Almost ten years ago, on a warm May afternoon in the town that I come from: that is where all this began for me. The year is 1981 and it is the height of the hunger-strikes. I am walking alone, along a terraced street not far from my home. It is late afternoon, nearer to five o clock than four, and I am thinking about moving out of home, of getting away from my father. But he’ll take it badly. Why? he’ll ask. What is wrong with here? You don’t have a job yet, he’ll say, and you don’t have any money. Stay a while longer, he’ll plead, until you have work at least. This is what I’m thinking when a voice says, ‘Hey!’
I look. A car pulls along the kerb, goes ahead of me a bit. A heavy-engined car, purring warmly. Black. Well built.
‘Is your name Michael McCarty?’
I walk over to the car. The man who called out to me is in his late forties, I guess. He has a well-receded hairline with tight ginger curls on the sides and on the back; his locks are silver-white. He hands me an open black wallet: Detective-Sergeant J.P. Coughlan it says. There is a picture of a much younger man and a badge: ‘An Garda Síochána: Special Detective Unit.’ Underneath the badge is a harp crest.
I see another man beside him, in the driver’s seat: much younger, in his thirties maybe. He smiles. Coughlan speaks.
‘Would you mind if I asked you some questions, Mr McCarty?’
The backdoor of the car on my side opens. A man gets out: more middle-aged. He is wearing a grey‑black suit and a shirt and tie. He has wavy, black hair. He’s stocky but short.
‘About what?’ I ask.
Coughlan gets out of the car. The door swings shut behind him. He’s reasonably tall, about my height, five-eleven maybe six foot. He’s casually dressed, in a bomber jacket with cords. It looks wrong, not quite the thing for a man of his age. The two men close around me. Across the road a woman stops to look. She moves on again. Read the rest of this entry »