Archive for the ‘Paranoid In Ireland’ Category

Any pessimist could be considered paranoid. What makes a great paranoid, a true mold-breaking, paradigm-shifting, fan shit-hitting paranoid is an impulse to imagine depravities beyond any reasonable probability. This is where I come in. I fear so that you, dear reader, do not have to.

Clinging to the edge of the world, gazing off into the oblivion of the void – nothingness, I was inspired towards ‘the end’. This is no rare occurrence. Well, it was the first time I may have been grasping this piece of weathered Irish rock while staring into the expanse of the Atlantic, but, but!, to folly with the muse that is la fin du monde is no new tango for this end of days dancer. At the farmers market I would see the avocado asteroid that would dent one corner of the earth and swamp the rest of the sphere with its wake. At the airport, I would pass the bar where the whore of Babylon may have passed the Bubonic uber-plague to me through her Budweisered regurge. At my ex-girlfriend’s acupuncturist, I felt the insectual crawl of nano-bots under my skin and in my veins before I ran out into the city streets, a panicked pin-cushion. At the beach, I watched the sunset with beer in hand as if it were the rising mushroom cloud of my coming-to-Jesus reckoning. Everywhere I turned, she was there: the muse of the end.

Cuda and Vic on the Edge of the World

While in Ireland, I visited the wind- blown fields of the Aran Islands, perhaps one of the most remote locations of Ireland (if, that is, the tourist ferries weren’t so regular here). I was the official wandering journalist for the “University of Catawampus” Men’s “Competitive Dance Team” (note: italics denote digressions from truth). Go “Feralcats”! Coach Cuda led his staff and umpteen young men onto the morning ferry and through Galway Bay to our desired destination in these isolated isles. As the ferries arrived and the tourists dispersed into a diaspora of rented bikes, hired cabs and us… pedestrian walkers, my mind began its Willy Wonkish dream down destiny’s tunnel of misfortune.

Imagine…

An unexpected solar flare engulfs the northern hemisphere in an electromagnetic pulse that slurps all circuitry of its power. In the flash of its celestial burst, all computers, cell phones, planes, vibrators, ovens, radios, cars, some sophisticated Scandinavian vacuum cleaners and home security systems are suddenly rendered, irreversibly, defunct. Das ist kaput, ja! Stranded on the outer isles of western Ireland, this band of competitive dancers are the last to realize their ride home has been cancelled. The first to realize the dire straits are the locals who have lost power to their satellite televised Premier League pre-game fluffings. The locals, prepared for months of isolation, quickly secure their doors against the oncoming panic of stranded tourists. Once the visitors realize they are castaways, they abandon all reason along with their rented bicycles and hurry to the nearest pub, only to realize the doors are barring their entry.

The Catawampus Feralcats on Patrol Along the Aran Path

It takes hours, but eventually, the gravity of the situation weighs in on those left without shelter. Night arrives and many cower in the tourist stands and idle boats of the marina. Fortunately, the Catawampus Feralcats have an experienced doomsdayer in their traveling journalist who suggests, “mutton, anyone?” The club of nomadic Yanks descends upon the wool makers of the island and butchers an unsuspected sweater. Coach Cuda guts the beast as Assistant Coach Drambull builds the fire. The team, those of whom have the appetite, eat well tonight. By the next night, they have herded the entire population of sheep into their own enclave while making stone tools to defend their claim.

Dissention!

Ruins of Innismore


Coach Cuda wants to work with the locals, who have some archaic forms of firepower as well as their own cutlery, while also trying to feed and defend the lot of tourist (mostly ladies) who are also stranded on this unforgiving, tree-less, island. Assistant Coach Drambull disagrees, insisting on spending time arming the lads against the local shepherds and the starving visitors. Unknowing of how long the end-of-world predicament may last, both Assistant Coach Pax and Journalist Vic remain by Cuda’s side. Drambull disappears into the night with half of the competitive dance squad, the entire stone age arsenal and a few thwacked sheep.

30 days later…

Coach Cuda is King of Cuda Town, the port area of the island. Coach Pax had led an expeditionary force to sail to the mainland and was overcome by the high seas (sadly, without motor, few have the ability to sail in such turbulent waters). Because King Cuda was forced to restrict rationing based on limited resources, many of his own competitive dancers have stolen off in the night with an emaciated Canadian or Swiss backpacker chick over their shoulder in order to join the rebel forces of Drambull, whose merry lads enjoy their pillaging on a social-Darwinian philosophy of only the strong will survive (note: social-darwinianism is obviously very different than Darwin’s theory of natural selection in that it is a social rationalism for inhumane acts versus theory based on superior breeding). While Cuda has secured the valuable “Sweater Shoppe”, Drambull has rebuilt the Dun Aengus fortress to secure his own power.

