I wandered into town this morning, as is my habit. I like to stroll around the market, buy a dozen eggs, a few bunches of daffodils this time of year, maybe some cocaine from the Irish Hand-Grown Narcotics stall. The market is great. It has a really nice old-town feel to it, as if nothing has altered there in a thousand years. Sometimes, after a particularly violent week, I’ll stop off at Nederlande Bullets to buy a thousand or two Hydro-Shoks from Henk, the traditional Dutch weapons-seller. Good old Henk always has a kind word for everyone, and he’ll always throw in a bit extra. Perhaps a couple of grenades or a bag of skunk-weed – a small thing, maybe, but important in this rushing-around world we live in. Years ago, I bought my young son his first kukri from an old trader who travelled there every week from Bhutan. Tong Au, his name was and I can still remember him on his huge, brick-sized traditional Bhutanese mobile phone:
No, you fool. The name is Au! Au!! A for apple, U for uncle! Au!!
Ah, what a good old soul he was. Well I remember how, every Saturday afternoon, he’d begin his trek back to the Himalayas.
Mind how you go there, Tong, we’d say.
And he’d reply, See you next week!
It’s great. After buying weapons or an exotic animal for slaughter, I might stop in to Nancy Blake’s pub, for a coffee, or a dozen pints of Guinness, or maybe three bottles of whiskey.
Hello, I might say. Can I have a coffee, a dozen pints of Guinness and three bottles of whiskey, please?
Certainly, they’ll reply. Anything else with that?
And I’ll say, Ah, no thanks, Love. Sure, aren’t I driving home in a while?
That’s where I went today, to examine my latest purchase: a Barrett Light Fifty rifle that I picked up at Dave’s second-hand sniper-weapons stall. It was missing its stand, so I got it cheap. Dave didn’t want to take it all the way back to the Kerry Gaeltacht again in case his brother Festy shoots down another aeroplane and you could understand his concern. I bought the rifle and a DeWalt drill from him for two hundred, which wasn’t bad, I thought.
Gerry the axe-murderer was in Nancy’s, finishing the sudoku.
Howya, Gerry, I greeted him.
Not great, he replied. I can’t finish this fuckin puzzle and I don’t know where to buy fish-net tights.
Jesus, Gerry, I can’t help you there, I replied. If it isn’t prying too much, could I, would it be possible, can you, ah – why are you – ?
Buying fish-net tights? he asked.
Precisely, I said.
Simple, he said. The Rocky Horror Show is in the Belltable tonight, and I want to fit in with the crowd.
Well, Gerry, I said, I don’t know about you fitting in with the Rocky Horror crowd. You’re a bit weird.
True, he agreed.
Tell you what, though, I offered. I have this sniper rifle and a thousand bullets. That any good?
Grand, said Gerry. Thanks. Pint?