Do You Like Oranges? – fiction by Kevin Doyle

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.

‘That depends.’

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 »

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A Modest Proposal – fiction by Jonathan Swift

FOR PREVENTING THE CHILDREN OF POOR PEOPLE IN IRELAND FROM BEING A BURDEN TO THEIR PARENTS OR COUNTRY, AND FOR MAKING THEM BENEFICIAL TO THE PUBLIC

It is a melancholy object to those who walk through this great town or travel in the country, when they see the streets, the roads, and cabin doors, crowded with beggars of the female sex, followed by three, four, or six children, all in rags and importuning every passenger for an alms. These mothers, instead of being able to work for their honest livelihood, are forced to employ all their time in strolling to beg sustenance for their helpless infants: who as they grow up either turn thieves for want of work, or leave their dear native country to fight for the Pretender in Spain, or sell themselves to the Barbadoes.

I think it is agreed by all parties that this prodigious number of children in the arms, or on the backs, or at the heels of their mothers, and frequently of their fathers, is in the present deplorable state of the kingdom a very great additional grievance; and, therefore, whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth, would deserve so well of the public as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation.

But my intention is very far from being confined to provide only for the children of professed beggars; it is of a much greater extent, and shall take in the whole number of infants at a certain age who are born of parents in effect as little able to support them as those who demand our charity in the streets.

As to my own part, having turned my thoughts for many years upon this important subject, and maturely weighed the several schemes of other projectors, I have always found them grossly mistaken in the computation. Read the rest of this entry »