For All We Know We Don't
By sean mcnulty
Outside the shopping centre, Dixon gives me a wee pep talk like a football manager.
--Don’t worry bout it now. Ye’ll be fine, hay. Shur ye’ve robbed before, haven ya?
--Jus a mass card. Not a whole buk.
--Well, now yer ready for de land a de big buks, says he. Nobody’ll be lookin at ya. De buks are dead easy ta rob. Nobody cares in dere.
There’s a rainbow lying over the Hill Street Bridge as we move closer to the shopping centre. Can’t remember any rain today. Shur, it always rains, it’s always coming down. You’d be forgiven for thinking it is when it isn’t or isn’t when really it is. Rarely do you see colours like that in the sky over this town. They say there’s a pint of gold if you get to the end of it. But I’m well past believing that. I’ve fully signed on to Dixon’s belief that if you want your pint of gold ya haveta take it from someone else.
The bukshop is very clean, cleaner than other shops in town. I imagine the people there are very clever too, as they’re all wearing glasses. I thought I’d be cleverer too when I got my glasses but it never worked. Low marks still streaming in. Even in the easy subjects. I can’t see me ever getting good marks in maths, glasses or not. It would be at least worth getting called four-eyes all the time if they made maths easier. The glasses on the main woman in the bukshop are madder than Janine’s in Ghostbusters. Dixon’s right. She doesn’t appear ta give two fucks about us as we sail in cuz there isn’t a peep out of her. There’s a younger fella to our left as we walk in but his back is to us as he’s up on a wee stepladder shoving buks onto the top shelf. His glasses are more like Egon’s.
Dixon nudges me forward – he’s aiming me at a big section at the back I haven been to before. The only section I know is the horrors. Well, and the kids buks too as that’s where you get all the Roald Dahls. The section he pushes me towards is the biography section and the next thing ye know I’m standin there with Benito Mussolini and Robert Oppensomething.
Dixon scoots off. He’s going to keep nix at the front while I try to shove a buk up me jumper.
It’s quiet. I’ve got cover in the way of a long shelf wit loads a big schoolbuks and atlases, a perfect place for robbin. But first: haveta decide which buk ta rob. So I scan along the wall. Mussolini. Nah, he’s a fat buk. Hitluh? Nah. Joan Collins? I’d say dere’s diddies in dat one. Charlie Haughey. Fuck no. Then I see Wacko Jacko. Moon Walk. By Michael Jackson. Annie, are you ok, you bin hit by a smooth criminal. Love it. Might rob that one.
I peek over the atlases. The woman with the Janine glasses has her head down in some list, the kind they have in shops. She’s concentrating really hard on something. And Egon’s no longer on the ladder. He’s scarpered.
I look up and down the aisles to me left and right. All clear. I grab Moon Walk and get me jumper ready, pull it out and loosen it so as to make room for Jacko.
Just as I’m about to stick it up there, I hear some floorboard squeaks and the soft footsteps of yer man’s guddies on the carpet. Next thing ye know, there’s Egon by my side.
Shite. Just as I was about to do the deed.
So I put Moon Walk back and keep browsing the shelves like I’m vaguely interested in the lives of people. Flick through Robert Oppensomething. Atomic boms. Fuckin hell.
I keep telling meself. What a risk you’re taking. You’ve got your whole life ahead of ya. This is liable to break ya, not make ya. You won’t get to the big school. Ya’ll never make the exams at the end of the big school. Well, that wudn’t be too bad. But ye’ll wind up in prison or something, and that’s bound to be worse than exams.
Finally Egon fucks off and like a shot: Jacko’s in me jumper.
I rush towards the doors, past the Janine woman who’s still mad consumed with her list – poor woman. I throw a wee whistle out for Dixon, who comes flying out the doors after me, and we both run like two Daley Thompsons for the exit with our arms folded so nothin will fall out.
We get to the old train tracks by the Hill Street Bridge and we sit there and show off our hauls. Dixon’s dead impressed when he sees Moon Walk.
--Deadly! he says.
--Tanks, says I. Whut did ye get yerself?
Dixon unzips his bomber jacket, untucks the rolls of jumper from his jeans, and a gigantically big buk with Gianni Versace’s name on it drops out. It’s a gift buk, the kind yer fadder might give yer mudder for Christmas and it’ll stay in de hot press for years unopened wit a load a cukbuks. The Designs of Gianni Versace.
--Dat’s a buk for gerls, shur, I say.
--I know, Dixon says. But next time Valentine’s rolls aroun, I can give it ta Talulah Kirk and maybe I’ll get de hole from er.
--Gerls. Well, ye know, if we keep robbin, we mightn’t get any gerls at all in de fewtcher.
--Ah, fuck de fewtcher. Why wurry bout dat?
--AH, ye’ll be tinkin about it in a cupla years when it’s time to get yer wife an she won’t go near ya cuz of all de robbin ye did.
--Wife? Are ye right in de head?
--Shur everyone gets married in dis toun. Dat’s de way it all goes. We get wives and families an all dat.
--For all we know we don’t. I’ve an uncle who never got a wife. He’s a fuckin loo-lah tho, I’ll admit.
--Wudya not marry Talulah Kirk?
--Nah, bollix. I jus wanna get de hole off er.
--I’ll marry Grace Shevlin if she’ll have me.
--Not fuckin likely.
I never thought about getting a wife before. But it was in me head recently because I took a fancy to the actress Meg Tilly, cut a picture of her in Psycho too out of the Radio Times and I keep it under my bed, sometimes take it out and imagine she’s my wife. Don’t tell annyone I sed dat? They’ll have me pegged as a psycho too.
--Oh luk, says Dixon. I got anudder one, a smaller one.
He reaches into his back pocket and pulls from it It’s a Tough Game, Son: The Real World of Professional Football by David Icke.
The rainbow’s all washed out by the time we emerge from the underworld. And the colours from it haven run – except for green which seeps into the grass in the fields beyond the Hill Street Bridge. The white horses in the field have black spots on dem like drips but as far as I know you don’t get black dripping from the rainbows. The black is from something else.
--Where will I say I got de buk if me mudder asks? I say to Dixon as we head over the bridge towards town.
--Tell her I gave it to ya.
--Ah, she’s not gonna believe dat.
--Eh....well, I dunno...ya don’t wear glasses.
--Fuck off, four-eyes!
When I get home, I shamble up the stairs, all pregnant with me spoils, and me mam spots me and says, Here, you, what are ye up ta?
--Nuttin, I call back.
When I get into me room, I stash Moon Walk down the back of the dresser, where I swear to God it’ll bloody well stay until rainbows have real gold at the end.