Walking around Dublin, one hears funny things. For instance, reading and walking at the same time is an interesting task. In fact, it is the feat of superior multi-tasking: *read and comprehend, avoid dog poop, avoid walking out into heavy traffic, avoid people, stop yourself listening to the conversations of passersby* The list goes on, really.
The last task is important i.e. stop listening to other people’s conversations – this is often difficult to do in Dublin, as inner city Dubs are wont to having conversations with each other standing at opposite sides of the road over the din of heavy traffic.
It’s extra funny when what you overhear is spectacularly contrasted to what you are reading in the given moment, such as the following:
“Toc’s fellow lieutenants – and indeed Anastor himself – were well enough fed. They welcomed the endless corpses the march had claimed and continued to claim. Their boiling cauldrons were over full. The rewards of power.
“The metaphor made real – I can see my old cynical teachers nodding at that. Here, among the Tenescowri, there is no obfuscating the brutal truth. Our rulers devour us. They always have. How could I ever have believed otherwise? I was a soldier, once. I was the violent assertion of someone else’s will.”
He had changed, not a difficult truth to recognise in himself. His soul torn by the horrors he saw all around him, the sheer amorality born of hunger and fanaticism, he had been reshaped, twisted almost beyond recognition into something new. The eradication of faith – faith in anything, especially the essential goodness of his kind – had left him cold, hardened and feral.
Yet he would not eat human flesh. “Better to devour myself from within, to take my own muscles away, layer by layer, and digest all that I was. This is the last remaining task before me, and it has begun…”
When suddenly you overhear the following:
Woman 1: “How’s Holly?!” she shouted.
Woman 2: “Ah, she’s grand. Goin’ inta de Junior Cert year, yeh know? Feckin’ books are goin’ ta clean me ou’. How’s yer little wan?” shouted no.2.
Woman 1: “She’s no’ little anymore, sure she’s neerlee twel’ve!” shouted no.1.
Woman 2: “Yeh, bu’ dey’re all little t’mee, ye know? Is she doin’ her confirmation this year?” shouts no.2.
Woman 1: “Jayses, yeah, I’m fuckin’ dreadin’ i’. Dat’s gonna cost an arm an’ a leg an’ Chrismus is jus’ gone!” shouted no.1.
Woman 2: “Ah Jesus, don’t talk to me, sure we’d be better robbin’ a bank, wha?!” shouted no.2.
Dublin streets are sometimes the best places to read something dark and grim.