The Deadly Legacy of Mr. Villiers

The story prompt was provided for the very inspiring Reading Writers contest that was run by Elizabeth Guy every quarter or so until last year. The version of the story I sent didn't do very well - only placing in the top 70 or so. It also made the shortlist of four in a Swords Writers competition. Any feedback or criticism is more than welcome.

Sep 15th 2010
   Something's   wrong.

And if it isn't righted soon, it will most definitely cause the death of your protagonist.

The only source of help is a cell phone that, for some reason, becomes useless.* Despite the high-tech times we live in, your protagonist is a lone, sitting duck.

You have up to 1,500 words to resolve this nightmare. And that's just enough space to show off your knack for building suspense. The end's in sight. The clock is ticking. How does your protagonist get out of this alive?
*The cell phone that suddenly has "no service" at that critical moment is a writing technique that's been done to death. Therefore, we're going to publish in The Verb, along with the winning story, your Most Ingenious Reasons a Cell Phone Becomes Useless.

 The Deadly Legacy of Mr. Villiers

            “Mr Villiers would never know if his actions saved us kids, or if he’d saved any of us at all. He’ll never learn if he’d done enough. He’ll never know these things, because once you die, that’s it. He didn’t believe that himself, but what one believes really isn’t relevant.
            “My great uncle, my father’s mother’s brother, a lifelong devout Christian, died at the age of ninety nine. He was another strong believer. I like to think that he’s up there somewhere, looking over us. Because his belief warrants his presence, up there, somewhere, among the stars. In Heaven. But really, at bottom, that’s just maudlin sentiment. He’s not up there. There’s nothing to look forward to after death. I know.
            “I know because I’ve been. Yes, I was one of the schoolkids saved by Mr Villiers’ heroics. But I met death too. The newspapers, the tv, the Internet, they all said that seven students lost their lives that day, along with our vice principal. Actually, there were eight. One of them made it back. You won’t read that in the newsprint. You won’t see it on the documentaries, the shooting spree magazine shows or the fifth anniversary specials. You won’t see it because I came back. And…” Tad Wallhern cleared his throat. He looked into the throng of silent faces. “And actually, I like to keep it to myself.”
            The school assembly remained quiet, except for a lone, monosyllabic cough.
            “The doctors said that I died three times. That I had to be revived three times. I know that I would’ve been dead from a third gunshot wound. I know that Mr Villiers took that bullet for me. And, as we learned only later, when the weapon was found, it was the last bullet in the gun.”
            Tad Wallhern lowered his head in deference, inwardly recalling the horrific first day of his final year at the school.
            Closed circuit footage of the school corridor from that day aired many times on national and international news channels. Sometimes the footage ran in slow mo, so that a running commentary could be provided. It featured Mr Villiers – the vice principal and head of the science faculty – and a disgruntled former student.
            The 2006 fall semester was the first full academic year to implement a school wide cell phone ban. Introduced after the kids had started posting seemingly lewd or compromising camera phone pictures of the teaching staff to their online profiles and various web pages, the ban had been preceded by the expulsion of Christopher Riesling Jensen in the previous school year. Christopher had hidden in the girls’ locker room, taken dozens of pictures, and had posted them anonymously over the course of ten weeks. When he’d been discovered, the promising student had been expelled.
            Christopher Riesling Jensen had turned up on the first day of the new school year. Mr Villiers was standing outside the biology laboratory, as his students streamed into the class. He saw Christopher at the end of the corridor, standing in a long black trench coat. The bell for class rang out, the last of the kids went in through the classroom doors, and the corridor fell silent. Mr Villiers stood watching Christopher for a moment that stretched. The boy pulled a pistol from his belt. He pointed it towards Mr Villiers. Mr Villiers turned and ran. Rather than go into the classroom, Mr Villiers fled up the corridor, perhaps to draw Riesling Jensen away from the classroom, rather like a gazelle springing into the air enthusiastically to distract the attention of a leopard from its fawn.
            Mr Villiers had not run at any kind of speed since early 1992, when he had attempted to catch a bus. As he sprinted away, enhanced closed circuit footage showed a pack of cigarettes, pens, keys, a lighter, loose change, a wallet, and various other accessories scattering from the pockets and belt loops of his jacket and pants. Mr Villiers bounded up the corridor, his jowls and belly wobbling like jelly, his teeth gritted in a grimace at the sudden workout he was forced to endure. The last thing seen to fly from his person was his cellphone, which bounced out of his shirt pocket as he turned the corner, just as a flash was seen coming from Christopher Riesling Jensen’s automatic pistol. The phone seemed to hang in the air for a moment, spinning, before clattering to the tiled floor where it broke into several pieces.
