Photo by Dave Lordan

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Mark’s halfway across when The Dude takes the corner goin at least 60. Which tells Mark that The Dude either hasn’t noticed or just doesn’t give a flute that he’s enterin a housin estate where people includin children and infants are like continously crossin the freakin road at pedestrian crossins! 96D Ford Fiesta. Looks like it’s just been driven through a bog, or emerged from a sewer. Fresh-splodged muck on ancient mudcake all over the chassis.

Mark waves down The Dude but at first The Dude doesn’t spot Mark. Mark’s dead meat if The Dude smashes into Mark and it looks like The Dude’s gonna smack into Mark head-on. So Mark screeches like Mark’s been sugar-coated and bound to a stake in an apiary. Whether it’s this screech or the now freakin frantic two-handed wavin and hoppin up-and-down, The Dude finally notices Mark and slams down the brakes and jolts to a halt like one freakin inch from Mark’s pelvis, Mark’s hips. If Mark hadn’t died right there Mark’d have suffered into old age right? Mark’d have ended up useless, stoned all day on the Oxy, like the ex after her ski accident. Not that Mark ain’t half-attracted to a permanently anaesthetised condition. Wouldn’t be too bad bein a couch-locked junky ‘slong as Mark had a good selection of sports channels. Give Mark time to figure out what the freak curling is all about. FREAKIN ASSHOLE, Mark shouted. Didn’t you see Mark was crossin the road? The Dude calmly rolls down the window, no hurry like, sticks out his near-shaven pencil-head, spits a lime-green freakin bubblegum, the muppet, and Mark sees he’s wearin like emergency blackout sunglasses. What is this Dude, a freakin dealer? An assassin?

It’s not a pedestrian crossin, The Dude says. Yes it is, Mark tells him. No it’s not. Yes it is. No it’s not. Yes it freakin is. No it’s friggin not. Yes it freakin is. Where’s the sign The Dude says, chewin away on an empty mouth as if he still had the freakin bubblegum goin. Mark doesn’t answer. The Dude sniffs, chews air. There’s no sign, The Dude says. Yes there is, Mark tells him. No, there’s not. Yes there is. Where is it then? So Mark looks around for the sign so that Mark can like point it out to The Dude and win this freakin argument once and for all and guess what? No freakin sign. Pedestrian-crossin sign on the other side of the traffic island, dealin with traffic comin out of the estate, yes. But no, none covering the lane Mark’s attemptin to cross, the lane for traffic comin into the estate, even though the two traffic channels are exactly the same in all other details, savin the direction of traffic flow obviously. No freakin sign whatsoever of a sign, despite that Mark and thousands of others have been treatin the long ramp there as a pedestrian crossin without any contradiction or challenge, and since the initiation of their estate like eight years ago.

There was a sign there last time Mark looked, Mark says. Although, Mark doesn’t know that really; Mark doesn’t memorise the location of freakin road signs. Tell you what though, Mark cannot freakin imagine like 6,000 people treatin it as a pedestrian crossin unless there was a sign allowin and, what’s more, encouragin ’em. The Dude snorted. You’re caught out mate, now get out of the way, he says. T’was blown down in the recent strong winds Mark says. And anyway, Mark says, the rules of the road are clear, if The Pedestrian has stepped onto the road The Vehicle must stop and allow The Pedestrian to cross, pedestrian crossin or no pedestrian crossin. Which this freakin well anyhow is a freakin pedestrian crossin because Mark is a freakin pedestrian and Mark is freakin crossin, Mark says. Sign or no freakin sign, Mark says. The Dude revved the engine. He revved the freakin engine. Sick bastard. Like The Dude was gonna just roll over Mark and leave Mark there flattened and bleedin, like sauce and spaghetti. The Dude was Irish, by the way, just in case you’re wonderin. The last two guys Mark got into a row with about a traffic issue were not Irish. They were Korean and Persian, respectively. Mark’s not suggestin anythin by this. Just sayin. Just indicatin that bein a road-rule-breakin, pedestrian-life-endangerin geebag is a human-virus type that infects across all ethnicities and borders. Well, what did Mark do? Mark jumped to the left as quick as Mark could, right onto the traffic island. Now The Dude is smirkin, like Mark’s some quiverin weaklin in the schoolyard The Dudes’s just forced into swallowin a beetle or some cow-dung shavins, and The Dude’s the King of the Yard and Mark’s the gimp, the freakin sissy underlin. And everyone in the whole village knows it and Mark and The Dude know everyone knows it. Mark’s not takin this crap anymore, Mark says to himself. I’m goin to report you Mark says. Dude says, To who? Traffic cops? Lol. No such fuckin thing. Figment of your fuckin imagination, says The Dude, the cheeky bastard. Right so, Mark says and Mark whips out the smartphone – which Mark always sets in advance to Flash Fast Camera mode when Mark’s out walkin, prepared for anythin unusual, lucky or catastrophic. That’s how Mark snapped the almost-viral photo of the porpoises down in Wicklow Port at xmas, which he recently tweeted again. Recall that, do you? Mark runs around the back of The Dude’s rustbucket, stands back about four feet from it, taps the smartphone screen to get it into PerfectFocus and clicks four or five times in rapid succession, because as Mark says it’s good to have a few to choose from.

