April 12th, 2011 by acjohner



A.C. Johner

A rumble of thunder quakes between the bridges sends slight drizzles of rain  down upon the pale and rusting city of Dublin.

Braxton B Barthazar walks out along the edge of the quays watching the reflections of small birds dance in the water.  He wore a long tailcoat, that due to an improper tailoring had been dragging through the sot and grim of every place marked with a neon light along the river Liffy.  It was a gray jungle there in Dublin.  Everything was always damp, and everywhere was the noise of laughter and tins and pints clinging and breaking amidst the sound of drowned out fiddles singing endlessly away in the back of every pub.

Braxton had been in Dublin nearly a summer on credit, and now counting the actual pennies in his account back in the United States, knew the true sounds he would face upon return.  He had failed out of Trinity with a clean smirk and gas. Had awoken one morning too many out on the green without shoes or pants, the last notes of Aldernine twanging off in the background of his memory.  Ireland had finally reached the edge of his collar when the World -Series was put on a tube in a pub down in the mines and this one old man stood and removed stockings and cap to the anthems low twitter as it scratched in through the pipes of the box.  Braxton stood watching, being reminded of home.  Then feeling ill about it and coming out of the door and vomiting in the streets just as one of his school mates was coming around the corner with a group of Irish girls, all of them missing teeth and all of them laughing at him.

Standing at the waters edge, he removed from his pocket the petal of a lily and tossed it down into the Liffy. Just as the sun was coming in behind a great green fog, and the oil ships began appearing like ghosts out along the horizon, Braxton Barthazar tossed himself into the lapping irksome waves after his lily flower now floating solemnly out to sea.

Braxton starred out at from the back of his mind somwhere, gazing into the twilight of a night slipped away.  Beyond the meld and dew droppings.  And rain came down upon Braxton Bigsby as he floated there on his back in his tailcoat in the black oily water.  And for a moment, for they are rare in Ireland, the sun came out from behind a desperate haze of gray and shown a single ray upon the Temple Bar long enough for Braxton to see it cast a heavenly glow and for an instant forgot his desperation and knowing that there is always a quarter inch of froth on every pint and the water pumped up from this here canal up through the swirling bubbling pipes of Sir Arthur’s factory which was a smudge of boxes in the distance beyond the Temple Bar and a clean white pipe that connected every pub with the factory floor.

“Hey there boy,” a heavenly voice came down from the dock, “What are you doing in the river?  Can’t you smell the shite about you?”

The sky ceased up like a puckering asshole and the sun vanished from the sky and Ireland was gray all over again.  Braxton looked up from the River at a girl in pale dress knelling over the dock smiling at him. And heaven was again an open sore waiting to be infected.  Braxton reached up his hand and took the edge of the dock into it with one flawless swoop emerged from the water and fluttered and flapped around on the dock in front of the girl pretending as though he were a fish, finishing the charade with a long arching spit of water out from his mouth and onto his boots.

“I’ve just swum from the Island of Man, and before that Richmond. I’m to round my way round this here blessed Island and find my way to back to the States to receive world record for having done so.”

“You, have swam all the way from the Welshland?”

“Have and will again.” Braxton said grabbing at his knees and going into pretend convulsions to get the water from his coat.  It was a good wash for his dusty tails now coming unpinned and dragging along the dock making him look like a duck.

“I’ve paused briefly to use a telephone.  Seems while I was on the swim my mom became terribly ill and may have it out with God if I don’t get a quick word with her and tell her to let them have the soul without a fight.  She was a demon catholic you know….Say do you think you could take me to a phone, and perhaps help me into some dry cloths and maybe have a look at the Liffy map and a drink down their at that place with the light and the white handkerchief where all the sailors and kiffmen are going in one end standing up straight and coming out the other sideways?”

“Are you asking a girl for a drink?”

