You Are Both Of You Fantasists
By sean mcnulty
We’re often in dis orchard – dat’s Dixon, McGurk and meself – and normally we’d have some buckets wit us and we’d be up on the trees, proggin apples, throwin dem down. But today we’re not. Today we’re on a bonfire mission.
If you dig deep enough into de orchard, down the end of it you come to a wall, and just over dat wall, you’ll find the back of de old rollerdisco. It’s a shack now. But full of good bonfire feed.
We have ta fight our way through a load of hedge and nettle in order to find a way in to de building. It’s like de rainforests. I hit me foot on a brick as we’re wading through it all and it hurts awful. At least I tink it was a brick. Hard to tell.
We can’t see a doorway because of all de growth but Dixon eventually discovers a window down at de end. Dere’s a bit of glass left in it but it’s high enough up dat we can fit through without cutting ourselves.
The rollerdisco was before our time. I’ve heard it was a mad place back in de day. Where dey’d have music shows on and young ones tryin to get the holes off one anudder.
It was once a grand big place but now a shambles, a complete tip. Empty bottles everywhere. Probly nackers living in it during the nighttime. Planks of wood that used to be part of the building scattered all over de floor. The roof is high up and dere’s a big moon-shaped hole in it with a shaft of light coming through dat makes the dust swish.
--It’s a big enough drop, isnit? I say.
--Have anny of yiz bin up on de roof?
--I wus up dere once, says Dixon. But not in a while. You know a chap fell troo it a few years back and killed himself.
--Didn’t hear bout dat.
--Shur we were all too young to know de chap.
--What was he doin up dere? I say.
--Same as us, I bet, says McGurk. Probly lukin fur wood fur his bonfire. Dis place is Treasure Island fur bonfires.
And he’s right. Even though dere’s a bit of damp here and dere, it’s chock-a-block with stuff ye can burn.
What walls are left standing, half-walls, have writing all over dem such as:
UP THE RA
NUXEY’LL STAB YA
SAMMY LOVES JULIE CHUCKY OUR LA
NUXEY FUCKED YER MA HERE ‘81
NUXEY’LL RIDE YA THIN LIZZY
--Yeah, Tin Lizzy played here, says Dixon.
--Did dey? says I.
--And Roy Orbison.
--Roy Orbison really?
--And de Beatles, jumps in McGurk.
--Gway an fuck, says Dixon. De Beatles didn’t play here.
--Shur dey did. Me dad went to see dem.
--Shur your fadder is a madman. He’d say annyting.
--Whut dya mean?
-Dixon pauses for a moment to tink and den says: He’s a fantasist.
--He’s a wha?
--A fantasist. He makes stuff up.
Dixon’s hobby is finding new words to use to show he’s not the dunce everyone tinks he is. He gets de lowest marks of anybody else in class so I tink dis is how he makes up for it. But I know dat he finds de words on the video covers in Easy Weir’s shop. Dat’s whur he gets all his nicknames for me. He’s had many nicknames for me. Gremlin. Critter. Basketcase. Now he calls me Lucas after the wee fella wit glasses on de cover of dat one. And as I come to tink of it I swear I’ve seen a video in dere called de Fantasist in de horror section, but I don’t know for sure.
--Callin my dad a lie-uh, are ye?
--No, I’m callin him a fantasist.
If a fantasist really is someone who makes stuff up, I’d say Dixon’s right about dat. Mr. McGurk’s full of shite.
Out of nowhere, McGurk shoves Dixon.
--Ya lukin fur a slap, Dixon, are ya?
Dixon shoves him back.
And I get between de two of dem.
--Come on, boys, we need to get stuff for de bonfire.
Mentioning de bonfire is a smart ting to do. De thought of dat big blazing fire has a calming effect on dem. I’m proud of myself for doin de smart ting.
--I was oney messin wit ya, Dixon says to McGurk. Don’t take it so serious.
We split up to gadder firewood and anything else that is sure to burn. I go off to de right near CHUCKY OUR LA and find a big empty cardboard box. As I’m about to pick it up, I see dat it’s not empty at all and dere’s some kind of slimy blue ting inside like someting out of Basketcase. I quickly realise it’s only a rubber Johnny. A used one.
--Lookit! I call the other two over to show dem.
Dixon arrives first and when he looks in and sees de rubber Johnny he laughs and says: Well, McGurk, yer mudder was here las night.
--I’d say it was your fadder, replies McGurk.
--Wit your mudder.
--No, wit his fadder.
--My fadder? I say. Ah, keep me an my fadder out of it yiz headcases.
I pick up a wee stick and have a poke at de rubber Johnny. I hook it on the end of the stick and hold it up. It hangs dere in the air like a blue slug, alive and trying to do its slug-wiggle – the typical gluey slow slug-wiggle.
--It’s rotten, innit, says I.