            Christopher Riesling Jensen walked calmly towards the biology lab and went in through the door.
            Mr Villiers returned to the corridor on hearing the first of the gunshots. The camera footage captured him scrambling on the floor, picking up the pieces of his phone as he attempted in vain to reconstruct it. Less than half a minute later, he had given up and was seen charging back down the corridor and into the lab, where seven students already lay dead or dying and a further two were wounded.
            “I was one of the wounded that day,” Tad Wallhern explained to the assembly. “Christopher pointed the gun at my head. Mr Villiers came in through the door. He told Christopher that he was the one that he wanted. He argued that he should let the rest of us go. Christopher shot him dead. Mr Villiers saved my life. Now, in truth, Mr Villiers had been a real S-O-B as an administrator.”
            This drew a laugh from some of the audience.
            “He had pushed for Christopher’s expulsion. He had insisted on the cellphone ban. Maybe, if we’d had our phones that day…well, the cops would’ve got here sooner. But they sure wouldn’t have got here in time to save the victims. It had all happened in less than a minute. So, it stands to reason that Mr Villiers’s sacrifice be recognized. In his honor, and in memory of my sweetheart Debbie, I never carry a cell, even to this day. There’s really nothing that I can’t use my landline for up at the ranch that I need a cell for. And really, when I’m away from home, it’s kind of liberating to know that you can’t be contacted twenty-four seven.”
            Tad Wallhern left the stage to an enthusiastic ovation, several of the students taking snapshots of his departure on their camera phones.
            An hour later, his SUV turned onto the dirt road that led to the ranch. He thought about the girl he’d lost that day four years earlier, his high school sweetheart, Debbie, whom he’d intended to marry. He wondered if he’d ever find anyone to love that much again, another girl of his dreams, or if, like his conservative Christian uncle, he’d die a lonely old bachelor, tending to cattle well into his dotage on the property he’d inherited from him.
            Debbie was among the cheerleaders who had been photographed naked in the girls’ locker room by Christopher Riesling Jensen. Tad had lodged a formal complaint when it seemed that Christopher was only going to receive a suspension. Really, Tad felt far more responsible for the entire killing spree than he cared to admit to anyone. He was often sorry that Christopher hadn’t killed him.
            Tad had lied to the assembly. He didn’t like denying himself a cellphone. He found it limiting, especially out at the isolated ranch. He actually had one, three years obsolete in terms of phone technology, in his kitchen cabinet. The battery had died long ago. As he approached his home, he wondered to himself if perhaps he should recharge it, as the first step in re-entering society. His thoughts were an admission that he’d led a rather hermit like existence. He couldn’t see a reason not to send text messages to a few old school friends, and invite them to dinner out at his place. He told himself that he should get over his fear of feeling happy. He didn’t know if the cellphone coverage extended as far from the town as his ranch. He was unsure how difficult it would be to re-subscribe to his service. He drove past a Buick parked at the side of the road. He didn’t recognize the bearded man wearing shades in the driver’s seat, and drove on, full of survivor’s remorse.
            Christopher Riesling Jensen emerged from the Buick. He watched the wake of dust from Tad Wallhern’s SUV as it continued towards the ranch. Christopher donned a pair of rubber gloves. America’s most wanted man then opened the trunk of the car, removing the bottom of the compartment. Beneath it was a large, long toolbox. He opened it to reveal a pistol, a shotgun, a blow torch, a length of rope and a set of knives alongside various other tools and implements. He removed a pair of wire cutters. He sized up the telegraph pole beside the parked car, and smiled to himself.

Stand up comedians have the last laugh

A group of six stand up comics successfully beat a heckler into a coma in the Gents' toilets of the intimate Ha'Penny Bridge venue on the southside of the River Liffey last night.
Photo courtesy of fifties50s.

The heckler was found by two of the comedians as he relieved himself into a urinal after a torturous gig in the small Dublin pub, which plays host to various kinds of open mic nights on a regular basis. The comedians took advantage of the man's inability to defend himself, and started to beat him with a metal mop bucket, before being joined in the toilets by four more comedians armed with beer bottles, a microphone stand and a cash register.

