Mickey Reilly sat on his single bed looking out onto the busy road. The dark nights were slowly creeping in as the lights of the traffic flickered through the rain spattered window. His computer dimly lit up the tiny bed-sit behind him, his library of music was shuffling through the 722 songs he had downloaded and stored there. The raw bass of Damaged Goods by Gang of Four played at the back of his mind.

He was re-enacting a scene. He was walking through St Anne's park smoking a cigarette as he passed the band stand where the local acts played a free summer
festival. He fixed the length of blue nylon rope—burnt at both ends to stop it fraying—around his neck and tucked the ends into his bomber jacket. He zipped it
up to his neck.

It was a crisp winter’s night and the stars glowed clearly above him. As he walked through the arches of the rose gardens, he saw a puff of smoke rising from a figure seated at the bench. The man turned to look up, and Mickey noticed the white strip around his neck shining like a star.
"What about ya, father?” he said. “Lovely night.”
“Yeah it is, son. Been sitting here watching the stars and listening to the sea out there beyond the darkness. Come and sit down here son and listen,” he said, patting the seat beside him.
Mickey looked at the old man for a second, then settled in beside him. He rested his arm across the back of the bench and shifted his right foot over his left knee, inching closer to the dark figure.

"Can I have one of your smokes, Father?” he asked.
“Have you no smokes son?” asked the priest.
“No Father, I've only got fifty pence to my name.” Mickey took the coin out his pocket and flicked into the air it dropped dully in his palm.

"I could tell you a story about a fifty pence piece just like this one, Father.”
"I'm sure you could, son', said the priest handing him a cigarette.

He dug a lighter out of his coat pocket and reached over to light Mick's cigarette. The flame illuminated the darkness between them. Looking deep into the priest’s eyes, Mickey pulled back on his right arm and let it collide like a hammer with the side of the priest’s head. He opened his jacket and pulled out the rope, found its centre and dragged it through the priest’s teeth from behind like a bit in a horse’s mouth. He crossed the end of the rope and laced it across his
back to bind the priest’s hands and place him back on the bench. The priest began to come to he sat on the bench beside him, his arms wrapped tightly around
“Now Father, I want you to shut the fuck up so I can tell you a story about a fifty pence piece just like this one,” he said, flicking it through the air to land in his palm.

He was twelve again the year was 1972. It was a Sunday. One of the gang said lets rob the egg factory. He couldn't remember if it was Hardbap or Haggis who
suggested it but they sprang into action and got together a couple of giders and old prams and headed off to rob the place.
They broke in through a back window, but had no way out through the smashed window with the boxes of eggs. With all the eggs they couldn't take they had a riot in the massive factory space.

Mickey unleashed the fork lift from its power point where it was charging and crashed it into every wall before getting the forks wedged under the steel door.
He prized the roller door up to let them out and stacked the boxes of eggs onto the giders and prams.

They headed off across the fields through the gypsy camp where they gave out a few dozen of the eggs to the women who sat around outside one of the caravans talking.
Some of the kids ran after them, the boys calling out, “Give us some of your eggs” until the women called them back saying leave them good boys alone.
They took the boxes off the transport and carried them up the steep hill, then piled them back on at the top and wheeled them across the all weather pitch through the kids’ playground and past the army sandbag post.

The two young soldiers taunted them, shouting out through the gap in the sandbags.
“Oi mate where did you steal them eggs”.
Razor walked up to them and looked up into the gap and said, “That's none of your fucking business, you
British bastards.” He dragged a greenhorn up from his gut and spat at them.

They waited for a gap in the traffic and dashed the cargo across the main road that was the divide between the Catholic and Protestant areas. They feared being approached by a rival gang. They would have a punch up or a mini riot with them and maybe they would end up with the eggs, but that was nothing compared to what the I.R.A would have happened had they sold the eggs to their own community.

They split up on the other side off the road and began knocking on the doors of the houses of the three streets that ran off the main road, careful not to go to
deep into the Protestant area. Within no time, the eggs had disappeared and the money was in their sky rockets. Only one suspicious lady asked where they had came from. Mickey said his Da was in a van selling them in the next street. At 10p a dozen she took three dozen.

Before crossing the main road, they piled into the shop on the Protestant side of the road and each bought 20 smokes, lemonade crisps and chocolate bars.
passed the army post again where one of the soldiers said, “Give us a couple of fags mate”.
Hardbap removed two smokes from his box held them in his hand shoved it down the front of his trousers rubbed the fags around his balls before taking them out and threw them through the gap in the sandbags, calling out British bastards as he ran across the pitch laughing.

