglekins lusted over a photo of his girl back home every evening, after the Scrabble. The first evening I saw the picture, my jaw opened.
            “She’s a lovely lookin’ thing!” I gasped out of me.
            “She shooor as, mayt. If Oi doy, guvnor, will you look awwffteh hurr for me? Oi’ll ayvan doi the chimbley sweep dance on the roof for yaww?”
            I looked at the photo. This young woman, standing before a microphone, had a kind of exotic quality to her. Her lustrous black hair had a ringletty kink to it, she seemed slight while also being quite striking, and her pageboy’s nose turned up just a tad and sprooted a bit bigger at the end, to provide a sort of infundibularity to her visage.
            I kept my eye on the photo.
            “What’s her name?” I asked then, softly as a mouse in the grip of a rabbit’s paw between the jaws of a cat.
            “She is moy larrrvly Dyll! Dylly Oblong,” said Eaglekins. “Will you look arrffter hurrr?”
            “I will,” I said jokingly. “But, dear, sweet Eaglekins, it won’t come to that.” I patted his head like he was a faithful dog, so I did, and tickled him under the chin. It was only right, as the Englanders were inferior to us in everything but wealth, strength, population, public transport services and superiority, and they knew only too well that we thought they were dogs. So I promised to look after Sage, as he called her. Or Dyll, or whatever herb he had her named for. Before ascending the stairs with my rifle and to my bed, like Tony Soprano towards the end of the final season, on the lam and unsettled, and just as unsettled and on the lam so was I, to put it mildly.

Continued in Part 3 of Chapter 14.

An Early Childhood Chapter 14 Part 1

CHAPTER 14: Guests of the New Republic (Part 1) OR VISITORS TO THE COUNTRY OF ETHNIC SAMENESS (Part 1 as well)

An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster. This chapter is a parody of Frank O'Connor's short story Guests of the Nation.


Continued from the end of Chapter 13 - in this case, unlucky for two Englishmen.
            Englanders Burper and Eaglekins were our prisoners for some months while we resided at the safehouse. Our commanding officer was Mike Donovan. He had a very definite kind of a military style haircut and a pencilled on moustache, and the flecks of spittle in the corners of his mouth. He also had a certain air of duty about him which the rest of us lacked, black marketeers and all the rest that we’d been. Back in the Potato Famine, Mike Donovan’s father had only gone and taken a job as a tax collector. Zacchaeus Donovan had been the biggest tax collector in the whole of Kildare. He and his brothers were known as the Kildare Boys, or the Kildare Cabal, or the Kildare Kebab.

            With Mike being a member of the most official of Kildare families – in absolute and uncompromising cahoots with Major British Bureaucracy in Kildare, who was an army officer as well as a concept before he was replaced by Colonel Coote Decker, Earl of Mount Wrath, and anyway he only appeared in one episode and it didn’t even air, so it’s regarded as non-canonical but it’s available for download – when Mike Donovan and the Donovan folk turned sides – where was I?


            Oh, yes. It all meant that Mike Donovan had this sense of duty imbued in him at an early age. Only he took the Official Kildare training he’d undergone and he went and applied this sense of duty and officialdom into socialism and nationalism, rather than the conservatism of the English authorities. The Kildare Boys turned on the Brithish who’d been their bread and butther for so long, and they became some of the leaders of the revolution.

            One of the Englanders, Burper, was a great big lug of a thing, six foot seven and three quarthers of the inch extra on him, if he was a day in the heels. He had the huge feet of a man that our landlady Mrs Mildred Ackerman noticed with a lustful look on her face, tongue lolling out of her mouth and inching towards her nostrils involuntarily – like a snake’s, was her tongue, trying to taste the air for prey – as she watched him with his cloddy feet up on the poof when he played Scrabble or Monopoly with us, one of his socks always needing a darning, with a gargantuan, immaculately manicured toe sticking out the top.

