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Short Story
From 'Old Man Dies Happy'

He begins to make an effort to get himself up, but since he had fallen down he knows it is not going to be easy.









I was leanin agin de wall, an de next minute didn’t de legs go from under me. I’m always fallin, me. Dat’s how I wound up like dis. I use ta be a merchant seaman, bin all over de gaff, India, Japan, Singapore, the Caribbean. One day jus out a Cape Town didn’t I slip on de deck an go arse over tits, an a bar went trough me stomach an de left peg broke in two places. Den de bastard of a skipper wouldn’t put in at de nearest port, all he could tink a was gettin his cargo delivered on time. Dey radioed for help, but sure it was tree days before it came. Der I was, lyin in sick bay wid me guts burst open, howlin in agony, an all I had to soote me was de fuckin useless ol pain-killers de Chief Steward gave me, dat an some rum. I tought I was goin ta die an be buried at sea in a stitched up sack, wid a piece a coal in it ta weigh me down, an de needle piercin me nose ta make sure I was dead before dey trew me in fer good. Who’da cared? Me Ma was dead, an me Da, de good fer nutin ol bollocks, was in England, we hadn’t heard tell a him in years. I had loads a brothers an’ sisters, but sure we never kept in touch. Dey’re scattered all over de world now. So in de heel a de reel a tug boat came out an picked me up on a stretcher, an I was brung ta a hospital in Walvis Bay. De doctors fixed me up as best dey could, but sure I was never right again after dat. I couldn’t lift heavy tings or strain meself, so goin back ta sea was out. I tried doin kitchen porter an night-watchman, but dos jobs are more trouble dan dey’re wort. So here I am, on de streets. Lookin in the windows a houses wid people inside dem. An me on de outside. But I’m not a vagrant. I am not a tramp. I just had some bad luck, is all.

First published in ‘New Writing’, Books Ireland, September 1997, edited by Kevin Kiely









Critical Writings
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