Pat watched the little car drive away. He didn’t like the look of that guy, one little bit. The story about getting lost going cross country was total rubbish. A city boy looking as sick as he did, was up to no good, of that Pat was sure. Whatever his story was, he was gone now and good riddance. Pat went back to his kitchen and finished putting away his groceries.
Pat looked out over the rolling grassland of his little farm, letting his mind wander. It must be a sign of getting old, as these daydreams were happening more and more often these days. The Mann family had been farming this land for over one hundred and sixty years. Soon all that would come to an end. His wife, God bless her soul, had given him one son, James, who was the apple of her eye. It broke Pat's heart when James looked beyond the ways of the country for his happiness. James was a good boy, perhaps too good of a boy. He visits, now and again, but the look of boredom hovering behind his eyes is undeniable.
The last real tie James had with this farm ended when Annie passed away, that was five years ago. Cancer had taken her, the fags did the damage. Pat hid it as best he could but he was broken with the loss of her. Every morning, first thing, he would turn to her photo on the dresser and say "Well Annie love, time to get a move on," just as he had said to her every morning of their thirty eight year marriage. Pat talked to Annie without noticing she was no longer there, as if she were still sitting by the range. Annie was no ghost in this house, she was as real as she had always been. Pat couldn't imagine even a moment without her essence in his life, what would be the point in going on without her.
After she died Pat felt so hollow, he was sure he would follow her from grief alone. It didn't happen, no matter how often he wished for it. Time has a way of just passing, a minuet at a time. Before you know it an hour is gone, then a day, soon a week has passed. After that months and years seem easy, life is relentless. No matter how much you think you can't go on, time ignores your needs and ploughs ahead regardless. One thing is sure, everyone owes a death.
Soon he would run out of time. The only one left to pass the farm too was James. Pat was sure it would be sold rather than kept as a Mann family farm. Pat felt disappointed, this land was important, it was what made a man a man. Pat's parents and grandparents had fought and died for this land and now his seed would just give it a way for a fist full of silver. Any dreams his ancestors had of this place passing from generation to generation into the mists of time, were but a fantasy.
Pat shook of his daydream off and set about finishing his chores. The back door lay open, allowing the sounds of birds and insects to drift into the house on a gentle summer breeze. Early in his life, the quiet of the country seemed stifling, but these days he liked the way it laid gently on his ears. Once he had been young, wild and idealistic, though it was hard to guess by the bent old man he had become. Deep inside the fire that had burned so bright, glowed still.
Pat had sought out excitement, bucking the system, and striving for what he thought was right. Pat had attended meetings in the dead of night, planned actions and hid guns to help unify a country he felt was still under occupation. He listened to the rhetoric, and was carried away by stories of hero's fallen for a greater good. He had struggled against occupation and had lived to see peace come to his land. How quickly the masses forgot, how quickly they thrown away all they had achieved. People were all the same, he now realised, as were governments, Irish, English, whatever, it made no difference. It was as if all his efforts, all the sacrifices, were just forgotten, but he still held on to his truth.
"Ah, what's wrong with me Annie?" he said, to the empty room. "I'm getting maudlin in my old age. I think we will be seeing each other soon love, but till then the cattle in the top field still need water"
Pat walked stiffly towards the small tractor and the never ending list of jobs waiting to be done.
Meals in the Mann house were never going to win culinary awards, frying pans loaded with meat, plenty of lard, with a mountain of spuds boiled in their skins. Pat dumped the potatoes on newspaper, laid directly on the kitchen table. Once peeled they were sloshed around in the congealed grease, bubbling in frying pan, before being wolfed down. Pat only bothered with a plate if there was going to be company in the house. Tonight's feast of chops and spuds happened to be served on chipped white plates because Michael Ryan had called round for a chat.
"Have you enough chops Michael?" Pat enquired landing a bloody lump of meat swimming in artery clogging grease onto his plate.
"More than I will be able to finish thanks, Pat. Are those your own potatoes?"
"Yep sure are. Dug a fresh basin just this morning," he said.
"I knew it, they had to be," Michael said. "Balls of flower they are, not like the soapy things you get in the shops. You know, I heard they all come in from Spain! Can you credit that? Flying spuds all the way from Spain to Ireland. Sure isn't Ireland where they first found the spud growing," said Michael, in between chomps, pits of potato flying across the table with each word.