It is the second assault by standup comedians in recent months. At the beginning of April, reviewer Frank Barry had at least one thumb on each hand removed by up-and-coming surrealist comic Peter Lynsey, who took exception to Mr. Barry's lukewarm "two thumbs down" for Lynsey's St. Patrick's Day headline gig at the Bray Arts Centre. Lynsey has been released on bail. You can catch his show in selected venues around the country.

Mineral opinions by members of the general public

 Even-handed Advertisement

Members of the public are always eager to talk about soft drinks, whatever the time of day. Here is just a sample of views from the people on the streets.

"Are you ever feeling thirsty and you go into a newsagent's to get a drink and you look into the fridge and you see a particular brand of drink - now, I won't say the name - but just as an example we'll use Dr. Pepper - just as an example - and you think 'Ah, Dr. Pepper, I haven't had that in a while. Sure, what's the worst that could happen?' And then you pay for it and open the can, and you remember why you haven't had it in a while - you hate it! That always happens to me - every ten years or so." - Kevin from Dolphin's Barn.
Photo courtesy of Wyscan.

"Here, well - in most parts of Europe - if you like the taste of cough mixture, you have to buy a bottle of cough mixture. Unless you're in one of those exclusive newsagents of course! Drinking too much cough mixture, you risk an overdose, and you can be very drowsy and it can be very funny when you can't stand up. But over in the United Stayyaates, if you like the taste of cough mixture, you can buy a bottle of Dr. Pepper. Mmmmmm!" - Marianna, originally from Ljubljana, while closing her eyes and rubbing her belly.

Chapter One (Part 2) of An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan

“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises and plagiarises from various sources. (People call that "pastiche" when it's on The Simpsons.)

Please check out the first part of the first chapter here.

A later chapter (Chapter 7) is found in a previous post here. I will post more of this work, and I would love to hear opinions and feedback. Thanks.


                So Larry was forgotten by the lot of us, by the by, and his crippling Mystoperia often sent him into a frenzy had he been capable of that kind of movement ar chor ar bith. He could get around on his teeth well enough, and he used to play the piano in order to communicate; starting with middle C down to A and back up to C, that meant “Yes”, C up to D and back down meant “No”, and anything by Ravel meant that he felt a little bit unsettled. He wrote some music as well of course, but it came to mostly nothing, save for the BBC playing his Summer Cantatas for hours on end on the wireless and the record-breaking sales of his third single, ‘I have teeth for legs and legs for teeth’ (six million units shifted).

                The compound which Larry built to spend the rest of his days with his wife and mistress was a large complex, heavily guarded, on the foothills outside the village, and he never permitted us access to it. So Larry spent his days in bitter solitude, with his wife and mistress and their eight beautiful childer and their seven repulsive childer.

                Father never forgave Larry for disowning the family, and ultimately he got his own back. He paid a doctor to go to Larry’s compound and to misdiagnose Larry with tuberculosis, and poor Larry was sentenced to spend the rest of his rest of his days in the Colony.

                We lived four doors away from where the Tuberculosis Colony began, so we were viewed at times with envy by those neighbours whose abodes happened to be that bit nearer. The Cassidys fared the worst; a fence made of steel wire, tied together at comparatively equidistant points with harsh, sharp, spiky knots (today known as “barbed” wire) divided our parish from the community of the Tuberculoids, and much to the dismay of the Cassidys, it cut a sheer and even path through the kitchen wall of their household, straight into the living room, under the shit-caked door spoiler, and back out onto the road, where Mad Leopold Cassidy That Jewish Bastard often stood with the barrel of his rifle peeping over the fence, and God forbid were any Tuberculoids to be found in his fancy mail-ordered crosshairs which he’d be staring through with the one good eye on him. From Prussia.

                BANG! We’d hear, and the roar would go out.
                “Wisha! Did I only get the one?”
                And it’d be two mornings later, after Mad Leopold had served his sentence in the gaol, that we would see him out again waiting. Were it not for that gaol, he would have half shtarved to death with the cold. I remember vividly and with acute perspicacity the day Mad Leopold shot brother Larry dead in the Tuberculosis Colony. He screamed out of him once he’d pulled the trigger:
                “I got him! I hit that bashtard Larry Flanagan!”
                and Mother rushed out of the house, and she ran towards the barbed wire and she fell to her knees and held her cheeks and she let a scream out of her for three hours straight while a fellow from Norway painted her portrait and she gave birth to three healthy seventeen-year-old children on the spot with the fright she got from yet another dead loved one kicking the bucketeen. But Larry wasn’t quite dead, we always said thereafter, because he had only been shot in the tooth. He scurried off down the street on his uninjured teeth and wasn’t heard from again until later in this autobiography.