            Every day, he helped Mildred Ackerman around the house with the coal scuttle or the bucket of Blue Steam dethergent. Be it

(a) mopping with slightly diluthered bucket full of Blue Steam
(b) doing the iredeninding of our shirts and our trousers so that our new Irish National Irish Republican Brotherhood Uniforms with the gold buttons were spick and span – within reason – and combat ready so they were
(c) building up and stoking the fire
(d) making up the Aardan jumpers, squeezing the caged Leprechauns by their goolies to make the jars of Leprechaun tears, and whittling the willow for the hurling schticks to make up the gift baskets for the pre-Christmas rush from the American market in early August so that we could afford to develop the atom bomb to blow up London,

                 Burper would do it all for Mildred Ackerman.

            On the first day of our arrival, Burper came into the house and he saw Mildred pick the coal scuttle up from beside the fireplace.
            He took it from her hands and said:
            “Where to, chum?” with the big, beaming – and British – stupid head on him. He was a Quiet Man. But far less the American than John Wayne. That was actually one of the last things I ever heard him say.

Continued in Chapter 14 Part 2.

An Early Childhood Chapter 13 Part 5


Continued from Chapter 13 Part 4.

                The following morning, at five minutes to midday, Tancred Moorphy M’Nally was led out of the gaol and into the courtyard of the mayor’s townhouse where hundreds of people had gathered to watch the execution, including a regiment of British soldiers with Colonel Tiptoft at its head.

                The executioner, a man in a hood, stood with an axe at the ready while Tancred was placed in the block of the guillotine. The executioner raised his axe on the order of Colonel Tiptoft who held his arm aloft and the executioner awaited the Colonel’s signal to cut the rope that held up the blade. The Colonel’s arm came down and with it came the axe, neatly cleaving the rope apart. The blade swung downwards and the executioner slammed the axe into the side of the guillotine. The blade of the guillotine struck the axehead just inches from Tancred’s neck and I undid the block to release Tancred while at the same time removing the hood from my head. I then drew my Colt 45 from its holster and fired three shots into the British regiment watching the unexpected proceedings.

                Colonel Sir Edward Tiptoft pointed at me.

                “The executioner is Paddy Flanagan!” he shouted.
                “What is the meaning of this attack?!?”
                Everyone looked up. A huge pale-skinned Goth of a giant of a man stood on the wall of the courtyard as he ululated the question in a most unhuman manner. He had fangs protruding from his mouth, a large cape flapped behind him, he stood eight foot tall if he was an inch and he was dressed all in black. It was Floudh Rak, and after having eaten the Trout of Fierce Intelligence, I knew how to deal with him. The townspeople and the British officers fell to their knees in front of the evil creature before I pointed my finger at him and incanted the spell that I knew would put a stop to his gallop.
                “By Benedict and Swithin
                By Martin Bullion and by Godelieve too
                Send this warlock injury
                Out of the blue!”
                Now I realise the rhyme scheme wasn’t the best in the world, or the material, but I’ve been told by those in the know that that’s what real spells are supposed to be like.
                No sooner had I finished the incantation than a huge bolt of lightning came out of the sky and struck the weatherlock square in the chest.
                He fell from the rampart in shock and landed in the middle of the courtyard. He picked himself up, brushed himself down, and fled, a gaping hole penetrating his chest which no mortal man would have been able to survive if encumbered with such a wound he was.
                I turned to the people who had gathered to watch the executions.
                “People of Aigeanta!” I roared (Aigeanta being the sometime name of my hometown, changing as it would with a capricious frequency). “I have shown you that the evil Weatherlock can in fact be defeated! Join me in attempting to destroy him and rise up against your true enemy – the ‘I’ll sort that out for ya’, ‘No need for the paperwork’, ‘Sure that'll sort itself out!' attitude of the Irish people!
                There were a couple of seconds of silence, then a roar of agreement went up.
                “Retreat!” Tiptoft screamed to his men, and the British regiment, led by the Colonel and followed by Mayor Tully, Jarlath O’Halloran, Bishop O’Brien, and fifty or more fellow dignitaries and conspirators including the pat rafters fled from the courtyard in fright, a number of them being assaulted by the townspeople as they went.
                Tiptoft’s henchmen – Big Burper and Little Eaglekins – were beaten so badly that they were knocked unconscious.
                It was days before the Brithish retook the village – by which time our band of men had retreated ourselves up and away to a safehouse in the foothills, where we continued to hold Burper and Eaglekins captive.


