To: All Staff.

It is without one ounce of regret that I need to inform you that John O’Dwyer is no longer employed by this company.
He was let go today because, in my view, he's a dickhead.
His work was shoddy at the best of times. His sense of humour offensive, imposing and totally inappropriate.
Plus the concept of soap, water and deodorant seemed completely alien to him.
This decision has been made by me and me alone because, to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t stand the thought of looking at his face one more day.
I’m sure he will land on his feet somewhere – assholes like that usually do. I don’t care.
On a separate note: please join me in welcoming Jane Taylor to the company.
Let’s hope she’s not a bitch.

James Murphy


Old Age.

"Why does no one ever ask how fast I can run anymore"?
"Hey meeester...will you watch me run"?
"Oh please, someone...look at me. LOOK at me"!!

The onset of old age was beginning to affect Needy Gonzalez.

The Man.

He seemed like a nice kid. Four, maybe five years old? I’m not a child expert so you could say any age and I’d believe you.
It being lunch hour, the bank was busy enough and hadn’t exactly been quiet to start with.
“Stop that James” his mother hissed as he climbed over the leather waiting chairs landing on his back on the floor, probably re-enacting some adventure in his head.
“You’re annoying the people”.
Blank stares, unaffected faces.
I had just withdrawn my last twenty-five quid and made my way towards the door.
“Now look,” she said, “Here comes the man”.
Which apparently was me.
I was ‘the man’.
When did I become ‘the man’?
Did I suddenly look like the sort of person who would be ‘the man’?
If I was he, then I needed to act accordingly.
“Could you make some more noise please? It’s far too quiet in here” I asked the boy.
Oh yes. I am The Man.

Just Pretend.

I met a friend from school today.
Haven't seen him in years.
Nice man. Wife, kids, pension plan.
Opinions, a Barbecue and DVD collection.
A leather wallet in his back pocket.
Strong, responsible, reliable.
It made me sad. Sad at how I appear.
Afraid to ask, afraid to declare, afraid of fear.
Two people living with different energies.
It's all just pretend. I'm not even here anymore.
One foot, then what?
I wish I had a wallet.

Arrivals Hall.

He was definitely American. More small town than big city. The jeans were just a bit too...'roomy', y'know? Probably sold as 'Relaxed Fit'.
There's something forlorn about Mid-West men in their sixties.They look a little lost.
Like they need someone to tell them what to do.
The lower lip trembling on the edge of panic as it did when he was seven and his mother said "Wait here a moment, I won't be long". Pretty sure that everything will be OK...pretty sure.
Wife trots over. He's pleased.
She's smaller than him. Over-active thyroid since her forties. Blonde, permed hair, sparkly alert eyes. Body movements stiff and fast - like a strobe lighted dancer in a nightclub.
She wanted two weeks by the pool in Acapulco.
But here they are - newly arrived in Ireland.

My Kingdom For (excerpt).

Once, young Pam Friendly - caught between laundry duty and elevenses - spent thirty nine minutes on the first floor hallway, one foot on the landing the other gently teasing the top stair.
Caught between two worlds.
Learning the difference between Time Zulu and non.
How those areas of the planet for whom Daylight Savings Time existed were more likely than those for whom it didn't, to utilise their season more proficiently.
And how a simple ability to accurately tell time through the alignment of the planets allowed ancient man possibly gain twelve extra seconds per one hundred years.
This, as a result of passing Sir Arnold and greeting his presence with an innocent "Afternoon".

It was 11:59am.

(Taken from the longer short story 'My Kingdom For').

Are You Sure?

Olé Olé Olé Olé.
And we'll really shake them up
When we win the World Cup
Cos Ireland are the greatest Netball team.

Alternative reality.

Four Yes'es.

The very thought of auditioning before the well known celebrity judges was bound to be a nerve-wrecking experience.
Sean had asked previous competitors for advice on how best to 'ready' himself for the experience.
"Be calm", "Focus", "Think positively" and "Get rid of anything inside you that might hinder your performance".

Most people in the arena agreed that things were moving along quite well until Sean implemented his own exorcism.

Choo Choo.

The train reluctantly pulling away from the station. Or maybe it was me.
It's engine groaning under the psychological weight of the journey ahead. Or maybe that was me.
Wishing in it's heart of hearts that it never had to leave - that it could stay where things were predictable, safe and warm. Yep, that was definitely me.
As soon as it picks up speed, the train will know all about me.
But I will know no more.

Out Loud.

“You have really nice hair”, Catherine yelled at the lady in the newsagent.
“Very well cut and the colour is quite flattering”.

“You really are the type of parent that all others should aspire to be” Catherine bellowed at the mother holding her child.

