Long Gully And Steever
By sean mcnulty
He cooled all over that day watching them raise up the crinkled shape, wrapping it in an old blanket like something a harlequin would wear, and walking off without a thought in the world about what it was they were actually doing. He was surprised the body didn’t crumble to bits as soon as they picked it up but the wetlands had been kind to the Oul Lad and kept him intact.
They didn’t spot him. No, they never did. They were always too spaced out on whatever brain-poppers they had in them to catch his presence in the hills above. Sometimes he’d fire a shot or two in the air to scare them off but that day he didn’t; he just watched them stroll along and snatch out a grave with alarming casualness, as bad as they were as any parasite dwelling down in those bogs, he’d attest. The world was nowadays infested with flossies such as these. They weren’t meant for the bleaker stretches. It wound him up tremendously to see them dancing about in the marshes like circus pantaloons the troupe had purposefully left behind. Or when he saw one of them plonk down on a big rock and look up at the sky dreamily; he imagined so much unrestrained and shite poetry came from it. He was surprised half of them weren’t dead by now as a result of all the berries they picked out of that toxic basin. But they were still there. And you couldn’t hold them off. They wouldn’t let up. Kept coming back to genuflect before a nature that was grim and rather indifferent to them.
So a warning shot was not enough. You had to meet them on their doorstep, the shooting iron high, let them know you weren’t about to be walked all over. Getting the body back was the only urgent matter for Moloney, but sure if there was protest and a bullet did make its way into and out of the senator, he’d acknowledge the deed, and anyway he’d probably be announced a national hero the next day, come to think of it. That senator and his ilk had been too long on this land ransacking the bloody place.
Moloney got up and put some more seed into Joseph’s cage, enough to keep him happy for a few hours.
--Be well, Joseph, he said to the budgie. I’ll be back in two ticks.
The bird was clearly out of his stupor now, for he whistled a wee response, jerked his little green wings about, and got to the food dish promptly where he nibbled away to his heart’s content.
--Don’t stuff yourself now.
Soon after, Moloney was off to cross the valley for to call upon the house of Elder, the shotgun slung over his back as he left the farmhouse and a show of drive on his muck-hued face. Bye pigs, he looked back and said to the paddock. And bye cows too if you’re listening. They weren’t. More fleas than normal in the air as he lumbered up the bristly slopes of Long Gully Hill, the late sun beating down and bringing up swarms of the little bastards, a series of leaping tornados hitting him as though his head was the unluckiest town in the USA. But Moloney didn’t flinch. They would have made gibbets of another but today this man cut through the swooshing pests as one with his mind on other things, the primal urge to get one’s own back being kernal, to inflict suffering on those that would come to pilfer or damage what was his, and yes, that burden brought on by the greater of one’s secrets being uncovered; true, that was also a concern, but not of utmost concern---not today.
After ascending to the hilltop, he paused to survey the quagmire below. About five miles of bogland lay at the bottom of Moloney’s valley, a vast sheet of death between Long Gully Hill where he stood and Steever Hill across the way, a spongey bed of thorn and mud; holy Jesus, was it a wild place and all, where greenery went very wrong regularly even as the summer sun looked down nicely upon it. Meadows be damned around here, you might say, though on the other side of Steever Hill, you’d be greeted with more pleasant landscapes to rehabilitate your senses, for all the senses were battered around these parts. He sniffed in that unforgettable redolence, reasty and reeking like the underwear of a madman loose on the streets of some eastern hamlet; or as an odour, it might have had the quality of sewerage even, perhaps the revealed raw sewage of that same eastern town, where it so happened there lived many foul-smelling madmen. Ah, but wasn’t he well-used to it?
Thirty minutes it took him to clump down the hill and hack across the bog. He made his way to the peat-bed where the body had been lifted. It was what one would expect of a ditch in a place like this, mossy and slushy, but around it there was a natural arrangement of white cotton and asphodel which brightened it up somewhat as though the bog itself had been attending to the grave on a regular basis; and to his eyes, it was all too florid, too tranquil, too nice a hole than the one he had dug himself five years before. In fact, he was convinced all of a sudden that he’d buried the Oul Lad in a completely different location altogether, further back he was near sure, closer to Long Gully than Steever. But admittedly, a frenzy had taken over that day, and in that burst of vengeance, his mind had drawn the world differently, painted it crazy, so that even the valley became at once unfamiliar terrain. Killing had a way of putting you out of sorts alright.