Back on the road to Dublin, Few mentioned the film project again. He’s riding shotgun this time, his swollen face is returning to normal, the past few days have dented his ebullience somewhat but still, he’s Few. Too Few, if you know what I mean.
It all seems like a dream to me now, could Kate Bush and Van Morrison really be dead? Should I be snapping up vinyl rarities before the news gets out? Will we be implicated? Do the PSNI have jurisdiction over Hades?
“So, what’s in the box?”
He’s holding it on his lap, absentmindedly turning it over and over.
“My father died when I was seven years old. I was stood, holding my mother’s hand, staring into the grave – November rain coming down in drills. I asked her the same question. She said ‘Everything and nothing.’ She was a confectioner, they’re like that.”
He opened the window and tossed the box out into a cold, dark, Warrenpoint night.
“That’s that, let’s not speak of it again. So, as I said there’s a film we want to make, Few Productions. I know people, the place is awash with cash if you have a good idea. Hellfire and damnation it doesn’t even have to be good!”
“We happy Few, we band of brothers. Me and you.”
My curiosity was pricked.
“Well you know me, I’m an ideas man. Now, I haven’t actually written anything, that’s more your bag, I’m busy, too busy and it’s details, mere details, I’m more about the vibe of the whole thing your honour. Isn’t it? Oh, and put my name on it. Just call me the executive author, producer – something that befits my position.”
As we pull in to The Lotts, he’s almost convinced me. Honesty, there were times over the past few days that I thought I’d never see this laneway again…
As the dawn breaks, unable to sleep, plagued by dreams of Kate Bush feasting on my beating heart, I sit up at my desk and start writing. Thinking back, all he’d really given me was a working title and “the vibe of the whole thing”. Where to begin?
*Based on a hunch, a wing and a prayer.
It’s a rainy night in Dublin, in that part of Dublin where you never walk the same dog twice, that part of Dublin where it never stops raining – water, misery, what’s the difference? Ray Manning pulls up in the car park of the community centre, he locked the doors on crossing the Liffey and had been nervous as fuck at every red light since. He seemed to get them all. The deluge kept the streets clear. Unconvinced about leaving his BMW alone in the car park, he was even more worried about the short walk from the car to the building .This was not Ray Manning’s Dublin. In many ways this was not Ray Manning’s life either. I guess that’s why he’s here.
Inside, Ray spends the meeting staring at the floor. He looks up occasionally to steal a furtive glance at the other people sitting in the circle. Apart from him there are four other men and two women. A middle-aged lady, Patricia, starts to speak, something about her son being an altar boy. There’s a girl directly across from him called Sarah, early thirties probably, you’d say brash, attractive in her way. Stylish, quirky, a little bit out there maybe.
St Joseph’s Church, a few blocks away. Someone pushes through the front door, followed by the wind and rain. It’s Thursday night confessions. A few years ago it would have been standing room only, but now the place was pretty empty. People don’t feel the need for forgiveness so much these days, not from a priest anyway. X, let’s call them that for the moment, enters one of the boxes and pulls the door closed. After a moment a gunshot rings out.
Sarah jumps up from her chair, sending it clattering across the hardwood floor. She’s agitated, she’s losing it, she’s lost it.
“Fuck this fucking shit, I’m not interested in forgiving anyone or talking it through or closure or any of that other shite, this is a load of fucking bollocks and youse are all a bunch of fucking spanners if you think you’ll go home tonight and sleep better in your beds because all those fucking creeps are still out there and believe me…Ah bollocks to it, what’s the bleedin’ point?”
She turns on her heels, shrugs her shoulders and with that she’s gone, doors slamming, her muffled swearing echoing down the hall.
Ray leaves the building, the rain is still pelting down. He’s carrying his expensive umbrella but he doesn’t put it up. He opens the car, gets in slowly, oblivious to the weather. He sits there for a long time, sobbing quietly in the darkness, alone, on the wrong side of the tracks. After a while he bangs his head on the steering wheel, the horn blares, one more claxon in a world of false alarms.
A huge herring gull sits on a skip, watching him impassively. The bird takes off, cutting gracefully through the downpour, he swoops down across the quays, following an ambulance, sirens blaring. The bird alights on the vehicle and peers through the skylight. Patricia is in the back, holding a young man’s hand, presumably her son. He’s unconscious, his wrists are bandaged. Then he’s off again, drifting across the Dublin skyline, spires, rooftops, railway bridges, canals, rivers, dereliction.
He lands on the railings outside a church hall. There’s choir practice in full flow. They are up in the balcony, 20 or so kids, boys and girls, a choir master and an organist. 1 – 2 – 3 and they begin “Last Night I Dreamt Somebody Loved Me”
The opening titles roll.
