Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Breakfast On Sundays

And glory of the revolution
And the glory of dyin’ for the revolution
Fuck the revolution
U2 –Nichols Arena, Denver Colorado November 8, 1987

            1987 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and the hopes of peace are as hazy, choking, and dim as the morning after Eleventh Night bonfires. The Anglo-Irish Agreement is seen as a farce by those who continue to fight their war in the streets. Another seventy six lives this year alone have already been lost. They are added to a growing list of names in the centuries of struggle between litanies of organizations. They were young and old, innocent and guilty, all caught up in the confusing angst, simmering ire, and a poisonous mix of hatred and love that seems to flow in the blood of many. Belfast is made up of people who love so fiercely that killing or dying for that love is not questioned. Love of country. Love of family. Love of nation. It’s this love that is killing everybody.
            “What’s the matter?” Abbi asks her father as she puts on her brown leather coat.
            “It’s Sean. Yer mother is missin' money again.” He sighs and looks Abbi up and down as he sits at the kitchen table. Her brown corduroy pants, cream colored blouse, and the scent of roses hint that she isn’t heading to anyone’s house to study.  “And where are you goin'?”
            “Liam’s. Then to the shops...probably.”
            “Probably? Stay with Liam and don’t go anywhere alone.” His concern is not exaggerated as alone she is more prone to humiliating searches by security forces in the streets. He also knows that his daughter would not succumb willingly to anyone who would try to lay a hand on her. She’d put up a fight which would mean more harm to her.
            “Right,” she makes it to the door.
            “Why don’t you have Liam come over here? With Enniskillen yesterday…”  He refers to the bombing of a Remembrance Day Parade the prior day. Eleven civilians killed and many others injured in a bombing blamed on the Provisional IRA. The normal violent tension that fills the air is significantly heightened.
            Abbi looks at the ground.
            “You’re meeting David too, aren’t you? Is it not enough that I have to worry about finding my son dead from a drug overdose that I have to be worryin’ about you carousing about with members of the IRA poster family?” He crosses his arms and waits for an answer.
            “I’ll keep an eye out for Sean.” She is quickly out the door before anything else can be said.
            He sighs in both frustration and concern. He could stop Abbi from going out, but that would only make her sneak out to see her friends. This lesson was learned early on when she almost broke her neck trying to climb out her bedroom window to meet them. Sheridan can be a somewhat comforted by the fact that Abbi does have her wits about her. Unfortunately, it isn’t Abbi that he has to worry about.
            Moments later, Abbi’s mother, Beth, enters the kitchen. She has her coat on her arm and a pack of cigarettes in her hand. Abbi is a reflection of her mother’s beauty and grace.
            Sheridan runs his fingers through his graying hair. “And where are you going?” His worry quickly turns to seeming annoyance.
            “For a smoke. Abbi’s gone out?”  She puts on her coat and tucks her amber hair behind her ears.
            “Aye, she just left.” He sits back in the chair and crosses his arms. There is a chilled silence between them.
            “She’s gone to Liam’s?” Beth finds the lighter in her pocket and turns to the door.
            “More than likely she’ll meet up with David Connolly.” He waits for her response.
            She pauses, but does not turn. “I’ll make some dinner when I come back in.” Beth walks outside and quietly closes the door behind her, leaving Sheridan alone again.  
            Abigail Murphy, David Connolly and Liam Flynn were all born in the increasingly violent year of 1970. They met and became friends at St. Teresa's Church on Glen Road in Andersontown.  They usually spent much of their time there doing penance for talking, running smoking, and even kissing in the confessional.  The boys were immediately enchanted by Abigail, who at ten could have bested both of them in a boxing ring.
            Now in 1987, they have grown up into young adults and Abigail’s enchantment has turned into enticement with her coffee colored hair, cinnamon eyes and a body that terrifies her father. Thankfully, she’s got intellect and spends more of her time with her head in a science or math book, or so everyone thinks. Liam is the boy a mother wants her daughter to bring home. He’s polite, shy, and respectful. He’ll get lost in Yeats for days on end and would write Abbi sonnets every day for the rest of his life. David, on the other hand, is every father’s nightmare. He is sheer brute coupled with the curly brown hair and azure eyes that make women of all ages weak in the knees. However, while Liam and David both now increasingly seem to be vying for the same woman, someone else is also trying to win her heart.  
