dead drunk dublin and other imaginal spaces
this is the way home poetry - written and spoken stories and creative writings alternative writings, prose, essays, reportage manifestos, insights, alternative views music mp3 original music eyes to see with movies, flash and animations links - click here to read reviews of our favourite websites click to subscribe to our occasional ezine all about dead drunk dublin info on how to contribute to dead drunk dublin


stephen moran on

s t e p h e n   m o r a n

- introduction -

cLoco the clown

carmencita haverty

the silver circle
[a]  live reading


[image : ringsend gasworks : andrew lovatt]

t h e   s i l v e r   c i r c l e

b y    S t e p h e n    M o r a n

[a]  for live reading : click here

ringsend gasworks dublin ireland by andrew lovatt on the silver circle story by stephen moran

The Brothers held a weekly raffle called the Silver Circle, with the primary school children as their runners. Joseph Murphy counted the addresses on his card again - less than a page full, and some of those hardly ever paid. It was amazing that other boys had forty-five good ones. They would be allowed to keep sixpence for every page of twenty. He looked at his lines: Glencree Road, MacDonagh Road, Casement Avenue. No purchase houses, that was the problem. There was only one car in his street, a black Ford Popular with running boards. He closed the textured blue card, with its holy logo. 'I'm just going to collect my Silver Circle,' he called out, but they were having their Saturday morning lie-in.

Joseph in the rain, barely light morning, the concrete a palette of greys. Rapids in the gutter. Knock and give the code words 'Is your Mammy in?' to the kids who answered. Sometimes it was hard to tell. Discussion could be heard with coarse male voices. Many times no answer came, although clearly there was someone home. Others frankly admitted they could not afford the sixpence this week. Little zeros instead of ticks in the column. 'Another duck!' Brother Nicholas would exclaim, making sure everybody heard the humiliation, as he checked against the number of coins handed in when the children lined up with their returns.

The parish of St. Floncus was a frontier territory where disused farms met pebbledashed houses. Green algae clogged ditches of frog spawn and tadpoles. Stopcock shores made dungeons for bees the kids captured in jamjars. Rivers that rose in the gutters in torrential rain, when the drops splashed off the ground, were waterways for sailing ice-pop sticks.

Joseph walked through a gap in the bramble hedgerow to cross to the lower reaches of Corporation terraces in South Finglas. Ahead lay the fields, thistled and wet, with vinegar plants and dock leaves in the grass. Tinkers' horses ruminated, tethered or sometimes free. It was a local sport for rough boys to rope them and ride bareback. In the back of his mind were stories about gangs from West Finglas who would torture you with burning sticks. The kind of boys who got a kick out of throwing a cat on a fire.

On every edge of the suburbs were hayfields, waste lands, ditches and culverts. There was a sense of adventure and foreboding, never knowing what would lie on the other side of a hill. The animals were mostly tame, but some of the people were wild. Children were left to wander in a wilderness of cliffs and river gorges, when they were supposed to be in school. The travelling people came and went leaving a trail of unwanted clothes.

What you would call a bluff maybe, he had just crested, and there to one side stood a wire-haired young man, lashing a tethered horse with a rope, so that the horse ran as it could, only in a circle around its stake. Joseph knew instantly that there was no way in the world he was going to get past without paying some sort of toll.

'What are you looking at?' the man snapped. It was the standard impossible question. It was certain he would take exception to whatever answer Joseph gave.

'I said what are you looking at!'

No answer at all would be worse.


'Are you calling me nothing? Come here!'

Seeing it would be futile to run and the horse man was already walking towards him, Joseph paused. Before he had time to think, the man had come and hit him in the face. Joseph dropped to one knee, blood trickling from his nose. He wiped the blood away with the back of his hand. The man stood over him, holding a doubled rope poised like a whip.

'What's that?' he demanded, pointing at the blue card in Joseph's hand.

'It's just the Silver Circle,' said Joseph, 'I'm collecting for it.'

The man raised the rope to strike but refrained, smirking, half surprised and half amused to find in himself a twinge of pity.

'I could kill you here and nobody would know,' he said. 'Hand over the money!'

'I can't,' Joseph said. 'It's for the Silver Circle.'

But even as he was saying it, Joseph was turning out his pockets. He handed the coins to the man who then walked away and resumed baiting the small black and white horse. Joseph pushed on through hoofprints and knotted grass, till he was out of sight, and then ran.

The way to the Brothers' house was through the school playing fields, along a path lined with poplars. He was late and the prefab classroom where they queued to hand in the money was closed, so he had to go to the house. It was secluded from the school by evergreens on three sides, and from the street beyond by a ten-foot wall. Entering the gardens Joseph passed by a large aviary, neat vegetable plots and flower beds. Ahead, at the end of the path, steps led up to double doors standing open. In a large office near the entrance, Brother Nicholas sat behind a leather-topped desk. Seeing Joseph knock at the open door, he closed a drawer under the desk. There was a clinking sound of bottle and glass sliding together.


He continued writing something in a ledger, balancing columns of pounds, shillings and pence.

'Well,' Brother Nicholas said eventually, looking up with an exaggerated grin. 'And what have you got for us this week Mr. Murphy?'

'The money was st-st-stolen, Brother.'

'The money was st-st-stolen,' Nicholas mimicked in a little voice. 'Well somebody will have to pay. And how did this happen, pray tell?'

'A fellow beat me up and t-t-took the money, when I was crossing the fields, Brother.'

'Did he indeed?' he said. 'A likely story!'


copyright © 2005, stephen moran, all rights reserved


story section map


to contact the editor, email or use our contact form here
all contents copyright © 2007 all rights reserved - redmoonmedia, publishers - authors rights are protected

site design by redmoonmedia