Aloha from Roscarrig - an excerpt from Crowe II, (wip) 2021
Freud once observed, repetition was a ‘desire to return to an earlier state of things.’. Crowe felt like reminiscing and pulled Elvis Presley’s ‘Aloha from Hawaii’ from his vinyl collection. Aloha was Alison’s favourite record. When things were good between them, and they were looking for that little bit of serendipity they would play it. LOUD. She knew every song by heart and would sing along with it as she worked. It hurt him a little bit that she hadn’t demanded it back during their separation and he wondered what shite she listened to with Dr-smug-bastard Cornelius Devitt. He had Dickie Rock, Ronan Keating, and Michael Bublé written all over him.
‘Aloha’ had caught Crowe’s eye in a flea market in Seattle and he had bought it for her as a gift. They had just started their honeymoon; four glorious weeks, staying in Seattle, Tahoma, and Portland, drinking wine in the long rolling sunny vineyards of Washington State. By some miracle ‘Aloha’ had survived being jammed into their luggage and baggage handling through Atlanta back to Shannon Airport. Its pristine condition a good omen for their marriage. The album cover had an image of The King orbiting earth and being beamed into every home via a shiny rectangular satellite. He was dressed in his studded white jump suit with a crimson leis around the wing collar, looking like some messianic cult leader inviting his compound minions to come and join him amid the stars.
Crowe cranked the volume up on his turntable and uncorked the cheap Malbec he had bought for dinner. He shut his eyes and swallowed four hearty glugs of wine, Elvis boomed out ‘You gave me a mountain’ and Crowe for a split second in time was home. He could see a younger Cathal watching cartoons in that absent manner all young children have and Alison creating culinary miracles on the hob, while he chopped and peeled the vegetables alongside her. A pinpoint echo of perfection and joy. His reverie was demolished by the Polish family under him, banging something loud off their ceiling.
Fuck them, thought Crowe, and listened for the microwave to ping amid the recorded applause of adulation.
Thank you very much…
With the macaroni cheese cooling and the frozen garlic bread browning in the oven, Crowe lowered the volume down and as Elvis faded to a rhythmic click on the vinyl’s groove, Crowe could feel the shadows of the room creep in and the old familiar anxiety tug at his gut. Even brightly lit rooms had dark shadows in their nooks. And sometimes they crept toward you. The banging below his feet had stopped and Crowe went over to the white board that followed him around like Jacob Marley’s chains. Downing another mouthful of wine from the neck, he grabbed a marker pen from a pile spiking out of a coffee mug, propped up the board on the table and scrawled ROPE ROPE ROPE ROPE ROPE.
That fucking rope hadn’t been mislaid, it had been deliberately lost, he thought.
Under the word he wrote,
WHY?? And circled it.
He scrolled through his phone looking for the date of the crime scene. Although he had performed the cursory physical examination, he also knew that his body followed a series of automatic actions once on a scene. Years of police work had instilled one axiom – if you want it right, do it yourself - belt and braces all the way. He remembered had taken a picture of the scene, a memory muscle reflex. He thumbed up the image. Hanafin’s limp corpse dangling. At maximum, the rope was pixilated into microscopic blocks. But it was a bog-standard orange/red shiny washing line.
One you could purchase in any hardware shop or B&Q. If that rope was deliberately mislaid, then Crowe would get another one and load it into the investigation. Tip the balance in his and Hanafin’s favour, the poor bastard needed it.
Crowe made a note under ROPE: ‘Olive oil and cocoa powder’.
Then he remembered the A4 pad from the back of the cabinet in his new office. Something the slovenly Sergeant Joyce must have mislaid, but also might have hidden. Crowe went to his laptop case slung onto the sofa bed and fished the pad out from under the laptop. It was an old legal pad. The pages now a dun colour and the non-descript cover was creased, stained with coffee rings, and faded with age. The first five pages were blank then from pages six to ten were handwritten numbers in pencil. Page ten had numbers in a much bigger size as the stub of the pencil had worn down. The handwriting looked rushed and uneven. The rest of the pad was blank. Crowe flipped back to the start and looked at the numbers again. It took a moment for Crowe the figure out these were old phone numbers. Old landline numbers. Flipping forward and back, Crowe counted fifteen lines of numbers in total. There were no names beside them.
Fifteen numbers without regional prefixes. Hidden phone numbers. He ran an index finger under and along them - 45_8776, possibly south Dublin, 8_25529 Dublin northside, again and so on.
They could be local clubs, hunting, fishing, or important numbers for lifeboat crews – there was a lifeboat station near Roscarrig, it made sense to have emergency contact numbers to hand. Its only when Crowe flipped the pad face-down and lifted up the cardboard backing that he saw in neat biro this time a long series of numbers that told him he was looking at a bank account number.
That was where he would start.
Was Joyce on the take? Siphoning off a little here and there to fund a retirement fishing boat? Maybe the keg stowed away in the canteen was for turning the station into a shebeen when every pub in Ireland was closed on Christmas Day? Perhaps Joyce offered the drinking man an escape from the family turkey and pocketing the cash. It’d be one way to stay tuned in to the happenings in the town. Joyce the barman with crusty Angie making the sandwiches and reveling in the banter. In this neck of the woods, it was all cash-money-boss, handshakes, winks, and nods. Crowe could sympathise, his salary now heavily depleted with maintenance payments to Alison would be small change to Dr Cornie Devitt. All his career Crowe had never taken a bribe, even though he knew that cash and bullshit gets you places in this life, he hadn’t much time for either. And being nudged out of the force was testament to that.
He sat and ate and stared at the flat pack that was now a permanent fixture in the room. Crowe decided to build the bookcase – it was now 10pm, and sleep wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. He loaded the dinner plate into the small dishwasher, swigged from the bottle, lit a cigarette, and took a small carving knife out of the cutlery drawer to the cardboard flat pack packaging.
The first Autumn storm struck around midnight with heavy patters of rain bouncing off the skylight and Crowe stretched his aching back up and closed it over.
Whatever clues beneath Hanafin’s hanging tree would now be lost and Crowe hoped young Redmond Spock had found something, anything to keep this case alive.
He stacked the books into the spaces and admired his handiwork. At the sight of the books on the bookcase, he was reminded too that there were always options in life. He ambled over to the cactus on the ledge and as he flicked the blinds shut, he said to it,
“I’d better ring Clodagh, Bob.”
Alison had moved on, so should he. He lurched drunkenly over to the turntable and lifted the LP. Leaning it against the wall, he broke it in half with the heel of his shoe.
He kept stamping on it until it was fragments and as the Poles below started banging, he roared down to them
“Elvis has left the fucking building,”
He gabbed the LP cover and creased, folded, and tore it up. He scooped up the shiny black shards and mashed everything into the small pedal bin.
The sat on his folded-out bed, clutching his head in his hand, and began moaning in remorse.