I wrote this at the start of the year for a Kindle Book of short stories based around The Gathering that someone was organizing – but it never happened…
Update: it did happen: But mine was not included… reason: because children might read it! Um ok, why didn’t you goddamn say so in the first place.
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Redser’s gaze was so absorbed in the red ripples of the sky reflected across the blue ripples of the water that he almost didn’t notice the wet nose busily sniffing his arse.
“Jesus! What the fuck have you been eating?”
“You wish. She hated gingers.”
“How many times do I have to tell you. Red Setters are red. NOT ginger. The name’s Redser, remember?”
“Yeah right, as if a human would be stupid enough to call a Red Setter Redser. What did they actually call you?”
“Redser! Sure didn’t they call you Blackie!?”
“Not the same thing and you know it. C’mon Red. You can tell me. What they really call you? Been asking you for years now.”
“Not a chance.”
“I bet it’s something to do with that white spot on your forehead.”
“Drop it, Blackie”.
“Very strange for a Red Setter to have a white spot on his forehead.”
“So you keep telling me.”
Blackie sits beside Redser and joins his gaze across the sea. “What a perfect moment this would be if it wasn’t polluted by that fucking stench. Seriously Red. You should see a vet about that, that’s some serious stinkage. Tell me, what fine establishments have you been dining at recently to pollute your intestine so?”
“Oh yeah, that is worth telling actually. I was hanging around the back of Jo’s this morning. I was only there five minutes, when some young lad backs out the door with a bucketful of fried eggs. FUCKING JACKPOT. You know I love the oul eggs!”
“They don’t love you, Red. Seriously. They’re trying to send you a message. Arse to Brain – stop eating eggs… What the hell were eggs doing in a bucket anyway? Does not compute Lord Vader. I mean, why would they fry a load of eggs and then chuck them out in a bucket?”
“Got me, Black. One of life’s mysteries. Anyway, where’ve you been?”
Blackie looks a bit sheepish. “Nowhere. Here and there. Nuthin. No one.”
“You’ve been hanging around the park waiting for that poodle again, haven’t you?”
“No sireee, Bob. Not me. Nope. No way”
“You’ve no fucking chance, Blackie. You’d want to snap out of that. You’ll be in the pound in no time. Seriously.”
Blackie just stares out to sea, looking a bit miffed. He’s determined not to respond but doesn’t last five seconds. “She’s gagging for it Red, I’m telling you, she’s all fur and no fucking Snickers. Get that one into a bush for two minutes and she’d be howling like a she-wolf. She’d never look at another poodle. Once you’ve had Blackie there’s no going backy!”
“You wish. Just don’t do anything stupid. Not too many of us Paddies around here these days. I mean what’s the chances of any other dog fluking it over to here like we did? I’m telling ye. I’d go insane if I had to talk to these yankie doodle poochies all day. I mean they’re alright and all but you need to talk to one of your own now and then or you’d go fucking mad.”
“Awww, poor Redser, doesn’t want to be all alone and the big bad west. That reminds me. Did you hear about that thing where they’re trying to get everyone to go back home?”
“Yeah. The Gathering, will you ask me big dangly bollox!?”
“Bollock. The noun one would apply to the dangly vestibule of creatures bestowed in single testicularity.”
“Fuck you and your two tiny chewing gum balls”.
“Two heads are better than one. No interest then?”
“In The Slathering Blathering? Christ no. Seems like a load of nonsense.”
“I think it sounds good. It’d be like one big long Paddy’s Day.”
“Oh Jesus Fucking Christ. As if that’s a good thing.”
“Yeah but imagine what the atmosphere would be like with lots of people going home for the first time in years.”
“We ain’t people, Blackie, and you know better than anyone I can never ever go back there. Even if this was a fucking Disney Movie and we could stowaway in a serious of hilarious events. I can’t go back there. Ever.”
“I know, I know. But it’s a pity – I think it’d be great crack.”
“Yeah you’re right. I can imagine how great a distraction it’d be from the shit storm of a mess that country is in. How clever of them.”
“You is one cynical old dawg, Red.”
“You have to be cynical about everything that lot do, Blackie. You know I’d sooner eat a conspiracy theorist than listen to one spouting their garbage, but you have to question every idea that comes from that lot. Everything. When it comes to the Irish government, I’m definitely more of a Mulder than a Scully. The truth is out there!”
Redser has been toying with an injured fly for the last two minutes and decides to put it out of its misery. It tastes like shit but he likes the crunchy texture, and the little pop it makes as it bursts onto his tongue.
“Maybe I’m just being nostalgic” says Blackie. “But I’d sure love to get back home for something like that.”