An Early Childhood Chapter 13 Part 4



Continued from Chapter 13 Part 3.

                “Well, Holy God!” I said, and I poured myself another whiskey. Knocking it back, I watched as Tancred fought, and fought he did. I drank another dram as he pulled an arrow from his quiver but it was knocked from his grasp because it was still before nine pm and he didn’t want anything to look too gruesome at that hour, so he thumped the pat rafter who’d knocked it from his grasp and smashed two more pat rafters’ heads together. By the time he had been utterly overcome by the group of pat rafters, he’d felled some fourteen odd of them and I had had a few more shots of whiskey. Jarlath O’Halloran the bar manager and I exchanged glances at each other after staring out the window, our mouths agog. But I took full advantage of his mouth agoguery, and I punched Jarlath O’Halloran in the face and knocked him senseless. After two more whiskeys, I tied him up with strips of curtain fabric known as a mix of cretonne and a kind of industrialised crepe paper, and left the pub after another three glasses of whiskey and a couple more glasses of whiskey that acted as a kind of a chaser. I staggered after the group of pat rafters as they frogmarched Tancred to the local gaol and I peered through the cell window to see Sean Tubridy O’Reilly and Fletch Curtis in the cell.

                My own heavy drinking notwithstanding, the men had been captured! I read on the noticeboard outside the gaolhouse that the three men were scheduled for execution at high noon the next day unless Paddy Flanagan gave himself up, in which case they’d be spared. I was immediately reminded of my near execution of the cobbler in Aunt Molly’s town when I wanted to apprehend Dizzy Mac Flash, and I couldn’t but help appreciate the irony and I knew that Floudh Rak was behind this woeful threat to my men, related to the Fair Folk as he was.

                I certainly needed help in their rescue as I didn’t feel I’d be alive for long if I gave myself up, and I could never see the British giving up my three fellow rebels if I surrendered myself, so I decided I’d go to John Fisherman-O’Reilly – who had been driven to madness by his vision of a beautiful woman in her big Fokov wagon – to see if he would aid me in my hour of need, irregardless of whether he was mad or not.

                John Fisherman-O’Reilly sat despondently on the bank of the River Shandy in his usual spot, staring into the murky depths of the river with a face on him like you’d never seen before. He was wearing a brown leather jacket, khaki trousers, and a cap, as was the fashion for madmen who were part of a group of private soldiers-for-hire.

                He’d been at that same spot for the last three hundred days, on and off with a bit of a break now and then, in an effort to catch the Trout of Fierce Intelligence. As I approached he put a finger to his lips.

                “Sshhhh…” he said, “You’ll frighten away the fish.”

                I looked into his bucket of bait and I saw that he was using the best, most expensive and top quality bait you could ever hope to use to catch a fish—maggots of the Tsetse fly.

                “I see you’re using the master bait,” I whispered.

                “Sshhhh…” John Fisherman-O’Reilly said again.

                So I remained motionless for a few minutes in deference to the man I’d once thought I would die for – but was now having second thoughts if I’m completely honest – until there was a tug on the line and John Fisherman-O’Reilly began to reel in whatever it was on the end of it.

                A trout broke the surface of the waters.

                The trout squealed “I am Professor of Tautologies—release me or else!”

                John Fisherman-O’Reilly said:

                “Are you the Trout of Fierce Intelligence?”

                “I am or I’m not.”

                “What’s tautologies?” John Fisherman O’Reilly demanded to know.

                “The study of taut,” the fish replied.

                “What’s taut?” John asked.

                “Your line is taut because I’m on its end—release me!”

                John ignored the fish’s protests and swung his rod out of the river to leave the fish wriggling and flapping on the grass at the water’s edge. He removed his knife and with a flick of his wrist sent the knife into the fish’s head, killing it. He immediately gathered some kindling and firewood and began to light a fire.

