IRISH GO DOWN (an excerpt)


Tom O’Brien

I sin for a living. Not venial sins, oh no, but big black mortal ones.


She was a looker alright. No doubt about it. As soon as she stepped off the train I could see it. Her auburn hair, wavy but not ostentatious if you get my drift, fluttered ever so slightly as she looked around her. Her height alone set her apart from everyone else — a six-footer at least and statuesque to go with it — but it was something else, something less tangible that had my pulse quickening. There was — I reached for the word — a wantonness about her. Yeah, that was it I decided.

No luggage either. That was good. Well, better without than with anyway. Less for me to dispose of afterwards. She was looking for someone and the wave of her hand suggested she had found him or her. I switched my gaze quickly towards the exit barrier and found a middle-aged man returning her wave. She hurried towards him and kissed him perfunctorily on one cheek. Though I had never met this man I knew his face from countless magazines and newspapers, and numerous appearances on television. A mover and shaker, you could say.

They disappeared quickly, headed for his chauffer-driven limousine I imagined. I wasn’t too concerned about tailing them. I knew their destination.


I met The Greek in a tiny Italian cafe across the road from the Gaudi Cathedral. Sagrada Famila; one of the many legacies dotted around Barcelona of the great Catalan architect who must have been more than a little bit crazy judging by some of his designs. It was said that he once hoisted a donkey up the facade of the cathedral building to see how it would look in a sculpted nativity scene. He never finished it in his lifetime, and it was only now, one hundred and thirty years later, that it was beginning to look less like an abandoned monstrosity from a deranged mind and more the stunning building of his imagination. I had come outside with the canned ecstasy of the Hallelujah Chorus still ringing in my ears and spotted Kostas twitching in his seat and checking his watch. You can wait you fat bastard.

‘I am a busy man’, he stood up to greet me.

‘I needed to say a few prayers. Never know when I might need them’. We shook hands. ‘ Why not a Greek place?’ I asked him.

‘I don’t eat that shit anymore,, he said and slapped me on the back. ‘I gotta good job for you, Irish’.

‘ Irish? Why do you call me Irish?’

‘You look Irish’.

‘Ugly, you mean’.

‘Nah, not that. You mean you aint?’

‘No, I bloody ain’t. Never even been there’.

I forgot to say that I am good at lying too. Well, what this Greek slimeball doesn’t know won’t bother him.

‘Funny, I thought I heard someone say you was a Paddy once. Well, it don’t matter a shit anyhow. Your nationality is your own business’. He paused to order two cappuccinos from the kiosk window. ‘You followed her?’


‘And she met him — Jellicoe?’


‘You know your trouble, Irish? You talk too much’.

‘What do you want me to say? I followed her like you asked. She met the guy’.

‘You know what he is?’

‘I know who he is’.

‘Everybody knows who he is, not many know what he is’.

‘Is that right?’ I sipped the coffee slowly. Not bad at all. ‘I expect you’re going to tell me’.

‘He is a paedophile. A fucking paedophile. He do things with little girls’.

You look like one yourself, I almost said. ‘Thank heavens for little girls, eh’

‘Thass not funny’.

to be continued….



 Kostas vendored hot air along with hot beer

In his kingdom ‘Ye Olde Crown by-the-sea’

His tales, though tall, always plausible

And intriguing to many more than me.

He had flown Russian Migs, no less

In Ceausescu’s secret armies in the past

Doing deeds that were less than chivalrous

Before the dictator breathed his last.

Sometime later he fetched up in London

With a wife who was other than great

And who spent his less-than-hard-earned money

At quite an alarming rate.

He took to his own devices

with his hostelry by the sea

and feathered his puffy nest

helped by others as well as me.

He repaid us with roubles that were rubbish

And dollars that were chaff

And then headed off into the sunset again

Leaving behind nothing but his knowing laugh