You know what? The Dude puts his heap of freakin junk into reverse and starts edgin towards Mark. It’s attempted freakin murder at this stage, isn’t it? Well, Mark leaps like those freakin porpoises down in Wicklow Port and next thing Mark’s flat out on the ground on the traffic island and Mark hears The Dude’s car-door creak open and Mark gets to his feet – winded, panickin too, Mark doesn’t mind admittin – and starts to walk backwards and GIMME THAT FUCKIN CAMERA, The Dude is shoutin and Mark shouts in return, FREAK YOU MAN YOU’RE GOIN ONLINE, I’M REPORTING YOU TO THE WORLD, and then Mark turns around as Mark’s steppin onto the estate-exitin side of the road and there are two cars approachin and of course they stop, without any freakin fuss about it and because it is a freakin pedestrian crossin by design and also by long-established freakin custom and practice – if not quite by signage. Mark picks up pace as Mark is passin the second car, and, because Mark has figured out by now that maybe this Dude really is Shady Mcgrady the freakin kokodril dealer and The Dude may even be carryin a Luger or a scimitar . . . Mark breaks into a sprint as soon as his toes land on the footpath, but Shady Mc starts sprintin after him, and Mark’s thinkin, Feck feck feck feck and feck again, I’m freakin done for now. Dude’s at least ten years younger than Mark and he’s freakin skinny. Gonna take The Dude about ten freakin seconds to catch up with Mark. Then Mark’s done for. Then the parasites on the inside will start to eat their way out of Mark, and the scavengers on the outside will start to eat their way in. And when their various passageways break through and meet, Mark guesses they will embrace and entwine and carnival together in a fertility dance. A dance of disembowelment.

There are some instants as The Dude’s catchin up, slow-motion instants when Mark feels utterly winded and lightheaded and removed from the situation and able to somehow objectively calculate its significance vis-a-vis the rest of the his existence, an existence which Mark would describe as mined to the best of his abilities, as basically exhausted, as fully exploited. Mark starts feelin like this is as good a time as any to give in. Isn’t this hand, the hand of this crazy, abusive stranger, as good as any other hand could be to help him put an end to it? Is Mark really that attached to his own life? Would Mark miss himself if Mark was gone? What is it about Mark that Mark would miss? Mark’s good looks? Mark’s sex life? Mark’s plain-as-white-bread and Mark’s long-preferred porno to actual sex. Would Mark miss his ex? Only her exotic painkillers. Would Mark miss his neighbours? To whom, in eight years, Mark’s never said more than freakin, Hello what time d’ya think the bin truck’s comin? Truth is, Mark’d miss nothin enough to want to come back as a disturbin spirit around the estate, flingin furniture around front rooms to get noticed. Mark doesn’t even want people to notice Mark while Mark’s alive. Why drag out any further a non-league 0-0 draw nobody’s watchin?

Mark’s on the verge of swingin round, kneelin down, stickin Mark’s neck out and sayin to The Dude, Go on then, behead Mark with your scimitar, freakin shoot Mark with your Luger, commit Mark’s suicide for Mark, save Mark the freakin trouble and the legacy of shame like.

