Are Friends Electric?

“So Tooler, what do you think?”

“Think boss?”

“Yeah, look, I know that’s not what they pay us for but..”

“What do I think about wading through rivers of piss and Guinness at 11 o’clock in the morning on Paddy’s Day? What do I think of having to work on the one day of the year that gives every fucking alcoholic an excuse to start drinking at breakfast time? It couldn’t be more apt, could it boss? A real celebration of Irishness. It’s the walking dead.”

He trails off as a drunk shambles up to him, vomit down his shirt, suspicious dark stains down his trousers, he puts his hand out and mumbles something about fags. McGivney decks him in one smooth movement, barely looking around to watch him to crash to the ground. Nobody could be certain the guy even notices he’s not upright anymore. People step over him or trip over him. Nobody stops, nobody gives a shit.

“Jesus he could at least have put his flute away.”

“I mean look at that – look at that fucking abomination – he’s gesturing up at the 1916 tapestry hanging on front of the Bank of Ireland, Grattan, Redmond – like what the fuck is that about? They’re shitting it – those cunts up in the Dail, shitting it that the poor fucking Paddies might cop on to what really happened in 1916, or what happened afterwards. Sure why do you reckon our national day is this fucking circus and not the 24th of April?”

“I was only asking what did you think of the coffee.”

“Oh right…its tea.”

“Paddy’s Day…I never thought of it that way. Fucking Catholics.”

“What about the Prods?”

“Can’t say I know any.”

“I’m one.”

“Fair enough.Fucking Prods.”

They pick their way through the bedlam and stop outside a door beside The Palace Bar. McGivney  raps, the door opens and a big hairy gorilla stares at them, blocking the way.

“Members only.”

“I’ll members only you in a minute.” McGivney flashes the badge and pushes the ape out of the way.

Upstairs, the bar is empty.

“Whiskey, fuck it – make it a double. I’ve just got word that she’s on the way up from Cork. She’s dangerous and she’s angry. I’m sending you, I think I better let her cool down.”

“Right so boss, you don’t have to tell me …how I could forget that night in the bog…”

And the news is coming out…today.”

“Oh fuck.”

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Paranoid? After everything that happened? I decided to hand over the papers to McGivney, what did I give a shit about them? I wanted Few back, maybe this was the way to do it. I still couldn’t make him out.

I watched the parade from the rooftop of the Few offices. The birds watched me, unblinking. I wondered if they were missing him. Tony Feuerstein, or “Too Few” to his friends, friends, parasites, hangers on – call them what you will. You wouldn’t take him for a pigeon fancier but he spent a helluvah long time up on the roof. I threw them some food and made my way to the back of the coop, lifted off the wooden fence and removed the roll. I took it downstairs and spread them out on the desk. Nothing, it was basically a load of wallpaper offcuts. There was the odd scrawl on the back in what looked like red crayon but nothing discernible. The radio babbled away in the background.

I called Store Street.

“Can I speak to Inspector McGivney please?”

“Who’s askin’?”

“Pardon?”

“Who the fuck are you?”

“Is this Store Street Garda station?”

“Yeah, it is. You want to make something out of it?”

“Listen…Jesus. I just want to speak to McGivney. Or Tooler. O’Toole.“

“You want you want you fucking want you have such a sense of entitlement Brick working in your stupid fucking hipster magazine. You think anyone listen to the shit you post? You…”

I hang up. I’m shaking. I pour a drink, a big gin. Gulp half of it. People listen. People listen. Someone listens. Are Friends Electric?

I check the number, dial again.

“Hello.”

“Good afternoon. Store Street Garda Station. How can we help you today sir?”

“It’s me.”

“Sorry sir?”

“Oh, listen, can I speak to Inspector McGivney please?”

“McGivney sir?”

“Or. Tooler….I mean O’Toole.”

“I’m sorry sir, there’s nobody works here called McGivney or O’Toole, well there was Sargent  O’Toole but he retired in , oh what was in now…probably 1997 I should think …maybe it was Detective McMahon you’re thinking of?”

“No…never mind…”

“Maybe someone else can…”

I hang up again. Maybe he’s in Pearse Street, no…this…

On the radio

Gardaí have confirmed that the body recovered from the Grand Canal last week is that of Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Ribery. Cardinal Ribery had been missing for over a month but this information had been repressed at the request of detectives investigating the case. The Gardaí are following several…..

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Sarah stares at the radio in disbelief…the Spanish guy driving the car seems oblivious.

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Jesus fucking Christ that calls for another gin….and another gin and….what if it’s not what’s written on the back of the paper, what if it’s the pattern on the front…I sit bolt upright…who’s watching me? I pick up the papers thrown my coat on and leg it down the stairs, push my way throw the parade crowds down the back of The Lotts behind The Oval to Few’s old lock-up. I pull up the garage door, flick on the light and close it quickly behind me. There’s an old wardrobe up against the wall, I open the doors and all kinds of shit fall out, theatrical masks, wigs, lampshades…I flick the light of my phone on and catch a pair of brown eyes glinting back at me…I freeze…it’s a stuffed…..mink?. ferret…he’s not giving anything away. A wave of relief sweeps over me. I’m almost smiling as the hand reaches out, grabs me by the shirt and pulls me in.