New Fiction: A Better Place

Anto loves girls, loves Manchester United, loves Mars bars, loves Manhattan popcorn and King crisps, loves a trio from the local Chinese take-away, loves battered burgers and battered sausages, loves to drink bottles of Budweiser, loves to smoke John Player Blues, loves to watch The Sopranos and The Wire, loves Kanye West, loves Ed Sheeran, loves when his da sings Pulp and Blur songs when he’s drunk, loves how his ma always makes him breakfast when he has a hangover and scolds him for getting too drunk while simultaneously laughing at all the stories he tells her of the shenanigans of the night before, loves to watch live premiership football with his older brother Jack, both of them shouting at the television, abusing the referee, mocking the opposition when they miss a sitter, declaring that Mourinho’s decision to take off Lukaku was madness, leaping from their chairs together cheering at last-minute winners, and wonder goals.

Anto loves to watch Harry Potter movies with his two young sisters, watching their faces bright and enthralled, wide-eyed at the magic of Hollywood special effects and laughing together at the cleverness of Hermione Granger as she figures out a mystery at Hogwarts, loves buzzing with his mates down at the park on sunny days, drinking cans of Dutch Gold, playing football, chatting up girls, blasting out the tunes from an iPhone with a docking station and hissing speakers.

Anto loves drinking in the local on Saturday night after a few bets in the bookies earlier in the day, chatterboxing all night with the aul lads, and the young fellas his own age about the football results of the day, who’s gonna win the league, who’s gonna be relegated, who’s the best player in the league, who’s better Messi or Ronaldo, is Conor McGregor the coolest man in the world or just a mad yoke trouble rising dope, loves having a flirt and a dance with the middle-aged women, a few em still looking attractive, and getting more attractive as the pints go down and the hours pass, deep conversations with Tammy Hanlon, who he went out with for four months last year and he’s still mad about, trying his best to convince her he’s matured a lot since then, that the job he has in Champion Sports is gonna set him up for life, he’s gonna move his way up to manger one day, maybe even open a sports shop of his own someday, yeah Anto has that one big dream, the ride-off-into-the-sunset clichéd one, that most of us have.

Anto, singing the night away and wobbling out the door at 1:30 to the fading holler of the barman Big Tim’s voice saying, “Come on, time to go home now gents and ladies, have yuh no homes to go to.” Just making Freddy’s chipper before it shuts for the night, and getting a battered burger and chips with loads of salt ’n’ vinegar.

Anto Gavin takes the brown paper bag with his food in it from Freddy behind the counter.

“Cheers Freddy.”

“Thank you Anto, good night.”

“Night Freddy.”

Anto almost trips coming down the step of the chipper entrance, he laughs to himself, thinking about how his ma will be giving out to him in the morning for getting pissed but will make him a nice fry-up to sort his head and belly out. Anto opens the bag and inhales the grease-and-vinegar smell of chips, and grabs a handful, munching on them and blowing and saying, “Hah, roasting, lovely.”

Anto is 20 feet away from the chipper and 100 feet away from his family home when a man dressed in a black Adidas track suit and black runners, the hood from the track suit pulled up and a scarf covering his mouth, walks up to Anto.

Anto has just taken a bite from his battered burger, and is about to swallow it. The man takes out a handgun, points it at Anto, pulls the trigger, and shoots Anto in the chest. Anto falls back on to the ground, his bag of chips and the battered burger fly into the air and land beside him, the man walks calmly over to Anto, stands over him, Anto groaning in pain, confused, terrified, the man aims and pulls the trigger five more times, Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Blasting Anto in the guts, the arm, the neck, and in the face. Freddy runs out from the chipper after he hears the gunshots.