                “He who eats the magical trout will be blessed with fierce intelligence,” John Fisherman-O’Reilly chanted over and over, as he recast his line into the water and set it down on the bank in case even more fish were drawn to the lure.

                “When you’ve eaten the trout, will you help me rescue Fletch, Tancred and Sean?” I asked.

                “I will of course, Paddy,” John Fisherman-O’Reilly said, as he put the fish on a spit and set it up over the fire. “I need more firewood, Paddy. Wait here and mind the fish till I get some more wood. But whatever you do, don’t touch the fish.”

                I sat at the fire watching the fish cook and I thought to myself what a tasty fish it was, its redolence drawing me into a kind of trance as I sat there watching it.

                A blister appeared on the fish, and I thought to myself maybe I’ll just burst that blister with John Fisherman-O’Reilly’s knife, it won’t do any harm to the fish. So I picked up the knife and burst the blister and some lovely juices came out of it and I nearly cried with delight.

                Just then, there was a tug on John Fisherman-O’Reilly’s line. I picked the rod off the bank and reeled in a second not quite as intelligent but almost identical looking trout. I looked at the second trout and I looked at the trout of fierce intelligence on the spit. Then I looked at the second trout again. Then I raised my eyebrow in a cunning manner.

                When John Fisherman O-Reilly returned to his spot on the riverbank with his hands full of wood, there was one trout on the spit and no trout on the bank.

                “Ah, Holy Janey Mac-a-roni,” he said, “I would’ve thought it would be cooked by now.”

                “Indeed. Its incapacity to cook has perhaps something to do with the relative humidity in the air, which is quite high for this time of year and renders outdoor cooking impractical.” We sat in silence while I watched the fish cook on its spit, John Fisherman O’Reilly eyeing it greedily. I no longer felt the need for John Fisherman-O’Reilly’s help, so overcome with the intelligence was I.

Continued in Chapter 13 Part 5.

An Early Childhood Chapter 13 Part 3


An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster.


Continued from Chapter 13 Part 2.