Wanna know what the last thing Mark thinks about in Mark’s whole life is? Wanna guess? Sport? Of course! But which sport? Hurlin, actually. Cork versus Wexford All-Ireland Final. 1954. Christy Ring leppin ten feet in the air, stretchin the hurley up another five feet to block and parry an oncomin sliothar, then drawin the sliothar to his hip on the bas, tappin it up about two feet in the air, recoilin the hurley, and then swingin it at the sliothar with such strength and grace and accuracy and overall power he (Go on Christy! Doubt ya kid!!!) puts one beauty of a shot over from 70 yards out. Mark’s mother says Mark was conceived after that game, which she listened to on the wireless in bed with The Wanderin Stranger (her name for him whom Mark named The Dark Invader) beside her, both of ’em nursin terrible heads. And Mark thinks what a way to die – beheaded with a hurley by Christy Ring in Croke Park in front of 80,000 screamin, half-cut culchies.

Mark doesn’t die in any fashion because there’s a car horn starts blarin, and, lookin around, Mark sees a BMW 4WD has very nearly sodomised The Dude’s ould yoke back over there on the road. The Dude halts, glances at Mark, then looks back at the car, and Mark guesses The Dude’s decidin whether or not to abandon the car and whatever The Dude’s hidin in it for the sake of satisfyin the bloodlust The Dude’s worked up for Mark. Dude decides on the car. Thank freak, says Mark to Mark under Mark’s breath as Mark’d already changed Mark’s mind about proxy hari-kari.

Now’s my chance, Mark thinks, and Mark scampers towards home through the alleyways behind the duplexes where The Dude can’t follow in his shit-heap, can’t even sketch Mark from the road. Close freakin call. It’s five minutes on foot from The PEDESTRIAN CROSSIN so Mark’s heart has calmed down – a bit – by the time Mark turns the corner into the terraced dead end Mark lives exactly in the middle of. Mark’s thinkin about a little drinky as soon as Mark gets safely through the door. To wash down one of Mark’s emergency Xanaxes. Drag the big hairy quilt down from upstairs, spread out on the sofa: nachos and salsa dip; the remastered Triple Crown 83 DVD; relive the glory days for a couple hours, cheer Mark up a bit.

Then Mark hears a car pull up sharpish, a car-door-slam, hurried footsteps, and who does Mark see about ten paces behind him when Mark turns around for a gander only The Dude, and this time The Dude has got a baseball bat in a two-handed grip, and for the first time Mark also sees The Dude’s boots, which are laced right up to his knees like an old-style punk’s. More mental again, the boots are platformed, at least six inches of solid sole on ’em, maybe more like nine inches, and The Dude’s still pretty short and slight, like a head below Mark and Mark’s not freakin tall like. The Dude’s like a freakin elf. An evil elf on meth with a murderous grin and a baseball bat. Mark’s totally out of freakin luck. Sprint to the door Mark does, thinkin even if Mark gets it open and closed behind Mark, The Dude’s just gonna bash it in anyhow. Weepin Mark is when Mark reaches for the handle. Freakin sputterin. Totally freakin shattered and The Dude’s like turnin into Mark’s driveway and Mark swears The Dude’s got the bat pulled back in that Christy Ring 70-yard-out-point-scorin-position and Mark knows The Dude intends crackin Mark’s skull with it.












And what happens then? Who lepps out to defend Mark? Only those whom Mark had forgotten all about in the freakin panic and why the freak Mark had been down to the supermarket in the first place. Mark’s not goin into details. It’s too freakin gross. Anyway, that’s the bit that got into the papers. That’s the bit that ye all already know. Yep. Look, Mark didn’t set the freakin dogs on The Dude. Mark just didn’t call ’em off.

Between ourselves, Mark actually took a freakload of photographs. In Sports-Pugilist-Close-Up mode. Tellin the whole truth, Mark even filmed a couple of minutes, towards the end. If the case ever goes to trial Mark’s sellin the movie to, or whomsoever, to pay for Mark’s defense. Mark’s joint defense. Mark will defend Mark in an equal partnership with the best barrister goin. Mark reckons Mark’d be really freakin good at that kind of thing. 

Read more fiction by Dave Lordan here and here and here , his essay on the multimedia revolution in poetry here, watch his anti-bullying poetry film for young people Because I’m Human here.

Dave Lordan is a multimedia writer, performer, & educator from County West Cork whose entertaining and provocative work has always had a community/social-movement focus and a sharply radical edge....

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