05 May Shite Swan
You couldn’t fucking pay me to work in a Spar in town. The shit those lads are subjected to. I’d rather scrub toilets or do some kind of hard labour, honestly, at least there’d be some dignity and you could just get on with it. I know a Polish lad who works in the one beside the Jervis Luas stop and the stuff he has to deal with… cunts hurling abuse at him all day and being expected to stop junkies and little bastard kids thieving all day, not to mention the mindlessness of stocking shelves and shite. Poxy breakfast rolls, smokes and energy drinks BLIP BLIP BLIPPING all fucking day…and then when there’s nothing to do you can’t even properly relax and space out for even a minute because of the constant threat of having a can bounced off your head by some jaunty piebald cunt… and for what like? A decent wage and a bit of respect? I think fuckin not…
And yeah, anytime this comes up some smart cunt is all like “Them Polish fellas are well able for it”. Fuck that; at the end of the day they are human fuckin beings and dealing with that shit all day for pittance has to be an absolute grind and I’d say it’s no different from any other job so far as some arsehole manager on their tits as well, you know?
And there’s no use in being super-hard with a blade hanging out of your neck… over a few cans of Kepplers. No fucking way could you pay me…
I saw some shit today that was FUCKED up. I was waiting at the Luas stop on Abbey Street and I noticed this gang of the scaldiest looking junkies outside, like four or five of them. One just strolls in and grabs a bag of croissants and cup of tea; fucks in about—and I shit you not—about ten sugars in. And when I say ten I don’t mean four or five… like ten. So she has her sip and rolls right back out. I’ve seen the lads stop them before and shake them down for cans or food or whatever stashed in their jackets but I don’t remember ever seeing one of the lads stop them without good reason like; I wouldn’t be into getting boiling water fucked in my face, mind you for a cup of tea and a few croissants, I’d have been like “good luck”.
But anyway, these junkies have just come outside and aren’t even leggin it; they’re just stalling it right outside; zombied out of it, blocking the entrance, and one of the Spar lads comes out pushing through the group, out to your one, and snatches the bag of croissants out of her hand, and she drops the tea.
She was totally out-of-it and didn’t really respond but one of her posse behind him ambles over and pushes the Spar lad in the back and he almost goes out into the street and the other junkies start SCREAMING at him calling him, you know, Packy this and Packy that and fuck off to your own country and all the usual shite.
Now Spar-lad is stocky enough like; I’m like, “This scaldy is about to get drop-kicked into another fucking dimension”. Unperturbed as fuck he was with a mad stoic lookin face on him, like this shit is just totally normal to him.
So he takes a few steps back towards them and doesn’t really square up but stops a little short of the main lad hurling abuse; the few other lads are kind of slowly walking away. But this one lad, the lad who’d pushed the Spar-lad, isn’t swaying all over the gaff like a junky; he’s got loads of energy, big red face on him; maybe he hasn’t scored all day and is all-riled-up or maybe he’s just a Pisshead?
So he’s screaming his head off, “Packy cunt” and “You’re getting stabbed”, and other idle bollox…
But this lad is not just spitting a bit of venom, then only to fuck off on his merry way… even from across the street, me on the Luas platform, I can see that this guy is out for blood. Foaming at the mouth so he was and the crazy eyes on him… This shit happens all the time and the lad giving it loads will usually just have a bit of a scream and seem like a hard lad and then just fuck off.
I was looking at the huge cunt Luas security guards near enough to me who were chuckling away at this spectacle and certainly weren’t arsed getting involved like “If not on Luas it not my problem… Kurva”.
I look back over and it’s kicked off; the Spar Lad had a hand on your man’s shoulder and was pointing in the direction of where a couple of his posse had fucked off to up towards O’Connell Street. The skanger had been sticking his dirty yellow finger in your man’s face but eventually looked like he was making out to leave. Then, as you might have expected, the cheeky cunt goes and throws a sly dig and catches Spar Lad right on the chin.
The time for diplomacy was fucking over! Spar Lad grabs this cunt by the scruff and spins him round and pushes your man out off the kerb into the street. Skanger lad is throwing digs like there’s no tomorrow but he’s not really landing any and the Spar lad just keeps pushing your man back further and further back into the street. And he was throwing these real weird-looking outward kicks like, not actually hitting your man but making him back the fuck up, until he’s up against the Luas railings.
And honestly, with no digs even thrown, on some honourable banter, he just gets the crazy drunk lad in a headlock and he’s looking over at the Siberian Brick Shithouse lookin geezer Security cunts beside me, like in an appeal for help or whatever, but they just keep smirking away like not doing shit…
So Spar lad is kind of struggling to contain this little fuckin eejit and your man is squirming violently. Spar lad keeps looking up and down for sign of a Guard but to no avail… And then comes the HAIL. A FUCKING HAIL, I shit you not, of cans, comes raining down from a rejuvenated shower of scumbags who’ve surfaced from fuck knows where. One of the lads was trying to pick up a bin to fuck at the Spar Lad but couldn’t quite manage and just fell over exposing a boxerless hole. This goes on for a moment more and the Luas Cunts still aren’t moving but the smiles have left their face. One of them was on the blower little radio yoke, I hoped to the coppers.