Bovinal Existence Along the Edge


No word comes from the mainland. The radio remains silent. Humanity lies in question despite the rise in overnight pregnancies.

Despite his best efforts at creating a fishing community, Cuda’s kingdom was starving. They must have what is left of the sheep Drambull has stolen off with. A militia is created. Only a few of the original Feralcat team remains behind, the rest have stolen away uphill with Drambull and their unwilling Swedish backpacking girlfriends. Fortunately, Cuda’s childhood chum, Vic, happened to have studied siege warfare while attempting to write his four-thousand page manifest on the Fourth Crusade. Unfortunately, Dun Aengus was hardly medieval Constantinople and Vic’s idea to dig underneath the walls proved idiotic after the first several seconds.

The winds, almost as if anticipating war, finally lapse. The Atlantic calms in order to spectate. King Cuda arrives at the gates of Dun Aengus, his militia having trudged over the width of the island. Before him is a spike with the severed head of Drambull ka-bobbed. The snake without its head, however, remains vigorous and as ever venomous. Within the suddenly stale air arises a Queen, the girl from Ottawa who claimed to vomit five times on the ferry ride over, she stands amidst the rise of the gnats of the night – the midges. She is… the Lord of the Midges. Behind her oiled and flamed reflective body stands her army of Feralcat competitive men dancers, waiting with their stone hand axes and hammers.

This battle is one for resources. If the world around the Aran Islands ceases to exist, then the only world for these tribes is what is here and now. With the coming of summer, there is the possibility of escape to the mainland, but what dangers wait there? For now, the truth, the future lies within a stone’s throw of Armageddon.

Catawampus Feralcats Defend Dun Aengus

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Good God, man. What happened to yesterday? In the hours before today, I was stomping my bruised foot along to the fiddles, sitting beside a beautiful Parisian student who was either making eyes at me or had developed a twitch from drinking too much cider. In those last hours of yesterday, Drambull was discussing competitive dance with the Swiss backpacker while Pax ran interference with the Swiss girl’s Italian lesbian bunk mate by pretending he was from Barcelona. There were laughs, Cuda brought over a round of whiskeys which begat more laughter. Then today happened. Shit.

When the pubs of yesterday close, the only business in Galway to be done at this hour was to be done at the Russian Dove – a labyrinth four stories tall with various halflevels, doorways to nowhere, open thresholds to oblivion, a maze of multidimensional mindfuckery, booze, silent disco (silent disco?) and mayhem both general & particular. After midnight, this was where to be and it was the last place I wanted to be. Sure – these were the witching hours of the conspiracist, but I was a sports journalist now, damn it. Ireland was sinking into a dark bog of paranoid isolationism and it was within the dungeons of the Russian Dove where the diseased rats of conspiracy were able to breed with their incestuous kin, spawning new depths of psychosis and malaise. In one corridor, the descendants of Adam Weishaupt represented the Bavarian Illuminati at the billiards table. Behind the bar, the Irish Republicans watched with a melancholic anger. At the turntables, the French Resistance was lost. The ex-KGB bouncer wasn’t taking his eyes off of Pax who he assumed was an anti-Castro un-revolutionary. After midnight, the sun had finally set on Galway and only madness filled the void.

I could feel the stout in my veins clouding my judgment, so I switched from Guinness to the lighter Smithwicks. Bollocks. Ten years gone and it is only 00:02. I leaned against the wall in order to steady the floor.

There has to be rules. Even a “free” society must put restrictions on our impulses, our greed, our desire to scratch our privates in public and fling poo at those we disagree with. The Unabomber was free – he lived in the woods, scratched his balls without hesitation, wrote manifestos and blew up whoever we wanted. Do we really want a world of freemen like him? Of course not. Which is why we put people in power, people to govern, people to make rules. It all seems so feudal, but who is going to protect the people from the Barbarism – both within the gates and without?

