Chapter One

“Hello and welcome to the Joe Puffy show”

The radio droned in the corner of the cupboard that was the canteen for the library cleaners. The music burst into life.

“Yes, hello and welcome to the Joe Puffy show” announced Joe Puffy who was a high from his nightly performances at the Panto. His fame was currently full of hot expanding air. The people loved him.

“Turn it up there Betty”, said Bernie as she tried to sneakily suck the life out of a Jonnie Blue.

As the smoke rose, the diddly diddle doh music danced out of the wireless with greater volume. The women mimiced three traditional Irish dancers, dancing wildly in their blue smocks, their leaping permed hair competing with their feet. A mouse marked them with a three point seven, and then left for the boiler room, for fear of being crushed by Irish culture. Bernie nearly burst a lung with coughing and laughter as Àine shushed her. Aine cried out, “I want to listen to the radio programme”

Bernie gasped for air. “Your worse than the bloody Liberian”, she wheezed


A punch of handsome builders past the canteen door. Aine’s eyes lingered.

“Ah go on”, said Betty as she and Bernie held onto one another waiting for their racing hearts to calm. Betty and the girls had been discussing the notion of Celtic as fashion and not race.

Joe took no notice. He couldn’t have he was on the radio. He continued.

“On today’s show we are talking about gifts, but not just your average gifts but about the gift of books and to talk about this we have Mary on the line. Hello Mary”

No answer. Joe pressed. “Hello Mary are your there?”

Mary was watching the loose thread in her dress dance in the breeze. She didn’t know if the source of the breeze or the offending thread should be dealt with first. Then a voice in her ear awoke her. Her name was called. She focused.

“Oh oh hello Joe”, she replied while she resumed dancing in circles in the middle of Dublin’s main thoroughfare. Her headphones in and her public taking of photos of the mad person. She was happy in her dancing with the phone her grandson had set up for her. Her attention shifted to the flailing wire.

“Great Mary your back, Mary I believe you are a great lover of books”

“Joe I love books”

“Is that right Mary?”

“I do I love them and dancing, I love love them as much as I love dancing”

Mary spun faster and faster.

“Right, right and how much to you like books, tell us your story”

There was a long pause. You could almost hear the growing whiff of concern in the presenter’s imperceptible whistle before he said, “Mary are you there”.

“Yes Joe I’m here”. Mary’s age was beginning to show. She began to pick herself off the ground. She was a regular contributor to Joe’s show, but lately, her voice had begun to undulate and fade with her failing mental attention and energy.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes I’m fine”

“I think you had a bit of a turn there, listen Mary I’ll come back to you. We have Sean on line two, hello there Sean”

“How you goin’ there Joe?”

Aine moved quietly towards the radio. Bernie looked questioningly at Betty, her face still purple, and eyes bulging. Betty didn’t notice, she was looking at the bottom of the fridge.

“Jeysus, are they mouse droppings”.

Bernie fiddled with her lighter. Her eyes narrowed. She looked at Aine suspiciously.

“Not too bad Sean thanks for asking, now Sean I believe you love books nearly as much as Mary”

Sean was her boyfriend who had been accused of stealing a book. Mine disliked the idea of blame.

Sean Scully looked over the Dublin traffic toward the misty Dublin Mountains. The wind whistled in one ear and Joe in the other. He had not rang Joe for some time, though at one time he regularly conversed with him, as one would talk to God – without the aid of a telephone. He open his book.

“I used to love books Joe.”

His accent said he was proud to be from Dublin, it had personality, practiced to prove how clever, tough and sauve he was. In reality, Sean was none of those things, but he was from Dublin. Once upon time before he became a wanker, he did have potential in abundance. His parents were from the country, that was where the talent came from. He didn’t admit it unless it suited him.

He began to read.


Weird fish walk this city.


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