Out of the white door.

Through the green room.

Out through the back door.

Into the night.

*         *         * 

He cut through the black town with scars healing on his back: a montage of reddish Christian relics, slashed over the flesh like jaunty train tracks through dirty snow. This was the beginning: nothing, and everything.

He checked his pockets to make sure he'd left nothing of the pathetic little that he owned behind. They weren't empty at this point. He still had the couple of euros and the pocket knife and the tattered four-leaf clover.

My pockets weren't empty yet.

This was me, before any of this had happened.

I'd been lucky, I supposed, to have gotten free board, despite where it had been, and to have managed to keep it without mucking in with any of the dirty work. 2 euros was a small fortune. The four-leaf clover I'd happened across on a small escape through the park near my uncle's house was my safeguard. I was younger than I was meant to be, all round, and that meaningless, patriotic sprig was probably what kept me alive back then. After all, the only thing that can keep an idiot alive is good fucking luck.

But by now the weather wasn't on my side, and it was starting to rain, then after a few minutes of walking, wandering, getting no nearer to my goal, wherever it was, the spit turned into piss, and the piss turned into buckets of piss, and I was cursing at the whole country before I squatted down under a stained awning, near a drain, next to spluttering pipe, to grit my teeth and contemplate what in hell I was going to do.

I was crying, gritting my teeth.

My back hurt. My back stung, and I was gritting my teeth.

Fuck. The outskirts were killing me. I'd been in the outskirts, nameless kips and facsimiles of more nameless kips, for 15 years of my shitty outskirter life. I'd never left town before my mam got killed. I'd never left town after she'd got herself shanked and I was living with her shitehead of a brother. I'd never been to my ancestral home.


It was this thing of legend. This silver metropolis, maybe gold, but I didn't know for myself, and after all I got everything second hand. You couldn't see it from Tallaght or anything – Tallaght was big enough in itself – but I heard it. As a kid, I thought I heard it calling to me... Just sirens and the motors of automatics and manuals and dutiful HGVs.

So I came to a road. Well, in three hours I came to a lot of roads. Maybe 20. I was mindless, mindlessly, wandering. But after 20 odd roads, there was one:

A black slug of it, all wet tarmac, stretched across my path.

Wet, and sparkling.

Beyond it, city: glistening.

The road into Dublin.

A silver metropolis – maybe even gold – just on the other side of this road. I could just cross it... Walk across it... And be in the place where everything happens. I'd be safe there. Safe, secure. Just cross it.

The red light glared at me.

No sign of the green man for five minutes.

Five more minutes. The red man still glared...

I was frozen.

*         *         * 

My heart was an industrial fire. My eyes were two black lines, thick and straight, glistening from the rain, like I was frowning so much my eyebrows had given up the struggle and snapped off their hinges: white skin, skin like dirty snow, with the scars criss-crossing it straight as the razors that made them, deceiving as the whip, red as bloodied train tracks with the ropes all undone, sawn by the wheels that rushed to take its victim, not crowned by desert hat, but befrocked and becurled, frowning with two straight black brows, knitting: curling together like two colliding slugs, straight, black and glistening like a road into Dublin.

*         *         * 

 "You okay, kid?"

I whipped round. There was a man watching me, not from the shadows, but as dark and as sudden as. He was standing by a lamppost, leaning against it semi-casually, hands in the pockets of his real leather jacket. A tiny frown flickered over his brow. A tiny firecracker flickered on and off at the tip of his real leather shoe: a proper cigarette, long smoked out. He spoke:

"You've been standing by the road for exactly eleven minutes."

What's it to you? You some kind of sick stalker? – I wanted to say. But the words wouldn't come out. Still, I was frozen. And now my throat had frozen up.

"If traffic's the trouble," he smiled, and he started to come towards me, slow, "There aren't any cars."

I might have fluttered somewhere in the hands and toes, but it was only a drip off the icicle.

He was getting closer, though slow, "Hey..." hands out and palms up to the sky, "It's alright, I'm with the Gardaí."


"Oh," I felt a cold fire shake my legs, and I stumbled; "No..."


He was close. He was on the bobbly red bits on the side of the road, this GARDA his excuse for being harmless, but the only thing that could hurt me now;

He reached out—

—I flinched away,

and my foot touched the hard, black surface of the road.

We both froze. I even stopped breathing.

I was touching the road out of the outskirts. The road to the capital. The road into Dublin.

Frozen there, legs sprawled like an eager doxie, black sky pissing on me, I forgot it all. It was just me, and the road, and the sounds of Dublin, calling to me, from the other side.

And the man. He appeared and spoke again:

"Come on," and I didn't stop him as he came up to me; "Can't stand there all day."

He took my pale little hand in his, and started to lead me off, not so much like a child than as a cow. Or a pig. Either way, like something being led off to be slaughtered.

But in time we reached the other side.

And then I was in Dublin.

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