Coach Cuda, the man in charge of the “Catawampus” “Feralcats” Men’s “Competitive Dance” Team, had to set some rules. Each member of his collegiate squad, individually, was a nice young lad. Together, they were a plague of locusts. As ambassadors of America during this journey to Ireland, the guys had to be kept in line in order to avoid an international incident as well as avoid an entire generation of Yank bastard seeds in the bellies of the Galway girls. Cuda set a curfew of 22:00 and there was to be no drinking or shirtlessness in the hallways of the hotel.

After the 10 pm curfew, Cuda, his assistant coaches, and I, the team journalist and your narrator, Vic Neverman, would set out into the city. We too had to have rules. We were just as likely as the lads to start an international incident, though we did possesss enough good sense and restraint to not leave too many bastards in our wake. Our rules were simple. First – there was to be no discussion of dragons existing in the present (past or future was fair game). Second – if we closed a pub down, it was time to go home. These rules proved to be loose guidelines that would be ignored.

The pubs closed and after midnight the only place to be was the Russian Dove. After midnight, dissent kept quiet during the day was suddenly audible. Dissent to the rules. Dissent against the Euro, against the Union, against the Germans, against “Austerity”. Ireland was bankrupt and in order for Germany, the European Union, to bail out the Irish they would have to accept the austerity rules set forth by Germany. There would be a vote by the Irish people – accept defeat and take commands from the Union, or – spit in their faces, ensure independence and fight through these new troubles, these economic troubles, as Ireland and only Ireland. To vote against “Austerity” was to gamble with the future. No “Austerity”, no bail out.

As soon as yesterday was no more and those that would qualify today as today were still abed, voices of dissent arose. I heard these voices, have always heard these voices. The conspiracists for years have said the Fourth Reich was the banking establishment. Why did J. Edgar Hoover keep a file on Hitler sightings post-WW2? And now… and now, they point out, and now Germany is the economic might behind the European Union! The conspiracists ask, is this a coincidence?

Conspiracy Theory is looking at the stars in the sky and drawing your own constellations, whichever patterns best rationalize your cause. The Nazis are dead, I say, but old animosity is hard to minimize in these troubled times. The Irish don’t want to take their marching orders from the Germans and so the old nightmares are refreshed.

The “Troubles” of Northern Ireland is a reference to the centuries old effort at creating an independent Ireland – all of it – from the Brits. The Irish Republican Army rose in defiance of Her Majesty’s Occupation. Too much Catholic and Protestant blood was shed in these “Troubles”, but eventually a more peaceful coexistence was found. While Northern Ireland is more calm now than the entirety of the previous century, the Irish Republican Army still exists. The IRA’s political arm, Sinn Fein, still exists. In fact, the Sinn Fein Party is only gaining in popularity as it vehemently opposes the “Austerity” vote. Sinn Fein was once a movement of secular independence against the Queen, now it is a movement of economic independence against the Euro Empire.

And here we were in the Russian Dove. My jacket is strewn about somewhere as I skip around the dance floor, an imported American jester. At least the Smithwicks rehydrates me. There is too much club fog and we four horsemen of the Catawampus Apocalypse escape to the rooftop where hundreds more bodies are gathered in these witching hours, moving, dancing, drinking, plotting, scheming, endeavoring to conspire.

I find an English antagonist, a bloody prisoner of Mother England who is aggressively sucking his hand-rolled cigarette. He’s a bright chap and perhaps a decent bloke, if he weren’t such a fucking wanker. He criticizes America for our lack of social welfare. He criticizes Cuda and me for wearing our billed caps, “No one in Ireland wears them anymore.” I shrug, they are worn plenty back home. I enjoy his lack of couth, his unfriendliness in what one would assume were friendly confines. I delight in it, actually. The American social construct has so many conversational rules for small talk that no true discussion is really ever had. Perhaps a glutton for punishment, I stay in this POME’s company as he spits out his drivel of how everything I am is wrong. I smile and accept what is fair and debate what is not. It is refreshing to me, really. Perhaps if he insulted the NeverMum or Bo Lynn or my Puerto Rican psychic sidekick from Milwaukee, he’d have my forehead in his nasal cavity, but this mild flavor of his spittled spite was a warmer mist than the constant rain hitting the tarp that covered our rooftop perch.

While I appreciated the broken rules of social politeness exhibited before me, Pax and Cuda were poised to pounce. Pax, the Cuban exile, is a passionate American who doesn’t give a shit about England. Cuda, whose family is from Northern Ireland’s “Bandit Country” and who is an IRA sympathizer, hates all things imperial. The two of them would have loved to pummel my new and now former friend, the 5’7″ chain-smoking lonely lymie who was only voicing his dissent because it was after midnight and it was all he knew to do. Drambull and I corralled our angered friends and we left the roof.