                John Fisherman O’Reilly became obsessed with the Trout of Fierce Intelligence after falling in love with Gráinne and hearing my report of her demise. The Trout of Fierce Intelligence was – of course – a legendary fish. It was said that if the fish was caught and eaten, then whoever ate it became blessed with genius. John Fisherman O’Reilly sat on the bank of the River Shandy day in, day out, for months and months in an attempt to catch that fish. He caught plenty of halibut and salmon, but not a whisker of trout met his lure.
                At any rate, I was patrolling my hometown one evening with Tancred, evading the recognised police force and the British army while we did so. We were walking along Galway Street when I spotted a silhouetted figure darting from rooftop to rooftop, seemingly coming from Tiptoft’s residence, no further than fifty yards away. There was no doubt in my mind that it was Michael Shadraff again. I looked around, ensuring that there was no one else on the street, before I shouted
                Tancred instinctively drew his bow and inserted an arrow into it. The figure on the roof froze momentarily, looked back at us, and started off on his way again. Tancred unleashed the quarrel; his aim was true, and the arrow struck the figure in the shoulder. A scream of pain rang out and the figure fell from the roof. We ran towards where we assumed the figure had fallen, but all that remained in the spot was a bar towel from O’Halloran’s pub.
                “I’m going to O’Halloran’s,” Tancred said immediately.
                “I’ll go,” I insisted, “In my tramp’s disguise.”
                “We’ll both go,” Tancred said, “I’ll wait outside, and if there’s any trouble, I’ll help you out.”
                “Right you are,” I said, as we made our way down the street.
                Jarlath O’Halloran, as a publican and respected member of the community, would be anxious to hear news of his bar towels being used in nefarious and enigmatic activities like roof walking.
                We arrived at the pub and I donned my tramp’s disguise before knocking on the door while Tancred waited in the shadows across the street. I knocked a second time before Jarlath arrived at the door in his pyjama bottoms, naked from the waist up with a blood soaked bandage on his shoulder.
                Noticing the wound, I gave him a thump in the face and pushed him in through the door. He roared but I drew my pistol and pointed it into his face.
                “Another word and it’ll be your last,” I said to him. “What were you doing on that roof earlier this morning?”
                He stayed silent, so I cracked him over the head with the butt of the pistol. He groaned, and protested “You told me I couldn’t talk a minute ago and now you’re asking me questions!”
                “Sorry about that. You can talk now. What were you doing up on the roof?”
                “I was visiting Colonel Sir Edward Tiptoft’s house for a service.”
                “What kind of service?” I asked.
                “A service of worship.”
                “A Mass?”
                “Not a Mass exactly… a service to honour Floudh Rak the Weatherlock and to pray for the damnation of Paddy Flanagan and all who follow him.”
                I got more information out of Jarlath O’Halloran that night than I’d had for a long time.
                Some of it I’d heard before, of course, but those bits and pieces I’d heard before served as a recap to my memory. It seemed that in my hometown, a cult had been established worshipping Floudh Rak the evil Weatherlock. All of the respected members of the community with few exceptions were members of the lodge, and I was told that Floudh Rak wanted me tortured and killed because I had caused some upset to Floudh Rak’s cousin the leprechaun Dizzy MacFlash some years previous. Floudh Rak had promised Ireland to Britain if I was caught and handed over to him.
                “Why would you forsake Ireland’s independence for the life of an Irish patriot like Paddy Flanagan?”
                There was anger in his eyes.
                “Irish patriot, indeed – shower of feckin’ poets and school teachers, the lot of you – whipping up fear like a WANKER!”
                I smacked him again and he seemed to come to, as if he’d been in a trance.
                “We’ve been promised more money than we could imagine by the British,” Jarlath told me, “Not only that, but none of us would stand a chance against an evil Weatherlock. We’re better off going along with him than not going along with him.”
                I went behind the bar and poured myself a whiskey. I emptied the glass into my mouth. I couldn’t believe the temerity and treachery of the townspeople. Mayor Tully, Bishop O’Brien, Jarlath O’Halloran and Gold Bollocks Tiptoft were all in cahoots against me with an evil Weatherlock and it seemed I didn’t have a shniff of a chance in surviving. I needed to come up with a plan to end all of this as soon as I could. I thought about going to the press, but they didn’t believe in fairies, much less evil Weatherlocks. I heard a crash outside and looked out through the pub window to see forty-two pat rafters surrounding Tancred on the street. Tancred had his fists raised; he’d just knocked one of them into a dustbin at the side of the road.

 Continued from Chapter 13 Part 4.

An Early Childhood Chapter 13 Part 2


An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster.


Continued from Chapter 13 Part 1.