They sat in a burnt out car in a back entry smoking, eating, drinking and laughing before heading home for tea. Mickey hung his coat on the rail just inside the front door. After tea his Ma said she was going out to see Aunt Anne who lived up the street. As she lifted his Harrington jacket off the rail to get her coat below it she felt it was heavy. She shook it and heard the money rattling. She took the coat in to where Mickey and his sister were finishing their tea. She spilt the contents of his pockets out on the table: the money, cigarettes and chocolate bars scattered everywhere.

“Where did you get this?”, she asked and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck, dragging him into the living room she sat him down on the chair.

“Now look up at that picture and tell me where you got the money,” she demanded.
He looked up at the sacred heart picture and said, “We found crates of lemonade bottles and brought them back to the shop and we got some copper and lead from the burnt buses and sold it to the gypos.”

“You’re a liar,” she said. “You wouldn't get that much money from a few bottles and a bit of scrap.”

The door bell rang and she answered it. Hardbap hung back on the front step.

“Were you with Michael today?” she asked. The boy said yes, She asked him in and sat him down on the sofa and told him to look up at that picture and tell her
where he got the money. Haggis, Razor, GG and Cash all called then, and they all sat there in the living room looking up at the picture of Jesus on the wall in silence. Eventually Michael couldn't stand it and out of embarrassment admitted they had robbed the egg factory.

She told the boys to leave, saying that each of their parents would be told. She told him to go to his room, and as he climbed the stairs she said “I'm putting
that money in an envelope and you’re bringing it up to the priest tomorrow after


The old lady ushered him through the front door of the Parochial house, asking his name and telling him to sit on the small pew and wait for the priest. He was physically shaking with nerves and felt sick to his stomach as the minutes ticked by on the big clock in the hall. The priest eventually came through, dressed in his ceremonial robes.
“Michael Reilly?” he said and Mick mumbled a yes. “I was talking to your mother today. Come in here,” he said.

He followed the priest into a library with a desk in the middle of a room surrounded by shelves of books along each wall.
“Do you have the envelope with you?” Mickey took it out of my pocket and handed it to him as he sat down behind the desk.

“You know you done wrong boy, don't you?”

“Yes father,” he said.

“You won’t do anything like this again, will you son?”

“No father,” he said.

“Bringing shame on the good name of your family.”

“No father, I'll never do wrong again, father,” Mickey said, almost beginning to cry.

“Ok, I believe you son,” said the priest. “But one thing I don't understand. Why did you sell the eggs to the Protestants?”
Mickey said nothing.

“I'm going to send this envelope of money back to the egg factory. I won’t say it was you if you swear you won’t do this again.”

“I swear father, I swear,” he said.

“Ok. Come here boy,” he said, pointing to the floor beside his chair. He reached
over and held his arm and looked up at him. “Now you know because you have done a wrong deed and brought shame to your poor mother you have to do penance to pray for forgiveness.”

“Yes father, I know”

“Ok, when you leave here, I want you to go to the chapel and say six Hail Marys and three Our Fathers and ask god for his forgiveness.”

“Yes father, I promise,” Mickey said, letting out a sigh of relief and moving to turn.

“Not so quick boy,” said the priest, gripping his arm even harder. He pulled back his chair and ordered Michael to stand in front of the desk. Mickey stood
there in front of the desk.

"Now look boy', said the priest from behind him. He turned his head to see the priest fumbling under his robes and pull his hand out with a fifty pence piece.
He held it up for him to see “I'm going to put this in your pocket, ok?”.
The priest let it drop into the front pocket of his trousers. “Now if you tell anyone what happened here, I'll tell your mother that you’re a liar and a thief and that you should be put in a home. Ok, boy?”

“Ok, father.”

“Now open your trousers and pull them down.”

He done what he was told, thinking he was going to be slapped across the arse with a cane, but he jumped back startled like someone had walked over his grave at the touch of the priest reaching between his legs to take hold of his cock and start pulling on it. He put his strong hand on his back and bent him over the bench while still pulling at his cock. He heard his zip opening beneath the robes. “Don't scream boy,” he said and forced his hard cock into him.

He lay there across the bench biting through the skin of his thumb, his teeth clenched and his top lip trembling as if to start crying but he didn't. He bit harder on his thumb thinking I'm going to kill you, you dirty bastard. He could feel the stuff that oozed out of him growing cold between his tummy and the
bench as the priest hammered into him moaning like an old pig. His stomach did somersaults as the priest came inside him. He wiped the cum from his arse with his robe and told Michael to get dressed. He shuffled his robe and told Michael to leave.

Mickey got to the door and the priest said, “Don't forget son, one word and you'll be spending Christmas in a home.”

Michael never turned back. He threw the 50 pence piece into the air and heard it smack of the roof of the parochial house and slide down the slates and into its gutter. He ran all the way home crying inside, thinknig I'm gonna kill that dirty bastard someday.

