New Year, New Few

I was walking the streets in the rain, it had been pouring down for days – the city was full to bursting, a giant bucket of steaming piss ready to explode. I, for one, did not want a piss shower, although I know certain people are partial. It was the doldrums after Christmas when everyone’s festive spirits collapsed into spilled drinks and broken hearts. Or at least mine did.

I hadn’t seen Few since that night he skipped off into a wonderland of debauchery, having turned down my offer of a convivial family feast. I can’t believe I actually felt sorry for him, even for a minute.  Normally I wouldn’t have worried or even cared that much but things at Few were sliding.

Ex Con had started live streaming dancing cats on Periscope and Rerry was knocking out a daily Avant-garde jazz feature, or “jazzerette” as he called it. “Jazz is a big word Brick, a very big word.” Bickers, well, it was Bowie 24*7*365.  Nobody listened to me, in fact if I broached the subject of my mooted style guide they all hooted with derision and referred to me as Tommy Makem, all because of that fucking hat.  Mutiny was in the air. Say what you like about Few, and many people did, but he knew how to keep these muppets on a tight leash.

He’d never been gone for so long without a word, a sign, something. Look, I was worried. I gotta say. I missed him even, maybe. I stared down the Liffey, into the murk. The Empire of Guinness across the quays was calling me home. Damn and fuck it wasn’t even midday, maybe a whiskey would be ok.  I’ll hold off till after lunch. As I turn and headed back to the office, I notice a couple of junkies shooting up behind a wall in the Croppy Acre. They stared back, carried on regardless. One of them gave me the finger. I was glad the gates were locked. At least I didn’t have to run away.

Back at base, there’s a dishevelled looking guy waiting in Few’s office, he’s wearing a black trench and a battered fedora. He’s smoking, smells like Sweet Afton. It takes a minute but I recognise him pretty quick.

“Inspector McGivney, to what do I owe the pleasure?”

“Brick, isn’t it? We met…in….the. The Oval, that’s right.”

“Yes sir, that is correct. If you’re looking for Few then that makes two of us.”

“Whatever happened to that script you were writing? I was expecting a call.”

“Writer’s block.”

“Whiskey?” I offer him a glass. He nods, I pour, he swallows in one and holds out the glass again. This time he sips. “Is this the antidote?”

“Antidote?”

“For writers’ block.”

“Legend has it.”

He raises a toast “Happy New Year and all that fucking codology. Yes, as a matter of fact I am looking for Mr. Few.”

“Mr. Few?” I smiled – I’d never heard him referred to as Mister before. “Well, I haven’t seen him since Christmas Eve, I’m beginning to get a little concerned.”

“A little, you didn’t think to report it to anyone? Like my lot, for example?”

“Well, he can look after himself, he doesn’t really keep a regular timetable so…”

“Anyway, I need to speak to him. It’s in a relation to a missing person, another missing person, not him.” He held my gaze, I didn’t say anything.   “Discreet inquiries, you understand. OK Brick, if you don’t hear from him let me know and we’ll add him to our list. Our other list. You’ve got a guilty disposition and good taste in whiskey. That’s an intriguing combination. I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

“Let’s rock and roll Tooler.” He turns to a big, stocky man-statue standing against the far wall. The most police looking person I’ve seen. I hadn’t even noticed he was there. “He’s my lucky charm” says McGivney, nodding toward Tooler as they leave.

Later, I’m down on O’Connell Bridge, the seagulls screeching overhead. In the dark. In the rain. In January. I’m looking down towards the lights of the docks. 8th January, I realise it’s Few’s birthday. Where are you Few? I know you’re out there. I feel it in my water.

A woman walks along and stops beside me. She asks me for a light. She speaks with an accent, German I think. She’s maybe fifty, handsome, all cheekbones and blue eyes.

“Does it ever stop raining in Ireland?”

“Not often.” (Ever the charmer).

She offers me a cigarette. I accept.

“You’re name is Brick?”

“Eh..yes…Do I know you?”

“My name is Irmgard Laurie. I have a message for you. From Few.”

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