An unreliable narrator gives his thoughts on the origins of evil.
|I’ve been rinsing dishes at the kitchen sink for about 45 minutes now. Been staring out towards the Doolough Valley. Puffy grey clouds cuddle the shoulders like a thick woollen scarf. The brown hills are speckled with patches of sandstone that gathers at their feet. The scree out there holds a secret or two. You can hear them in the wind sometimes.
That’s the thing about secrets. Sometimes they’re well kept. More often than not they get cast into the wind, and before you know it they’re all over the place like confetti. But you still think of them as secrets. You’ll tell a mate: ‘Don’t tell anyone, I’ve got this secret…’ and so on. Then your mate says to their mate: ‘Danny told me this secret, don’t tell anyone, but…’. You all keep telling the secret, calling it a secret, but it’s not a secret, is it? I mean, it is a secret, but it’s not secret.
Well, I’ve got this secret. But it’s no secret. It’s all out there, tossed about in the wind, gathering like leaves in the corners of your ma’s garden. Your da rakes them up and keeps them in sacks. Big fat sacks of secrets. Das always keep the most secrets.
The secret is, and you might have heard it already, but the secret is this: men are bad, and women are good. Course there’s plenty of good men and plenty of bad women. Just ask any man with a broken heart. I could go into gender and sex and all that, but I’m telling you now, bad people are born men. They might look like a woman, but if they’re bad, they’re a man inside. This stuff’s all quite topical nowadays I think. Gender. Doesn’t matter. I’m telling you, men are bad, and women are good. That’s what brings balance to the world.
Some people are aware of this genetic malfunction. And they try all their life to keep it concealed, buried in their chest forever. They never act on the impulses. But what the fuck is life without acting on impulses? You’ve got to go with your gut. My da once said that to me. Psychoanalysts tell us we’ve got the id. Why the fuck would you have that mad lad if he’s not meant to get out every now and then?
I’ll explain that last bit. You’ve got paedophiles, right? The thing is, you don’t know one until they’ve done something. Molestation or child porn. Something awful like that. But how many more are out there? The ones who acknowledge ‘Right, I’m into kids’, but they know that’s a fucked thing to think and they do nothing about it. They know society won’t have it. I guess society is like the super ego, and the paedophile’s natural urge is the id. He might get chemically castrated or get a lobotomy or something. Still bad people though, aren’t they?
You’re wondering what makes me such a bad lad, aren’t you? Well, I’m no paedophile. Not even a murderer. Nah. I’m smarter than that. I like the small stuff. I like grinding people down. If I know you’re giving me a lift to football, I’ll have you waiting 10 minutes, at the very least, before I decide to come out. I’ll be sitting about the house, delighted in the knowledge that you’re out there, stewing in a rage in the car. But you’re too polite. People hate confrontation, and you’re not going to loose the rag over something that small, no matter how often I do it. Little inconveniences, little annoyances. That’s me.
Now, I love football. I absolutely love it. I love how simple it is. I love watching a beautiful pass. I love the feeling when you make that perfect connection, where you know it’s rifling into the top corner before it leaves your foot. I love good play. I love teamwork and the comradery. Anyone who plays football loves this stuff. But I’m also a nasty bastard on the pitch. I love ruining the stuff we all love about it. I love denying people that perfect pass or shot by barging into them, roughing them up all match and grinding them down until they’re sick of the game and just want it to end. In the first few minutes I’ll pick out the danger man and ride his back until he’s broken. I love doing that more than I love the perfect pass.
I get my bad kicks this way. Being what your nan might call ‘a little shit.’ I’ve done some worse stuff. A few milestone moments. But I’ll tell you about them later. Main thing for now is that men are inherently bad.
It all started back around the Norman Invasion of Ireland, around 1150 something. Might go back further, I don’t know. That’s about as far as my own research went. It was very thorough though. So I’m pretty sure on this. I was going through my own family tree you see. Wanted to try and figure this all out. Because I’m a bit of a bastard, being a man. So is my da. Wanted to see how far this all went back. And it brought me here.