We followed the broken fragments of intrigue, retracing our steps down the stairs to the various levels of clandestine encounters and cryptic messages written on the walls of the loo. When we finally found our way out of Minos’ prison, we emerged onto the street to find one of the Soviet bouncers with his knee in someone’s back, holding the rule breaker to the wet street of Galway.

In a few hours, a traditional Irish breakfast would be well received. Order would be restored.

Cuda, Drambull, Neverman and Pax at their favored pub in Galway, Monroe’s

The Man Before Nugent

“I don’t want to alarm you.” Begins Reverend Chette, which is nonsense coming from a man of the soiled cloth who delights at fear mongering. To hint at alarm while suggesting it is not his intent, in itself, is his method of instilling indigestion in his weary listener. He continues his speech discussing his sources, always talking of his sources, “My sources who have seen the President’s ‘Kill List’ for domestic threats claim they might have seen your name just above Nugent.”

“Kill List?” I question my choice of ordering oysters. The last slid down easily enough, but its ascent began as soon as my mind envisioned Obama using his Wii to control predator drones over Yemen. “But I am not a terrorist!”

Reverend Chette, “Right, right, might be some clerical error.” He waves off the notion with a cavalier indifference designed to be unnerving. Schadenfreude is the word the Germans manufactured to describe the joy that can be found in the misery of others. The good reverend is a friend of schadenfreude.

“Clerical error?” I think of the woman at the DMV who was unseasonably kind. Might she have been some sort of fraud or some inept county clerk who deposited my application for a drivers license into the wrong bin? “Did you say Nugent? I thought we traded him to the Chinese for the rights to the blind guy… Chen.”

“Chen Guangcheng” Chette confirmed. “No we just stole Chen so he could start blogging for the Huff Post. Ted Nugent is still on the loose.”

“And your sources say ‘Neverman’ is ahead of Ted Nugent on the ‘Kill List’? Nugent, the ‘Motorcity Madman’? Please tell me it is organized alphabetically and not by degree of threat. I don’t even own a gun.”

“Crossbow?” Rev suggests with a shrug.

“What? No! I don’t own a crossbow either. My defense strategy is think and hide, not necessarily in that order. My only weapons are a tennis racket and a samurai blade my sister gave me I mostly use for stir-fry.”

NOTE for the unawares: the NYTimes has recently shed light on “Terror Tuesday”, the weekly meeting at the Oval Office where Obama and Axelrod meet with various “intelligence” officers to devise “the Kill List” compiled of names of both foreigners and American citizens who are “up to no good”. This isn’t a list for arrest warrants, this is an order of death by remote control. The 5th Amendment’s guarantee of due process can now “be satisfied by internal deliberations of the executive branch”. What does this mean? If Obama and Co. think you look suspicious, they send in the killer drones. Yup. Straight out of the George Zimmerman School of Neighborhood Watching.

For a $50 gift card to Chilis and a case of Wild Turkey, my instigating ally Chette is going to look into this list and do what he can to get his “sources” to reverse my fate. In the meantime, I need to get the hell out of Dodge.

Bug Out To Ireland

From stage left enters Cuda, a fellow adventurer of Vic Neverman’s since our serendipitously simultaneous boyhood. He’s an idea of where I, Vic, can hide: within the ranks of a collegiate team he coaches as they travel for an overseas competition.

NOTE: For the sake of the innocent and to keep from my getting sued by involved parties, I have altered the names of the school, coaches and even the sport.

I was already in Dublin, easy enough. I bussed my wanderlusty arse to the airport with a sign made of fish & chip newspaper with “Cuda” written in tartar & grease. At the arrivals gate, I met my old friend, coach of the University of “Catawampus” “Feralcats” “Competitive Dance” Team. After a brotherly hug, each of us excusing our foul breath, I nodded towards his team, “Not as coed as I expected a collegiate dance team to be.” Indeed, Cuda’s team seemed to be decidedly, almost exclusively, 99% male. He, being Cuda, nodded his confirmation, “We’re the Men’s squad.”

My cover story suddenly became drastically less interesting.