               The fourteen hopefuls were streaming out of the park.
                I stood facing Little Billy Boy Cullen, my hands gripping the seams of my big boy trousers in nervousness.
                “I told youze all to GET OUT!” Bill said, barely acknowledging me.
                “I’m not an apprentice. My name is Paddy Flanagan. I’m an enemy of the Fair Folk.”
                “You’re a wha’? Billy Boy asked.
                “Let’s just say I need your help to make amends with the leprechauns and the fair folk, Master Cullen.”
                “Is this to do with that warlock weatherhead I’ve been hearing all them rumours about?”
                “Yes. I need your help defeating him.”
                “Why muggins, here? Why me?” Bill glared.
                “Because I think you can see the green shoots of recovery,” I said to him then, inspired by Grainne’s words from a previous episode of my life.
                “Yeh wha’ now?”
                “You can see the green shoots of recovery, Bill—”
                “I see no such thing,” Bill said, glancing at his finely filed fingernails.
                “You’re not going to tell me that you see the green shoots of recovery?” I prompted.
                Billy Boy “Bad to the Bone” Cullen looked deep into my eyes. I saw beyond his anger. I saw the whisker – nay, the very whimper, the tiniest and the last of shreds – of redemption he was offering me. And the lengths to which he was willing to go to offer it. I glimpsed the pain in his soul, and the opportunity that he presented. But reluctant as he was to let me go, I also knew that he knew that if I didn’t take it now, that I never would. He knew that he would have to let me go.
                “You’re the only person I know who’s qualified,” I blurted out. “You’re still young enough to enter the dreamscape and communicate with the fair folk! But you’re also smart enough to know what to do. And I heard your negotiating skills are among the very best in the business – any business!”
                “Who told you that?”
                There was an eternity of silence that said everything.
                “I heard you build bridges, Bill.”
                “Build bridges? I painted me auntie’s fence last week. That’s the closest I’ve come to building bridges. But I didn’t actually paint her fence. I convinced the other kids it was a good idea. Coz that’s how I operate. And do you know what they gave me? A toffee apple making machine, four tin soldiers – only one of them with a broken leg! But all that stuff isn’t important. What it meant was a profit of some extra time which in turn meant I could sell four hundred apples that day to the hungry punters at Leopardstown. ‘In turn meant without trial.’ Coz that’s how I operate. Do you know how much money I made that day?”
                “No Bill.”
                “Shillin’ tuppence hae penny.” Bill glanced at his finely manicured fingernails before looking back up.
                “Very good,” I said, feeling humbled.
                “Do you like penny apples, do yeh?”
                “Yes, Bill.”
                Quick as a flash, Bill launched an apple at my head from the sleeve of his Baby Gro. It glanced off my temple in an explosion of juice and bursted out apple.
                “Well, then…how do you like them penny apples?”
                “I like them very much,” I said, blushing and wiping my face.
                “Right,” Little Billy Boy Cullen said, rubbing the top of Beeyian’s head, and now convinced of my integrity. “What we need to do – yourself and meself, sez I – is we need to pop down to Pearse Street Station, and we have to gain access to Platform Seven and a Bit!”
                “How do we do that, Bill?”
                “It’s a waiting game, Paddy. And waiting games are for mugs and to catch the early worm. You get in and you get out, and you do the job in the middle. And that’s what it’s all about. The old Hokey Pokey. Coz that’s how I operate. But you need to learn which of those two you are. The mug… or the worm. Plus the portal only opens intermittently. And you need your ectoplasmic shield, of course. I’ll have to organise that. For a small fee.”
                “What’ll I do in the meantime, Billy?”
                “I’ll set you a task. What I want from you is your wits about yeh. That’s how I operate. So what you can do is catch and eat the trout of fierce intelligence – or at the very least to yeh – bring along the man who does – and use those smarts to overcome the weatherlock in this world. Fish oils brighten the dullest of minds.”
                “What are you gonna do?”
                “Well, this weatherhead fella is bad for business. So we’ll have to get rid of him. In the meantime, I’ll get together obtaining some silk rope from the loom of the Anti-HolyMother Her Very Self, the Stuntman Mary. That will act as a kind of a tether, so that when you are making your way over to the Fairy Land, I can bring you back.”
                “Is there anything I need to do in the meantime?” I asked.
                Billy Boy reflected for a moment before looking at me earnestly.
                “Just remember,” he said. “You’ll need something on your person, something small but quite heavy. That’ll be a thing called your totem. When you get a letter from meself, you’ll know to come back. And I’ll have everything ready.”

Chapter 13 Part 3 is here.

An Early Childhood Ch 13 Part 1


An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster.