The thought of oul winos riding each other in here is definitely a rotten one – at the same time, I wouldn’t mind to be here on the night in question, a fly on de half-walls to watch it all go down, but I don’t tell the others dat.
--Take it annyway, says Dixon. It’ll burn surely.
--Well, yoo carry it, I tell him. I don’t want it.
--Yer a pansy, Lucas, ye know dat.
We go back to collecting bonfire grub. Dixon starts making a load of noise kicking at a wall and pulling bits of wood and plaster out of it. I can’t imagine annyone wud bodder coming in if dey heard all de noise. Dis place is a fuckin dump. It’s only good for nackers and messers like us dese days.
After some time digging around, I hear McGurk shouting FUCKIN ELL behind me. I turn and see dat he’s lukin up at the hole in de roof.
--What’s up? I ask.
--I just saw someone. Up dere.
Me and Dixon go over to him.
--Who’d ye see? says Dixon.
--It was a wee boy I tink.
--A wee boy, yer sure? I say.
--Yeah. He was just standing dere, lukin straight down at me.
--Did he say anything?
--Didn’t say a ting. Just lukt down at me.
--Where is he now? asks Dixon.
--I dunno, says McGurk. He just disappeared all of a sudden.
--Ah, catch yerself on, willye, says Dixon. How cud he just disappear?
--I swear ta god. I saw a wee boy up dere.
--Ya tink it was de ghost of de boy who died, I say.
--I dunno. Maybe it was.
--Whut did he luk like?
--Very pale and white.
--Shurly dat’s a ghost den, I say.
--An he was wearin his confirmation suit, I tink.
--Yizzer both of yiz fantasists, says Dixon.
--Well, yoo sed yerself, Dixon, dat a wee boy fell troo de roof. Who do ye tink was up dere?
--Probly a pidgin, says Dixon.
--Gway with yer pidgin, says McGurk. I tell ye, dere wus a wee boy standing dere. I near shit me kacks.
--Stand well away from me den.
I get a bit scared meself standing dere, but I don’t say to de udders, with the dust fizzling away in de beam of light. Fizzy dust is a regular special effect in de fillums to warn ya dere’s a ghost about but dis dust is no special effect. It’s very ghostly.
We go back to de firewood and try to forget about it but it’s playin on my mind de whole time because it’s so dark and horrible in de place.
About 10 minutes pass in silence except for wood breaking up and fits of coughing now and again because of all de filth in the air.
When de time comes to leave, I’m over de moon, but it doesn’t last long as we hear a sound coming from de back, from where we made our ways in.
--What’s dat? says McGurk.
--Quiet, says Dixon.
It’s a scratching sound at the big wooden back door, the one we couldn’t find earlier because of all the hedge and nettle. It’s like someone’s carving der name into de door. Den der starts some banging on de door. Like someone’s struggling to open it.
We stay silent.
McGurk’s face is white. I tink mine is too.
Den we see a shadow at de window we came through. A figure forms from dat shadow and climbs in as a wee boy wearing a confirmation suit. I’m about to run fur me life when I hear Dixon say:
--Cathal Blood. Ya head-the-ball. Whut wus all de banging fur?
--I wus goin to ask yous de same question.
It’s Cathal Blood and he has a confirmation suit on and a pen-knife in his hand.
--I wus tryin to pick de lock but it’s banjaxed.
--Why are ye wearin a confirmation suit? asks Dixon. Shur yoo don’t even go ta school.
--It’s not a confirmation suit. It’s just a suit.
--Where’d ye get it?
--Ah, if I told ye dat now, I’d get in trouble.
We know dis means he’s robbed it off someone’s clothesline or something.
--Was it yoo up on de roof, Cathal?
--I was, yeah.
--Whut wur ye doin up dere?
--Havin a wee sleep.
--Ye know a boy fell troo dere once?
--Ah, no bodder ta me. I tread softly.
I take a deep breath knowing now dere’s no ghost and de mystery is solved and take comfort in de fact dat dust is just dust, and nothing more.
Cathal Blood helps us carry our bonfire plunder out. It takes us a while as dere are a few walls to climb over so dere’s quite a bit of work in it.
We have a wheelbarrow placed over de wall of de orchard out in de street. Dixon hands de bonfire material up to McGurk on de wall who throws it down to me and Cathal Blood on de street and we put it all into de wheelbarrow.
When we’re all done, Cathal Blood scoots off, and we make our way out on to de main street with all de shoppers. The midday sun’s bating down with a fury and all de people doing der shopping are too summer-happy to bodder with us lads wheeling along a wheelbarrow full of planks and rubbish.
I luk back at de roof of de old rollerdisco and I see a pidgin land on it, near de moon-shaped hole. It flits about on de roof in the typical pidgin way. I watch it for a bit, but the sun’s strong in me eyes, and it’s making me blink, and before long, de pidgin disappears.