Hi, I Am 34 Years Old, I Have Been A Teacher And Researcher For Over 10 Years And I Have Lived In Limerick All My Life. Kind Regards, Dan O'sullivan
I have done it again. I woke up again in my own city surrounded by foreign unfamiliar walls, getting to be a habit. Having been through every available eligible prospect in the city, these past few weeks I am finding myself moving steadily through the ranks of the less eligible , if you catch my meaning. A slightly awkward departure made and I am back out with her again, my true love, my lady, Limerick. Not overly hungover, not overly ashamed, a strange sense of self-acceptance washing over me as I emerge from the dark hallway out onto the street and blink in the daylight. A high wind draws tears from my eyes as I step onto the street. I am lulled into a comforting sense of serenity and gently, tenderly nursed from my hangover by the city’s fair arms. My stomach heaves and I take off toward the Milk Market to fill it.
Under normal circumstances the thronged streets filled with gawkers, browsers and the odd unwashed scobe on the prowl would make me anxious. Not today however as I have a special shield, the remaining alcohol working its way out of my system provides a subtle and invisible armour. I pass Brown Thomas and notice a posh middle aged woman standing in the doorway having enlisted her young son to take a picture of her. Never mind the people coming in or out thousands of fans no doubt eagerly awaiting her next post on Facebook or Instagram. I turn right up Cruises Street and walk toward the Milk Market. Kiosks and artisan street vendors are out in force as it is a Saturday. The streets thicken with people as the Market draws nearer the waft of food banging on my stomach increasing the urgency of my pace.
If the market is the heart of the city and its surrounding streets and alleys its arteries and veins, then on this morning it is in severe danger of cardiac arrest as thick with people, moving slower and slower as they reach the centre, nothing flows. The line is too long for food so I grab a coffee first and take up strategic position where I can watch the line also watch the women stretching in their Lycra yoga pants. Yoga classes at the market presents a wonderful opportunity for the well to do women of Limerick to be seen, fit, healthy, and up early in their activewear. I feel a sudden twinge of guilt about not exercising. I should be in my boat blasting down white water rapids in Castleconnell. It is spring and the Sun is shining. If I am lucky I could catch the dragonfly bloom. I caught it twice before. This is when the spring arrives and the dragonflies mature and venture forth onto the river to copulate. If you get it on the right day, it is a sight to behold.
There are millions of them, horny as hell in the spring sunshine. Mostly blue further upstream then nearly all green near the get off by the water works at the end of a botharín that would be completely insignificant if not for the Ahane GAA club. The dragonflies’ sexual organs are at the end of their bodies for the males but just behind the heads of the females. This gives them a curious shape when they do the deed, almost like love hearts. Being on the river Shannon, and because it’s a river, they need a place to land, so if you get the right day, you will have dragonflies landing on you, they are everywhere, millions of them. Millions of dragonflies fucking all over you both literally and figuratively, it is worth a jaunt if ever you have the chance.
That guilty feeling is a warning sign. The booze is wearing off and my protective shield is fading. The que for food has momentarily dwindled and I seize my chance before my shield drops and I am crushed in a sea of people. Two minutes later and I am grazing greedily on Limerick pig in a French baguette. Sausages, white pudding, rashers, egg, brown sauce, mustard and Ballymaloe relish, the works. Another guilty thought invades my mind as I swallow the last morsel. It’s just not healthy food. I am getting fat … Right, time to escape this place, I think, suddenly anxious of all the people. The salty meat in my breakfast roll and the need to recharge my alcoholic armour make me intensely aware of the awful dose of Arab tackie I have. That is to say my mouth and throat are as dry as an Arab’s tackie in the desert. The anxiety builds and I weave and pirouette around the crowd, my need to escape growing rapidly. Out of the arches of the Milk market, High Street, William Street and into a laneway, the city’s capillaries, to a watering hole where I can take refuge from the crowd and recharge my armour.
