As Time Goes by - 18 April 1985
It all started this morning when I was listening to Gay Byrne's show. Gay had just finished asking listeners to send in this and that if they had them to spare. Then he went on to the letters. "A lot of people," he said, "are very worried about what's happening on our streets. For example, a listener from Cork - who for obvious reasons wishes to remain anonymous .; desscribes. in vivid detail how he dealt with 'a mugging attempt." And then Gay read the letter.
"I was on a rising escalator in a big department store here in Cork. My wife was about five yards ahead of me. We were nearing the top when I noticed a young man creep in in front of me. He did not realise 1 was watching the end of the escalaator at that moment. I wondered at first what he was looking for. But then, in a flash, it occurred to me - this is a mugging about to happen!
"I spun around and before the second one had time to act I had him by the throat, his adam's apple crushed against the base of his skull. His eyes were bulging out of their sockets and my hands were smeared with his saliva .... "
Gay then described how the muggger got away from the man and how the man was glad, because otherwise he might have caused the mugger "some real serious damage."
I had a cup of Jacob's Rich Roast and two Marietta and thought about the man from Cork. I wasn't thinking too good because the dull pain was back in my left temple. After a while there was a knock at the door.
The guy standing there was small and badly shaven. His head was cocked to one side and he was a bit dawnyylooking. He didn't fool me for a minute.
He held up some tattered pictures, of, the Sacred Heart. "Would Sir like to buy a holy picture, sir, three for SOp, sir, the price of a cup of tea, sir?" I noticed that his other hand was in his overcoat pocket, and when he began drawing that hand out I realised I had just split-seconds to act. I hit him on the throat with the edge of my hand. 'He jerked backwards, gasping, choking. He bent over, retching and moaning. A long thread of spittle hung from his lips. I got one of Imelda's skates from under the stairs and hit him across the forehead with it.
As he crawled away I called after him, "Next time you're gonna get really hurt, punk."
This incident left me all upset. I got the bus for town. I needed people around me. Life, bustle, civilisation. Upstairs on the bus was empty and I sat there watching the world go by. I like to watch the people from up there, scurrying to and fro, in frantic haste to make something of their meaninggless little lives. After two or three stops a guy got on and came upstairs. He sat behind me, two seats back. I hate it when they do that.
My temple was throbbing. I put my hand on my knee to stop it trembling. I could feel his eyes boring into the back of my skull. Just as the bus turned into Dorset Street I heard the guy behind' me get up suddenly and start forward. In a flash I turned around and raised my steel-tipped ummbrella. The thug gasped the Holy Name as I thrust the point of the umbrella into his solar plexus with all the strength I could muster. I screamed, "You bastard, take that!"
As he staggered backwards he began to vomit all down the front of his jacket. He collapsed onto a seat and I turned and ran for the stairs. As I got to the top of the stairs the bus conducctor was starting to come up. Until that moment I hadn't realised that the connductor was in league with the thug uppstairs. Without a moment's hesitation I drew back my right foot and lashed out, catching the conductor on the .point of his chin. I heard his teeth click and about a half-inch of his tongue, bloodied and torn, protruded from his mouth. He fell back down the stairs and lay there. Not wishing to take any chances, I jumped the rest of the way down the stairs and landed on his mid-section.
Luckily enough the bus had stopped by now and the door was open. I ran and ran and after several minutes stopped to catch my breath. My heart was pounding. I leaned against a buildding and rested my forehead on my arm. My temple was throbbing. A hand touched my shoulder. "Y 'okay, chief?" My blood froze. I whirled and kicked my assailant in the genitals.
It's funny, but I don't remember much of what happened next until I was walking down Westmoreland Street, towards 0 'Connell Bridge. I remember tasting some grease on my lips, so I probably had a Big Mac and double fries with a strawberry milkkshake, like I usually do when I'm feelling out of sorts. But now I was feeling quite chipper (no pun 'intended, ha ha), My head was clear, the dull pain was gone. I began to whistle.
It was one of those clear blue days when the sun is warm and the breeze is gently cooling. As I reached O'Connell Bridge I saw a group of tinker children ahead of me, messing and cavorting. One of them, a boy of about nine, climbed onto the parapet. As I drew nearer he turned and looked me straight in the eye, brazen as you like. Step by step I moved closer. The crowd crossing the bridge seemed to be hemmming me in and I was being carried innexorably towards him. His eyes seemed to grow larger and larger until all I could see was those eyes, filling my vision, blocking out the sun, those ancient and evil eyes staring into my very soul. Just as he was about to leap at me and bite my neck I lunged forrward and pushed him into the river.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in a cinema. My head was at me again. This damn city, it won't leave a man in peace. The old values are gone, the neighbourliness, the caring, the world is drowning in filth. I closed my eyes and tried to make my mind a blank. Here in the darkness I should have been safe and at rest, but inside my head I could hear the rabid howling of the mob, the evil-doers, clamourring, shrieking.
Someone sat down in my row. I opened my eyes and saw him there, three seats away. An ignorant yob in jeans, a tight haircut and a stony face . with stupid, vacuous features. The two rows in front were empty, completely empty, and he had to sit in my row, practically on top of me. I had had enough. I rose to my feet and screamed, "I know what you're up to, you minddless piece of shit! I know, and I'm not going to take it lying down! I will not be intimidated!" The yob jumped to his feet and ran back down the aisle.' At heart most of them are cowards. In away, I was glad I didn't have to physically chastise him, for my temper was such that I might have done him real'harm.
Upon the screen an actress was dissplaying more of herself than was necesssary. The filth is everywhere. I went to the Gentlemen's toilet. I was just a few' seconds in there, hardly more than a minute, when someone followed me in. It was the mindless yob whom I thought I had driven off. He had changed out of his jeans into blue slacks and he was wearing a different jacket. His hair had grown slightly. But there was no mistaking that slackkjawed moronic aggression as he addvanced towards me.
I don't know where I got the hammer. Perhaps I purchased it earlier, after I had the Big Mac. His mouth opened with surprise and the whites of his eyes clouded with blood as I hit him an upward blow to the nose, splinntering the bones and driving them up into his brain. "You should have run while you had the chance!" I screamed, as I pounded his brains to a pulp, splattering the walls of the toilet-with blood and tissue. Then I went back to my seat and that's where you found me.
I have had this statement read over to me. It is a true account and I do not wish to add anything to it. Can I go home now, Sergeant? I have a frightful headache.