And so we loaded onto the westbound bus. I had a fairly safe cover. No one was looking for me in Ireland. Cuda could be trusted, so too his assistant coaches. They knew my story and didn’t flinch about having a conspiracy-theorist-on-the-run as a stowaway. Assistant Coach Drambull was the disciplinarian and looked like he should be coaching the Catawampus Feralcat football team’s offensive line. Drambull brought an intensity to the squad and had a fondness for cider. Assistant Coach Pax was the sharp-dressed Spaniard (really a Cuban exile from Miami, his story changed frequently) in the sweater vest romancing a pint of true Irish stout. He was chief choreographer, you could say, and his calming presence was well balanced with Drambull’s passion. And, of course, there was Cuda who could gut a catfish and use its barb to pic his teeth before you could bait a hook, all of which made him a hell of a competitive men’s dance coach.

You, dear reader, might have noticed my wording “almost exclusively” and “99%” in terms of the male/female ratio. Along our journey west, treading water within the tides of testosterone, there was, in all factuality, one dame. She was a free-spirited, ukulele-playing, tagalong and she was suspect number 1. I asked Cuda if she was a competitive dance groupie of some sort. He denied this and mumbled something about meeting her on the flight from Chicago. She needed a ride to Galway and the Feralcats happened to have a bus. Convenient. A little too convenient.

“And who are you?” the spritely lady inquired me, sensing I stood apart from the rest of the “dancers”. It was one question too many. Wouldn’t she like to know who I was? I didn’t break my cover and gave her the carefully detailed story about being the team journalist. She provided her story, some generic background her NSA handler must have picked from out of the “how to be a spook” manual, something about college friends and backpacks and sick greataunts. Standard faire, really. “I thought you looked familiar.” I sneered, letting her know I knew who she was (or was not). She played it off pretty well, feigning bafflement, but really overdid the confused doe eye look. Please. If my homeland’s national security complex was going to send a spy to keep tabs on me, this is exactly who they would send: a musically inclined young woman in a summer dress and cowboy boots. Her tailored description is probably the first thing mentioned in their bio of Vic Neverman. Fortunately, this lady-bait received my message loud and clear and didn’t bother speaking to me for the rest of the trip. She was likely biding her time – time she would not get. I told Cuda we needed to ditch the broad and we did so, leaving her at the Galway bus station, much to the dismay of half the team and at least one of the assistant coaches.

“Ahhh!” Cuda relished the salty air of Galway upon our arrival as if he were auditioning for an advertisement on Irish soap. “Welcome to Ireland!”

And so began my new life as a competitive men’s dance journalist.

One does not need to believe in ghosts in order to believe in ghost stories. Ghost stories exist as soon as they reach our imaginations, which is where they do their real haunting. I have been involved with paranormal investigations in Chicago, Oregon and California, but there is not a single ghost story as personal to me as the one that took place years ago in Kinsale, Ireland.

It was my first trip to Ireland, towards the end of what was once a promising career as a travel journalist. Those were days when my paranoia was kept tepid, residing just beneath the surface & bubbling up only semi-annually like my persistent case of jungle malaria. Those were the days when there was a mutual understanding between City Hall and I: they kept their hooves off the back of my neck and I did not stick my wrench into the Chicago Machine. Those were the days when I still had hope of a normal life, one in which I walked beneath the street lights and was not manhandled at airport security. Those were the days when I worked with a partner, Des Riley, who was my photographer.

“The Quiet Man”, Hollywood’s Version of Ireland

We had journeyed to Ireland on a quest to seek out the forgotten rubble of “The Quiet Man” cottage, a building left to waste in the Irish countryside after being a focal point in the setting of John Ford’s movie. While the film is a classic back home in the United States, it was largely laughed at by the locals who did not understand where the characters around John Wayne came up with their “Oirish” accents.

Along the way to Cong, where the movie was filmed, we stopped by the quaint harbor town of Kinsale in County Cork. We arrived at dusk (during the Irish summers, dusk begins shortly after noon and is complete just prior to midnight) and it was too late to visit the famed 17th century stronghold, Charles Fort. We were informed by a stranger (stranger than just unfamiliar), a local whose intentions where unclear, that we could visit James Fort on the opposite side of the harbor. This smaller fortress was not a tourist site like Charles Fort, but could still be found just a few miles from the B&B we were lodging at. James Fort was the elder of the two forts and it was built upon a medieval fortress Castle Ny-Parke, which was – according to our source – built upon an old Iron age druidic mound. It was what they call a “fairy fort”. Well, they would call it that if the superstitious that spoke of such things would ever use the f-word. But they do not. Instead, they call fairies, “the little people”, “the good people”, “the others”… So for the sake of the superstitious, we will just call it a fort for the “wee ones.”

