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Up in the cold farness of the mesosphere exists the booming consciousnesses of numerous Goddesses and Gods. Over the eons these yokes have morphed, guffawed, destroyed, loved and laughed at the simple fleshy lumps called human who so revere them on the below. They shift around the globe affecting civilizations and individuals, combining with other deities to create new modes of worship for the bone sacks and all the lands of the earth are constantly occupied by one, or several, of these mind flutes. The land called Ireland has long been vacant… none of them are interested. The one we call Bacchus comes around every now and then (a pale, morbid version of its former self) but mainly the folks on the ground maintain the puritanical status quo. Sure look… what else would you be doing?
But on this particular day the deities are taking notice of the little island. They peer through the hop fog that obscures Dublin City as a man lies dead. A man named Conal passed away just two hours ago and the nature of his death, the nature of his life and the nature of his love have set the heavens alight.
Conal was a fishmonger, served his time in a small fish shop on Prussia Street but this morning he was down on North Wall collecting the day’s fish when he spotted a truck tilting over. Beside the truck were two oblivious young lads so didn’t Conal run over and push them out of the way leaving him to suffocate under a mountain of cod.
Or so they thought.
He would have survived were it not for his new knives, that he so proudly wore on his leather apron, being forced straight into his heart by the avalanche of fresh cod. Conal died instantly.
Conal’s only living relative, bar a few distant cousins, was his older brother Martin. Martin was a Guinness man and had been working in the brewery for twenty five years. The news travelled quick enough up the Liffey to St James’s Gate and upon hearing of his younger brother’s passing Martin acted immediately.
Firstly, he had a chat with his foreman about the two trucks of Guinness they had stolen last week. Then he phoned a contractor who owed him a favour, next his neighbours, then his sometime girlfriend, then his publican, then the mortician and finally the priest.
Conal was taken to The Mater where he was examined, cause of death was established, the coroner chuckled at the poor fool’s bad luck and then he was collected by the mortician who brought him to Queens Street where he was prepared (fervently scrubbed because of the deep sea aromas), Martin’s girlfriend Bernie dropped off Conal’s suit so he could be dressed. By this time it was late in the evening and everyone agreed they’d let him spend the night in the funeral home.
That night Martin arranged everything. Himself and Conal had shared a small cottage on Ashford Place and this was to be the location of Conal’s wake. He paid off his neighbours either side and sent them packing to spend a week in The Ashling Hotel, Arran Quay. The contractor smashed the walls through on either side so the three cottages formed one large living area. Around eleven o clock the two trucks arrived and every crate of Guinness was unloaded, stored in the three yards and bedecked with sheets Bernie had bought in Frawleys.
Work finished around three in the morning and after one or two drinks the stage was set for Conal’s homecoming and the biggest piss up Dublin had ever seen.
Conal arrived at nine the next morning and was placed in his bedroom to the left of the living room. His friends, colleagues and extended family arrived to pay their respects and of course Martin was on hand to issue bottles of porter. The morning and afternoon were relatively calm but as night crumbled over day the debauchery began.
Over the next six days an illegal 24 hour speakeasy, the likes of which Ireland, Europe, nay, the world had never seen, roared on while Conal chipped away at eternity’s embrace.
The Guards, the brewers, the fishermen, the seamstresses, the bakers, the TDs, the musicians, the writers, the bowsies, the artists… but she never came.
The days wore on. Her name was whispered.
“I heard she killed herself.”
“She’s away with the faeries!”
“Good riddance, Conal was too good for her.”
Her name was Maibh. Hers was a life essence all wanted to drink of, all wanted to be near her, all wanted her. She was cold and distant, the only way to keep people at arms length, she was loved and hated… but still, she hadn’t come.
On the seventh day all the porter had been slurped. Not a drop was to be had. The three cottages were full of weary heads who wanted the peace of the grave rather than the sound of that horrible car outside. Martin peaked out the curtain to see a red Alfa Romeo pulling up and as it parked out stepped Maibh. She walked to the house with her sunglasses covering half her head and knocked on the door.
Martin got up and had a quick look at Conal, he didn’t look too bad. The October air had kept him chill enough.
And so in she came. Martin left them alone. He walked out the front door and sparked his roll up. His eye was taken in by a puzzling site, to his left he saw, turning the corner, his grace the Bishop Greene! He held his crozier and marched right up to Martin.
“Is this the wake of Conal Duffy?”
“It is your grace.”
“Very good. I’ve come to beatify him.”
And with that in swished the Bishop, leaving Martin to his gawping. Martin didn’t know that the Bishop had met Conal several times before, they’d had many conversations in St Patrick’s cathedral. Bishop Greene was a fan of the inconsequential fishmonger.
He walked in to Conal’s room. Maibh glanced at him and then back to Conal. The Bishop regarded her.
“You must be the Maibh I’ve heard so much about. I’m very sorry for your loss.”
“Why are you here?”
“To beatify Conal. It seems only right, he was the best of us. The greatest human we had to offer the Lord.”
“Are you authorised to do this?”
“Do you really care?”
“Not in the slightest. Wave your staff all you like.”
“It’s a crozier.”
And so the Bishop began his rite, his crystal crozier sparkled all holy as the morning light sprayed in the window. Miles above the skies teemed with deities. This hadn’t happened in a while, this combination had all the Gods salivating and waiting to see if the little lads could finally do something magical.
It was time to give Conal another chance at life. But not here, here he was dead.