Here Are the Young Men

BOOK: Here Are the Young Men
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Binh Nguyen


A Perversion of the Course of Justice


1 Matthew

2 Kearney

3 Matthew

4 Kearney

5 Matthew

6 Kearney

7 Matthew

8 Kearney

9 Rez

10 Matthew

11 Kearney

12 Matthew

13 Kearney

14 Rez

15 Kearney

16 Rez

17 Matthew

18 Kearney

19 Matthew


20 Rez

21 Matthew

22 Rez

23 Kearney

24 Matthew

25 Rez

26 Matthew

27 Kearney

28 Matthew

29 Matthew

30 Matthew


31 Kearney

32 Matthew

33 Matthew

34 Kearney

35 Matthew

36 Kearney

37 Matthew

38 Kearney

39 Matthew

40 Rez

41 Matthew

42 Kearney

43 Rez

44 Kearney

45 Rez

46 Matthew

47 Kearney

48 Rez

49 Kearney

50 Matthew

51 Rez

52 Matthew

53 Rez

54 Matthew



Perversion of the Course of Justice

A confession without confessing. Admission without consequence.

Guilty. It's all true. We did these things.

I'm sorry.

Crucial details have been smudged: we're sorry and we don't want to be punished.

The boy's name, for instance. If I told you, and you're from Dublin, and you're of a certain age, you'd probably remember.

I'm sorry – I mean, I want to be.

This is all true. We did these things. This is all reality.



For whom was one to bother, and to what end?

—E.M. Cioran,
The Trouble With Being Born


If it's not broken – I chanted silently in rhythm to our steps – then break it. If it's broken, don't fix it. If it's fixed, break it again, break it more, wreck it. Wreck everything, and for no reason whatsoever …

We came to a stop.

Cocker drained his can of Coke and threw it on the ground. It rattled for a bit and then was still. We looked at it, the empty can. A breeze blew in across the grey stones of the beach, gusting the can a few feet along the seafront walkway.

‘Give us a light,' I said.

Cocker lit my cigarette. Then he pulled up his hood and shivered. ‘Poppers would be good,' he said.

I didn't respond.

He drew on his cigarette. After a moment he said again, ‘It'd be good if we had some poppers.'

‘But we don't,' I replied.

He said nothing.

Those two tall, red and white towers were on the horizon, kind of hazy in the cold morning light. There was some sun but it was a
day. I didn't mind. I liked grey days. So did Cocker. He told me that once, while we were on top of the hill in Killiney, looking out at the sea. Fucking freezing up there, it'd been. We'd had poppers that time, and two daddy-naggins of a type of vodka called ‘The Count: Big Force!' that we'd bought at an offo out there but I'd never seen again.

‘What do ye want to do?' said Cocker after a while.

‘Yer ma.'

We walked along the seafront a little, though not because we were going anywhere. It was the force of inertia that moved us. That was a concept I'd picked up in one of Mr Ryan's science classes. It was sort of poetic.

The wind was picking up again, not that strong but cold, bracing. I shivered, pulled my bomber jacket close around my neck, focusing my eyes on the warm glowing dot of ember and ash at the end of my cigarette, lovely against the grey, like a telly in a window down some rainy street.

‘There's nothing to do,' I muttered. But there was a sudden gust and my words were lost. It was better that way, I reckoned. What use was there in drawing attention to these things?

The red and white towers loomed in the distance. The Poolbeg Towers, wasn't that what they were called? I didn't even know what they were for.

‘What are the towers for?' I asked Cocker.

‘What towers?'

‘The fuckin Poolbeg Towers. The two towers up there in front of ye. What are they for?'

‘Industry, maybe,' said Cocker vaguely, looking elsewhere.

A while later he said, ‘So here we are then, our first taste of freedom.' He gave a low whistle.

I'd thought I'd be more excited. We'd finished the last exam of our Leaving Cert, and now school, Irish, physics, and all the rest of it was behind us for good. I just craved a packet of crisps – salt and vinegar.

Rez and Kearney will be finished soon,' said Cocker.

‘And Jen,' I said.

We sat on a deserted pier and watched the foamy grey sea spewing driftwood and six-pack rings on to stones that were dark from the wet; shiny whenever the sun cut through the murk. We'd arranged to meet the others in Killiney later, so we could all get fucked and finally pay a visit to Bono. I lit another cigarette. Cocker was trying to smoke one through his nose, just for a laugh. I saw a ship in the distance. A seagull flew into a wind that pushed hard against it, so that it hung stationary in mid-air.

Cocker watched the bird for a while, hanging in the sky. ‘Why do ye think yer man killed himself?' he said. He was talking about Stephen Horrigan again – the fella who'd been found hanging in our school on the last day of classes, a couple of weeks ago. A former pupil, he was. Some fifth year had found him when he entered his classroom that morning. Horrigan was swinging in the doorframe, his eyes bulging and staring right at you. The rumour was that he was on a boner. By the end of the day there were drawings of him all over the school, on blackboards, desks, everywhere. I wished I'd seen him, though not much.

‘Who knows,' I said.

