[Uploaded on day above. 

This is Chapter Two. To read from start go straight to THIS LINK.]

So what’s the book?
A novel, or fiction, whatever the word. It’s set in Ireland, and Canada, and Australia. But written and presented for the various platforms people use to read today. So there’s added links and embedded stuff here and there, but not too many. Those links are underlined like this.  Apart from all that, this is is still a written book.
How long?
Pretty damn long. And it could get longer if the author takes any of the comments and criticism on board. But it’s in short digestible chunks. Right now if you read a chapter or so a week you could be here til...oh...Christmas?
So how does this work?
Each week (or so) a new chapter will be published here online.
Over on the parallel site all the chapters so far published will appear, in one file, updated each week...or thereabouts.  So if you’re new here right now and have missed any previous chapters, go there first. And then drop in here each week to see the latest.
You may add comments/criticism  right here on this blog page, or tweet the author @conankwrites



This is Chapter Two.
To read earlier chapters go to the parallel site here.


                                       Cuchulainn at The General Post Office, Dublin.                                                                      


                Happy Christmas. And to your folks too. (Don’t forget to pass that on.) We’ll talk in the New Year. xxx Lucy.
Adam read the email.
Xxx , he wondered, xxx? Were they kisses? Meaning love? Or was it just her polite way of saying fuck you, you bastard? Sometimes Lucy’s love and her fuck-you-you-bastard kind of merged. This was a volatile relationship. But bottom line this Christmas morning stayed the same, that she had left him. Again.
His mother knew. And his father. And his sister. And his brother-in-law. And maybe his sister’s children too, maybe even they knew. But the kids didn’t care if Lucy had left him or not. Opening presents was their priority.
Adam had bought the boy a game, a computer game.
Back home in the apartment last night he’d tried it out himself. It was very lifelike. Simple minded yes, but lifelike. But then there’s lives and lives, simple lives and complex lives. In this game you had to do a lot of things before you died. And the more things you did the more lives you would get. So you could come back again. And do more things. Fly a fighter jet through the Grand Canyon. Sing in the Grand Ole Opry.
Things like that appealed to nine year olds.
And to twenty nine year old unemployed building surveyors.
Back home in the apartment last night Adam had been more than half drunk and crashed his plane in the Grand Canyon. Suspected that even if he hadn’t been half drunk he’d have crashed anyway. These games were designed for younger minds, newer minds, the mutant generation. In any event he didn’t earn any new lives in the Grand Canyon so had to start all over again. Second time round he was booed off the stage at the Grand Ole Opry…and so he died again.
That was more or less it.
After that he’d carefully packed the game up so’s it looked brand new and unopened.
The girl was thirteen. No maybe fourteen? Thereabout. He had thought of getting her a dress or a top or something and had gone to Penney’s. But wandering there in the young-girl-gear department he decided it might be inappropriate, that he might come across as a dirty old uncle. He realised that this was the sort of occasion when he really needed Lucy. Forget about sex or companionship or a shared interest, the time a guy really needs a woman is when he’s buying clothes for a young girl. It takes the edge off the dirty old uncle bit. But Lucy wasn’t there and it wasn’t long before he decided he didn’t want to be there either. That whether or not he came across as a dirty old uncle was not the real problem. That the real problem was that no matter what he bought the child she’d look like a hooker. A thirteen fourteen year old hooker. The clothes had that thing about them. Someone should write to the papers about it. But sure as hell that someone wasn’t going to be him. Soon as he did the lads would say it was all in his own mind. That he really was a dirty old uncle.
Lads say things like that.
Unsupportive things.
That’s the whole point of having lads.
They’re like those particular slaves that Roman Emperors had around the place, the ones to remind them of their humanity. And their weakness, their mortality. One day, those slaves would mutter in the ear, one day you too shall die. One day, the lads would whisper in Adam’s ear, one day you too shall be up before Judge Carney as a dirty old uncle. Eight hundred and thirty other offences to be taken into consideration.