“Well, if you are not busy with some other Irish business.  I should call your attention to my accent as it is American, and divinely so, means that I am made of money.  Can I see your teeth?”


-she smiles and shows all her teeth-


“Oh lovely, I have counted 32.”

“Are you Christian?”

“By Night.”

Arm and arm in sog and sot they are off down the dock.  Boots clicking along wobbly planks and the sounds of the waves gently beating the edge of the dock and slight licks of wind from the sea coming in around their ears making them go woo woo woo and all thinking of digging their bodies into one another and kisses and fairies and long trips in cars across to Kilarney, but first into this public house here where sailors go for jolly and a carved and ashen sign hung above the door reading…


The Half Bog


They are into the place and down into one of the corners where it is dark and there is a slight pale red light from the stained glass window in the front of the pub and the shadows grow long from its edge to the long golden rail of the bar where a one-eyed man is smiling chesterly at them and pouring a thick inky beer into frothing pints.
“Do tell your name dear swoon swan of the Liffy’s shore.”


“Your Mother’s?”

“Of course.”

“And the Primary?”


“And is there a middle to cusp the two?”


“How delightful.  Let me put it all together….Jamie Lee Bartelogenifugalwitz.”

“Remarkable with the accent.”

“Thank you.”

“Is it a Boston?”

“No.  I am Midwesterner. We have far better sunsets and are the breeders of the nation’s best farmers and killers.”

“Of which breed are you?”

“You must look closely at my hands for signs of blood or dust to know the answer.”

“And what if there is both?”

“Then I am Irish.”

The man behind the bar comes around the bar with pints in arm and slabs them down upon the table spilling little bits up over the rim and down the sides of the glasses and upon the cedar table where Braxton is laying his face in to suck up the spilt contents with the sides of his mouth.

The bar man heads back to the bar.  Braxton finishes with the spilt contents in one clean slurp and then calls for the man to bring a token for the juke.

“We don’t have a juke.  We have a Woodbine.”

With that said, the barman hits a switch upon the wall behind Jamie’s shoulder, and deep deep deep into the darkest corner of the pub behind them, a dim saffron light was turned on and cast an oval light down upon the carving of a wooden doll, half the size of a man with red fedora and fiddle stretched from elbow to shoulder.  His eyes were two great white buttons with flashing red bulbs in the pupil of each. The entire contraption was caked in dust and spun with a thousands spider webs.

The barman hits a second switch, and the zzwooz of electricity buzzes from the pale balsa bones all the way up to its eyes.  It immediately stands on both legs with whirls of dust clouds emerging from its joints.  Its eyes beam two bright red electric lights out into the empty space above their table.  For a moment it is motionless, until Braxton gives its leg a flick and all at once it begins to play the fiddle and sing.

“Oh how marvelous!” Jamie cries clapping her hands and giggling like a little girl.

“Oh now see, that’s all it takes to impress them, a bit of hard wood and music.  Make him play the Rover!”

The Woodbine contraption goes into the White Rover flinging its two wooden legs about as if they were sacks of cabbage without bone nor joint.  Its red eyes flickering in and out with the electricity as its mechanical jaw goes WA WA WA.

“That is amazing! I love little things like this.  Oh dear, do I want one so bad!”

Just then the front door to the pub swings wide open and there in the doorway stood the silhouette of a mighty brut beast whose breadth of shoulders was nearly as wide as the door itself.  It snarls and growls and calls for six whiskeys.

The barman jumps and hits the switch on the wall flipping off the Woodbine and rushing to the bar knocking down a bottle of scotch with a great crash, Braxton following the sound with a sudden whale and tears and leaping at the floor.

The big Irish sailor comes inside making his way to the bar with two great swings of each of his legs and then knocking back six shots of the lud one right after the other.  Braxton comes up from the floor licking at the sides of his face and wobbling.  He looks over at Jamie who is glaring at him displeased and sighing and shaking her head.

“Hey you there,” the great green beast roars out at Braxton.  “You there!”