“Christ, Blackie. It’s a marketing team’s wank fest. I mean there’s nothing I like more than licking up a puddle of spilt Guinness. But see that Arthur’s Day? Get it well the fuck away from me. That’s the biggest trick the devil ever pulled right there. Another event for the Irish to go out and get pissed for a whole day. Paddy’s Day. Arthur’s Day and now the fucking Gathering. Would you ask my big shiny bollock!”
“So you’re immune to all marketing ploys then, is that it, Redser?”
“No one’s immune to marketing. I’ve neither purse nor pocket, yet the claws of marketing scratch me every day. More than these fucking fleas. Doesn’t mean I can’t do my best to avoid shit-fests like this though.”
At the mere mention of fleas, both Blackie and Redser have to pause the conversation, throw their legs akimbo, and start a three minute scratch-fest.
Blackie continues, his voice shaking as he’s still going hell for leather behind his ear “I dunno, Red. I’m sure you’re right. Maybe it was conceived as a distraction but I still bet it’d be an amazing atmosphere…. Oh shit, here’s Vinnie.”
“Vinnie’s alright. I thought you liked Vinnie too?”
“He was alright before he came out and turned into the biggest queen in town. I don’t get it. Everyone knew he was the gayest dog around. And everyone was fine with it. But then he makes the big announcement, as if he needed to tell anyone, and suddenly he’s camp as Christmas. I’ve never heard anyone trying so hard to lisp while they bark! I mean, that dog used to have the best taste in music around. The conversations we used to have about glitchy German House, and all of a sudden he’s obsessed with Kylie Minogue. The whole thing’s ridiculous. I know plenty of gay dogs who are, you know, normal, and plenty who were always, you know, a bit camp. All well and good. But this complete transplant is nuts. What the fuck is that all about!? Fake as fuck.
Vinnie – “Hey ladies! Mwah. Mwah.”
Redser – “Hey Vinnie.”
Vinnie – “What you two luvvies looking so serious about?”
Redser – “Blackie was just saying how much he loves your recent zest for life. Saying you’ve got a great spring in your step for a big butch Saint Bernard.”
Blackie – “Never mind him, Vinnie. We were talking about The Gathering. Redser here is being as cynical as ever.”
Vinnie – “Oh that, yeah. Sounds great to me. Party party party!”
Redser – “Oh Christ. Don’t you start.”
Vinnie – “Would you not love to go back to Ireland for that Redser? I’m sure you’ve got plenty of puppies back there, ha!”
“NO I FUCKING DON’T!” Redser growls, and then snaps at Vinnie, catching his ear, and drawing a bit of blood.
Vinnie is so shocked that he doesn’t fight back. Just says “What the actual fuck!?”
Redser looks a bit embarrassed and just turns tail and runs off.
Vinnie – “WHAT. THE. FUCK!?”
Blackie – “Sheeeeeite! Not your fault Vinnie. I should have known better to keep going on about Ireland. But, you know, it’s been donkey’s years now.”
“What the fuck is going on, Blackie!?”
“You don’t know why we left?”
“I sure as hell don’t.”
“Ah. Ok. Right. Well. Where do I start?”
Blackie looks out across the sea again as he casts his mind back.
“Right. So. There’s this beach back home. It’s a bit like this beach here. But it’s got lots of sand dunes. And lots of sand. Duh! And lot’s of marshland full of birds too. It’s a great spot. There’s always loads of dogs there. We used to go down there all the time. Even family dogs used to have a bit more freedom back then. But this one time, we were messing down at the water. Running in and out. And we spot this bag in the water. We both make a dart for it at the same time. But Redser gets there first. He picks it up in his teeth ready to shake it from side to side. Trying to soak me like. But he sees it too late. Shakes it anyway. Three dead puppies spill out.
“Oh my fucking god.”
“Three dead red setters. One with a little white spot on its forehead.”
“Oh christ. Fucking hell. Poor Redser. What fucking animals people can be.”
“He wanted to kill the murdering bastards. I don’t know how I stopped him. But I did. I made him stay at the beach. We slept in a fisherman’s boat that night. At least we thought that’s what it was before all the drug smugglers climbed in the next morning! We couldn’t believe it! Thought that shit only happened in movies but sure enough, four lads… that looked as normal as anything jumped in… but they were definitely bringing drugs across the water. And… well… I think you know the rest of our travels. Finally ended up here. And we’ve been here ever since.”
“Jesus, yeah. But I’d no idea about the start!”.
“I should have known better than going on about the fucking Gathering.”
The two dogs sat for a moment and gazed once more across the red rippled sky. In the distance, Blackie could just about hear a sound that he thought he recognized as Redser’s howls but it might just have been the wind.