A FEW ENTERPRISES PRODUCTION
Ray Manning walks out of Easons bookshop, sleety rain falling on Abbey Street. It’s early evening, people are rushing hither and yon, commuters, early Christmas shoppers, lost souls, ghosts and junkies. A woman running for a bus slips on the greasy street tiles and knocks Ray into the middle of next week. His bags burst, scattering books everywhere on the soaking path. She rushes to help him up, pick up his soaking things, then as he gets to his feet their eyes meet, she’s flustered, embarrassed.
“I’m sorry, oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph would you look at ya, you’re soaked and your stuff, God I’m so sorry, I was just trying to get out of the bloody weather, here let me help. You must think I’m an awful bitch.”
“It’s okay, really, I’m fine, and..” He recognises her from the meeting. She’s been on his mind.
“Here, look, hold on I have spare shopping bags here, let me give you one. Ah bollocks! There goes my fucking bus, there isn’t another one for a bloody hour.”
She stops swearing and gives a Ray a smile. She pulls out a bag and helps him pick the books up.
Ray nods in the direction of The Oval bar – “Can I buy you a drink or something while you’re waiting? I’ve nowhere to be in a hurry.”
They take a table by the window, Ray’s got a pint of Guinness, Sarah’s on the whiskey. They leave the bags down at their feet. One of his books is sticking out the top. “Please, Somebody Love me! Surviving Abuse and Becoming Whole” by Jillian Ryan and Joseph A. Ryan, now looking a bit dog-eared.
Sarah breaks the silence “So, the meeting… how long have you been attending?”
“That was my first,and last, visit.”
She instinctively puts her hand on his “Its okay ya know, I know I lost it there, felt better afterwards but it’s not for me, all that shite. All this talking, too many words. I don’t know what the story is, but it must be pretty bloody awful for you to end up there……I’m beginning to wonder if anyone got away. What a total fuckup we live in. A total fuckup. Grim. What do you….?”
“Ray. It’s Ray, good to see you again, Sarah, isn’t it. You don’t pull your punches.”
“Yeah, but I don’t push the river Ray. Raymundo. I like that. Suits you. So Ray, how come you have nowhere else to go? Are you young, free and single? Or free and single anyway?”
She stares at him, he decides she’s joking. Those eyes, he’s falling into them. He blames the Guinness.
“Nah, I’m married, just about. Just about. “ Ray clears his throat looking around the bar.
Two girls. I was supposed to be taking them for riding lessons this afternoon. They’re getting used to me not showing up for things.” He lifts his glass in the air. “Too late now! They’re at the age anyway, nothing to say to me. A lot of people are at that age.”
“What do you do, when you’re not drinking with strange women?”
“I have my own business, horse trader you might say. I used to ride for Ireland, show jumping…
“A few people said I could ride for Ireland in my time…”
Jesus, lighten up Ray, it was a joke”. She grins at him, slaps him on the arm. “Come on we’ll have another.”
She comes back with the same again and a chaser for him.
“So, what about you?”
“Me? I’m nobody special. I manage a bar down the docks for me da, “Billy’s Bar”, you might have heard of it? Just across from Saint Joseph’s? “
She slams the whiskey and shouts for a couple more shots from the bar.
“I don’t really know that part of the city. So – we’re both in in the same boat, in a manner of speaking……”
“Yeah Ray, the fucking Lucitania, and we’re sinking fast.”
Sarah downs another drink – Ray does as well.
“Listen honey, I got to go, I’m so late now I’m almost fucking early.”She scribbles a number on a beer mat, stands up and knocks back the final shot. “It’s been real nice, call me sometime, maybe we can start our own support group?” She’s giggling as she hands him the mat.
He leans across, and kisses her awkwardly on the cheek. “You know, I haven’t enjoyed someone’s company…….”
“You’re not looking very married right now Raymundo.” She laughs again, winks and is out the door into the winter, into the night.
TO BE CONTINUED
I finish there, stick it in an email and fire it off to Few. Then I hit the scratcher for a few hours. On getting up later, I check for a reply.
From the desk of Too Few
Read your mail with interest. A few (lol) points –
Brick Winters is a bloody stupid pen name, although given the chin-flicks you’re sporting currently I’m not surprised.
My name MUST be above yours. In fact I’m not sure we need yours at all. I mean, you work for ME. It’s “Few Productions”, not “Few Enterprises”. Do you actually listen to anything I say?
What does “where you never walk the same dog twice” mean?? Is this area of Dublin populated exclusively by dog-nappers? – but one example of clever-sounding nonsense that, on closer inspection, means absolutely sod all!
I’ve fallen in love with Sarah and I must meet her.
I cannot find any reference to myself in the script thus far, I presume this is an unintentional oversight!
I could go on, suffice to say much improvement is needed, however I’ll give you another chance, but it must rise above the mediocre.
P.S. I haven’t been to The Oval for years, I’m off there now – meet me in an hour.
Father Dead Soundtrack (#1)
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