Braxton was alarmed but is careful to keep composure and stiff eyes and spine trying not to shift any of his main joints.

“Yes bear, I mean sir.”

“I just come in from the sea.  And I need a good strong lad to help lift me cargo off me ship.”

“Haven’t you a crew?”

“There was a storm out near the eyes.  They were all tossed overboard,” he said bowing his head and removing his hat placing it over his belly.

“That is terrible.  That is utterly terrible.  Although I am entertaining.” Braxton replies motioning towards Jamie.  She nervously smirks in the corner.

“Balls! Come with me!” He roared out again crashing his fist down upon the bar splitting a clean line down its center, and then stuffing both fists into his pockets and pulling out crap loads of dollars.  Braxton’s eyes are wild and immediately his liver is screaming from underneath his shirt and the froth of Sir Authors great black murk was emerging from the sides of his mouth as if he was a dog gone rabid.

In the darkness and dust of this ole establishment upon the quays, strangest of strange things happen and will continue without end as long as there is a river flowing through the city Dublin.  This dear Braxton boy of the United States, having never seen or attempted a decent days work in his life, is uplifted at the sight of tunes and toonies. Bending backward breaking all moral and dreaming of wines and hams and fires and the shedding of cloths down at the Barthar Palace where all the whispers have been shunned out, and satin sheets are pulled back with little mints and inviting nipples between.

“Oh dear, your not going are you?” Jamie says, all disturbed and clutching for his arm..

“I’m afraid something inside me is not giving me much a choice in the matter.” He says staring the brute straight in the eye trying to keep from shaking.

They are out the door following the man down the quays where they had moments ago met when Braxton had leapt into the water.  At the end of the lot stood the tall shadow of a swaying ship.  In a low cloud of fog, its sail’s towered high above the rivers edge and even above the rooftops along the quay where strings of laundry swayed gingerly against the winds of the sea.  Even from a great distance, the groans of its rickety belly echoed all down the river and off every window of every empty flat and public house that stood within a screams distance.

They reach the side of the ship and stare up the wooden pegged plank connecting the boat with the shore.  One step at a time they climb aboard behind the brute.  He disappears down a little hatch and immediately starts tossing wood boxes out of the little hole onto the deck of the ship.  Braxton starts running towards the crashing merchandise trying to catch them and pile them into neat stacks.

One of the boxes comes up over his shoulder and with a crash behind him, Jamie is suddenly screaming and he turns in time to sees her pale Irish face become as white as the moonlight, then looking down upon the floor and seeing the broken box at her feet, and a pile of eyeballs spilt about the deck rolling in all directions.

The two of them start running far beyond the quays, the groaning ship, and now shouting captain, as they disappear into a rare twilight at the edge of this Irish city.  Braxton with his hands out chasing after Jamie trying to catch her blouse and stop her as his own tail coat goes on flapping wildly behind him.  A small rain begins to fall. Big iron ships clang against the sides of the harbor and the two of them disappear underneath the tramway down a little ally where stray dogs are tearing apart a piece of rancid meat and somewhere in Ireland a baby begins to cry.

Jamie throws herself into a brick wall and goes to the ground kneeling in a puddle, her eyes full of tears.  Braxton catching up behind her throwing his arms around this girl realizing that he had never even told her his name, and even now having forgotten of the eyes and feeling sad for her as she weeps into his arms and he is nestling his face against her ear saying there-there, there-there.

And across the sod and crumbling cobblestone streets, the rain falls in slight patterns around bottle caps and shars of glass.  And Braxton hearing the song of the Woodbine begin to twang in his head.  Seeing its red electric eyes cast out across the dark and empty steam rising up from the concrete ally. “Its all just a sphere,” he thinks to himself, closing his eyes, as he strokes the Bartelogenifugalwitz’s thin sopping hair, whispering to her over and over, there-there, there-there.




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