Pat was fairly sure that potatoes actually came from America, but he said nothing. Michael was a grand chap, even if not the brainiest in the world. Like Pat, Michael had been born and breed not a mile from here. They hadn’t know each other as boys, they’d first met when Pat began doing little jobs for the republicans. Pat was only a runner, where Michael had been fully committed. It was best never to know too much about those times, a philosophy that the organisation encouraged and Pat followed with determination by never asking anything. If you needed to know, someone told you, otherwise keep yourself to yourself. Michael had a fiery temper all his life, but after a few midnight trips in the late seventies, he became completely unhinged. There was damage deep down in that man for sure. Pat liked Michael, and any company was good company. Pat spent too much time creaking around this old place by himself. He only went into town for shopping or the odd trip to the pub. A lot of his friends were taking up plots in the church yard these days. Only a hand full were left alive.
For the rest of the evening they drank whisky and Guinness. They discussed politics, the way things were changing, they shared news, and stories. In short they had a grand old night but soon it was dark.
"I better put some road under my shoes Pat," Michael said, getting to his feet unsteadily.
"It's fair late Michael. Why not sleep here?" Pat asked. It was nice having company."Jame's room is all made up."
"Well, I could, I suppose," Michael said, plopping back down in the chair. Pat reached across, sloshing a shot of whisky into Michael's glass.
"Twist my arm why don't you," Michael laughed.
"Go on tell me again how you think that gob-shite Kenny is doing a good job running the country," Pat teased, delighted his friend was not leaving just yet.
Duggie woke up before midnight. He got out of the car and stretched his legs. He stood where he was and peed copiously without trying to hide from the passing traffic. He opened up the boot, lifting the carpet lining to get at the spare tyre. Inside there was a small tool kit. Duggie put a screwdriver in his pocket as well as taking the tyre iron out before replacing carpet. He still needed to cover his face with something but he had nothing to use. Duggie was hungry, but that would have to wait until later. He had a more demanding need to attend to first. He only had half a wrap left, but it would have to do until he got back to civilisation. He only barely felt the drug hit his system, the cook-up was so weak.
He started the car and turned back toward the village, and the farmer’s lane. On the way he made a quick stop at a house with washing hung out in the garden. He grabbed a pair of women's tights, and a tee shirt and jeans belonging to a teenager. Duggie was so thin he could shop in the children's section. He found a quiet spot and changed his clothes, putting the tracksuit in the boot along with the stolen stuff he hadn’t gotten round to fencing yet.
Duggie found the lane easily enough. He opened a gate and drove the car into a field out of sight, before walking the rest of the way up the narrow roadway. Soon he could clearly see the farmyard. All the lights were out but it was only just after one in the morning. It would be better to wait a while longer, to make sure the old man was in bed. Duggie climbed into the ditch, taking up a position out of sight. It was nearly two when he was happy and he climbed down onto the lane once more.
Duggie rolled the tights down over his face, then he picked up the tyre iron and scurried across the lane. He crossed the yard as quietly as he could and tried the front door. Locked. Moving along the building, checking windows as he went, all locked. Duggie moved around the back of the house to the kitchen door. It opened easily when he lifted the latch. Duggie couldn't believe his luck.
The kitchen smelled of frying and farts. Dishes were piled in the sink. On the sideboard was a half empty bottle of whiskey. Duggie unscrewed the cap and took a big swallow. He needed something to top off his buzz. From overhead came the deep steady snores of the farmer. Duggie began to search the kitchen. In the coat hanging on the back of the door he found a wallet with about a hundred euro in it, but little else. It looked like he would have to get the farmer to tell him where his stash was. Duggie took the screwdriver out of his pocket and pushed the door leading upstairs slightly wider.
Duggie took each step quietly, timing his steps with the deep snores of the farmer, masking any creeks. The bedroom door stood ajar, he could see the shape of the farmer under the blankets. He looked much smaller than he had earlier in the day. Duggie appraised the weapons in his hand. If he hit the old lad with the tyre iron he might end up killing him. Duggie didn't want to be facing a lifetime stretch, just because some old bogger could not take a slap. Better to scare him with the screwdriver, if he needed persuading, his fists would do the job nicely. Duggie left the tyre iron on the carpet outside the bedroom door before going in. He wanted the element of surprise. He didn’t want to give the old codger the chance to pull a twelve gauge from under the bed.
Duggie was standing over the old man looking at his sleeping, snoring face, it was now or never. Duggie grabbed the farmers face covering his mouth with his right hand while holding the screwdriver about a foot away.
"Where is the money?" he snarled. The farmer’s eyes shot open and tried to lift himself off the bed.
Duggie jumped on top of him, straddling the old man. Duggie punched him hard in the side of the face which hurt his hand something rotten. "Where is the fucking money?" Duggie yelled no longer needing to be quiet.
