Here's the first chapter of Getting Out of Dodge to whet your appetite:
The sky is heavy. Dark purple clouds reflect on the lake’s rippling surface. Here and there an aquamarine gap opens in the sky – maybe a portal to the troposphere? I could do with someone beaming me up there, right now.
‘Look, Ma, look!’ A small boy at the far edge of the water points at a drake terrorising all the other ducks, wings beating as it chases.
The mother pulls her son back by the hand, trying to keep him away from the edge as he hurls chunks of bread at the uninterested, overfed recipients. Two swans glide through the ducks and seagulls swoop in for the spoils.
Plastic wheels on tarmac and a rush of air. A youth on rollerblades flies past the bench where I’m sitting. He moves like a speed-skater but looks like a thief, woolly hat down tight under a hoodie.
‘Fecker!’ shouts another mother as the youth swerves deftly around her pushchair.
Ah, the serene beauty of suburban Dublin.
‘You okay, mister?’ she asks.
I look up. She can’t be long out of school. She’s talking to me but I have no words to share.
‘Jesus! What’s happened to yer face?’
My hand goes to my cheek. My face, my whole body, is sore to the touch. I must look a sight, it was quite a beating.
She shakes her head and walks on.
‘Feckers, the lot of them. Feckers,’ she mutters to the world.
Sean Walsh Park contains everything I hate about this country. I should have left two weeks ago, with the first taste of freedom. Now look.
Across the lake a youngish man in a tracksuit walks cockily, phone to his ear and a beer bottle in one hand. He downs the last of the beer and hurls the bottle into the bushes. Then he switches off the phone and slips it into his jacket pocket.
The little boy feeding the birds turns and runs into the man’s arms. I’m too far away to hear what the mother says but, from the body language, it’s where have you been or who were you talking to. The man ignores her and runs to the water’s edge with the boy. They look across the lake and see me watching, so I turn my head.
I don’t know how I got here, but here I am. It has something to do with this thing between my legs. Everything to do with it.
A breeze picks up and rustles the plastic bag at my feet. I look into the wind and see lads loitering at the far entrance to the park. Even at this distance they look foreign. Something about their trousers. They’re the Romanians. Friends or enemies, I’m not sure. Is this their doing? It could be, doesn’t matter now.
The bag rustles again. I have no idea how I came to be here, can’t remember. I don’t deserve it. This time I tried to do the right thing. My intentions were good.
A shout makes it upwind from the mother with the pushchair. Two uniformed guards struggle past her at the other entrance. A man in a dark jacket follows and then the wiry, brown-suited figure of Detective Inspector Andy McAuliffe. I can smell his cigarettes in my memory.
Andy, I should have taken your advice and got the hell out of Dodge.
Before they reach me I have to know what’s between my legs. But I think I already know and so does Andy, somehow.
The bag is oozing something onto the tarmac. Clear fluid with traces of pink. I open the top of the bag with both hands and my favourite fragrance wafts out. When a woman wears that, it means she’s mine. The scorching sun, sea and sand of the Mediterranean, as the ad says, with a hint of butcher’s shop.
I put my hand inside and let my fingertips touch, then stroke. Her hair is soft and fair. I always loved her hair.
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