CHAPTER THIRTEEN: A REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE, THE TROUT OF FIERCE INTELLIGENCE AND OTHER ADVENTURES (PART TWO)
An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster.
Continued from Chapter 13 Part 1.
The fourteen hopefuls were streaming out of the park.
I stood facing Little Billy Boy Cullen, my hands gripping the seams of my big boy trousers in nervousness.
“I told youze all to GET OUT!” Bill said, barely acknowledging me.
“I’m not an apprentice. My name is Paddy Flanagan. I’m an enemy of the Fair Folk.”
“You’re a wha’? Billy Boy asked.
“Let’s just say I need your help to make amends with the leprechauns and the fair folk, Master Cullen.”
“Is this to do with that warlock weatherhead I’ve been hearing all them rumours about?”
“Yes. I need your help defeating him.”
“Why muggins, here? Why me?” Bill glared.
“Because I think you can see the green shoots of recovery,” I said to him then, inspired by Grainne’s words from a previous episode of my life.
“Yeh wha’ now?”
“You can see the green shoots of recovery, Bill—”
“I see no such thing,” Bill said, glancing at his finely filed fingernails.
“You’re not going to tell me that you see the green shoots of recovery?” I prompted.
Billy Boy “Bad to the Bone” Cullen looked deep into my eyes. I saw beyond his anger. I saw the whisker – nay, the very whimper, the tiniest and the last of shreds – of redemption he was offering me. And the lengths to which he was willing to go to offer it. I glimpsed the pain in his soul, and the opportunity that he presented. But reluctant as he was to let me go, I also knew that he knew that if I didn’t take it now, that I never would. He knew that he would have to let me go.
“You’re the only person I know who’s qualified,” I blurted out. “You’re still young enough to enter the dreamscape and communicate with the fair folk! But you’re also smart enough to know what to do. And I heard your negotiating skills are among the very best in the business – any business!”
“Who told you that?”
There was an eternity of silence that said everything.
“I heard you build bridges, Bill.”
“Build bridges? I painted me auntie’s fence last week. That’s the closest I’ve come to building bridges. But I didn’t actually paint her fence. I convinced the other kids it was a good idea. Coz that’s how I operate. And do you know what they gave me? A toffee apple making machine, four tin soldiers – only one of them with a broken leg! But all that stuff isn’t important. What it meant was a profit of some extra time which in turn meant I could sell four hundred apples that day to the hungry punters at Leopardstown. ‘In turn meant without trial.’ Coz that’s how I operate. Do you know how much money I made that day?”
“Shillin’ tuppence hae penny.” Bill glanced at his finely manicured fingernails before looking back up.
“Very good,” I said, feeling humbled.
“Do you like penny apples, do yeh?”
Quick as a flash, Bill launched an apple at my head from the sleeve of his Baby Gro. It glanced off my temple in an explosion of juice and bursted out apple.
“Well, then…how do you like them penny apples?”
“I like them very much,” I said, blushing and wiping my face.
“Right,” Little Billy Boy Cullen said, rubbing the top of Beeyian’s head, and now convinced of my integrity. “What we need to do – yourself and meself, sez I – is we need to pop down to Pearse Street Station, and we have to gain access to Platform Seven and a Bit!”
“How do we do that, Bill?”
“It’s a waiting game, Paddy. And waiting games are for mugs and to catch the early worm. You get in and you get out, and you do the job in the middle. And that’s what it’s all about. The old Hokey Pokey. Coz that’s how I operate. But you need to learn which of those two you are. The mug… or the worm. Plus the portal only opens intermittently. And you need your ectoplasmic shield, of course. I’ll have to organise that. For a small fee.”
“What’ll I do in the meantime, Billy?”
“I’ll set you a task. What I want from you is your wits about yeh. That’s how I operate. So what you can do is catch and eat the trout of fierce intelligence – or at the very least to yeh – bring along the man who does – and use those smarts to overcome the weatherlock in this world. Fish oils brighten the dullest of minds.”
“What are you gonna do?”
“Well, this weatherhead fella is bad for business. So we’ll have to get rid of him. In the meantime, I’ll get together obtaining some silk rope from the loom of the Anti-HolyMother Her Very Self, the Stuntman Mary. That will act as a kind of a tether, so that when you are making your way over to the Fairy Land, I can bring you back.”
“Is there anything I need to do in the meantime?” I asked.
Billy Boy reflected for a moment before looking at me earnestly.
“Just remember,” he said. “You’ll need something on your person, something small but quite heavy. That’ll be a thing called your totem. When you get a letter from meself, you’ll know to come back. And I’ll have everything ready.”
Chapter 13 Part 3 is here.