            No one lingers around in the streets because stopping would more than likely warrant a security check by the RUC or Army. People are coming and going with groceries, children and some with malice. Abbi, Liam and David make their way down Gransha Avenue towards Glen Road.
            “Liam, how can ya be concerned about University? You’re just sixteen.” Abbi asks as she walks between her friends who watch her like bodyguards.
            “Because I want out of this shit hole, that’s why. And I’ll be seventeen next month.”
            Abbi stops. “You’d leave us, just like that?”
            David chimes in, “That’s okay Liam, go away to Oxford or Harvard or wherever you plan to go and I’ll take care of Abbi for ye.” He places his muscular arm around Abbi’s shoulder and pulls her close to him. The two begin to walk down the grubby street together.
            Liam knows too well David’s desires for Abbi. “Hey, that’s not for like a year,” he catches up to them and tries to pry David’s arm off of Abbi. “So don’t make any plans without me, ok?”
            As the three turn the corner towards the shops on Glen Road, they almost walk right into David’s brother, Samuel. David quickly removes his arm from around Abbi. Samuel’s dirty blonde hair and pale green eyes make him look more like a California surfer than one of the most dangerous members of the Active Service Unit in the Belfast Brigade Provisional IRA.  
            Samuel’s jade eyes greet Abbi’s along with a smile that quickly fades. “Should you be out tonight, Abigail? Liam should know better.  And so should my brother.” Samuel glances at David.
            She can see the outline of a cross underneath his worn shirt as she avoids making eye contact with him. He places his hand under her chin and lift up here head so eye contact is made. “And you should know best, Abigail.”
            “We’re just getting somethin’ to eat.” David says almost annoyed. He catches himself and changes his tone quickly. “We won’t be long and then we’ll walk Abbi home.”
            David reveres his brother. A new volunteer in the IRA himself, he wants to learn everything he can from Samuel, but knows it will not come easy. He’s got to prove that he earns trust and respect. Part of earning that is saying nothing about Samuel’s courtship of Abbi. If it were anyone else, the jealousy would have forced him to fend off the interested party through, threats, violence or both.
            “We’ll go back now.” Liam isn’t one to want controversy and finds the path of least resistance at all times.
            “Liam’s right, it’s not safe. I’ll bring something by later for youse.” Samuel winks at Abbi before he crosses the street.
            As the three disheartened friends walk back the way they came, a car speeds down Glen Road. They turn when they hear the car’s tires squeal to an abrupt stop. Abbi looks across the street to see Samuel standing directly across from her. He begins to run when the doors open and two men wearing masks run after him. David begins to run towards his brother, but Abbi is able to hold onto him, clinging to his shirt.
            Shouting, gunfire, someone screams, tires squeal. Silence.
            David rips himself from Abbi. “You shouldn’t have stopped me. They took my brother!” he yells at her. Anger gives way to fear and knowing. Abbi holds David in the middle of the street as Liam watches from the sidewalk.
            The funeral for Samuel Robert Patrick Connolly is held on a cold, rainy Tuesday at St. Teresa's Church. The Loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force took responsibility for the retaliation to the bombing that killed those eleven in Enniskillen. They called it a warning against further violence. It was also convenient for them they killed one of the most influential members of the Republican movement that the brigade in Belfast had seen in years.
            Seven years earlier, when David's father was killed in County Armagh, they sat in the same church pews, and said the same unanswered prayers. While guilty of being a member of the IRA, he was unarmed at the time his vehicle entered an RUC checkpoint. They shot to kill all three men in the car, seemingly on very specific orders. A good IRA man, but a bad father and husband, was killed at the age of 38
            Abbi's mind wanders away from the prayers and genuflections she has come to know very well. She cannot get the images out of her head. The look of panic on Samuel's face haunts her. She can still feel David sobbing in her arms after he learned they found Samuel’s tortured body, while her own tears fells silent. What if Abbi had heeded her father’s unasked request and not gone to the shops? Maybe David wouldn't have seen his brother being taken. Maybe he wouldn't have been taken because Samuel wouldn't have had a reason to stop and talk to the three. The scenario plays again and again. It never even crosses her mind to ask why Samuel was even there in the first place.