My earliest ancestor was some lad called Diarmuid Mac Murchada, that’s Dermot Mac Morrow nowadays. Turns out he was the king of Leinster back then, around 1150 something. He was a real bastard. Came to power because his da, the king, was killed. Then his older brother took over and he was killed. So Diarmuid had to do fuck all and suddenly he’s a king. Apparently, he was in no state to be king. So the overall king of Ireland, the high king, a lad named Turlogh O’Connor, he said to Diarmuid: ‘Here, lad, why not just manage the place and I’ll take care of the bigger stuff.’ If you ask me, that sounds like a good deal, but sure Diarmuid was having none of it. Told the high king to fuck off. Bit of a battle commenced and Diarmuid could see his little kingdom getting away from him. Now, this is where things got bad. Diarmuid ran off to Britain. Asked King Henry II for a bit of help. Said he’d be loyal to the crown in return for some extra boys to help fend off the O’Connors. So Henry sent some lads back with Diarmuid and they fought off the O’Connors and ended up killing Turlogh. Killed the fucking high king! Eejits.
Anyway, what’s bad about this is that he kept his kingdom with help from the Brits. If he’d done it himself, well, he might have got some respect and been left alone. But no, he was a bad lad, just like the rest of us.
Long enough story short, Turlogh’s son Ruidri went apeshit. He became the high king and first thing he did was race out to Leinster with his army to fight Diarmuid. They got him in Wexford and dragged him back over to Connacht. Back then, Leinster lads hated Connacht, which is funny because I love Connacht. Lived here all my life. But they dragged him out to the Tawnymackan Bog, just near Croagh Patrick. Apparently they cut him up a fair bit and lashed him half alive into the bog with a dead dog.
It’s been said that out near Ottawa in Ontario, this tribe of Tuscarora Native Americans heard this howl, a creepy sort of groan in the wind. It’s said to have been the cries of pain from Diarmuid floating across the Atlantic. Obviously the Natives hadn’t a clue what it meant, so they just carried on. But it was later taken to be a warning. Something awful was coming across the sea. I’ve no research on that bit, but it’s been said. I’ve always liked that story. When I was young, I’d hear howls of the wind when I was on my own in the house. Those howls tell you you’re not alone. They’re a terrible kind of presence.
So that’s where it all started, far as I can see. But my da always told me about his grandfather and his grandfather. So I looked them up too. Found a few aunts and grannies as well. You heard about Túam, yeah? Well turns out my granny, who I never met, she was the ringleader there. So she was a man, but she was a nun, if you get me. Same goes for my aunts, Linda and Charlotte, who are actually uncles and brothers. They chopped up their ma’s boyfriend. Tossed bits of him into a suitcase and into the river in Dublin.
Another interesting story was the Doolough Tragedy. This is online. Have a look. Few people died in the valleys because they were sent out there to make sure they continued getting benefits during the famine. Sent to walk 19 kilometres into the valley over night. Now, “tragedy” infers an element of blamelessness, if you’re asking me. It was no “tragedy.” My great granddad sent those people out to Delphi knowing full well what’d happen. Look it up there on Wikipedia. Tragedy me hole.
My da was a strange one. He had to adapt his ways to get maximum satisfaction. He loved the psychology of abuse and terror. And he’d get it however he could. Now, when I was much younger, he’d tickle the fuck out of me, to the point I’d cry or vomit. That was all about power for him. But then, you can’t be tickling your teenager, so then it went all quiet and ambiguous. That’s when he had to adapt. You’d get the odd ‘How’s school?’ coming from behind The Sun newspaper. But otherwise he’d be a silent, brooding presence. He recoiled inwards, only coming out to disrupt. Did my ma’s head in. She was on the opposite end of the spectrum; overly involved with us, overwhelmingly caring and loving. Had an impact on us all, growing up with that kind of a presence over us in the house. Worse than the howling wind. Ma started drinking. Da was never a substance abuser, which made it all the worse. If you’ve a substance, you can blame that. Nah, my da was straight edge in that sense. His vice was getting inside people’s heads and tearing the place apart. He’d move stuff around the house to hide them, and when my ma would ask, ‘Have you seen my keys?’ or whatever, he’d say, ‘They’re here. They’re always here. You’re losing it. For Christ sake…’
Like I was telling you, my thing is wrecking the stuff people love. Whatever that is. A nice pass. I also love pushing people to their limits with trivial annoyances. I guess I got that from da. I love making other people seem irrational or mad by grinding them down over time.
