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Authors: James Heneghan

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Torn Away

BOOK: Torn Away
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In memory of my mother and father.



Copyright © 2003 James Heneghan

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication Data
Heneghan, James, 1930-

Torn away / James Heneghan.

IBSN 1-55143-263-3

1. Irish--Canada--Juvenile fiction. 2. Immigrants--Canada--Juvenile
fiction. I. Title.

PS8565.E581T67 2003      jC813'.54       C2003-910772-8

PZ7.H3865To 2003

First published in the United States of America by Viking,

a division of Penguin Books USA Inc., 1994.

Published by Puffin Books, 1996. (ISBN 0-14-036646-6)

Library of Congress Control Number:

: Forcibly deported to Canada because of his terrorist
activities in Northern Ireland, thirteen-year-old Declan must
choose between his revolutionary past and a new life with his
Canadian relatives.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for
its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the
Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry
Development Program (BPIDP), the Canada Council for the Arts,
and the British Columbia Arts Council.

Cover design: Christine Toller     Cover illustration:
Printed and bound in Canada

              05 04 03  •  5 4 3 2 1

                    IN CANADA:                                IN THE UNITED STATES:
Orca Book Publishers
Orca Book Publishers
                    1030 North Park Street                  PO Box 468
                    Victoria, BC Canada                      Custer, WA USA
                    V8T 1C6                                        98240-0468


It is fifteen minutes past two on a cold and rainy Tuesday morning in west Belfast—the middle of the night. A couple of kids are trying to siphon petrol from a parked Cortina.

“Jeez! Hold it still will yer.”

“Keep yer voice down!”

The two boys look around nervously. It's not the police they worry about, for the Royal Ulster Constabulary are seldom seen in the Catholic areas. They worry instead of being “lifted” by a British army patrol.

At eleven and twelve years of age, Babyface and Beanpole are the youngest in the gang, which explains why they are the ones assigned the unpleasant task of siphoning petrol. They wear no rain gear, only baseball caps, sweatshirts and jeans. The weather forecast for the North of Ireland calls for rain all week. Dark rainy mornings are best for this kind of work; the streets are deserted.

Beanpole holds the plastic tubing in the Cortina's tank while Babyface sucks the petrol and starts it running into a coffee jar. He spits. “Jeez! I hate the taste of it!”

When the boys have filled three coffee jars they screw the lids on. “Make sure they're tight,” says Beanpole.

They load the jars into backpacks, cushioning them with old T-shirts and newspapers.

Babyface looks over his shoulder nervously. “It's terrible quiet,” he whispers.

“Let's go,” says Beanpole.

They carefully mount their bikes and pedal through the rain to a disused warehouse up the Falls Road where they hide the jars under a pile of trash. Then they go home to their beds.

The gang meets at the warehouse the next night. It is a little after midnight and it's raining. There should be eight members, but only five are present: Rubber Bullet and Black Fever are missing; they were “lifted” following the gang's recent attack on a Prod pub on the Crumlin Road where they destroyed with yellow paint-bombs a huge painting of the British flag on the pub's outside wall. Ace is missing also, but he is expected any minute; he is busy stealing a car.

The oldest in the gang is Lone Wolf, the leader, who is sixteen.

They divide the three jars of petrol so that they end up with six coffee jars, each half full. Next, they tear six narrow strips from an old blanket, soak them in petrol and seal them in a plastic bag so they stay moist. They will need them later for fuses. Then they screw all the jar lids on tight. Next, they gather rocks. Each gang member now has a packsack loaded with half a jar of petrol and a large rock.

They are ready. They stand in the open door of the warehouse, peering out at the rain.

Lone Wolf looks at his wristwatch.
“We're waitin' for you, Ace,” he mutters. He is holding Ace's packsack as well as his own.

The minutes go by and the five boys begin to get impatient. The rain gurgles in the broken drain. Crusher keeps cracking his knuckles.

“Stop with that!” Lone Wolf growls. “You're givin' me a headache.”

Crusher slides his hands into his pockets.

Car headlights sweep along the alleyway.

“Here he comes,” says Beanpole.

“About time,” says Crusher.

Ace has a talent for stealing cars. The car he drives up to the door is a late model Accord.

“Real nice!” says Badman.

“Shut up and get in,” says Lone Wolf.

“Hey! Stop shovin'.”

“Move yer fat arse.”

They squash themselves in, and Ace heads for the Shankill area, staying away from main roads to avoid army patrols.

They park in a dark alleyway and walk a short way to Crown Street. The narrow street is lined with red brick terrace houses. The people who live here are Prods—Protestant
Loyalists. Most of the houses have British flags on their outside walls. A few windows are boarded up.

Lone Wolf and Ace pull black balaclavas over their heads. The others tie their mothers' headscarves over their faces.

