Sunday, April 02, 2006

253. Down the Alley in D-Town

On my way home, down through the alley,
I nearly tripped over him,
stretched out in his trenchcoat:
another bad drunk, thinks I,
until he grips hard on my ankle
and says, Son, do you love Ireland?
This was an unexpected question.
I suppose I do, sir, says I,
now will you let go of me leg, please?
Listen to me, son, I haven't long to live
and ye're a good lad, I can tell.
I've a thing in my pocket, now,
it's a thing I plan to give you ...
are ye with me now, me stout gossoon?
Would you let go of me leg, sir,
says I with the panic rising.
I will, says he, with a rasping sigh,
but his grip had actually tightened.
I have the Naval Plans for the invasion of France
(Oh, right, thinks I, this is all we need.)
You must take these papers direct to the King!
But, sir, says I, we have no king,
we are the free and independent
and poverty-stricken Irish nation!
Ah, so the rumours are true, says he.
Indeed, sir, now would you care for an amberlance,
sorry, an ambeedance, one of them yokes
for to carry you away? I would not,
says he, anything without an honest
upstanding horse in front of it, is entirely
suspect, a matter for the gravest concern.
Oh, to be sure, says I, but why
will we be invading France? Divil blast ye,
son, do you not know a thing about code?
Sorry, says I, rubbing on my leg
(he'd let go by now), but can you tell me,
sir, what has you stretched out in the alley?
Haven't I been shot, says he, annoyed,
have you no idea what it means to be shot?
Well, it would hurt, says I, I suppose. Hurt?
says he, it hurts like the bloody blue blazes!
I'm sorry for your trouble, can I get home now?
Ye cannot! Amn't I just after telling you
that the future of the Empire ......
Tis a Republic we are, says I, now,
Ahhh Republic me arse, says he,
aren't we the same feckin people,
the fishermen, the farmers,
the gombeen men, the hoors?
Well, you have a point, says I.
And isn't it dear old Ireland,
he says to me, that calls to us,
like a lonely stag across the moors?
Like a what, sir?
Like a stag!! One of them lads
with the horns on top of their heads, like,
have ye never read a buik?
Oh, but I have, sir, says I.
Well, then, ye'll know what I'll say to you next:
there's Caitlin, Kathleen ni Houlihan,
the personification of our nation,
the pure young girl, the virgin bride,
the ideal we believe in, as we
count our money and scratch our balls,
ye've heard tell of her? Oh, and I have,
says I, many a time and oft, here and there
among the neighbours. Tis been very nice,
sir, but I've to go now, I'll be late for me tea.
Young man, he roars out of him, I AM Kathleen!!
Drunk and shot, sprawled out in the alley,
here as ye find me, for a moment, perhaps,
there may be some lingering doubt,
some slight scintilla, some shadow of disbelief,
but I AM her, here before you, the eternal
feminine symbol of Ireland!! So you are,
sir, and will I go and call that amberlance?
Listen, ye scut, ye hoor's melt, I AM that pale-cheeked
lass, with raven hair and lips like blood upon the snow,
a knowing child who has sent out men to die!!
Not a bother on you, sir, been a great pleasure,
had a grand time talking, but I'll be off now so ....
Not so fast, me young spalpeen!
You will take my message to the King
as I lie here (gasp) alone and dying.
But we have no King, says I.
Ahh, but we do, says he.
And he whispered a name in my ear.

I carried his message to the man he mentioned.
Our country, since then, has become rich
beyond all dreams of avarice. The alley,
when I went back in the morning, wasn't there,
hadn't been there for a century, they told me.