CHAPTER THIRTEEN: A REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE, THE TROUT OF FIERCE INTELLIGENCE AND OTHER ADVENTURES (PART THREE)
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 2.
John Fisherman O’Reilly became obsessed with the Trout of Fierce Intelligence after falling in love with Gráinne and hearing my report of her demise. The Trout of Fierce Intelligence was – of course – a legendary fish. It was said that if the fish was caught and eaten, then whoever ate it became blessed with genius. John Fisherman O’Reilly sat on the bank of the River Shandy day in, day out, for months and months in an attempt to catch that fish. He caught plenty of halibut and salmon, but not a whisker of trout met his lure.
At any rate, I was patrolling my hometown one evening with Tancred, evading the recognised police force and the British army while we did so. We were walking along Galway Street when I spotted a silhouetted figure darting from rooftop to rooftop, seemingly coming from Tiptoft’s residence, no further than fifty yards away. There was no doubt in my mind that it was Michael Shadraff again. I looked around, ensuring that there was no one else on the street, before I shouted
Tancred instinctively drew his bow and inserted an arrow into it. The figure on the roof froze momentarily, looked back at us, and started off on his way again. Tancred unleashed the quarrel; his aim was true, and the arrow struck the figure in the shoulder. A scream of pain rang out and the figure fell from the roof. We ran towards where we assumed the figure had fallen, but all that remained in the spot was a bar towel from O’Halloran’s pub.
“I’m going to O’Halloran’s,” Tancred said immediately.
“I’ll go,” I insisted, “In my tramp’s disguise.”
“We’ll both go,” Tancred said, “I’ll wait outside, and if there’s any trouble, I’ll help you out.”
“Right you are,” I said, as we made our way down the street.
Jarlath O’Halloran, as a publican and respected member of the community, would be anxious to hear news of his bar towels being used in nefarious and enigmatic activities like roof walking.
We arrived at the pub and I donned my tramp’s disguise before knocking on the door while Tancred waited in the shadows across the street. I knocked a second time before Jarlath arrived at the door in his pyjama bottoms, naked from the waist up with a blood soaked bandage on his shoulder.
Noticing the wound, I gave him a thump in the face and pushed him in through the door. He roared but I drew my pistol and pointed it into his face.
“Another word and it’ll be your last,” I said to him. “What were you doing on that roof earlier this morning?”
He stayed silent, so I cracked him over the head with the butt of the pistol. He groaned, and protested “You told me I couldn’t talk a minute ago and now you’re asking me questions!”
“Sorry about that. You can talk now. What were you doing up on the roof?”
“I was visiting Colonel Sir Edward Tiptoft’s house for a service.”
“What kind of service?” I asked.
“A service of worship.”
“Not a Mass exactly… a service to honour Floudh Rak the Weatherlock and to pray for the damnation of Paddy Flanagan and all who follow him.”
I got more information out of Jarlath O’Halloran that night than I’d had for a long time.
Some of it I’d heard before, of course, but those bits and pieces I’d heard before served as a recap to my memory. It seemed that in my hometown, a cult had been established worshipping Floudh Rak the evil Weatherlock. All of the respected members of the community with few exceptions were members of the lodge, and I was told that Floudh Rak wanted me tortured and killed because I had caused some upset to Floudh Rak’s cousin the leprechaun Dizzy MacFlash some years previous. Floudh Rak had promised Ireland to Britain if I was caught and handed over to him.
“Why would you forsake Ireland’s independence for the life of an Irish patriot like Paddy Flanagan?”
There was anger in his eyes.
“Irish patriot, indeed – shower of feckin’ poets and school teachers, the lot of you – whipping up fear like a WANKER!”
I smacked him again and he seemed to come to, as if he’d been in a trance.
“We’ve been promised more money than we could imagine by the British,” Jarlath told me, “Not only that, but none of us would stand a chance against an evil Weatherlock. We’re better off going along with him than not going along with him.”
I went behind the bar and poured myself a whiskey. I emptied the glass into my mouth. I couldn’t believe the temerity and treachery of the townspeople. Mayor Tully, Bishop O’Brien, Jarlath O’Halloran and Gold Bollocks Tiptoft were all in cahoots against me with an evil Weatherlock and it seemed I didn’t have a shniff of a chance in surviving. I needed to come up with a plan to end all of this as soon as I could. I thought about going to the press, but they didn’t believe in fairies, much less evil Weatherlocks. I heard a crash outside and looked out through the pub window to see forty-two pat rafters surrounding Tancred on the street. Tancred had his fists raised; he’d just knocked one of them into a dustbin at the side of the road.
Continued from Chapter 13 Part 4.