Badman passes the petrol-soaked fuses around, and the boys secure them to the jars with rubber bands.

Lone Wolf gives orders quietly:

“Beanpole and Crusher, take number forty-two.”

“Badman and Babyface, take the next house, forty-four.”

“And Ace, you come with me. We'll take forty-six.”

When they are in position, Lone Wolf gives the signal with a shrill whistle. At short range, they throw their rocks through the ground floor windows, shattering the glass; then they light the fuses of the petrol bombs and hurl them through the broken windows.

The men, women and children in the three houses are terrified.

The gang doesn't wait to watch the fires or hear the shouts and screams of fear and anger. They flee into the darkness.

“Well done, boys!” says Lone Wolf a few minutes later as Ace drives them back to the Falls Road. “That'll teach ‘em not to mess with the Holy Terrors!”

Chapter One

They handcuffed him to the seat so he could cause no trouble on the airplane.

He was small for his thirteen years, and wiry, with straight brown hair worn in a fringe across a wide brow. He needed a haircut. His eyes too were brown, brooding and dark in a pale face that would have been hard were it not for the lips which were full and soft. He wore old blue jeans, white cotton socks, worn-out sneakers, a blue cotton T-shirt and an old gray wool sweater. He wore no watch, but on the
middle finger of his left hand he had a gold wedding ring that had been his mother's.

He had the seat to himself, at the back. He pressed his face up against the window, and when he saw the two plainclothes policemen disappear into the terminal, he folded his thin hand together like a Chinese fan and wriggled it out of the handcuff.

When they had dragged him aboard, everyone had stared. Now, with their heads turned to the front, they were trying to pretend he was not there. The flight attendant was standing at the open door, speaking into her telephone. He would have to be quick.

He slid from his seat, took a deep breath and hurled himself down the aisle.

Somebody shouted, “Look out!”

But he was too fast for them. He was past the flight attendant and out the door before anyone could stop him.

“Stop him!” cried the flight attendant to the uniformed boarding pass official, a tall thin man, down on the tarmac.

He skipped lightly down the steps. Boarding passes fluttered to the ground as the man reached out to grab him, but the boy was quick. He swerved and ducked under the
man's arms, and was away across the tarmac, arms pumping, legs flashing.

The flight attendant with the telephone must have alerted the check-in staff, for three women and two men were scrambling from behind their counters to form a barrier as he burst into the terminal.

He stopped to consider, his chest heaving.

They advanced on him, arms outstretched.

He turned and plunged back out the door, around the edge of the building and across the road toward the parking lot.

The man in the Avis rental blue Vauxhall saw him run in front of the car and jumped hard on the brakes.

The boy struck the hood of the car with the palm of his hand as he went down. He lay there, still, listening.

The driver, a stout middle-aged man, scrambled out of the car in a panic. As he bent over the crumpled body, the boy leaped to his feet and kicked him hard under the jaw. The man reeled backwards and lay gasping on his back. The boy jumped behind the wheel, slammed shut the car door, restarted the en
gine, pushed his foot down hard on the accelerator and screeched away from the terminal.

A police car was waiting for him at the highway, blocking the way ahead. The boy jerked at the wheel desperately, pulling the car around fast with a scream of burning rubber, and raced back toward the parking lot with the police car on his tail, siren wailing.

He rocketed through the parking lot, up one aisle, turning tightly down the other, tight turn, up the next aisle, tires screaming. The police car tried to cut him off at an exit, but the Vauxhall crashed into its fender and kept going, weaving wildly. There were two men in the car. They cut him off at the next exit, and this time when the Vauxhall collided, it came to a stop, its front bumper and grille locked in the twisted metal of the police car.

They had him.

They were angry. They wrestled him to the terminal and locked him in the baggage room. He unzipped and ripped open as many bags and suitcases as he could and hurled their contents around the room, and when the original policemen, the ones who had put him on the airplane, got there, the place looked like a cyclone had hit a clothing store.

The flight had been delayed thirty-two minutes.

This time they took no chances. One policeman was to go with him all the way to London. He was handcuffed to the seat again, but this time the steel bit into his wrist and he could not slip his hand out. He sat on the inside, by the window. The policeman was a large, sandy, silent man who chewed gum and read the
Belfast Telegraph.

The airplane taxied to the runway and stopped. The boy jerked at the handcuff with his free hand, but the arm of the seat was unyielding; the steel bit into his flesh, and he bit his lip with the pain of it. The policeman did not look up from his newspaper.

It had taken them more than two months to catch him. At first they used to come to the house, knocking on the door for him to let them in. Then later, after he had joined the Holy Terrors, they came and forced the door open, and he ran out the back and down the alley. By the time they took to surrounding the house, he was no longer there, but was hiding with one of the gang members.

BOOK: Torn Away
7.26Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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