MAIDEN

Real leather,

New denim,

Fresh cotton,

Filled pockets were mine now.

And I was unafraid walking Dublin's streets.

I didn't have a home, and I wasn't imagining the next night anyway, but that didn't matter to me. I just watched my road. All alone, independent as a lone wolf, I was no longer the fawn, no longer the typical child. Just atypical. Alive and kicking after a likely 15 years of void vacancy.

I was in the home of my fathers. I was doing the perfectly Irish thing by walking the streets of the capital, the way I saw it... Finding my way out of the residential roads quickly enough for a redneck, rushing to Liffey bridge just to look into the river and then rushing again to O'Connell Street to get a glimpse of the long lane of tradition that middled the golden metropolis I had dreamed about, seeing the Nelson's pillar but being unable to think it looked like a giant stone cock: the way I saw it, I'd now made myself proper.

It didn't matter what I'd done with a razzer the night before; it seemed unimportant, and I was unfazed by it. I could do anything I wanted now and not be scared.

But after I'd stopped for a bite to eat near Phoenix park and had a chance to think, I realised I didn't know what it was that I wanted.

I felt empty, in an expectant sort of way... 'Hungry' for something I couldn't quite put my finger on.

It wasn't until long after the best of the sun had gone, and I had been pacing the quay watching faces, watching hands, watching bodies and pacing the high street, gazing into windows at pictures and naked manikins and feeling the allure of sectioned stores and backstreets that I finally started to feel I knew what I wanted.

I just wanted more.

*         *         * 

I stopped in my tracks, turned to the left: towards the voice,

"You look a wee bit lost,"

to which I answered "I'm not."

But I didn't just move along.

This young dishy bloke was leaning awkwardly against a doorway, like he'd broken his back and his legs and slumped against it, but still had something holding him up besides the frame. He had one hand hidden deep in his pocket. The other, slender and sure, held a black fag away from his face. His face, lightly tanned like the clean triangle of chest showing from the unbuttoned collar of his white shirt, harboured nothing. He showed nothing. For all his eyes said he may as well have been wearing shades, but they were folded and hanging from the pocket of his Levi's. He called me in.

His mouth didn't move.

"Where's your mammy, kid?" he asked me after a quiet drag on that long black fag.

"Dead."

This didn't seem to surprise him. "Where's your da?"

"Dead."

"Shit," he said; too flatly. He took a second, almost bored, drag. "Where're you off?"

"Nowhere," I admitted.

It was the second time I'd let it up this week. But this time, I knew I wasn't going to mind.

"Trick-turner, Bray?" White Shirt said, his eyes not leaving mine. Before I had the chance to be confused the lad he must have been talking to came out of the doorway next to him – he was staggering... almost lurching. He had a double limp.

A House In DublinRead this story for FREE!