So To Speak...As Far As We Know
By sean mcnulty
He hoped he would not perish in the same manner this man had. For judging by the various cuts up and down the body, and that look of anguish, it was plausible the bog man had seen the worst of a seething mob before meeting his end. And you didn’t have to talk to Devin about mobs and the like. He’d been in the middle of a few, and in front of a few, and run off by a few. Sure it was your civic responsibility to acknowledge the whoops of the crowd, whether that meant joining in or running off. You played your role in the great collective chase and battery. It was better to be among those doing the setting upon than to be the unfortunate quarry set upon of course and for that reason Devin like most people consistently found himself lining up with the legion more often than fleeing in terror from them. You had a duty to survive too and it took further acts of madness to survive in an unforgivably mad world.
It felt safe arriving in Dublin. Not that the Free State was free from the effects of the Troubles entirely but you were mostly freed from that creeping mistrust of certain characters you might come across in less travelled areas and there were less machine guns and saracens on the streets, so the tension was considerably lower. Devin’s greatest mistake of all was to carry the madness with him to Dublin. He had opportunistically employed the northern conflict in order to make his profile in the big smoke more interesting. But in broadcasting such a parade of lies, there came the fear of bumping into someone who knew him from back home. Someone who knew the truth of him. Someone who could expose all those tales he’d spun as the inventions they really were. Then Imogen would surely pack her bags.
But the biggest fear of all was running into someone from back home who had actual links and who was not opposed to the swift dispatchment of another. Caught out for his lying about the struggle, he might end up down in a dark hole himself. Like this poor bog man before him.
Taking another swig from the whiskey, he noticed a light orange smear just over the bog man’s wrinkled lip. What Devin didn’t know was that Elder had last evening ordered Knox to go up with some custard and the cameraman had rubbed a little on the mouth in answer to the cryptic solicitation on tape. Devin leaned in for a closer look at the substance but his finger stopped millimetres away from the bog man’s face because all of a sudden there was a voice of censure in the loft.
--Don’t touch him!
It was MacKenna. Devin hadn’t heard him coming up the stairs. He was standing in the doorway in a lavender purple dressing gown and he looked like a right streak of misery. Devin had these academic types down as rather precious beings but he hadn’t seen it in MacKenna until now. Last night the man had seemed alright. What’s with all this scolding now?
--Sorry, he said to the archaeologist. And sorry about all the noise. I was just nosing about.
--Fine, responded MacKenna. I don’t mean to be all hot and bothered and protective. He has after all been harmed worse in his time than anything you could reasonably do. So maybe I overreacted. I would err on the side of caution however in terms of how we handle him. Especially those who know nothing of who he is or just how old and significant.
MacKenna went to the corner, grabbed the brush and dustpan and started sweeping up the flies. They were so big they sounded like ball bearings when they hit the pan.
--Who is he then? asked Devin.
--That is not a question I can fully answer right now. I would like to have him X-rayed to gather more information but from the basic analysis I have done so far I would say he was a druid in his time.
--A druid? That’s a bit far-fetched, is it not?
--Not at all. The druids were very real in ancient societies.
--But how would you know? He’s but a lump of clay.
--There were fossilised grains on him. When I put them under the microscope I found the pollen of mistletoe. Thousand-year-old mistletoe at least. Mistletoe was often used in druidic ceremonies.
--It’s some leap you’re making from old mistletoe to wizard.
--I’m an archaeologist – don’t you know that? Anyway, the druids were not wizards...so to speak...as far as we know.
--Why keep the poor ballix up here?
--Safety. There are many residents in this place. What if someone fell on him and he came to pieces?
--That’s wise. I suppose when the government comes to take him to the museum you don’t want to hand him over all banged up.
--Hmm, yes, he said.
--I have to say. I don’t know much about your game but it does seem odd to me that you haven’t already called the authorities about him. Sure there’d be some money in it, wouldn’t there? And fame?
--It was Elder’s decision to hold on to him. I was hesitant to go along with it at first, but now I see it differently.
--That man must have some hold on you. Your archaeology mates would be none too happy about it, I’d imagine. Keeping him all to yourself in the attic.
--The reason I stayed with The Kindred Eye is because Elder enabled me to see how unsatisfactory my life was in that sphere. Everything too political. In my field, which tends to go on in real fields as it happens, there are always political struggles arising. Out of nowhere. My colleagues are all about themselves. It seems to me that they are not interested in the land and its true history anymore. They are interested in the land only in so far as it can reap rewards for them here above it. Elder teaches us to reject the twisted schemes that politics create in us.
--If you ask me, he looks more like a druid than this ballix does. With that beard he has.