By sean mcnulty
--De Priors are on de front of de papers today, McGurk says to me.
--Why? says I.
--I don’t know. Ye didn’t expect me to read it, did ye?
--I’d wunt to read it.
--I didn’t have time to read it. I saw it on de kitchen table as I wus goin out de door.
--Let’s go to Souraghan’s and have a look den.
--Alright. I could do wit a Mr. Freeze actually. It’s roastin.
Summer’s all about Mr. Freeze around here. After you’ve sucked down dat cold ice in yer flavour of choice (cola, strawberry and raspberry are de oweny ones dey ever seem to have), ye can take de long plastic wrapper and fill it wit sand, if ye can find a sandpit, and if ye can’t ye can just fill it wit gravel and small stones and ye’ve got yer very own sword to have swordfights. Dey can be sore if someone whacks ye hard enough. But we don’t do dat annymore. Cause de big school is around de corner. In a matter of weeks.
I wonder about de Prior family. I thought dey’d be in Acapulco goin loco by now. Dat’s whur folks usually go when dey’re on de run, isn’t it?
--It’s whur I’d go, says McGurk, when I share dese thoughts wit him. When I get me Mr. Freeze, he says, I wunt to lie down on de grass somewhere and put de ice pop on me face and pretend I’m in Acapulco.
And yes ye might tink it’s Acapulco in Dundalk right now if you look up at dat sky and de full summer blue of it but ye’d hafta keep yer head back and aimed oweny at de sky – cause even just a glimpse of dose aerials and filthy chimneys and yer right back in Ireland which is as far apart as ye can get from Acapulco.
It’s mad when de people ye know wind up in de news, on de TV and stuff. I’ve never met Mr. Prior, I just know Ethel and Rory, and Mrs. Prior too, but I tink Mr. Prior is de first famous person I’ve had anny connection to. I don’t know whut he did. But it wus bad enough to have de hordes on him. Some IRA stuff. When he went to prison dat time, he wus always in de news. He wus famous. But den he escaped and came back to de town to make de rest of de family famous too. Ethel and Rory are now like fillum stars. Dat means if Ethel ever comes back and I marry her, de two of us will be like a Hollywood couple in de town.
Souraghan’s is a little newsagents up de town whur I normally get me 2000AD from. Dey have all de papers in dere, not just de main papers from Ireland and England and Scotland and Wales and France and America and Spain and Germany but also de local papers in Drogheda and Athlone and Longford and Limerick---well, ye know whut I mean – it spans de world and dey even have de small places covered. And dey have Mr. Freezes too. But only cola, strawberry, and raspberry, like I already said.
When McGurk and me turn up, we don’t hafta look very long fur de story about de Priors. In fact, it’s on de first newspaper I pick up – de Irish Times. Dat’s one of de big papers.
PRIOR FAMILY CAPTURED. Dat’s de headline.
And den in smaller writing: Shoot-out in Sligo ends in modest BLOODSHED. I don’t like dese grown-up newspapers and der tricks wit words. It’s hard to understand whut dey’re tryin to say. All dese big words I can’t figure out but I can at least tell when de words are tryin ta trick me. I’m not a genius. But I’m one of de smartest ones in me class so I’m not without knack.
I read as much as I can of it cause I know dat Mrs. Souraghan will kick me out soon if she sees me lookin at a grown-up newspaper fur a long time – cause dat’s a sure indication a fella is bidin his time before robbin someting if he’s just lookin at de Irish Times far too long. In me fast read, I find out dat dere wus indeed a shoot-out in Sligo. De whole Prior family wus hidin out dere and dey were come upon by men wit guns and both Mr. And Mrs. Prior fired back at dem to protect de kids. A bullet went troo Mrs. Prior’s lovely legs, troo de lovely left one and den de lovely right one. And Mr. and Mrs. Prior were both nabbed by de cops. Dere are two separate pictures of Mr. and Mrs. Prior wit each of dem looking directly into de camera – all mean. Mean but also miserable. Obviously cause dey’ve bin caught. Dere’s anudder picture under de headline and Mr. and Mrs. Prior aren’t in it but ye can see Ethel and Rory. Dey look very small in de picture cause all around dem dere are adults much taller dan dem wit der heads cut out of de picture cause de photographer wus focusing on Ethel and Rory. Ye can just see de tall legs of all dese people, probly policemen or army. Dere’s one adult in de picture, a much older woman, looks like a schoolteacher, somebody’s schoolteacher, who’s holding Rory by de hand. Rory’s face is at an angle but ye can see de shock on his face. I’d be shocked too. If all dat happened to me.
It’s not de same wit Ethel though. She’s right up close to de camera.
And smiling she is. Why’s she doin dat? And it’s a big smile. Like she’s laffin.
Why’s she smiling? Ye can see her big buck-teet. Ye’d tink she’d be ashamed of havin dem plastered all over de national newspapers. But she doesn’t appear to care.
I’m getting used to dose big buck-teet.
I’m tinkin dere’s nuttin wrong wit dem. I kind of like dem.
But why is she smiling?
Whut’s she goin to do now dat her mudder and fadder are goin to jail? She can’t smile like dat furever. Or maybe she can. It’s a nice smile.
I put de paper down and Mrs. Souraghan breeds a sigh of relief. McGurk gets a cola Mr. Freeze and I get a raspberry one. We walk to de polo field and when we get dere we lie down on de grass wit de ice pops on our faces. Well, until our faces get too cold and we hafta quit doin dat. McGurk sits up, bites into de Mr. Freeze wrapper and starts suckin away at de ice but I just leave mine at me side and look up and take in de blue sky fur a bit. I’m tinkin Acapulco cause dere’s not an aerial or chimney to be seen. Just dat huge blue sky.
--Will we fill de wrappers after and have a swordfight? asks McGurk.
--Nah, I say. Done wit dat.
I wunt to say it’s cause de big school is around de corner. In a matter of weeks. But I don’t.