Sunday, 5 January 2020
Julian meets Malone for the first time. 77% funded, spread the love. Thank you funders.
The Summer of Unrequited Love: June 1983
With the crowd for the ferry bus gone Julian found a seat for himself and another for his backpack. A coffee and the recording of succinct observations about travel and travellers would pass the time until the record stall in George’s Street would be open. And now that Uncle Arthur was in his head, he would do as he’d written in the note to his mother and go to him, courtesy of his brother’s last few records.
“Adventures begin in bus stations,” Johnner had told him when he was filling his head with images of beat poet and musician filled Greyhounds heading off across America, and Magic buses leaving Amsterdam for Greece in a cloud of hashish smoke.
The list of small town destinations above the departure bays conjured up nothing except more of the Gombeen Irish shite Johnner said they had to get away from. Yet all around him German and American accents were lovingly mangling the names of Ireland’s towns. He put his coffee on the floor between his Keds, and took his journal from his backpack, images bubbling over in his head. The fifties décor, the country people up to the big city for shopping, the young foreigners looking for the authentic Irish experience. But his own situation came first: “Living the spontaneous life can be hard when your best friend takes all your money,” he wrote. Pleased with himself for the compactness of the sentence. Although the “can be” was weak. It had to be more direct. “Money stealing friends stifle the spontaneous life,” was better, except he wanted the sentence to start with “living,” not “money.” Johnner was over. Julian had to embrace the triumph of life, not the power of betrayal.
“You don’t mind do ya?” a North of Ireland accent announced from beyond his bag. The chair between them briefly empty as Julian’s backpack was moved to the floor and its place taken by a bigger fuller bag.
“I need to check the address I’m going to.” He was maybe a year older than Julian, his dark suit a match for the suits he saw outside the funeral home on the Cabra Road. Except this boy’s tie was school striped, not black. He took a newspaper and a street map from the bag, talking as he went.
“See me, I’m going for a job,” he said, “at Miss Dolly Considine’s,” his hair as long as Johnner’s, “the well-known hotel.” Julian would want him to cut it.
“I was told to be there at 11.00.”
He stretched his legs out in front of him as he moved his finger along the lines of paper streets, twisting and turning his ankles as if his feet were following the traced-out route. He had small, even dainty feet, and Julian could see him dancing, or ducking and weaving around a football field, leaving bigger men frustrated at not being so nimble.
“I was up at four and my Mammy was up before that, if she slept at all. She admitted to half past three when I came down and found her making sandwiches and fretting about me missing the bus. My older brother didn’t even get out of bed to say goodbye. What sort of leave taking was that?”
Julian picked up his coffee and looked back at the sentence in his journal. His own mother had been outside the GPO for hours already, encouraging people to sign a petition in support of a woman’s right to terminate her unwanted pregnancy, and his brother was already over the Irish Sea expecting a mother with a midday meal on the table, and a younger brother who respected his precious jazz collection.
“I suppose you’ve just arrived in Ireland,” the boy said, his finger pressed to the map but looking at Julian, “so no point in asking you for directions? Let me guess. You’re blond like a German? Or Swedish? Do you even understand what I’m saying?”
Julian shook his head, then nodded, excited that his hair made him look foreign. But if he spoke he would be a Dubliner again, so he smiled and widened his eyes. The boy wanted him to be exotic.
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