His father was released from prison. He had been interned in Crumlin Road Gaol and Long Kesh. Michael went to see his friend GG to tell him that they were leaving Belfast and moving to Dundalk. They sat in the dining room laughing about the strange machine in the corner of the room that was used when GG's brother died. He died all the time and this machine brought him back to life. It was like something out of the movies.

It was dark on the way home. The only lights were those that shone through the thick curtains of the houses. All the streetlights were shot out to let the IRA
move freely through the district and for the safety of the people from sniper or British army fire. The sky was red and flakes of black ash were falling like snow as houses and property burned all over Belfast. As he turned left by instinct onto his street, a splatter of bullets came hurtling towards him from a machine gun at the top of the street. They tore through the night cutting the hedges and fences and bouncing off the ground in front of him. He froze to the spot, panic-stricken. He could see the flashes of the rifle, but couldn't move.

A hand came from behind the hedges and grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and dragged him off the street into the garden. He could feel the hot piss steaming in his jeans become cold as he lay there on the winter grass. He looked up to see the man shooting back up the street with a hand gun and buried his head in his hand. His mind switched off.

The man took him by the scruff of the neck and the arse of his trousers and threw him clear of the hedges and the fence and he landed in the next garden. The big man with red hair and hands like shovels did this over 12 gardens while shooting back at the machine gun at the top of the road.

At that time, all the doors in the district were left off the latch so the gun men could run though the house and out the back to make their escape. The big man shoved Michael through the front door where he landed flat on the bottom of the stairs. He looked back as the door began to close again with the impact with the wall and he saw the big man running across the road. He saw the impact of the bullet connect with his head and the blood spurting out, like the last action shot in a movie before the door closed the view like the curtains in the cinema. He climbed the stairs and cried himself to sleep.

The next day the house was emptied into a removals van. There wasn't enough room for him in the front of the removals van so Michael travelled in the white transit van with the soft spoken boyfriend of his eldest sister. Michael didn't have much to say as they travelled along the motor way. Paul rattled on about a
new start, new home, etc. with his girlie voice that was beginning to annoy Michael who was trying not to think about what happened the day before. His arse was still sore and every bump in the road reminded him.

Michael began to drift off to sleep when he felt something. He looked down to see Paul's hand on his leg slowly moving towards his crotch, talking about pulling off and buying him a nice meal and ice cream. Michael jumped back when he realised what was going on.
“Get your fucking hand off me,” he yelled.

“It’s ok, Michael. You might like it.”

Michael reached for the door handle and pulled it open, holding the door ajar and saying “If you don't stop, I'll jump.”

He climbed into the back and sat on the floor against a tea-chest. It was worse on his arse, but at least he was away from that dirty bastard. How could he do that if he was going with my sister, he thought. Is there something wrong with me? He liked girls so he couldn't understand what was happening.

They slept on mattresses on the living room floor of the new house that night. Michael woke with his little brother Jimmy hanging around his neck, still fast asleep. His brother and sister’s mattresses were empty, but he looked across the room and saw Paul sitting up smoking. Paul said, “Good morning Mickey.”

“Fuck off,” said Michael.

“Do you want a smoke?” Paul asked, and held up the cigarette, waving it.

“Throw it over,” said Michael.

“I'll give you three if you let me touch your wee brother,” he said.

Michael saw red and jumped out of bed. He ran across the room and kicked him up the face, saying “You touch my brother and I'll kill you.”He left the room carrying his wee brother, who was beginning to wake.

Mickey made new friends and the bitterness fuelled by the fear and hatred in Belfast began to leave him as he realised that not everywhere was like that. He had been out all day with his new friends progging orchards and taking the girls up to Chuhullians castle for a kiss and a grope of tits that didn't yet exist on most of the girls except Lizzy Gaffner, who had enormous tits and beautiful erect dark brown nipples she loved to have sucked so they all took turns with her.

There was a party and sing song going on when he returned home. All the adults and friends were drinking to celebrate his sister’s birthday and the house warming. Michael said goodnight and went off to bed with his little brother.

He climbed into the top bunk and began to drift off as soon as his head hit the pillow. He was lost in his dream world and it was as if he was dreaming about Lizzy touching his cock. His member began to rise, but something just wasn't right. It began to feel like it was real and not a dream. As he began to wake, he heard his Mother entering the room shouting, “You dirty filthy bastard!”

There beside him was Paul with his hand under the bedclothes. She whacked him one right up the coupon and began dragging him out of the room. My father came running up the stairs shouting what's going on. “This filthy bastard was up here touching wee Michael when he was sleeping and you wanted this soft talking
pervert to marry my daughter. Get the fucking animal out of here before I kill him.”

