Whacker was on the whiskey. Prone to paranoia when on the hard liquor, it could go either way. A north-cider from Cabra, he’d moved to The Island almost twenty years previous. Spoke fluent Irish with the natives, but still sounded like a skanger when he spoke The English. His main claim to fame was that he’d been on the nine o’clock news when he caught TB from a tourist. Lost half his bodyweight and was airlifted to Dublin. The whole island had to be quarantined.
But Whacker was better now, and back on The Rock. He’d a massive tattoo in Chinese on the side of his neck, which he claimed meant chicken balls. He said he got it done for a dare in Cavan. He’d another one of beads and a crucifix around the very top of his chest. He wasn’t happy with the shadow on that one, he said. Not that he’d be gawking at himself in the mirror, he was always quick to add. Only when he was shaving.
The pub television was always on in the background – as if the islanders were afraid they’d miss something happening on The Mainland. But nobody paid it much attention – far too busy telling each other stories at the bar. But every now and then something would catch a native’s eye, and this would prompt further speculation. An ad came on for a PrimeTime Investigates program about drugs in Ireland, and one of the natives asked the rest of them if they’d ever taken drugs.
– I took one of them ecstasy tablets one time, a big fisherman in his forties volunteered.
– What was it like?
– Fuckin’ right yoke; I was shtill up drinkin’ pints at lunchtime the next day. Terrible hangover though!
– Where were ya at that craic?
– Prague. A load of us went over for the brother’s stag party. We went to this big rave where you had to wear all white to get in. I wore me boiler suit. This fella just hands me a tablet and I said arragh shir fuck it, and horsed it into me. Then there were these two midgets having sex in a cage.
– Ah here now; are ya sure that wasn’t the ecstasy? says the barman
– No, they were at it before I even took the tablet. It was part of the event, organised as a showpiece.
Hearing mention of dwarves and midgets, Whacker suddenly emerged from his wink-eyed stupor.
– I had sex with a pygamy. Last summer. In the graveyard. At twenty to one in the afternoon.
The whole bar doubled over clutching their guts, laughing in a way they don’t laugh on the Mainland. A dangerous style of laughter – you could cause an injury, burst your appendix – tear something. Not these tough islanders. Once some sort of composure was restored, the questions start flying at Whacker.
– Where did you find a pygamy?
– She was over visiting the island with two friends.
– Was she Irish?
– No, from New Zealand.
– Why did you bring her to the graveyard?
– She wanted to see the graves. I was paranoid then that the whole island saw me. I felt like a paedophile, even though she was thirty-five. She was just so fucking small…
And with that solid contribution delivered, Whacker re-entered his seated-coma. His head swayed from to side and he began to drool as he pondered the ramifications of banging a leprechaun. That’d be unpatriotic behaviour – pure anti-social – he concluded. People have been kneecapped for less. What would Gerry Adams do in that situation, was the question Whacker always asked himself. You wouldn’t find him riding dwarves in the cemetery at lunchtime on a Monday. Certainly not. Nor Mary Lou McDonald. That was a bad lapse in judgement – a momentary slip – Whacker consoled himself. It won’t happen again Mr. Adams, I promise.