But Cocker was insistent, really thinking hard about it. ‘But, like, what if that's it, though, that's what's in store for us?' he said. ‘I mean, like, maybe he did it that way as a sort of warnin or whatever. Like to say, “Youse lads will be finished school in just a week or two, and look, here's the way it goes after that, this is the fuckin final destination or whatever.” Ye know what I mean? Like a warnin.'

‘Ah, I don't know, Cocker. Maybe he had other problems that ye don't know about. There's probably more to it than just that the world is rubbish.'

‘Yeah,' Cocker muttered, unconvinced. After a while he said, ‘Suicide,' and then whistled, reverting to his usual, unworried manner. ‘It's a strange, strange thing.'

let those fairly pointless words fade away. I looked out along the grey murky coastline, towards Bray.


Around one o'clock I perked up and said: ‘Let's get a couple of naggins and get fuckin wasted!' Wasted was my new favourite word for fucked. Later I would start to use annihilated, or mangled, or destroyed. But for now, wasted was the word.

Once the idea – the inevitable idea – had been expressed, there would be no satisfaction at all until we got our hands on some alcohol and started getting wrecked, even earlier than we'd intended. Everything felt empty, drained, horribly boring. I needed a high, something to make it less oppressive.

‘We'll have to go into the town and find someone to buy it for us,' said Cocker with a businesslike air. He had been trying to skim stones on the waves. All of them had plopped into the foam on first contact and vanished.

We couldn't buy the vodka ourselves because we were still in our school uniforms. Otherwise, we might have been okay. I had just turned seventeen, and looked seventeen. Cocker had turned seventeen just before me, but with the height of him he could pass for eighteen, or maybe not.

‘C'mon then,' I said. We got up and walked towards the town. Cocker started humming the bassline from ‘She's Lost Control' into the cold wind. We talked about the coming weekend. The plan was to get fucked on the Sunday night, not to mention the Saturday and Friday. Primal Scream were playing in the Olympia on Sunday. We were planning to try E for the first time. No doubt all our mas and das would soon be hassling us to go and get jobs. We'd be mad not to have one mental weekend first.

‘Go on and call yer man,' said Cocker. ‘See if he really can get us some of these happy love pills.' We were supposed to be cynical
ecstasy because of our punk-rock attitude, but curiosity was winning the day.

‘Okay.' I took a crumpled scrap of paper from my pocket and unfurled it.
, it said, followed by a phone number I'd gotten from Rez's older cousin, Patrick. ‘Scag'll sort yis out,' he'd said.

Cocker watched as I took out my phone. I dialled the number.


Half an hour later, having arranged to pick up the E in a couple of days, and then gone and bought a litre of cheap vodka, we left the leafy little suburb with the posh oul ones, walked back to the seafront, and sat on the pier. It was still deserted, windswept. A big fat rat scuttled up from the rocks down the side of the pier and vanished down a black crack. I imagined all the rats having some kind of meeting down there, like in a cartoon. In my mind all the rats spoke in Cockney gangster accents.

Cocker opened the bottle and poured a shot into the lid. He drained it and grimaced. Then I did the same.


We were running along the beach, roaring and waving our hands in the air. There was no one else around, but we wouldn't have cared if there had been. I felt free, blissful. Anger flooded my nerves and limbs like the Rapture. I looked towards the city, blurry and overheated in pale afternoon drunkenness. That city, it was full of cunts. I stopped running and planted my feet apart and raised my two middle fingers towards the low coastal skyline.

‘CUNTS!' I roared.


we took the DART the rest of the way to Killiney. I was on a great buzz and I thought Cocker was too. But when there was only one stop to go, he fell quiet, closed his eyes and leaned forward. ‘Hang on, Cocker,' I said. ‘We're almost there. Seriously, just hold on another couple of seconds …'

We were moments away from the station when he puked across the floor. People turned to look. I hid my eyes but my shoulders were shaking with giggles. There weren't too many people in the carriage, but one oul one was sitting on her own in the back seat. She saw Cocker puking but then she fixed her gaze straight ahead, looking all serious and dignified. She pretended nothing was happening; no doubt she thought we were a threat, a violent urban menace. ‘Cocker ye nutcase,' I said through the laughter as we stumbled off the train. ‘You're such a fuckin lightweight.' Cocker still heaved with nausea, but already he was seeing the funny side.

Out on Killiney beach we could see Rez and Kearney near the edge of the sea. I whistled to them and waved but Kearney didn't notice because he was pacing about, waving his arms, in the middle of one of his rants. Rez was looking at the sea, with his sunglasses on and an inward expression, like he was only half listening. He was always like that, these days. When he heard my whistle he turned and smiled, absently.

I could hear what Kearney was saying as we came up behind him: ‘Ye have to start shootin loads of Proddy fuckers in the street in front of their families and everything. Then ye have to plant bombs in shoppin centres and all, and shoot yer way out if the RUC get wind of ye. And when yer comin up to the end of the game, it switches over to England, ye have to start takin the war to the Brits, like fuckin bombin pubs and trams and all that. The RUC have started torturin and decapitatin Catholics on the six o'clock news on the BBC and all, so it fuckin … deviates from history a little bit. And the
mission, listen to this, the last fuckin mission is ye have to assassinate the queen. And fuckin Prince Charles and the young princes as well. It's a sniper-and-bomber co-ordinated job, ye have to –'

BOOK: Here Are the Young Men
8.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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