Jimmy Durante  by Pól Mag Uidhir

Winner Brian Moore Short Story Award 2003
Now Jimmy was innocent but he would prefer to discuss and explain everything reasonably and calmly to some intermediary type understanding type person who could sort out any or all misunderstandings, not that there should be any since Jimmy Durante was innocent.
Three men with masks burst into the room.  Burst is the right word, even if they slipped in unnoticed, its still a bit of a shock, and you sitting there, like a burst would be.  Wondering yours or theirs, smell for a second.  Then you knew who it was because a mask only covers the head.  Except Jimmy Durante, who skipped before that second was up.  Yours or theirs was all the same to him at that precise moment in time and space.
  Now Jimmy was innocent but he would prefer to discuss and explain everything reasonably and calmly to some intermediary type understanding type person who could sort out any or all misunderstandings, not that there should be any since Jimmy Durante was innocent.
  As he was now explaining to the three men with masks which they weren't wearing now because they knew Jimmy and Jimmy knew them.  It was the day after.  Same club.  Nobody else there.  Too early in the morning and if you wanted a drink that early.  Fuck you.  Buy it the night before or queue.
  Yesterdays drink not drunk but on the floor, on the tables, on the walls under your collar, up your nose with the oily ash of ex-cigarettes, all the toxic fumes like Saddam Hussein would kill for, hugging floor level.  It could take up to an hour for hard men to acclimatise, except Jimmy, who had it at least second on his list of worries.  He was in the comfortable booth.
  Three booths, sucking absorbent soft seats.  Two vomit, one plain drink.  Choose that one and stick Jimmy in the corner. Where it’s hard for a man to get up and get his round.
“Hello Shamey”.  His real name in familiar colloquial, arm round the neck, I am your friend style.  Seamus on the school register, along with a lot of noughts.  The 'e' has a stroke nowadays, ‘e’ fada.  He hadn't a big nose but then they called him Hunchy and he didn't have a hunchback either.
  They being those close to him or those far away.  For Jimmy would give you and me a dig in the head, for saying nothing even.  A “what the fuck are you looking at, no response” dig in the head, even if you weren't looking at him.
  And Jimmy didn't just pick on you or me, well - dressed and easy to tremble people.  That would suggest logical cunning or something.  The only way Jimmy knew he shouldn't have clocked somebody was a sustained kicking in return. And of course, it wasn’t because he was unintelligent, it just wasn't the first option.
  Not like now, because these were serious people in front of him, going round the house with him, in an aimless way, taking him somewhere.
“Hello Shamey. What's this what's this about, Shamey? You know what this is about or you wouldn't have fucked off so sharp last night when we came in, Shamy”.
  “Fuck sake I didn't know you were looking me, look what's this about?”
  Smack.  A hold-on look, from one to the other, we are taking him round the house, slowly.
  “Why did you skip, Shamey?”
  Of course he didn't really skip, not technically exactly.  Skipping is skipping.  Not staying round in your mates house, the second place they'd look.  At six o'clock in the morning, before he could find an understanding intermediary.  Six o'clock is fucking serious.  Brits do that but they're on shift work, up all night.  Six o'clock is really fucking serious because everything is still.  Anything that moves is clocked by the chopper then meets a roadblock down the road.  Four men in a car, hardly going to work.  Hardly queuing early for the dole.  Six o clock. Definitely a risky business, very serious.
Why did you skip means why did you skip except we got to you at six o'clock in the morning before you skipped, you seriously in trouble bastard.
  “Somebody did the Offy, then the garage. Beagon’s was done last night and you'se got a load of gear.  Drugs or something.  And you know the woman at the garage, the woman you'se slapped around.  That's Paddy Mac's wife.  Know that.  Not a forgiving woman”.
  This was bad.  “I had fuck all to do with any of this”.  High pitched voice, emphasis on the ‘I’.  Very natural, like indignation mixed with shit scared, very convincing from the heart.  Like it was true like it nearly was.  The chemists he could explain.  Fucking drugs, what do they know.  The rest is a bit complicated because basically this is not what this is about.
  Paddy Mac's wife and all that is bad.  I mean she can wade through a pig full of Brits and she's not likely to open even a empty till and slapping her about the head is not really a useful thing to do except she was probably doing a lot of slapping herself.  But all of her four feet long, four feet wide I'll get you done attitude would not get serious hard men out of their beds at six o'clock in the morning.  That sort of thing could wait till it's appointed hour around early evening cider park time in the Valley or up the back of the school.