            "Abbi," Liam gently touches her arm prompting her to stand up. She can hear David's mother starting to breathe heavy, right before the whimpers escape. As David and Abbi take hold of her, she rights herself, swallows and breathes deep.
            "I'm fine," she says as her face becomes stoic.
            David leaves Abbi to care for his mother as he and Liam walk to his brother's coffin. Liam's mother joins Abigail. Outside, a crowd has formed along with the masked faces of volunteers, all closely observed above by army helicopters that watch their every move. A line of black taxis wait to take them to Milltown Cemetery, where the two roads of Glen and the Falls meet. Samuel will be laid next to his father following an illegal gun salute in front of his tri-colour draped coffin.
            The Connolly house is empty after the long day of mourning. Abbi, still in her black dress, washes dishes meticulously. After the last glass is washed, she turns off the water. The silence is overwhleming. No more chatter from friends. The clock ticks. The floorboards above her creak. Mrs. Connolly startles her when she walks into the room.
            "Jesus, Abigail, you're not my maid. But thank you."
            "Not a bother? Do you want me ta stay the night?"
            While Mary has not had an easy life, she still exudes love to those around her. She’s let her long hair go gray but still covers the scar from a cut bestowed upon her by an angry and drunken Mr. Connolly. Even in this time of mourning, she makes sure everyone else is taken care of as well.
            She walks to Abbi and places her hands gently around her face. "When did you all grow up? You've done enough." Mary brings Abbi close and hugs her. “Are you alright, dear?”
            Abbi looks at her not sure how to respond.
            “I know how Samuel felt about you.” Her face becomes sad as she watches the tears well in Abbi’s eyes.
            "I’m fine. I'll go say goodnight to David." Abbi didn’t realize that his mother had any knowledge about Samuel’s obsession with her.
            "Did Liam leave? Who's to walk you home?
            Mary walks towards the stairs and yells, "David, come walk Abigail home."
            David's boots thud down the stairs, "Right."
            "Goodnight," Abbi quickly embraces her again.
            David kisses his mother on the cheek. "I'll be right back."
            Abbi stares at the ground beneath her feet as they walk in silence away from Divis Drive. A dog barks. A police siren chases someone in the night. They take the back way round as to not attract any attention. She breaks rank and places her arm around his waist. Without hesitation, David places his arm around her. She welcomes the warmth from him. They walk like this for the few short blocks to Abbi's house.
            "Do you want to come in?" Abbi turns to David as they reach her house.
            He brushes his hand against her chilled cheek and then runs his fingers through her hair. Her arms find their place around his waist as their eyes lock. Her breath quickens as he pulls her closer and their lips touch. There is hesitation at first, more on David’s part, but soon, there is no awkwardness in their moves.  It quickly becomes a kiss of passion, anger, and sadness.  He holds her head closer and closer and the salt from his tears mix with the taste of the whiskey he had been drinking in his room. The porch light flashes on and the door knob turns. The two quickly separate and David wipes his eyes.
            Liam sleepily greets the two. "I’d have come to get you, Abbi. I figured I’d just wait for ya over here." He puts his arm around her shoulder.
            Liam looks for any excuse not to go home. Turf Lodge Housing Estates aren't exactly exuding love these days and Liam's unwillingness to join with any republican cause makes him a target for harassment. Numerous nights, Abbi has let Liam to sleep on a couch or even the floor of her bedroom.
            David diverts all eye contact and tries to shallow his breathing. "That's alright, I needed some air." He shuffles his feet, runs his hand through his hair," thank you both, for everything today." He shoves his hands in his coat pockets.
            "I'll walk back with you, "Liam disappears inside to collect his coat.
            David speaks low. "I want ta see you tomorrow. I need to."
            She begins to answer him.  "Meet me after ..."
            Liam reappears with his coat and two beers for courage. He kisses Abbi on her forehead, "Get some sleep beautiful." He hands David a beer.
            "You two get home safe, please?" Abbi shuts the door after they become silhouettes down the path. She stands in the dark kitchen, still feeling the energy of the kiss. She touches her cheeks as if it will invoke the feel of his unshaven face next to hers. This kiss was different. She felt this kiss in her entire body and she’d never felt like that, even after a marathon sex session with Samuel on a rainy Sunday. She suddenly feels sick thinking that somehow Samuel saw that whole thing in some afterlife. “Christ, it’s his brother,” she thinks to herself," and Liam too, he must have seen that." She stands at the door reliving the feeling of the kiss again and again until…