"In my jacket down stairs," the old man said in shock. Duggie punched him a few more times. "I am not talking about a few notes, you dipstick. Where do you keep the real money? Tell me now or swear I will shove this fucking thing right through your eye," Duggie said, brandishing the screwdriver an inch from the frightened farmers face.
"I have no money. Leave me alone," the farmer cried, trying to cover his face. Duggie leaned back and swung the screwdriver down hard on the farmer’s leg. The tip bit, but didn't go in to far, the sheet took most of the punishment. The Farmer screamed in pain,
"Aha Jesus you stabbed me!" The old man's eyes rolled in his head before again coming under control, he took a few rasping breaths and said, "I told you he said I have NO MONEY!"
Duggie punched him again, "This is the last time I ..."
Right then the world went black for Duggie Finn.
Michael pulled the prone body off Pat, and swung the tyre iron a few more times. He felt it thud softly into different parts of the unmoving man.
When he stopped, he was panting. "Are you Okay Pat?" Michael asked standing there in his underwear.
"He flipping stabbed me in the leg," Pat winced, through split lips.
"Give me a look," said Michael, pulling back the bed sheets."It's sore looking, but not deep.”
Michael wiped the blood away with the corner of the sheet. "We will stick a bandage on it in a bit," he said.
Pat pushed himself out of the bed to have a look at the man lying on the floor. He leaned over and yanked the tights off Duggie's head. "That's the same lad that broke down out on the lane today. Remember I told you about him earlier?"
"You said he was a scumbag, looks like you were right," Michael said, tapping the tyre iron against Duggie's unmoving leg.
"Do you think he is dead?" asked Pat.
"Don't know for sure. I cracked him a good one around the back of the head. He could be," Michael said.
"Do you think we should check?" asked Pat.
"Sure," said Michael. He hit Duggie an unmerciful slap with the tyre iron across the hip. Duggie let out a groan of pain.
"Looks like he's alive," said Michael with a straight face. "What will we do with him?"
"I don't know. Let me put some clothes on." Pat said. They tied Duggie’s hands behind his back with a belt, and his feet with an old tie that was hanging in the wardrobe. Then they got dressed themselves. Once dressed they gathered around the scobie robber again.
"We should call the Gardaí?" asked Pat.
"You don't have a phone," Michael said helpfully. "Are you going to leave this little shit alone here while we go to the village? He would have the place turned inside out by the time we get back."
"Fair point," said Pat, rubbing his throbbing face.
"Anyway how are you going to explain who hit him? You know they are still trying to pin half the bank jobs in Wexford on me. I’m not saying a word to them," said Michel. He had a thing about the guards, he was convinced they were still after him. It might have been true at one stage, but now Pat doubted if they even knew Michael existed. You won't convince Michael of that.
"What about you?" asked Michael.
"What do you mean, What about me?" Pat asked, confused and a little bit cranky.
"You’re always hearing about things like this. Some scrot breaks into a house, ends up falling down the stairs. What does he do but sue the fella that owns the house for thousands," Michael said.
"I don't have thousands, what would be the point of suing me?" said Pat.
"He might end up getting the farm if you couldn’t pay him," reasoned Michael. "Anyway look at him, he hardly fell down the stairs, we battered the shit out of him."
"You battered him, not me," argued Pat.
"Makes no difference. It's your house, Pat. He might have brain damage or anything," Michael said, tapping Duggie in the forehead with his shoe.
"I’m going to have to think about this," said Pat. He was worried because he thought Michael might be right. He had heard those stories too.
"One way or the other I am not losing the farm," he said, at last. "We will have to hold on to him until we see how bad he is."
"We can't leave him here," said Michael.
"We will use the bunker," suggested Pat.
During the time he was hiding guns for the 'Boys' he had converted the back of the milking shed into a bunker by building a fake end wall. One of the grain holders swung out on hinges, a hidden door. It was as safe as houses. A small vent in the roof let in air but there were no windows. Duggie was beginning to come round, Pat grabbed his shoulders and Michael his feet, lifting Duggie like an old rug.
"Jesus he is as light as a feather," laughed Michael "How did you let a little shite like this get the better of you."
"I was asleep, you donkey. I didn't get chance to get a slap in before you were rearranging his brain," Pat laughed. Sometimes you just had to laugh. Down the stairs they went. The two old men slagging each other while Duggie’s drugged and bruised brain tried to make sense of what was going on.
Final Part http://squidmcfinnigan.blogspot.ie/2013/08/duggie-finn-final-part.html