So fuck that. Let someone else write to the papers about the early sexualization of young girls.
Adam went out of the young-girl-gear department and out of Penney’s and into the GPO. He didn’t need stamps, just liked the GPO. In one door and out the other, that sort of liking. Appreciated the architecture, the period feel. Nineteen twenties, thirties? Around then. Great architecture, good times. Pity about the rise of Nazi-ism. Gulags and despots, all that, pity. But whatever, he liked the place. And liked to imagine he was Patrick Pearse rallying the revolutionaries in nineteen sixteen. Tragic, a poet, and mad.  A country needs that.
Another GPO thing...Adam liked to look at the statue of the dying Cuchulainn. It kind of gave a focus to a man walking up O’Connell Street, a good gaze at the statue of the dying Cuchulainn. But this day he couldn’t see the statue, it was hidden by a Christmas Crib. So he examined that instead. And thought vaguely that they should have had the three wise men dressed as postmen. It’d kind of give it an edge. Might write to An Post about the matter. But hardly worth the stamp.
They’d think I was a crank.
So that was the second letter he wasn’t going to write today.
Nothing about the over sexualisation of young girls, nothing about three wise men dressed as postmen.
Oh well, Adam thought, the world’s a poorer place.
He looked at the crib and walked away. Appreciated the architecture, some, imagined he was Patrick Pearse rallying the Volunteers, some, and went back out onto the street. There was a girl garda standing in the doorway, watching drug peddlars like she was tired. He looked her up and down. Wondered about her life. And her underwear. And her hair stuffed up into her hat, and how it would look on her naked shoulders in a tumble. Pretty damn good, he reckoned, pretty damn good. And he then walked on.
He turned up Henry Street and looked at the stalls there. He listened to the harsh voices of the attendants. And noticed their harsher faces, thin lipped and cruel eyed. Generations of Dublin’s criminal families hereabouts, he told himself. Slum dwellers. One tap in the yard. And a bucket of shit on the landing. They’d come from that to this.
How far was that journey?
Holy Mother, he decided, so this is what you get, this genetic mix.   A thousand years of Irish tribesfolks breeding with Viking rapists and British soldiers. And throw in syphilitic  sailors from Christ knows where. This is what you get. Holy Mother. He walked up as far as Arnott’s and then walked back. No need to linger further. The decision was made. He’d actually almost immediately seen what he wanted and his mind was made up. But a pause between mind and action was always useful, particularly where money was involved, and tight. There was a recession on. And he was unemployed. But needs must. So on the way back down the street he stopped again at that particular stall selling the large wooden bird with the  two foot wingspan, the bird of no particular breed that you suspended from the ceiling in such a manner that it flapped its wings and looked like it was flying.
He liked that.
And the thirteen fourteen year old niece would like that too, he decided.
Thirteen fourteen year old girls like colourful wooden birds with two foot wingspans flapping over their bed. Or so he told himself. Not entirely convincingly, because he vaguely suspected that they’d prefer Johnny Depp hovering by the bedside but he just wasn’t going there. That was dirty old uncle territory.
He bought the bird.
And not only did he buy the bird… he hung it from his niece’s ceiling this very Christmas morning. He’d brought along fixings and screws precisely for that purpose. His brother-in-law watched him. And said this is bloody ridiculous, you’re making holes in the ceiling.
“I’m a building surveyor”, Adam told him. “I’m looking for the joist. Trust me”.
“I don’t trust you. You’re an unemployed building surveyor. That bird is going to fall on her head.”
“This bird is not going to fall. You could swing out of this bird. You’ve got to think of your daughter.”
“What? What do I have to think of my daughter?”
“Think of her lying here, imagining she’s in a tropical forest. And big colourful birds are flapping overhead. Stimulate the imagination. Children need that.”
“What the hell do you know about children?”
“I have a deep understanding,” Adam told him, “a deep understanding.”
“Well maybe you should patch up with Lucy and have some of your own. You’ll know more then.”
“Patch? Up? Lucy and I do not believe in patching…up…Lucy and I have a deep understanding. The words patch and up have no role in such a relationship.”
“Oh for godsakes let’s go downstairs and have another drink, it’s Christmas.”