            "Are you goin' ta stand there all night?" Her father's Southern Irish accent soothes her instead of startles her. "You've had a long day and you've class and cross country tomorrow." He turns on a table lamp.
            "I'm just thinkin’ about everything." She slumps into a chair and removes her shoes.
            "Tea?" He places the kettle on the stove.
            "Please. I'm gonna go get changed. I'll be right down." She passes her father, stops and turns, "Sean home?"
            "Yes, but he hasn't been down all day."
            "I'll check in on him."
            "Try and be quiet. Your mother has a headache."
            "How goddamned convenient," Abbi thinks to herself. Her mother always has an excuse for avoiding gatherings. Abbi would feel sorry for her if it were all gatherings, if she had some type of psychotic problem that led her to hate crowds or leave the house. "Right." She finally says to him before heading upstairs to check on her brother.
            Abbi has always been the protector and caretaker of her big brother. For most of his life, Sean was an overachiever. He was an avid runner and excelled at scholastics, but he never gained the respect or, as Abbi saw it, the love and support their parents gave to her. He looked for the acceptance in friends, but he could never identify with the us and them mentality of the neighborhood. Abbi’s support never wavered, even when she’d have find him passed out in the park and have to drag him home, worried the IRA would get their hands on him first.
            She doubts he is sleeping even though there is no light peeking from under his door. She opens in and softly speaks, "Sean?" She walks in slowly.
"Shut the door," his voice trembles.
            Abbi finds Sean sitting on the floor in front of his bed, hugging his knees to his chest. He stares straight ahead at the wall. She is convinced he either almost overdosed or is need of a fix. She sits in front of him. "What's going on?"
            He trembles, "I don't know what to do." His big brown eyes are reddened.
            "What's happened?" Her sympathy wanes, "have you done something?"
            "I didn't know. They'll kill me. You can't tell David." He becomes erratic. She realizes that he's done something wrong and he needs a fix.
            She places her hand on his arm, causing him to jump. "Sean. Look at me. You need to tell me what's going on." She finds some candy in her pocket and gives it to Sean before he passes out. "Go wash up? You'll feel better." She stands and holds her hand out to him. He stands. She didn't realize that he's been wasting away, his shirt and jeans hanging off him like he’s an emaciated prisoner of war.
            "You look nice."
            "I've seen beggars that look better than you." She waits for any response.
            "Fuck you."
            Abbi smiles, "That's the big brother I know."
            David begins the process of cleaning out his brother's flat. He figures he'd rather get anything embarrassing out before his ma stops by. Nothing incriminating, Samuel was too careful. He opens the first drawer of a dresser, not sure what he'll find. As Rory Gallagher's Edged in Blue plays on the radio, David finds a pay stub, an old train ticket to Newry, a smashed pack of cigarettes and a picture of Samuel with Abbi, sitting very comfortably together on someone’s couch. He remembers the first time he found out about Abbi and Samuel.
            "David?" Abbi's voice travels up to Samuel's bedroom. Her footsteps begin up the stairs.
David puts the picture in his shirt pocket and exits into the hallway.
            "Hi, yer ma said you were here." The light from below silhouettes her.
Without answering he kisses her but senses she has something else on her mind. "You ok?"
            "Fine. My brother's here."
            He crosses his arms. "And why?"
            Abbi takes a deep breath, looks down at the floor and then shifts her eyes to meet his. She swears the depth of blue changes with his moods. The warm, azure that greeted her has deepened into a gray stormy sea.
"He knows who killed Samuel."
            David flies into a rage down the stairs. Sean is cowering against the wall as David lays the first of several punches.
            Abbi isn’t' far behind David. She has never seen anger like this and has never seen David in such a state. "David, let him explain. Please!"
            He stops the assault almost immediately, turns and walks to Abbi. "You can go."
            Abbi crosses her arms, "I'm stayin'." She looks over at her brother then back at David. Abbi is actually more shocked at how David can turn his anger on and off so quickly.
            David gently places his hands on either side of her face, "I know you want to protect him. This is business and you can't be here."
            "Can I at least ..."
            He places a finger over her lips, "You didn't give me the chance to protect my brother." He sees her lose her breath. "He'll be home, don't worry."