Anto’s mother Irene and his father David hear the shots too as they’re sitting down having a few cans watching the latest Brad Pitt movie on Sky, they’re both startled and their two young girls wake up and run down the stairs frightened by the noise of gunshots on their road. The man jumps into a waiting blue Nissan and speeds off at top speed into the city night. Freddy sees the car leaving and sees Anto’s bloody, blasted body on the ground. Anto Gavin’s dead body lying there covered in blood, half his face gone, a battered burger with a bite gone out of it beside him and chips scattered around the body. Freddy running over saying, “What? Why? Who would do this to young Anthony?” Freddy takes out his phone and calls the emergency services. David tells Irene to stay with the girls, and he goes outside into the front garden and sees a group of people standing around a body and Freddy from the chipper talking loudly into his phone saying a man has been shot, a man has been shot, then giving directions to the street, his hand shaking the phone against his ear, his heartbeat rapid.

David walks down to the scene to see if it’s someone he knows, or if he can help out in any way. He gets there and looks and sees his son Anthony’s yellow Kangol jacket, his son Anthony’s white and red Nike runners, size nines, his son Anthony’s body full of holes, and blood spilling all over the road. Deco Jordan grabs David and says, “Don’t look David.” Mary Henderson shouts out “Oh David it’s your Anthony, why?” David says to Deco, “Let me go Deco, let me go,” and pushes Deco aside. David falls down on the body of his son and weeps, holding his son’s hand, the same hand that 24 years earlier was a tiny-fingered newborn hand that clutched David’s thumb, the same hand he held tightly on the way to Anto’s first day in school, the same hand he shook, proudly, when Anto started his job in Champion Sports.

Anthony Gavin died on a Saturday morning at 1:42, in Cabra, no famous last words, he wasn’t known to Gardaí, he left no last will nor testament, his brief stay upon the earth ended just like that: click, click, click of the trigger of the Glock and gone.

Mistaken-identity shooting in Dublin

Masked murderer shoots wrong man for mob

Another senseless death on Dublin’s streets

Source says real target in Dublin mistaken-identity shooting was “The Hyena” Byrne, says innocent victim Anto Gavin was the image of Byrne and that the shooter has fled to the Costa del Sol to hide out.

The headlines went on for two weeks and then died down as political scandals and sports stars saying the wrong things, the homeless crisis, wars, famous people on Twitter being called out as Nazis and SJW snowflakes became the things everyone talked about.

Anto’s mother Irene keeps his room like a shrine to him. Anto’s brother Jack watches United matches on his own now and it’s not the same, sometimes he says he doesn’t give a fuck about who wins the fucking premiership. Anto’s father David went back to driving the bus after two months’ leave on compassionate grounds, he had to go back to the job, has bills to pay, the girls are making their communion soon too, occasionally he hears a passengers say to the person beside them, “That’s that poor man whose son was killed by mistake, poor fella.” Old women smile at him with pity in their eyes and say in soft voices, “How are yuh?”

Freddy has a big picture of Anto on the wall of the chipper, it has a quote on it that says, “Angel Anto, gone but not forgotten.” Anto is smiling in the picture, the same picture is behind the bar of the local where Anto used to drink on Saturday night, the women who used to dance with Anto get sentimental at the end of the night and sometimes and cry when they look at Anto’s smile, “It’s terrible,” they say. Anto’s job in Champion Sports was filled by a college student from Trinity, people used to talk about Anto for a few weeks, then the odd mention, then no one said his name ever again in the shop. A local artist painted a big mural of Anto’s face on the wall beside the chipper, with the words “Local legend” underneath it, a few people commented that it looked more like Matty Byrne than Anto.

Once someone saw David locked drunk and he was kissing the mural and wiping his hand over Anto’s cheek, crying, saying, “I miss you son, ah Jesus, Jesus fuckin Christ,” and Jack had to come and get him and bring him into the house. Anto’s sisters Belinda and Brenda wish that their brother Anthony was here on their big day at the church, and wonder why Holy God took him away, because only the good die young says their auntie Tracy, that’s something they will hear again and again as they grow up wondering if they live to be old does that mean they’re bad.

Their ma tells them that it’s okay cause Anthony is in a better place now.

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Author:

Karl Parkinson: Karl Parkinson is a poet and writer from the north inner city. His works include The Blocks (New Binary Press, 2016) and Litany of the City and Other Poems (Wurmpress, 2013). His work has also appeared in several anthologies and journals.

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