It was a cold November morning. He woke early and switched on the portable TV that only picked up two fucking god damn stations. He made a cup of tea and got back into bed. He picked up his mobile phone and there was one new text message that read: Pervert Bastard. He checked the number. It was the fat bitch he took home from the pub on Saturday night.

While he was bucking her from behind, he watched the fat roll like ocean waves up and down her back with each thrust into her. He couldn't cum in her because she had a fanny like the Liffey—wide, stinking and wet. He pulled his cock out and tried to shove it up her arse, but she got up got, dressed and left. Fuck her he said and deleted the message.

He watched the morning news and heard a priest talking about how they should change the law from Canon to Civil. "At the end of the day, we’re all civilians
who must adhere to the law.” Hang the bastards, he thought.

On his way into town on the Dart, Canon Law and Civil Law itched around in his brain. He joined the queue outside the Dole office and drifted in with the stench of foul beer, smoke and the stink of some of the dirt birds in the queue to collect his weekly pittance assistance. He passed two chapels and five pubs on the way to catch the bus back home. He wanted to stop for a pint but he knew the consequences of that as many a time he went home broke, so he went to Supermacs got some groceries and three litres of the cheapest red wine before heading home.

He filled himself a glass of wine, put a couple of strips of bacon under the grill, switched on his computer, clicked on his music library and scrolled through.

"Misery's the river of the world. If there's one thing you can say about mankind, there's nothing kind about man.” He heard tom waits rattle in a song.

Then he clicked shuffle and got stuck into the bacon sandwich, guzzled the glass of wine, filled another and sat down on the bed. He listened hard to the words of Steve Earl's, John Walkers blues, "I'm just an American boy raised on MTV. I've seen all those kids in the soda pop ads, but none of them look like me."

He remembered something he'd read somewhere, "Never hate your enemy, it clouds your judgement". He tried to remember who said it but he couldn't. As Steve
Earle began to chant, he lay there feeling down and empty. The image of his dead sister entered his brain and left like a hologram. He drifted off back into nineteen seventy five as Lou Reed hammered out "There is No Time".


he was now 14 on a Saturday and he was at the markets in Dundalk selling toys and Novelty goods from a wallpaper table. He'd just came out of Woolworth's
with his pockets full of pencils, pens and anything else he could sell for money at school. He had his eye on some dinky cars for his little brother when the grey haired man offered him a job.

It was cold, drizzling on and off so the punters weren't out in force. They both sat on milk crates behind the table filled with the goods. The man reached across and put his hand on Michael's knee below the table.
“I'll take you to a nice hotel in Dublin. We can stay there for the weekend. I'll take you to the pictures and I'll treat you", he said, moving his hand further up his leg.

“Ok,” said Michael.

"I'm gonna go for lunch,” he said with a rotten smile on his face, lifting the milk crate and reaching into the shoe box with the day’s taking. He took out some notes, put the lid back on and put the milk crate back over it. “Sit there,” he said. “Guard that money with your life. We'll need it for Dublin and I know exactly how much is in it.”

When he disappeared around the corner, Michael rose from behind the table yelling "Everything must go. Get your bargains here!” he shouted like a professional trader.

People began to gather around the stall and he sold the lot in no time. Everything went for next to nothing. Anything the people wanted to pay, he took. He dandered off home with a shoe box under one arm and a folded up wallpaper table in the other. The images began to fall thick and fast through his mind and the pen was scribbling unreadable words down as if he'd found the fast forward button in his brain and had pressed it twice.

A priest was getting a dig up the head in a store room in school. A man in a fruit factory had his hand stapled to a crate screaming. A man with a butcher’s apron was fucking a dead pig. A hand reached out to grab him from behind a tree he stood beside having a piss. he ran the man through the streets and into a primary school grounds where the man stopped in the shelter. Blood was splattered all over the grey concrete and the red brick walls, ripping one of the 3x2s the kids sat upon on wet days, beating and beating and beating the man to a pulp.

He dropped the pen and reached under the bed and took out a length of blue nylon rope stood on the chair and tied it onto the heavy duty hook he had placed in
the ceiling fixed to the rafter. He tied the noose around his neck and spun around 360 degrees like a ballerina on tip-toes, looking down on his world and kicked the chair away.

The last thing he heard was the chorus of Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues by the Eels singing, “God damn right, it’s a beautiful day” and the last image to flicker through his mind before his sight went from red to scarlet then black was the priest swinging in the park hanging by a length of blue nylon rope from the rose garden arches. His trousers and underwear around his ankles, the stem of a rose bush sticking out of his innards dripping with blood catching the light of the moon flowing over a fifty pence piece on the grass.