                Father went out that night and stole a horse with the sadness on him, and just for the fun of it he got polatic drunk. Pay-day was every Friday when Father got the work, and more often than not his drinking binges would last for days on end, or “Jayzus me head” as he would say himself on his return home afterwards. And we used to wait for Annie Turnity every Friday night (whoever she was, Mother never told me), but we’d also be waiting for Father, and at midnight we’d wait a few hours more, and then Heaven forbid it’d be Sunday evening of the following fortnight before Father would arrive in ebriated.

                And Mother would take whatever shillings he had left (in those days, you couldn’t sell L.S.D., you had to spend it) and shuffle off down to the shops on her broken roller skates, the only shoes she had available to her. And Father would gather us all around the piano, all the children, and he’d sit Larry (many years before he’d been shot) in front of the keyboard and hold him by the hair, and while Father sang his nationalist hymns, he’d slam poor Larry’s mystoperic head into the ivories with such a force of emphasis that Larry’s poor feet would be bloody lumps for about a full term of one of Mother’s pregnancies. And Father would sing for hours, head back, chin up, eyes styptic with latent teardrops as he bashed Larry’s head and sang all night to the rafters. Now, just to give you an idea of the sheer volume of Father’s voice, we lived in Number 27. The rafters lived in Number 82, and they were so poor that they couldn’t afford a capital letter for their surname. In fact, they were so poverty stricken that they had to call their surname a crime, as they couldn’t afford to catalogue it as a name at the deed poll registry office on Main Avenue. Indeed, pat and pat rafter had only married to save money as they both had the same surname and they were both men. In the eyes of the Church, then, they weren’t lawfully matrimonised. Illegality meant no money was paid. But the sheerest sign of stark poverty within that household was that each of their twenty-three children were also eponomids. Every morning, all twenty-five pat rafters would go down to the tylet in Main Square (the public one, made out of copper before it was destroyed in the Emergency) to wash the one piece of string that constituted the family wardrobe.

                Of course, more often than not, it would be more than two weeks before Father would show up at the door after one of his binges. On those occasions, Mother would take all thirty-one of us (the two sets of triplets and sister Aoibhinn being dead at this stage) to the orphanage run by the Holy But In Terms of How They Treat Unmarried Mothers Completely Out of Order Order Order of sisters (the third Order being a typo), and Mother would do the house-keeping for a few weeks to earn the “God’s shillin’” as it was known and to get the shcrapsh from the meals so that we’d have something to fill our mouths with apart from Mother’s earlobes and teats (I was exaggerating in the extreme when I said she was only an ear, by the way. And Father wasn’t a goat either. I only said that to spruce up the beginning a little bit). At the convent, Mother would often “do the stealing” whereby she would wait for the nuns to go to sleep before covering one of them with blue paint (what was known much later as “endeavouring to alter the person so that one looked more like an axe-wielding musician in a Picasso painting”) and shipping all the food, cutlery, ornaments and holy relics out of the convent in the convent trolley and burying them on the strand where they’d be picked up by her at a later date. The nuns would wake up the following morning and go straight to Chapel No. 5 for their daily matins before noticing the blessed wine, the bread, the chalice, the trinkets and the box of dead cats gone missing out of the place. They’d point immediately at the nun who’d been coloured blue. The lady in blue would deny all knowledge of the missing paraphernalia, but her colour would itself imply to the rest of the cloisterers that there was some bewitchery afoot. Blue not only indicated the hand of the devil, but the nun’s own mortification, and the finger would be pointed, first by Mother Mary Magdalene, then, after her departure from God’s Green Earth, by Mother Julio Iglesias. To add further incrimination to the blue nun, Mother would be seized by the Grip, or the Quickening, whereby she would fall into a tremble, the eyes would go into the back of her head, and she would point a gnarled finger at the blue nun.

                “Twas her!” she’d scream, “By Jehusaleh and all the Prophets, twas her!”