Continued from Chapter 12 Part 5.
                Little Billy Boy Cullen wheeled his own pram into the park, brimming to the top with apples. He set up his desk quickly – which comprised a bench and a plastic seat under it, small enough as he was to sit at the bench and use it as his desk – and his nameplate and Little Jackie in her Baby Gro beside him on the one side and flanking him on the other side was Wiggle Beeyian, not older than two months of age if he was a year, except only a tadpole at this stage, what was known in those days as a jizzler, with a whisper of hairgrowth atop his head and the big rugby player’s head already fully formed on him, and his body comprising the tail a-flippin’ and a-flappin’.
                Little Billy Boy Cullen had the stern look of a far older gentleman on his face as soon as he had his tie put on by his Maaaa, and he pushed her away as she tried to dab a bit of talc on his botty.
                “Get away out of it you,” he burst out of him, with a grimace.
                Then he called his board meeting to order in the park.
                Fourteen hopefuls aspiring to become his right hand man or woman trailed through the park gates. One of them, 26 year old Peter Carmody, who has operated his own insurance company for mobile phones made of beans cans and string since the age of 15, was dressed in a chicken suit. Another candidate, Amanda, 22, owns her own beautician’s business. She was dressed as an American Express credit card – one of the earliest of financial inventions to hit Ireland at the time. The rest of the hopefuls were dressed in their short trousers and skirts, nervously standing before him waiting to be judged.
                Bill reached under his bench and took out his papers. Even though they contained nothing but doodles of motorcars, he shuffled them on the bench and looked at them as if they were very important. Then he put them back in his Darth Vader lunchbox and he stroked Beeyian’s head. Beeyian purred impishly.
                “Now…” he said, glaring at the candidates. “Peter…yiz finished your task early yesterday. So what I want to know is…why are you…still dressed…as a chicken?”
                Peter looked nervously at the ground.
                “The washing machine in the house is broken, Bill,” he said plaintively.
                “So you’ve no clean clothes, do you not?” Bill asked, his flaring eyeballs of rage not leaving Peter’s face.
                “No, Bill.”
                “So why are you wearing the chicken suit?” Bill asked. “Were you…sellin’ chickens?”
                “No, Bill.”
                “What were you sellin’?”
                “We held an events party on a Liffey barge for children.”
                “You were wha’? Speak up, please.”
                “There was a party for kids on the barge.”
                “On which barge?”
                “Just on a – on a barge on the Liffey, Bill.”
                “So you were dressed as a chicken for – for the kids, was it?”
                “No, Bill.”
                “You left the chicken suit at home, didn’t you?” Bill was getting more and more incensed.
                “Yes, Bill,” Peter whimpered.
                “And you went on your little barge trip without your chicken suit, and then you got your own clothes dirty, and then you came home, back to your stupid house with all the other little stupid apprentices, and the only clothes you had left was the chicken suit you should have worn to the children’s party in the first place?”
                “Yes, Bill.”
                “Is that an accurate rendering of the whole picture?”
                “Yes, Bill.”
                Bill’s eyes moved away from Peter in a dismissive fashion and Peter let out a cry of despair.
                “Amanda, what are you doing…in a big oversized credit card thing?”
                “I approve of banking and credit and that, Bill,” Amanda insisted.
                “Are you sure?” Bill asked.
                “Yes, Bill.”
                “Are you sure that’s why?” Bill asked.
                “Yes, Bill.”
                “It has nothing to do with the task?”
                “No, Bill. Our task was to cut the hedges in Merrion Square. And from the proceeds from that we were to set up a hair salon and cut people’s hair.”
                “You’re just dressed as a credit card…for the effect?” Bill asked, his milk teeth grinding and his jawbones flexing in murderous rage.
                Peter interrupted, panic in his tone: “Yes, for the effect!”
                Bill roared at him: “Quiet you, you little bollix!” He then turned back to Amanda. “Here’s what I think. I think you and Peter are having a little cavort. And I think you wore that credit card in here today to take the heat off your fella. Mr Chicken Suit here. That’s the only reason I can think of. That, and the cameras in the house, where you were recorded planning the whole stupid plan. And let me tell yiz what’s gonna happen with all those hours of pornography we’ve captured of youse two up to your fucking high jinks and backroom shenanigans in the bedroom that I’ve paid for. It’s going on the market. As an early twentieth century top shelf piece of newsreel!”
                Amanda burst into tears: “No, Bill!” she shrieked. “I’ll be sent off to the Magdalene Dry Cleaners!”
                “Well maybe you can dry clean Peter’s jacket and trousers! D’jah think about tha’?”
                “Me Ma will hopefully send me packin’ to Kabul to become a dancing boy of Afghanistan!” Peter wailed. “Not hopefully! I don’t mean hopefully, Bill! I said hopefully by an accident! That’d be the worst thing that could happen! Coz I’m already too old to start dancing now!”
                “But that’s where you belong! In Afghanistan, doin’ the dances! As a mature student! Immature more like it! Yiz are both fired!” Bill roared. “Amanda, you’re fired! Peter, you’re fired! Get out of this park – all of yiz!”
                Billy turned to Little Jackie and Beeyian and whispered, as they nodded along aggressively:
                “Make sure he doesn’t get to Afghanistan. That’s what he actually wants, that Peter fella. That’s what he wants to do. Coz that’s what he’s like. That’s how he operates.”
                He turned back and hurled his nameplate at Peter’s head.
                “Yeh fecker!”
                Peter made a clucking noise and jumped before fleeing.