            As they stare at each other, a voice crackles behind them, "Abbi, could you just go so I can get this over with?"
            Abbi nods her head yes and brushes her lips against David's. She looks at her brother once more and then walks out the door.
            After he is positive she has started her way up the walk, David rolls up his sleeves. The 21 year old trembles as the 17 year old novice warrior takes a seat in front of him. "Go ahead."
            Sean's adrenaline takes over, "You see, I owed money to someone and I couldn't get it all. I tried to make a deal, get some more time, but I couldn't. Then these two fellas asked if I had a clean car. They'd give me 50 for it. What I didn't know is that it also meant I had to drive it. “He pauses. “I didn't know what they were gonna do, I swear. They just told me drive to the shops."
            David leans forward, "You were driving the car?"
            Sean crosses his arms, "I didn't know. Not until Sam got in the car. He never said anythin’. They made me drive to the Shankill, then they all got out. Told me drive away.” Sean sniffles as blood runs out of his nose.
            David stands and rummages through some drawers for cigarettes. He settles the pack, takes one out and lights it. He takes a drag, "I want their names,” he exhales.
            Abbi sits on her bed staring at the wall instead working on physics problems that are due in the morning. The helicopters hovering above the rooftops keep her mind anxious. She tries listening to The Ramones to drone out the sound of the rotors.  It's been hours since she left the two alone. She wonders if she did the right thing. If she didn’t take Sean to David and he found out, it would have been worse for both of them. She could have also just sent Sean to his demise for all she knows.
            Finally, there's a knock at her door.
            "Sean?" She throws her books to the side as the door opens. "Oh, Jesus, look at you."
            Sean shuts the door as Abbi rushes over to him. He is in obvious pain, bloodied and broken. She helps him to her bed. "I'm alright. He took it better than I thought."
            Abbi is shocked. Even though he promised Sean would be home, she thought she’d find him in a ditch or in hospital first. The rage that boiled in David, she feared, did not end with her brother. The helicopters hovering send that fear into her core. Abbi breathes a sigh of both relief and apprehension about the situation.
            Abbi is fearful to touch him but needs to see what’s broken. “Come on. Strip, let’s see what damage he’s done.”
            “Thank you.” It seems to take all of his strength to look Abbi in the eyes.
            “I’m in no mood for yer sarcasm.”
            “I’m bein’ serious. If it wasn’t for you, he would’ve killed me.”
            “David. He said it himself. He loves you too much. Said he couldn’t hurt you by
killing me.” He stares as Abbi.
            Her breathing gets heavier and her eyes look away from Sean. As she feels herself
collapsing at the weight of the entire situation. Then she feels her brother’s arm around her, his grasp of her weakening as he begins to pass out.
            The next morning, Abbi can barely keep her eyes open. As she drops a bag of Lady Grey into a mug, she hears Liam knocking at the door. It seems like an eternity to walk to the door and unlock it.
            "Morning," he hands her a newspaper and walks past her.
            "Mornin', how's things?" She tosses the paper on the table, sits and stirs her tea,
            "Yer man was busy last night I see." He pushes the paper towards her.
She looks at him not sure which question to ask first.
            "I still want ta be your friend and I wouldn't have anyone to do my math homework for me. He pauses, "I know David's been interested in you for a while and he couldn’t compete with his brother now could he? “
            Abbi sits stunned. She no longer wonders what he and Liam talked about the night of
Samuel’s funeral when they walked home.
            “I know I'm not the most suave guy when it comes ta relationships, but all I ask if for a little honesty.” He pauses, “anyway, thought you'd be interested in seeing this." He points at the paper.
            "What, what do you want me to look at?" She finally sees what he meant when he said yer man was busy last night.
            Two dead and one gravely wounded in overnight violence.
            "Supposedly it's the guys who killed Samuel."
            Abbi's mind is suddenly out of control. Her first thought is that it is just a coincidence. Her second thought is that the man she is falling for is now a card carrying killer for the cause. "And what makes you think this was David?"
            Liam places his hands on hers, "You know what you're getting yourself into?" He moves closer to her, their faces almost touching." Abbi, I love you and I really don't want to lose you but I'm not gonna to stop you from doin' what you want. Just be careful, okay?" He squeezes her hands.
             “Yeah,” her voice quivers a bit, "you still write me stories?" She smiles.
            "If you'll still make me breakfast on Sundays."