I see the buddy inside and sit down beside him. “Beamish, bar keep please,'' I say and exchange pleasantries with the buddy. Well, I am only halfway through the second creamy pint of stout when it all kicks off. The goon squad comes in the door, about forty of them. Tracksuit clad, necks covered in chains and tattoos, trouser legs of their shiny trackies tucked into their socks. Spitting through their teeth on the pub floor, no god damned respect for nothing. About a quarter of them stand, shoulders squared, hands down their pants cupping their balls. Smoking inside and passing joints to each other presumably with ball sweat on their hands. Lately I have marvelled at this newly emerged behaviour from the city’s unwashed. Fragile masculinity the cause of it, afraid their nads would fall off so they have to keep checking they are there. Socks tucked into the pants in case their tackle should make a run for it in one of the rare split seconds they weren’t holding on to them.
Now, you may have picked up on this already but I have no time for small spaces or big crowds and now I was confronted with both, and they were the unwashed. And then it started, some stupid insult or other directed at me and the buddy by the big balls of the group. I looked at the buddy and he looked at me, that unspoken understanding of what was about to happen. In the moments silence Big Balls mistook us both for soft cocks, “nothing to say boy?” he asked, grinning through the space where his incisors used to be. “If you want my cum back you’d want to scrape it off your mother’s chin”, said the buddy. I enjoyed that, fucking witty buddy, I thought as I drove my fist past Big Balls missing down the back of his throat.
And then we were off, an orgy of red mist and violence. A right ruckus, bottles flying, a bar stool through the window … that must have been what attracted the local gendarmes. Well I had one fella in my left hand and another fella in my right and I was banging their heads together like cymbals at a heavy metal concert. I rolled the first and then the second out the door like ten pin bowling balls as the local constabulary rushed in the door. They scattered everywhere as myself and the buddy took tackie out the door. Dashing down William’s Street, I saw a scrambler and lept on it, I just so happened to have a flat head screwdriver in my pocket … A swift kick start and we were off, the buddy hugging my waist. The five oh chasing on foot as we drove off toward Mulgrave St. passing the unwashed stumbling out of the lane as we sped away.
I could hear sirens as I turned on to the Childers road, past Dunnes Stores and out toward Castletroy. I could see two squad cars in the rear view mirror. Then as I drove past Castletroy toward Annacotty, there were six cars and a paddy wagon, all with their sirens blaring. As I turned off for the Murroe road I heard the sound of a helicopter. “How am I going to get away from a helicopter”, I thought to myself as I watched more and more squad cars fill my rearview. I turned off for Cappawhite and I realised the tank was running low. There was a small army of Gendarmes following me, if I was going to do something it would have to be now.
Into the main square in Cappa and turned left up the Red Hill we went along at breakneck speed. The bike spluttered as we ascended and I could feel the weight of the buddy slowing us down as I revved the engine to keep us moving. Then it hit me like a diamond bullet through the forehead, crystal clear, the way out. I pulled on the throttle giving her everything that was left as we reached the lip of the Red Hill. The scrambler ramped off the lip of the hill and I let her go, we were airborne, the buddy still holding onto my waist. I grabbed the bottom bar of the helicopter as the scrambler exploded crashing into a quarry below on the side of the hill. I pulled myself and the buddy up into the helicopter where he collapsed on the floor shaken and ashen faced. I had no time for such luxuries as I moved into the cockpit and knocked the shade piloting the chopper spark out.
Well, if I did I wished I hadn’t. I had been operating on autopilot since I left that biore’s house this morning. I couldn’t pilot a helicopter, we were dropping out of the sky, alarms were going off, and then; my salvation, another shining diamond bullet. What was that word? Autopilot, I frantically scanned the dashboard of the helicopter, until at last, after what seemed like an age I spotted a switch with that beautiful little word printed neatly underneath it, with a red LED above it. Glowing like the candle of the sacred heart in your Nana’s kitchen. I flicked the switch and the chopper righted itself. The Buddy came into the cockpit and sat down beside me. He seemed better now. We laughed at all the shades scurrying around like little ants underneath us as we took flight away from them. Over Castleconnell, Castletroy, Mulgrave St, William St, and then it all went sour again. The helicopter landed on the helipad above Henry St cop shop, after all that, fucking autopilot.
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