An Early Childhood Chapter 12 Part 4


Continued from Chapter 12 Part 3

                John Fisherman O’Reilly (who was now quite insane), Sean Tubridy O’Reilly (related by marriage) and Tancred Moorphy M’Nally were awaiting my return. On the way back to the cave, I had already formulated my plan.
                “Quick, men – no time for banter, just do as I say and play along!” I said, “I want us waiting outside the cave now and speaking loud enough to be heard for some distance but not shouting.”
                So we left the cave, and the four of us crouched at its mouth. I kept an eye out for the Brits and as soon as I saw a torch in the distance, I said loudly enough to be heard by the Brits:
                “I wonder when Charlo’s going to return with that British regiment so that we can massacre them?”
                “Charlo’s coming back with British soldiers?” Tancred Moorphy M’Nally asked.
                “That he is. He said he’d bring at least ten British soldiers back with him and set the trap so that our men throughout the forest would massacre them. Charlo’s been pretending he’s a British spy for the last while now, so he has.”
                Well, I saw the torch in the distance freeze and the light went out.
                “What the Brits don’t know is that we have men scattered throughout this section of the forest and we’re going to absolutely massacre those Brits when Charlo comes back with them.” I let an excited laugh out of me for the effect, and I could hear tense whispers in the distance. I watched Charlo and the Brits disappear into the forest, making a silent if hasty retreat, and I followed them. I overheard Tiptoft in conversation with Charlo.
                “So, you’d betray us just as you would your own countrymen, would you?” Tiptoft was saying.
                “I don’t know how… I can’t explain it!” Charlo was lost for words. “They didn’t suspect a thing until…”
                CRACK! Tiptoft’s pistol went off, and Charlo fell to the grassy floor, a hole in his head where the back of his skull had once been. Charlo Mallooolly was dead, of that there was no doubt, and now alas I’d lost one of my men, traitor or no. I would have to recruit another soldier if my unit was to remain at full capacity.
                Over the course of a twenty four hour period, I went to Dobbling Village, Ireland’s capital, to put out recruitment notices. John Fisherman O’Reilly, Sean Tubridy O’Reilly (related by marriage) and Tancred Moorphy M’Nally put up the flyers all around Dublin, as the Irish called it.
                After getting a haircut from a group of hedge trimmers in Merrion Square for the cheap, I spent the rest of the time gazing into the honey hued Liffey waters. A barge passed, with children on the deck, being chased and chasing a group of young men and women in a kind of a dance. One of the little girls spilled ice cream over the shirt of a besuited young gentleman, and she roared laughing. He looked down at his stained shirt and shrieked in horror.
                “What am I going to do?” he asked, looking at me in despair.
                “It’s not the end of the world,” I replied.
                “It is for me!” he retorted. “He’s going to give me the sack!”
                “Who?” I asked.
                “The boss!”
                “Well, why don’t you join my gang?” I asked him then.
                “I can’t! I have too many tasks to complete!” he said.
                The barge passed by, slowly, as the fellow scrambled to get the ice cream stains out of his suit.

 Continued from Chapter 12 Part 5