a clamour of rooks

Afterwards we leave together. Hand in hand.  I’m bitten, bruised and bloody from the frenzy. It’s already fading like a bad dream, discarded in the morning light, forgotten in the rush to be normal. I’m not like everybody else. Then the rooks arrive, a clamour, a dark cloud on the horizon, they smash through the windows, pick over the bones, they had been waiting too.

I turn to look back for a final time – the birds are flocking away, through the broken glass and the tumble down chimneys. They scatter into the sky, becoming translucent, fading into the darkening night, powder into dust and blow away into the endless gloom. Free at last, Free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.

Few takes me to the beach, carries me into the water, pushes his fingers into my wounds and washes away my sins. Forgive them lord for they know not what they do. Washes the blood from my face. He’s wracked with sobs then, choked up for a hundred years, the waves crashing around us – the freezing Atlantic, cathartic, motherly. Brutal. The water is crowding with jellyfish glowing purple and blue as they swarm onto the shore. We hold each other tight for a long time as the tide retreat.

We don’t speak, afraid to voice our thoughts, for who is listening now is this vast and empty land?

Out on the coast road, what’s left of it, it’s been falling into the sea for years , is  Few’s black Jag abandoned up on the ditch –  he open the boot and he pulls out his fur coat, shades, panama, a bottle of Paddy and  a shotgun. He hands me the shooter and the whiskey. There’s a goat up on the bank, a horny old bastard staring at us, implacable. He’s seen it all before.

“Get in”

And we’re off, blasting down the road, a black knife tearing into the horizon.

“I don’t like this one little bit Boss.”

“Do tell Tooler.”

“Do tell what?”

“Never mind. What the fuck is going on with these animals? Here. You’re from Mayo you must be intimate with the beasts of the field, get out there and move them on. Shoo them or whatever the fuck it is you do with cows.”

“I resent the implication Boss…shoo them. Jesus Boss…Blow the horn.”

“I don’t want to attract attention..”

“From the cows? I don’t think we could get much more attention..”

“Not the cows you fucking moron, from the…whatever is out there, you heard them too.”

Big bovine faces loom up through the fog, they’re licking the windows, rocking the car, it’s hard to see how many of them there are in the dark, they’re smothering the headlights. McGivney doesn’t want to admit it but he’s terrified.  The cows are huge, Jesus, he’s even allergic to milk….

“Tooler, get out and move these drooling fucks! That’s a shagging order.”

Tooler has to climb out the back window of the car, push a few of the beasts out of the way. He’s speaking to them, softly, “prig prig prig, prig..”

What the fuck is this? The cow whisperer? He’s pushing through them now into the herd, walking further into the fog, disappearing out of sight, the throng is loosening.

Then there’s howling, snarling and Tooler shouting “Boss! Boss! Help me….help… oh Jesus…”

The cows are pressing again, McGivney turns around and one had stuck its head through the rolled down window at the back. McGivney pulls his handgun, tracks back and shoots the cow right between the eyes. Bang, cow brains all over the seats, all over his face, the noise from the gun scatters the beasts finally and he slams down on the accelerator, headlights cutting through the fog, wiping grey matter out of his eyes. There’s no sign of Tooler on the road up ahead.

“Jesus Tooler, what a way to go, taken by cows.”

The further inland we get, the thicker the fog, Few doesn’t slow down though, you can just about make out the road a few feet ahead. He wants to get as far away from himself as quickly as he can. Suddenly there’s someone standing in the middle of road, back to us, dressed in black.

“Few, slow down, you’re going to hit them!”

“Yes, Yes I am going fuck them up..” He’s cackling like a mad witch, full of Paddy and bravado. That didn’t take long.

The impact jolts me out of my seat, spilling booze everywhere, the body flies high into the air, we keep moving, there’s someone else, a woman, long blond hair, running away, running away from us. Few pulls up alongside her as she tumbles to the ground.

He rolls the window down. “For fuck’s sake Sarah, get in.”

*Feature Image by חן שיש. (Created by חן שיש) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons