JIM MULLARKEY / AND
These stories reveal great insight into the cracks and nooks of the psyche. The subtle writing gives voice to complexities of his characters' internal lives with convincing understanding.
— Colm Farren
2011 / 104 pages / €8 (marked down from €12)
Cover art: Holly Mullarkey
(click to view cover)
By Jim Mullarkey
JIM MULLARKEY is a fiction writer, psychotherapist and teacher. He was a Labour member of Galway City Council from 1993 to 1999. His story ‘Heaven’ was runner-up in the 2002 RTE Francis McManus Award. ‘Mary up in Donegal’ was short-listed in the same competition in 2005. ‘First Love’ was long-listed in the Raymond Carver short story award in 2004. In recent years Jim has facilitated creative writing workshops for adults with learning difficulties. He lives with his family.
Extract from 'Heaven'
and he used to repeat words and phrases like an invocation, or an incantation, and I remember my feet dangling over the front of the cart, and it had no sides, and if I fell forward I was gone body and soul into the gravel passing underneath in a blur, and he stood above me connected to the horse by the reins and his voice, and when the horse lifted his tail I had to lean away, but I didn’t blame the horse because it was blinkered, and even if he could see behind it wasn’t his fault the flies like the sun, and mammy wasn’t there with soft words and her scarf the same colour as the sea beyond the hill on a day like this,
and Father Lynskey had bad skin, like Heaney’s field in winter, reciting the parishioners’ names, one shilling, one shilling, and they don’t have two pennies to rub together, six pence, God help us, two and six, two and six, Master Brearty five shillings, Doctor Cassidy ten shillings, Mister Ryan ten shillings, and mammy’s sister, aunt Kate, said “It’s time they cut that out,” and I wished he hadn’t bent down so close to me oozing of stale tobacco, and he said, “She’s in heaven Martin”, and missus Heaney, who never smiled and always kept hens, said, “She’s in a better place,” to daddy who found it hard to look at anybody, especially Pa Heaney who fenced off land that didn’t belong to him,
and I was thinking about heaven beside daddy’s boots clacking on the stones, and grand aunt Delia held my hand and had to let it go for a second to blow her nose, twice, the second time very loud and even daddy looked over, and she was talking to aunt Kate, who was a nurse in the north of England, and she said, “Mary never ate butter”, and grand aunt Delia said, “Is that right”, “And that was why she wasted away so quickly”, “She wasted away to nothing”, and I was thinking about that while they were talking, how could she say she wasted away to nothing when her face was still there, and her eyes closed, and her fingers clasping her wooden beads, and she could be asleep, and I could go back to bed and pretend with my eyes closed and wait for her voice,
and daddy rocked over and back, over and back, “as it was in the beginning”, and mammy’s brother, uncle Jamie, who had travelled all around the world when he was younger, was standing there, and his fingers were long like mammy’s, and when his eye caught mine he nodded down at me slowly, and I looked away, and Father Lynskey wheezed when he started the Hail Mary, before people were finished, as if he was duty bound to keep their beads moving without a break, “is now and ever shall be”, and two of daddy’s brothers had shovels, and when the earth made a hollow sound daddy looked away towards the sea, and the sky had cotton wool clouds, and grand aunt Delia coughed, and when she coughed again uncle Jamie took her arm, and a big black crow watched from the branch that grew through the gable of the old ruin,
and I could smell stale onions over the smoke and beer dregs in Ryan’s when grand aunt Delia leaned into my face and said, “Why don’t you play with your cousins”, we never visited them, they never visited us, the O’Tooles from the far side of the mountain, pulling and dragging out of each other, and when they saw me at the church porch they just looked at me with their mouths open, and I said nothing, and they said nothing, and I said, “Daddy where’s heaven”, holding on to the pocket of his coat, and it was lumpy where the seams come together, and he said, “Why don’t you play with your cousins”, and I couldn’t say that I didn’t want to, and aunt Joan with blonde hair, who worked in the same hospital as aunt Kate, put a glass of fizzy orange in front of me and she didn’t ask me if I wanted a straw, she just smiled at me, and I made the orange last when my father went to the bar, and aunt Dorothy looked at me and said, “Isn’t he getting big”, and someone else said, “He’s a fine man”, and I was rocking forward and back avoiding their eyes looking down on me,