They went downstairs and had another drink, it was Christmas.
The niece called him Adman. When she was a very very small girl she’d latched on to the name. And now that she was thirteen going on fourteen and dressed like a hooker…but courtesy of her mother’s taste so that was ok… now she knew quite well his name was Adam but also knew what an adman was…so she thought it funny.
“So what did you get me Adman,” she asked, “you said it was a surprise.”
“Yes I did, it’s up in your bedroom. Go up there and see.”
She went.
She came back down again. She said “hey everybody, Adman gave me a surprise in my bedroom”.
I wish she hadn’t put it quite like that, Adam thought.
“It’s a big wooden bird, flapping on the ceiling. It’s great. Thanks Adman”.
“The pleasure is all mine,” he told her. “So what school are you going to now?”
“Ah yes.” Adam hadn’t the remotest idea of where or what that was.
“Ad finem fidelis,” she said. And looked at him steadily.
“You wha?”
“Ad finem fidelis. It’s our motto. It means to the end, faithful.”
“Faithful to what?”
“I’m not exactly sure,” she said. And looked at him steadily.
“I looked it up on the internet,” she added, “ it’s the motto of the Gilroy Clan. They’re Scottish.”
“Why would a Dublin girls’ school have the motto of a Scottish clan?”
“Could be many reasons,” she said, nodded.
It was at this point that Adam realised she was taking the piss out of him, that some private amusement was going on in her head.
“Whatever,” he said, to put a stop to that. “Now about the bird. Up there.” He pointed to the ceiling. She looked up at the ceiling. Looked back down at him. Still taking the piss, but what the hell. “Now what you’ve got to do is lie up in your room at night, and imagine, you’re far far away, in a mystery land. In a forest. Or a jungle. And there’s a great big flapping bird, over your head, mysterious.”
“I’ll do that,” she said, nodding, seriously. Too seriously to be not taking the piss.
“Reminds me of the holy ghost,” said Adam’s brother-in-law.
“What?” most people said.
“Well, like you know, those pictures of that bird over Mary the virgin mother’s head.”
“Yes but he got her pregnant,” said Adam’s sister.
“I don’t think a wooden bird would get me pregnant,” said Adam’s niece.
“I’ll have less of that talk,” said her mother.
And Adam thought well you might have less of that talk if you didn’t dress the girl as a hooker. But he didn’t get very far with that line of thinking because his sister turned to him, and turned on him too. “Now look what you’ve started.”
“What have I started?”
“Putting ideas in the child’s head, you shouldn’t be let out.”
“I didn’t put ideas into her head. It was him.” Adam pointed at his brother-in-law.
“The trouble is,” said Adam’s mother, “that young people today have no respect for religion. The bird we see depicted over the Holy Mother’s head is deeply symbolic. It’s the Holy Spirit.”
“Exactly,” said Adam, “egg zackly. I agree completely.”
“Oh shut up you,” said Adam’s mother. “You’re just trying to get one over on your sister. The point is. When I was that child’s age I didn’t even know what sex was.”
“Ah but you do now dear,” said Adam’s father.
Adam’s mother giggled.
Oh God, thought Adam.
“So where’s the turkey?” said Adam’s father.
“Adam hung it over your bed,” said Adam’s brother-in-law. “And what I want you to do is lie there and imagine you’re far away.”
“Sure I do that every night,” said Adam’s father.
Oh God, thought Adam.
“Can I have a glass of wine?” said Adam’s niece.
“You certainly can not,” said her mother. “Pregnant and now you want wine.”
“I’m not pregnant.”
“Talking about pregnant I mean.”
“But everyone else in the room is drunk.”
“Your brother’s not drunk.”
“He’s only ten.”
“And you’re only thirteen.”
“Fourteen, just fourteen. It’s important for young people to learn to drink in a controlled environment. Under supervision.”
“Well you can have half a glass mixed with water,” said Adam’s sister.
Adam watched the niece go over to pour herself a glass of wine. Her dress was too short. Or her legs were too shapely. It was one of those two things. He watched as she poured the wine. A full glass of wine. He didn’t notice her do anything about the water bit. And no-one else did either, the conversation had moved on.
“I didn’t drink until I was eighteen,” said Adam’s mother.
“Made up for it since,” said Adam’s father.
Adam’s mother giggled.
Oh God, thought Adam.
His niece across the room caught his eye. Raised the glass to her lips and winked. Yes definitely that dress was far too short.
Oh God, thought Adam.
“Come on let’s eat,” said Adam’s sister. “The turkey is free range.”
I wish I was, thought Adam.

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