by Frank Shanley
He was going out for the night. Out to Dun Laoghaire. The place he thought was strange and far away when he was young. The place where the boats came in. He had lived there for a year and knew it quite well now. He was going to get drunk to bring some excitement to his life.
It was a dark winter evening. The sharpness of the night and the sense of tension it should have created didn’t make an impact on him. He went down to get the bus, down a dimly lit laneway. The fence on one side and the bushes on the other were more or less ignored. The laneway led onto the road, the road that the bus came down. It came by him just then. He started to run for it, a long run down the road and then around the corner near the church. He caught it up as he was coming near the stop. He got on it with another person. Breathless, he was looking around at the things that really scared him, people. He stared at them a bit. He wasn’t aware why. His mother said it was fear. He believed everything his mother told him. When he got off the bus and changed to another one, he was still feeling deadened. The people on the bus and outside the window meant nothing to him. He was finally in Dun Laoghaire and now he went to the hostel where he lived until recently.
Cathleen met him at the door. He remembered thinking of her as the Countess Cathleen. She brought him up the stairs and into the kitchen. There were a few people there – friends, nearly friends, anyway. Martin said hello. ‘Martin do you want to go out with me tonight’, he felt like saying but he didn’t have the courage. He waited a while and then started to talk to Martin. A few inappropriate comments and a few weak jokes later, he asked Martin to go out. It was cool Martin said so they went out.
They went first to a shop to buy cider. The two litre bottles, big brown bottles full of intoxicating liquid which tasted like poison, a few years earlier would have been very precious but now they didn’t mean that much. They went down a laneway to drink them. They really didn’t taste like poison. Drinking it wasn’t nice but the talk and repartee were and all he was thinking about was good. He wasn’t drunk but felt invigorated.
He and Martin were both schizophrenic. A dirty horrible thing both for the sufferers and non-sufferers. They were both suppressed, depressed, downtrodden human beings. Both in a chain gang of psychiatrists.