James Fort, outside of Kinsale

Des Riley and I hiked our way through Kinsale in the closing hours of twilight, past sleepy inns and closed tourist shops, to James Fort. It certainly was not a tourist site and it more resembled a construction area (in the years since, it has been cleaned up). We climbed through the fencing that barred entry and found ourselves suddenly in a bygone era, exploring the maze of stone walls, through the overgrown weeds, past the discarded bottles of former vagrant dwellers. With just the slightest hint of natural light, we were giddily at play. There was a sense of something magical, something left over from “the others” that shook us with bouts of laughter as if we were entranced. The shadows faded into the surrounding night, which became cooler. The chill rose up our spines and we decided to leave the fort to the fairies and find a pub that offered a late dinner.

As any practical person would tell you, you should not share a bed with those you work with. Having done so, my photographer possessed a fair amount of leverage over me. Leverage she would use to try to keep us in Kinsale. I accused her of snorting fairy dust, this was not our story. She disagreed, this was our story. Des refused to leave Kinsale. While I understood her sudden passion for staying in this small town, our travel plans were inflexible. There was no room for a change, we had to move on the following morning.

We were staying in the attic of a bed & breakfast in Kinsale. While there was only one bed in the room and while we colleagues did sleep in this bed, it was hardly a bed shared. She slept with her back turned towards me and I knew better than to go anywhere near her. Exhausted, I shrugged off her silent treatment and fell into an abyssal slumber.

7 am was our wakeup time, but the next morning found my alarm clock without a voice. I must have forgotten to set it during the previous night’s turmoil. And yet, right at 7 am I was woken. My eyes blinked open to find the light of day coming in through the lone window. The clock read 7 am, exactly. My heavy eyelids slowly flickered close, my mind falling back into the pit of sleep. And I was woken again. Both times, there came no alarm, only the physical shaking of my shoulder. Upon the second awakening, I sat up. Who had shook my shoulder? I looked to my side where Des Riley, adamant about not leaving, continued to sleep. She had no reason to want me awake.

I have dreamt of snake bites only to wake and find the circulation to my hand was cutoff by the weight of a body. I have dreamt of many things, only to wake up and find… things. But I have never dreamt of being physically shaken. Something grasped my shoulder right at 7 am and shook me. When I drifted back asleep, I was shaken again. Was it the ghost of a lady of the house, one that looked after the travelers that slept beneath her roof, ensuring they kept to their schedule? Was it the “others”, who had sickened of our stay and wanted to make sure we were on our way?

I find it is often during these paranormal events the moment of truth is so blurry, so out of focus, you don’t really come to terms with what took place until later when your memory and imagination try to fill in the missing details. I do not recall the name of that B&B or I would certainly return. I only know that some hand stirred me on that morning and it sure as hell didn’t belong to anyone in the room… anyone living, that is.

Dublin, May 2012

This apartment is less sanctuary than prison.

Less sanctuary, despite Quasimodo’s furious head-banging of the bells across the street at the cathedral all hours of the day. At this latitude, this time of year, day, if you can even call it that, lasts 20 hours. Dawn to dusk and all points betwixt and between are one shade of gray – Dublin grey: unmoving, unforgiving, unrepentant cumulus conjunctivitis gray.

Perhaps this whole city is a prison. Or a psyche ward with padded walls of mist and gray pillowed ceiling, yet nothing to rest upon but wet concrete. Dublin, my asylum.

I am tempted to roll downhill towards the Liffey, which would ultimately take me away from the Christ Church bells and towards the Brazen Head or the Foggy Dew (or was it Dewy Fog?) where I might medicate on pints in solitude, if any may be found (solitude that is, the pints come easily enough). Tempted… yet I remain here in my apartment staring at the curtains covering the windows, hiding my view of Christ Church and, most importantly, hiding Their view of me.

View from the apartment window of Christ Church

Who watches? Who doesn’t?

This entire apartment might as well be a bloody fishbowl. My paranoia plagues conscious though, mind alternating from flight (hiding beneath the sheets where only the bed bugs may find me) to outrage (pacing naked through the halls and performing obscene gestures).

Who watches? Who doesn’t?