                Of course, it was all an act, nothing more than a drama talent, but the nuns all thought Mother had a gift from God, and they fell for it, hook and line (we couldn’t afford the sinker). They took Mother at her word and the blue nun by the scruff of the neck and beat her to a bloody pulp and buried her for two weeks in a vat of cheap wine where she would spend two weeks in case they’d forgotten. The rest of the community would then drag her, numb and drunk, into the clearing outside the orphanage and thrown into a pit she’d be where the Homosexual Lion resided. The Lion would swallow each blue nun whole, and would digest her for a thousand days. The grisly procedure was known as the Cert of Daniel, and no clergywoman who had been swallowed by the beast had ever lived to see the tail.

                The nuns were harsh surrogate parents, they were the Irish answer to the Schulz Staffelu in Nasty Germany – except predating them by some four or nine decades. Predating those Nasty Germans through vicious espionage followed by assault, that is. Picking them off one by one and bit by bit.

                Every morning, give or take a week or two, the nuns would wake us up by rolling a grenade under the bed that eight of us (me, my sister Marie-Wallace, and six of the orphans) shared, and the bed would go up into smithereens, and we’d be sure as God awake, with a fatality or two into the bargain. And that’s where the expression ‘Bargain Basement’ comes from, because the dead bodies were placed in the orphanage cellar.

                After whatever makeshift funerals took place, we had to lacquer the stairwell and sugarfrost the community’s stash of rabid flakes of corn so that they’d taste not unlike a rival brand of cereal (but it wasn’t Kellogg’s Frosties for legal reasons) and then, after three hours of that carry-on, there’d be cutlery to polish if Mother hadn’t been entirely successful in her kleptomanic pursuits, after which we’d get a black eye, a broken jaw and a few welts on our back (which we had to share) for lunch. If we were lucky. With a bit of schooling thrown in, you’d run the risk of losing a limb if you were thought ignorant by those madly habited women. Excuse my bad language.

                And every day I was sent on an errand by those madly habited women, forty-three miles if it was a day to The Bishop’s Epistolary Palace in the snow and rain with boots made out of nails and studs and thumb tacks and knives and forks and scissors and I had to deliver a note to the Bishop.

                Bishop O’Brien would invite me into his epistolary castle (where he received his letters) and I would sit and watch a screen on the broad side of what was known as a pixel manipulator and stare for hours at the images that would come up from a place which the good bishop called Alexandra Palace.

                And he would fetch me a Guinness, or a Jemmy Rocks if there was no stout available, and I would drink the beverage and slowly my eyes would close and I’d be asleep for a couple of hours, or maybe more, I’m not certain, but I’d be out like a light that had been switched off for three minutes, or a light, as they say nowadays. And that was without doubt the best period of my early childhood, being asleep in the castle of the bishop, and he would read the letter that I’d delivered from the Out of Order Order, while he sat on his throne with his mitre on his head, which was a great phallocentric symbol of the patriarchal control held by the Church Fathers over the Church Mothers, and, indeed, the mothers of the Church Fathers, as well as their daughters and their wives, if they were allowed to have any, which they weren’t, of course. But some of them had anyway.

                To put it mildly, women had to ask the bishop’s permission to use the tylet. And that’s what those letters which I took with me from the nuns to the bishop were all about. They concerned a demand for each lady clergy woman to go to the tylet in Main Square made of copper before it was wiped out in the Emergency by the Luftwaffles. And those are the earliest memories of my childhood. After that, once I was four, I had to start going to work in the factory.

The first part of the next chapter is online here.

Chapter One (Part 1) of An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan

“An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan” is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictitious Irish television and radio personality. It parodies misery memoirs (such as Angela’s Ashes by the late great Frank McCourt) and cannibalises and plagiarises from various sources.

Please check out the first part of the first chapter here.

A later chapter (Chapter 7) is found in a previous post here. I will post more of this work, and I would love to hear opinions and feedback. Thanks.