No one was doing shit and I had an urge to cross the tracks and help your man. Then something happened that made my hand slip into my gym bag, fingers popping through the plastic of the 7Up six-pack, trying to get out a can to go over and smash some faces and help this poor cunt. A cheeky junky ran… and I use the word “ran” lightly, into the street, close enough to peg his can at Spar Lad’s head, which exploded on impact with a spray of beer and Spar Lad’s face wincing in pain.
I was having a hard time getting the plastic open enough to grab a can and then all this just happened in so fast.
The lad who’d pelted the can at his head was now on your man’s shoulder trying to grab him and choke him, but the Spar Lad was literally just holding him off with one hand and keeping the other lad in a headlock with his other arm.
What happened next made my stomach and my legs shake man. I dunno if I was in shock or what but this was scary as fuck and shit slowed down almost like a movie or something.
Your one with the tea and croissants is lunging across the street HOWLING some indecipherable garble but before I’d even seen it, these words came out and my heart fucking stopped, “ME FOOKIN STANLEY BLAAAAADE!” she screamed and out it came cocked back and, grabbing his Spar jumper with one hand, she started hacking away.
Now, finally seeing this shit, the Luas lads looking as pale in the face as me, started the scramble forward.
So she’s hacking away for a second but Spar lad, thankfully, pushed your man away, dropped the headlocked lad… just turned and back-handed the shit out of her… and she went sliding across the concrete.
My legs were actually shaking seeing that Stanley-blade hanging out of him. I don’t know why I was scarred or frozen. Seen a lot worse than that… maybe it was because it was in broad daylight or maybe it was because not one person helped him… Not me, not the Spar Staff, or even the Robocop-looking Luas cunts.
As soon as the Luas lads had started scrambling, the others who were throwing shit scarpered. Your one was out cold but the two scaldy lads were almost to their feet about to do a legger but got grabbed by the Luas lads.
The Spar lad had long black hair that had been up in a ponytail and, I can’t remember at what point, his yoke got knocked out and his hair was hanging down his back. A crowd had gathered and as he walked back towards the shop entrance, the crowd, honest to god man: like the Red fucking Sea. His hair was flowing in the wind looking like fucking Highlander or some shit… swear to God. He leans down just before the doorway and picks up the bag of croissants and the paper cup and the Stanley blade that had flew out of her hand… and just walks back in to work like.
The Luas just pulled up blocking my view and I had to get on it.
I bet that lad went, got his few stiches, and went back to work that day.
On the Luas people who got on at Abbey Street who’d seen it all too were actually laughing about it and making jokes. I just felt so shit about humankind. I wished I’d run over, hopped the rail and pucked lumps off those scumbags.
I got off at Heuston and still a bit shaky, I stopped on the bridge and looked down into the Liffey. The sun was setting and it was beautiful, but I brought my eyes back down to reality and looking down into the river I saw traffic cones and a shopping trolley and just a load of muck and shite people had fucked in.
There was one manky-looking swan all by itself. I know they mate for life and I just started crying… Like, the fucking state of this place, even the swans are in a jock, no longer pure, angelic, and white but covered in shite, hissing at the gulls. How is anyone growing up in such a scummy environment supposed to survive without becoming a desperate creature? Like we all think swans are beautiful and graceful and all that and my initial thought was, you know, maybe its partner died. We all assume that… but then I just thought, you know, we’ve been conditioned to think well of swans… they can’t all be lovely?
Maybe this swan was just a cunt… and its partner fucked off with good reason, to fuckin… I dunno, Portobello or somewhere.
I began to question my own thoughts like, about the junkies and the Spar lad. Like, they aren’t “junkies”, they are people, who have had such a shit life in despair probably, that they got on the gear, you know, to just make the pain go away. And here, loads of junkies have a certain charm and wit about them, real affable characters… like I’d rather sit on the boardwalk with a few cans and a spliff, buzzing with some of those lads than the so-called civilized folk drinking Spanish piss, talking shite in some wine bar. I don’t even like rugby… would you fook off.
Cosmopolitan Dublin? Sheepishly adopting every other trend from Europe or America or wherever the fuck… at the cost of totally losing the fucking character and charm we once had? Those lads can still tell you a fuckin story.
I dunno man… it all just made me wonder about myself like… like I’m not a junky, and I’m not a wanker… but like, what am I? What are you like? What are any of us?
I didn’t do anything… and like, we see unjust shit going on in every aspect of our daily lives you know, and I mean, if we never do anything about them… Are we any better or are we worse?
I dunno, honestly the whole thing just melted my head because honestly… maybe those junkies ARE actually, or WERE actually sound… and maybe that Swan just was a cunt.
Gary Grace is a writer of creative nonfiction from Dublin. He has an honours degree in English Literature. He has been an active member of the Dublin Writers Forum and regularly volunteers at Fighting Words. He has had short stories appear in Wordlegs and The Penny Dreadful. He is now based in Drogheda. Follow me: garygracewrites.blogspot.ie. Stalk me: Instagram handle garygrace10