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Annual October Reading of Master and Margarita

October 1, we will embark once again upon reading The Master and Margarita (one of my favorite books). Many are easily turned off by it's - at times - confusing stories. But when you look at when it was written and think about some of its themes and symbolism, the story begins to have much more meaning then just talking cats playing chess and naked witches flying around on pigs. 

In the next few days, I will get out a suggested breakdown for reading. There are 32 chapters broken into two parts of the book. I would suggest the first four chapters for the first discussion. I will post some discussion topics around October 6th or 7th. We will take it from there. Thoughts? Suggestions?? Which translation does anyone recommend? I use the unabridged translation by Michael Glenny.

Thanks!! Do svidaniya!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Between Two Doors

For some odd reason, this night has been hanging in my head the past few weeks. The names and some details have been changed, but the feeling is accurately captured from that July night in 2001 in Belfast.

            He looked a moment at his "unsteadfast footing," then let his gaze wander to the swirling water of the stream racing madly beneath his feet. A piece of dancing driftwood caught his attention and his eyes followed it down the current. How slowly it appeared to move! What a sluggish stream! Ambrose Pierce Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge

It was so cliché, but all I wanted after two weeks in Belfast was some fish and chips. Two weeks and not one fish fry. It could have been the six or so pints at Lavery’s that also made some greasy food a good idea before we made our way back to our flat.

            As Erin and I walked into the shop, the sounds of Simple Minds Belfast Child intertwined with the harsh accents of those also attempting to quell the Guinness from their nights. I chuckled to myself because it was that song that I listened to over and over and over while writing my screen play. And there I was, in Belfast, in a chip shop, listening to that song.

            My mind also wandered to the lovely lad that I’d been seeing for the past week. It was nice to be seeing someone taller than me, that never happens. As my mind wandered between Simple Minds, Brendan, and the Guinness, the counter girl was pretty fed up with me.

            It was the best fish and chip I had ever eaten to that point in my life. Erin and I chatted about the night and about our work that had to be done the next day. We were both interning at a Northern Ireland civil rights office. We were both two naïve girls who were drawn to Northern Ireland and its strife. We were going to save the world and, of course, end 800 years of oppression.

            Happy with our greasy consumption and ready for some sleep, we left the shop and headed towards our flat. Maybe we were feeling too confident, forgot where we were, recessed several incidents over the past two weeks into a corner of our mind, or were let our guard down. We both sensed it quickly when we turned down our block.

            Our street, mind you, was only one block. However, when we turned the corner and felt the presence of two men following us, the one block became the length of ten football field plus the distance to the moon. The pin prickly feeling kicked in as we both agreed in whisper to walk faster and don’t look back.

            They walked faster.

            I could only hear the sound of feet and breathing. The entire city of Belfast had seemingly melted away. The only block that existed was this block and seemed to take forever to get even a few feet. My mind wandered but everything around me slowed down.

            It still seems like this took an hour to run to my door. It was only about 30 seconds and now we were running. They too were running behind us. They did not yell one thing the entire time and neither did we.

            I fumbled for my keys, but this too felt as if my body was in slow motion. Up the steps and I prayed I could unlock the door before they reached us. Damn it. I dropped the keys, and while still kneeling after picking them up, I unlocked the door. Erin and I feel in and then propped ourselves against it. The second door, with the key code was in front of us, but we didn’t want to move.

            They slammed against the door. “We know you’re in there.” They banged their fists against the door over and over. We were afraid to breathe. My mind finally caught up to my body and I realized how scared I really was as every possible scenario flooded my brain as we were caught between two doors.  

            In two weeks, I had been chased, hit with a whiskey bottle crossing the street, fled three bars because of bomb threats, almost walked right into the barrel of a soldier’s gun as he crouched in a crevice in a bridge, was stranded because riots closed roads, thought we were going to get thrown into the bonfires on July 11th had it not been for an angel, and the fact that there was a pledge to kill Catholics. Why not top it off with torture, assault, or who knows what else.

            It was our mistake.

            Everyone knows everyone in Belfast. They know your comings and goings. Who you are. Where you come from. They know who you work for. We put ourselves in the position of letting our guard down. We walked the same path every day. We walked the same path through centuries of lines drawn in the sand. We worked for the minority.

            Silence. We both eyed the second door. I knew they would be able to see me if we moved so it had to be quick. What was the code?

            Sure enough as soon as the beeps of me entering numbers began, the banging began again. Same thing. We fell in and held the door shut with our bodies, pretty certain we would stay there until morning when someone else in the flat went to work. We quickly assessed that they couldn’t get in any other way and felt a little more relaxed to move away from the door. Looking back, the funny thing was, we never mentioned what had just happened.

            From that night on, we always walked different routes. We never walked without a local escort (or Brendan). We never, ever talked about what could have happened in the violent summer of 2001 in Belfast.

            To this day, I dread when people walk too close behind me when it is not warranted. It takes me back to the time between those two doors when the world seemed to slow down and melt away except for our street in East Belfast.