                My mother was an ear and my father was a goat. I didn’t dwell on it much as a child; you tend not to pick up on such things when you’re as underprivileged as was I.
                We were all underprivileged, all forty-two of us, all the brothers and sisters under the one roof. And seven more foetuses in the milk bottle always on our doorstep. My very first memories are of the room in Main Lane, sitting on the floorboards, preoccupied with the bald and tatthered shliothar that I had carefully fashioned into a make believe microphone that had once been a former baby’s head, most of the baby since made into a delicious coddle through the culinary genius of my frugal mother. Every so often I would babble something or other. My mother, working across the room at stove or sink, would look over at me, smile and ask shrilly:
                “Yes, macushla?”
                or agree with me:
                “Yes, macushla.”
                She couldn’t have done much else, she couldn’t have done any worse. She talked to me, engaged me in conversation, encouraged my incoherencies until they became intelligible. I get paid to speak at public functions now; you can make a pretty penny out of it, and I owe it all to my mother. My oratorical skill would not be what it is today were it not for her patience.
                I do recall, in my infant years, seeing a slightly older brother christened Larry trying to place his fingers in the electric plug socket that went unused after the Marconis’ departure. And Larry had teeth for legs and legs for teeth. Mystoperia, as the Good Indian Corkman Doctor Singh called it. The diagnosis upon birth in the hospital, my mother informs me after Larry’s malformed carriage broke her dam that Tuesday ninemonth, went as follows.
                Doctor Singh came into the delivery room to make his examination, stuck his spectacles on the bridge of his nose and scribbled with his quill on a piece of card. He pointed at Larry’s face from where the feet were protruding, running an officious index finger around the defective region.
                “Dayr is a Mestuparea here,” he informed my mother in his inimitable Indian pidgin. Then he pointed clinically at Larry’s podal domain, equally defunct as it consisted mostly of teeth. “And dayr is a Mestuparea here.” And that’s how Larry was first diagnosed with Mystoperia.
                There was a lack of psychoanalytic counselling in those days, of course, and Larry spent his formative years eking out a miserable existence without much attention, which he craved.
                At least one afternoon of every week, Father Rorty our parish priest arrived, to hear Larry tell of his complaints (the infant being utterly bereft of company) and “to give the child a gentle and special kind of love.”
                On Father Rorty’s visits, the rest of the clan would leave the dwelling. The gas cooker would be left on Mark Four with eight quartersticks of dynamite in the oven to show the glimmer man where to go (“The way to Hivin”, as Father always said) in case he called around on one of his random inspections. The numbers on the hall door would be reversed so that the postmaster-general would be confused and wouldn’t know what to do with any telegrams from Cousin Barney who was serving in a tedious conflict in South Africa at the time and would return later (both the postmaster-general and Cousin Barney).
                Father Rorty made a habit of coming near Larry at least once a week, sewing consistently beside the tainted child for at least fourteen years. The habit was made of silk from the gossamer cobwebs in the corners of our tenement. He gave it when finished to Mother Mary Magdalene, who stitched it into her scalp and refused to part with it on pain of death, smitten as she was by Father Rorty, and him not being the least interested in her, having more the proclivities of a celibate paedophile.
                The habit killed her in the end, so. Her encephalographic habeas corpus showed gangrene in her brain; it was obvious, according to the coroner, that the nun had stitched too deeply. Alas, Mother Mary Magdalene, her subcutaneous patchwork got her in the end.
                And so, on Father Rorty’s visits, Larry would get very excited. As soon as he saw the priest, he would start to clamber across the floor on his teeth, away from the equally delighted Priestly Presence, as he was known, struggling like mad once this Man of God – who in his spare time raised the sacred grail of the Lord heavenward every Sunday, his congregation lowering their collective heads in deference and closing their eyes in meditative and contemplative aspect – had him in his arms, and the screams of delight emanating from his legged orifice would fill Mother’s eyes with tears of joy. This was of course when paedophilia was still regarded as a deviancy. The family would leave the house and Larry under Father Rorty’s supervision, and we would all visit the picture house on Main Street, where PJ ‘Bán’ Ceagher, as the projectionist, would slip all forty-two of us for free in through the oculus for the projector, and we would sit in the back row, eyes fixed on the follower-upper to the pre-latest antics of Flash Gordon and The Three Stooges, hurling shit and abuse at the Protestants up the front and pissing down on them from above if the urge took us.
                The end of the film would mark our return home, of course, and when we came in through the door Larry would be propped up over a stool, naked from the waist down, face glowing with tears of delight and the healthy grimace of toes fixed between his deformed lips stretching from defective ear to happy ear. Another negligible few lines of silk would have been added to the habit Father Rorty had been making which he could have finished with ease in one sitting, like a widow’s shroud for a Greek hero, still far from home and alive but pined for as if deceased.
                Of course, Father Rorty was so attached to Larry that he couldn’t finish the habit he was fabricating for Mother Mary Magdalene in just one sitting. And Father Rorty would himself be sitting at the fire hearth, a lukewarm jar of milky tea flavoured with a spoonful of homemade jam in the Russian fashion in one hand, cigarette trembling ever so slightly in the other, gratified.

Part 2 of Chapter One here.