Why did you skip means why did you skip except we got to you at six o'clock in the morning before you skipped, you seriously in trouble bastard.
Paddy Mac's wife and all that is bad.  I mean she can wade through a pig full of Brits and she's not likely to open even a empty till and slapping her about the head is not really a useful thing to do except she was probably doing a lot of slapping herself.
And it wouldn't take three and they wouldn't have masks and there'd definitely be no inquiry with him stuck there between them.  His feet sticking to the floor, his arsehole soaking it up from the seat so that when he pissed himself in an hours time, it wouldn't make that much difference.
  They probably weren't too happy there either.
  No, the problem was probably the gun.  That's what made it complicated.  You see in Belfast, at this particular period in time, as everybody knows, guns are illegal.  Carried openly by RUC personnel and British Army soldiers, more discreetly by the various subterranean unionist and republican armies but non-combatants were, by social convention, not expected to have access to said ordnance nor a reasonable excuse for possession of same. Right.
Especially since, to gain one somebody had to lose one.  And this was the nub of the problem that Jimmy faced.  The person who gave him the gun, shouldn't have and he shouldn't have given it to the person he gave it to.  Though he could have explained that, if it hadn't been for the three of them connecting it to a couple of robberies by local hoods and him included.
  But they hadn't mentioned that yet.  So intelligence begins to kick in.  They are allowing time for thinking.  They want to know things.  They are not in a kneecap the bastard type of mood yet.  They are almost calm and cool like they've done this before and are all-professional and not in a hurry.
Jesus fuck, this could be a nut job. Shit. Take a deep breath, find some air,
breath fuck sake breathe, air, beer air, anything.  Steady, steady. Grip the table.  Grab it. Stick to it, dig in.  Dig. Shift your feet, they're stuck.  It must be the beer-glue, can't be the legs.  These legs could kick your ear before you could duck.  Scream in your head. Move your fucking legs!
   "Going somewhere, Shamey".  "No”! Too loud.
"No - Fucking seat covered in beer".  Liam Ó Flatharta, "The Informer". Think. Trap door in the ceiling.  Here but … but what? Door to the lounge, one to the store and the one I came in.  And somebody outside in the car probably, looking out.  And the barman, cleaning up the clean room, like there's no point cleaning up in here till after my brains are all over the place.  No they have to move me to do that, only the Orangies shit in their own nests and they don't have to worry about Brits raiding.  Unless things get out of hand and somebody loses their temper.  Don't let them lose their temper.  No they won't.  They're professionals.  A dig in the jaw, the other ear spinning towards a first then back on contact. 
Fuck me that was the hardest dig he'd ever got.
What have they asked me. 
Ask them what the question is.  Where are they, fuck sake? Where are my feet. There are my feet, on the floor.  My feet are still stuck.  Where's the table.  I can feel the table with my grip.  Hold on.  Dig. There are my feet.  My hair, its leaving my head.  My head rises.  It’s rising but it's not my head.  I'm not inside it anymore.  I can see them lifting my head with my hair, very slowly very quickly.  I can see them. Going to fucking boke.  Breathe fuck sake, breathe, in out, yes.  I can see them now, as they were, finishing the sentence.  "Now, Shamey, stop this fucking about".  I am not fucking about, honest but "I am not fucking about” is not coming out. I cannot hear it.
Then a head, a saviour’s head, comes round the door, with a nod.
  Round a door and we all understand I have to be taken somewhere else.  Before the punters come in.  Somewhere more private.  Some fucking saviour.  And I can't walk and strong men have to grip me by the arms, and unstick my boots from the beer glue on the floor and prise my fingers from the holes in the table I have dug.  Prise affectionately and tell me not to worry.  Some people want to ask me a few questions just.  And keep your head between your knees while we drive.  I will do that, I will not make them angry.  I can explain everything.  I just want to help.

END
go to start
Email
retreat : siar
Go Home : Abhaile Leat
onward : ar aghaidh
Film
Projects
 
end
This is not what this is about...
Ní seo an scéal ná baol air....
Page 2
Page 3
 
 
 
 
onward : ar aghaidh
retreat : siar