“Don’t these flowers inspire a sense of optimism that all will be well today” she roared to no one in particular.

It was still years before Catherine would be named the first known case of Reverse-Tourettes Syndrome.

Hot Coffee.

The good-looking lady in the queue in front of me had no trouble using the in-store lingo.
Blonde, trim, nice cheek bones.
If I was younger, better looking, taller, mentally stable and actually possessed a job – I think I might have been in with a chance.
She ordered a grand double thingy with extra whatsit in a ‘to go’ cup with a shot of that syrup in a big bottle.
didn't stand a chance in this world. 
I just wanted them to boil a kettle and hand me a cup of Nescafe.

Good God.

The highlight of the academic year for the children and parents of St. Charles Christian School was always the Religious Talent Show.
The resulting expulsion of eleven year old Freddie Baines seemed slightly over-reactionary, as most agreed his experimental impression of God was impressive and not particularly blasphemous.

Could appen to anyone.

"How do you spell that"?
" 'H'"?
" 'H'".
The inevitable question.
Stepen hated the letter 'H'.
It had become a daily fixture in his life. Someone, somewhere would ask why the missing 'H'? Shouldn't there be a letter 'H'? Did you forget the 'H'?
No, I didn't forget the goddam 'H' because there is no goddam 'H'. It's 'H'-less. The same way your face gives the impression of lacking personality but surely must have one.
No need to be so rude.
No need to be so obvious.
You're not a very nice person y'know.
I didn't ask for your opinion.

They can all go to ell..

Bus Dog.

People stopped to admire Morty, the red setter.
He couldn't blame them - he was a magnificent beast. The coat, the tail, the overall bearing - he felt it and wore it comfortably.
The fact that it was his image displayed on the sides of the Bus Eireann buses that criss-crossed the country daily was a constant source of pride for Morty the red setter. To be chosen as the symbol of the nation's transport system was indeed an honour. For Morty was Irish and proud of it.
Walking through fields with the man who gave him food and a bed at night - stretching his legs and exercising his reputation - Morty was struck and appalled at the habits of others.
An Alsatian, running wild and defecating in the bushes.
"Disgusting" thought Morty "Why don't they go back to where they came from".
For yes, Morty was also a racist.

The Greatest Man.

His name was Hectoro Bandalucci.
The Grand Rigatoni of the Fallecicano family, from the region of Barabomba.
The Capo de Fusili from the west side of Bolognese.
And it was on that very day; his life came to an end. Received into the arms of heaven courtesy of a blow to the back of the head.
The wind in that region being particularly fierce in December.

The Game's Gone Mad.

Jimmy Armtangle was the sharpest, quickest and most feared of all Division one strikers.
He could dribble a ball past a defender before the defender knew what day it was (Saturday usually - games were played on Saturdays. 3pm).
Ninety five thousand supporters Oooh-ed and Aaaah-ed and occasionally Eeeeh-ed, in thrall at his every movement.
So it was no surprise when Dinchester City wanted to sign him. No surprise at all.
What was surprising was the amount of money involved - Fifty five pence and three fruppence - overshadowing the previous transfer record by more than flippance frappenny.
Dinchester's manager Ron Stringer surprised onlooking journalists when he said that this was becoming "the future of the game". According to Stringer, the day will soon arrive when we could witness the world's first Tuppence Haypenny player. Although, he did admit, that was some time away yet.
Possibly as far as the bank holiday weekend.
For his part, Mister Armtangle declined to comment and preferred to let his performance on the pitch do the talking for him.
In his first game, Dinchester drew nil nil.

Frank Knew.

Frank knew.
Frank always knew.
The fact that no one else knew always baffled Frank.
How could he be the only one?
The only living person to know.
Possibly the only person ever to live who knew.
Of all the people who ever walked the Earth, he could be the one and only one to know. Was that even possible?
Were there no others?

Frank knew.
He always knew.
The day and the manner of his death.

April 15th 2013.

Today was April 8th 2013.
The last week of Frank’s life.

My Friend Robin.

Here's the deal on that.
My friend Robin (real name) used to ask me a lot of questions.
Just me.
No one else.
I just figured he figured I had everything figured out.
Go figure.
It would start from the moment we met at the top of the lane separating our two streets, until we reached the gates to the school.
Half the time I felt I actually did know a lot of the stuff.
The rest was from another planet.
"What's the capital of Mongolia"? Ulan Batar. Place names I could do.
"Who were the first fellas to fly a plane and where did they do it"? Wright Brothers, Kitty Hawk North Carolina.
"Do you think a boy could kill his mother and get away with it"?