But there’s one person I can’t do it to. Don’t even want to. She’s perfect and I’m in love. She’s a nasty fucker too. She’ll scream and shout at her ma and da. Make them cry. Never wants to be around them and calls them all sorts of cruel things, even though, to a normal enough person, they’d seem like the kindest people in the world. Which they are. She’s like this with everyone. Everyone except me. Our secret is that we’re fuckers to everyone except each other, and we tell each other all our plans and stories and we laugh about it and we’d usually have sex after that. We take a break from it with each other, because it’s not easy; you’ve got to be on it 24/7.
Now, you’re probably thinking to yourself, ‘Is she a lad then?’ Yeah, she is. Because, like I’ve told you, all the bad people are men. She looks like a woman, and by all anatomical definitions she is a woman. But what’s the body? It’s the mind that counts, right? Books and covers. More like smoke and mirrors. So, yeah she’s a lad, but so what?
Anyway, while I was doing all this research and getting to the bottom of this, I took her out to the Tawnymackan Bog to show her where it all began. She was fascinated by it, it was great. Out there on the bog, and all over the west of Ireland, there’s these mad looking trees that are all bent over by the wind. They look like your gran’s arthritic hands, all curled over themselves. So we walked out over the bog towards this tree. It was nighttime, but on this coast the sun sets mad late in the summer. Leaves you with this lovely purple and orange colour in the sky. And you can see the stars coming through the purple and the orange. They look like splashes of paint on a builder’s overalls. Beautiful.
We got out to the tree and I was telling her about Diarmuid. She leant her back to the tree and we kissed a load. The bog wasn’t too wet because it was summer, so there was no problem there. But we got down to our underwear and really started going at it. Now, this all gets a bit mad, but it was a defining moment for me. I guess it’s why I’m telling you the story.
I bent her over a branch on the tree and had at her from behind. My feet were giving way in the bog a bit now, so I had to grab onto a branch just to keep my balance. We were both howling away and I wondered if there was someone in Ontario wondering, ‘What the fuck’s that sound?’ The howls were carried out on the wind over Clew Bay, over rooftops and onto the Atlantic. Jesus, my knees were weak at this stage. I was pumping bloody diamonds out of every pore. She was too; I could see the beads on her back glistening in the twilight. They looked just like the stars or the paint on a builder’s overalls. Beautiful stuff altogether.
At this stage my thighs were burning like boiled ham or something. I could barely stay standing but, Jesus, what are you going to do? This is about the time I got the feeling. Never felt anything like it before. My balls, there was something in them. It was a presence. Not like the wind in your house. It was this overwhelming weight in them. I can’t describe it. I felt as though my mind had moved through veins and ventricles from my head and relocated itself in my balls. The pressure was mounting. The sea was starting to swell. My nails were tearing chunks of bark off the tree. The howls got louder and you could see house lights flicking on in the distance- ‘the fuck?’ they’d be asking. More and more of me went into my balls and my legs got weaker. I experienced half of everything from the perspective of my sack. And just before I came I pulled out and fired off into the bog. It hurt. My knees buckled and I dropped. The volume was alarming and I clutched one hand onto her leg. Sunk my fingers right in. It flew out of me and into the bog. Filled up in puddles. I let out a roar and dug my hands into the boggy ground. When it finally stopped flowing I just collapsed in it. I was exhausted and something had come over me. All the bad in me had gone. I knew it straight away. It was like this tension or weight on my shoulders had been lifted, but it had been there so long I’d never noticed it until there and then. I started crying, laughing. I was like a child. It was hard to catch a breath, so I just lay there in the cum and the bog. Lay in my own badness. I was drenched from it. Drenched in diamonds and badness.
After a few minutes I was able to lift myself. She was near passed out, breathing heavy over the branch. I’d wondered if it had happened to her too. Wondered why it happened to me. Maybe it’s because we’re both men. Inside. We’d only ever been bad to good women before. Male or female. I’d been a bad boyfriend to good women. But when I met her, it was something new. Two bad men; that’s what I think. I reckon it’s because two men had mad sex on the bog where all bad in all men began, do you know what I mean? What do you reckon? It’s something to think about though, isn’t it?