The girl at the front desk does not blush when she sees me (physically before her and clothed), leading me to believe she was not witness to my outrage. Of course, her stoic Estonian disposition has never been betrayed by the slightest of facial gesture. She is, all 18 years and 8 stone of her, the gate-keeper who watches the external security monitors, giving her a fly’s eye view of High Street. It is she that has to buzz the door to allow entry into the building. Judging on the effectiveness of the buzzer, her signal must travel the entire way to the Kremlin awaiting command before returning the access release. That is if the buzzer works at all. When the buzzer doesn’t work, the Estonian indentured servant must leave her desk (likely on a tether as I have never seen the desk without her being within a 10′ radius) and manually open the door to allow me entrance back into this, the inner sanctum of the asylum.

I do not know who monitors the views from the internal cameras – those trained on the stairwell, the bedrooms, the shower stalls… Perhaps her equally stoic sister?

View across the street from the apartment living room

In my apartment, I cover the mirrors with towels as if superstitious against some hoodoo voodoo black magic fuckery instead of just the hidden surveillance cameras. The suspect smoke detector, the menacing toaster, the inoperable remote control – I stow these away in the dishwasher. What else may be bugged? What else isn’t?

I become shy when I believe others are listening in to me. This is detrimental for someone who speaks to their self as much as I do.

Desiring release, I find attire, tunnel my way into it and exit the apartment. I walk down the stairs rather than risk another pummel down the Victorian era elevator shaft. At the foot of the stair, I see her, as expressive as ever behind her desk. I attempt half a smile, lifting my shifty eyes to fall on her for the splittest of seconds. She doesn’t blink.

I can’t help but think back the Gypsy, stoned on hash, in the streets pounding on the box she sat upon as the Spaniard beside her strummed his chords. I think of her squinted eyes and her thin lipped smile. She found me in a crowd. As if she knew right where I would be. And she smiled. As if she knew right who I was. I would later drop two Euro into her hat, averting my eyes, unable to match the gaze of the dark-haired she-devil.

Nostalgia gone, I exit into the streets of Dublin. Temple Bar is filled with pubs and each of these pubs is filled with people and each of these people is filled with ciders and stouts, the only lack is a bare bar stool. At last, I find one in Palace Bar where I distract myself with a thought. The Friday night crowd is legion, yet I have my solitude. No one will find me here. Not in my head.

Man interrupted. Two American tourists are beside me and they inquire me on the whiskey I sip. They seem innocent enough, little do I know… I respond and am given another ‘spirited’ question. Before the minute is through I am lecturing them on the differences between Irish whiskey, scotch and bourbon. They watch and listen in suspense.

“Where are you from?” They ask excitedly, thinking god-only-knows about me. Here before them was this weathered wanderer, a bi-pedal secret, chancing exposure by entering into the light. I judge them innocent enough. I should have known better. I tell them. They are amazed… perhaps they did not notice my Yank accent. Or perhaps I am mimicking my surroundings again. They ask, “Where in America?” I tell them and they ask further, “Where in Florida?”

We were planes approaching each other from almost unfathomably distant horizons. Closing in on each other, we amazingly collide head-on. An entire world of possibility and we each settle on the same point. Preposterous. They claim to be from the same town. These two travelers share a knowing look with me. He offers to buy the next round, but their message is already received. “Come out, come out, wherever you are Vic Neverman…” They were no more from my hometown than I was a Dubliner.

I finished my whiskey and wished them a good evening. I left the Palace, knowing, but not looking back over my shoulder to confirm. If I was going to be spied upon, I would rather choose the spy and tonight I choose the Estonian girl or whichever cousin of hers is manning the internal camera monitors.

It is finally dark outside. All the lights of my apartment are on, yet all they do is darken the shadows. I turn everything off and crawl into a strange bed. I close my eyes and see the Gypsy.

Who watches? Who doesn’t?

PUB NOTES:
– The Brazen Head is Dublin’s oldest pub, established in 1198 a.d. Their bangers & mash is a delight.
http://www.brazenhead.com
– The Palace Bar was a late comer, being established in 1823, but it was 2nd home to W.B. Yeats, the poet and member of the occultist Golden Dawn.
http://www.thepalacebardublin.com
– The Foggy Dew is an atmospheric pub, known for its live performances. It is named after the song (see clip below) which is about the Easter Rebellion of 1916.
http://www.thefoggydew.ie