Monday, October 08, 2007

Bridge Work


They gave me the gold shield cause I could develop great databases. I thought, "you've got to be fucking kidding?" but this was true. All the shit I went through for them - all the desperate nights undercover - all the risks - all the injuries - all the collars that I made or that couldn't have happened without me - that got me nothing. I could'a stayed a Patrolman for ever. But, sitting in a strange little office with a computer, stretching out the recovery of a shattered knee, I had mixed a healthy appetite for Flight Simulator with a few simple approaches to recording crime data, and - presto! - they told me to come downtown and be a "Detective."

Actually, no, they did not say that. They called on a Tuesday morning and said, "How do you know this stuff?" "What stuff?" "How to program computers." "I don't know how to program computers." "Those databases." "That's not programming - I'm just making columns." "How do you know how to do that?" "Make columns? Don't know - It's easy."

This is why I never succeed in business.

Whatever. They said, "Come downtown and work on this stuff at headquarters." And I said, "Why the fuck would I want to do that. It's expensive down there. It's a long commute."

We argued over the next few weeks. But I was right. I worked fifteen minutes from my house. I knew everyone. They liked me. Why switch for nothing?

"Make me a detective," I offered. "Can't do that." "Why not, you should have made me a detective years ago." "Why's that?" "Look me up in your personnel files."

And I suppose they did.

"We'll make you a "Field Services Specialist-Detective Third Class." "Wow," I said, "that's a hell of an honor." But I went. The title came with five thousand more bucks a year, a complete lack of supervision, and bizarre little office with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge.

The work was boring, more or less, but I would spend an hour on task, and then sneak out and wander Chinatown, or Little Italy, or just, if my leg hurt that day, sit in City Hall Park, or, especially in the dark winter evenings, drift out onto the bridge, embraced by the ribbons of light, and breath in the vast salt smell of the Atlantic tide pushing up the harbor from the Narrows.

And then I'd wander back to that tiny office, and rifle through cases, looking for ways to assemble patterns, or discover patterns. I was probably catching criminals. I really was, but I didn't feel like a cop anymore. But when I stood out on the bridge, in the depth of the winds, I really didn't care.
copyright 2007 by Ira Socol

Friday, October 05, 2007

a thrice told tale...


I wish I had gotten there just a bit earlier. Of course I do. First, I would have been ahead of the rain, once it began to fall heavily, and I would not have seen dripping wet after the run from the bus stop three streets over. And second, more importantly surely, I would have been there before Liam. He might not have said that to her if he had known I was in the room. And who knows? The party might have just gone along swimmingly.

I couldn't get there earlier. Not really. I suppose that I must say that at the start. Oh sure, I could have stopped checking email before I did, gotten into the shower, gotten myself dressed and all, and out the door and to the bus stop. The busses are supposed to be about twenty minutes apart that time of the day, but even if I had been twenty or even forty minutes ahead, you understand, this is Dublin and the Dublin Bus system and, when I did get to the stop, three busses were forming their own queue for the seven people waiting. A full hours worth of mass transport lined up into a single minute. I simply would have waited longer, probably become more frustrated myself. That, combined with being soaked to the skin by the downpour between the stop on Baggot Street and her home, might have made the over-reaction - if it was an over-reaction, because I'm not quite ready to admit that just yet - even greater. At least that's possible.

Yes, yes. I should not have hit him. Yes, not like that. Damn close to a sucker punch. He really never saw it coming, though he should have, and I caught him right on the side of the mouth, knocking him sideways off his feet, leaving blood pouring from a split lip. But holy fuck, ya know, he deserved it. You just don't pull shite like that. If you're gonna come already snockered to a party, you better arrive as a happy drunk, not a belligerant arsehole.

When I was in the shower, the hot water coursing across my body, I imagined that the night would go differently. Absolutely I did. But that's the nature of being naked in warm water, it creates optimism. The reality of the evening was built on other bodily sensations, the clinging to the skin of cold, wet cotton and wool. That forces the harshness of the universe right into your face. So, when I opened the door, dripped on the aged oak flooring, saw the
tears and heard the anger, the romantic allusions had already drained away, and I was just a tosser blown in by the storm.

True. I shouldn't have hit him. I should have found words. Used words. But there were too many things in my head at that moment. And I only found the action that lay on top of that mental pile.

She was in tears, and she was shouting, "Get the fuck out! Just get the fuck out of my house." And everybody was just staring. I walked into this frozen scene, with only her in movement, and only her sounds. I moved into a circle of ice, and shivered as she looked at me, and then hardened as I saw him.

She was in tears. He had loudly announced that her ambition was the cause of her kid's problems. Which is something you do not say to a mother who has tried that hard, or to anyone in their home in front of guests, or if you've been invited to an ex's "Tenure Party" - since the very invitation is an act of grace that you should accept with silent thanks. But he is an arse. And he thinks he looks strong if he can make her cry.

Right. I should'na hit him. That's something else guests are not supposed to do.

Had I been there before him, as I said, I would have been near her, and he would have stayed away. He might have, drunk as he was he surely would have, made snarkey remarks to others. He might have even said something about what had happened. But he would not have said it loudly, or directly, and he would not have attacked her ability to parent that way. Liam's a coward. He's afraid of lots of people. And one of those people he's afraid of is me.

I hit him on an impulse. I did. It wasn't planned. He had insulted the woman who might have been on the way to becoming "my" woman. He had not just insulted her, but had suggested that her accomplishments, the very reason for this gathering, was some kind of crime.

I hit him because I wanted to sleep with her again. Yes. I wanted to be the knight in shining armour. Because I was raised on the belief that nothing was more romantic than defending the honour of your woman. King Arthur, of course, was a Celt.

I hit him because I'm an idiot. An impulsive idiot. I do shite and then, well, I fuck myself over all the time. I do. I'm a fuckin' ijiot. So I hit him. Looked around. People were shocked. He was bleeding. She didn't say anything. Not like in a movie where she'd rush to me and thank me. Of course not. I'm a juvenile moron for thinking that. So I turned around, mumbled something, and went back out into the rain.

I left. Furious at many things. Thumping down the stairs, treading heavily on the footwalk. The rain had turned into a soft mist. It was full dark and the streetlamps lit the water molecules around them. I went one block, then two.

I left. Sometimes I just disappoint myself. Sometimes? Often. Oh well. I'd walk to the bus, with, perhaps, a stop for a pint. Or two. Night had fully fallen but the rain had slackened, then faded further into a mist. My trainers squeaked on the damp stone of the footwalk. Couples walked past, some looking happy. I kept my head down, the lights of the lamps wavered in the puddles. Then my mobile started playing Norwegian Wood.

I could see Baggot Street at the end of the block. An old Jaguar was parked at the curb beside me and I had let my eyes follow its sinuous curves up from the footwalk. It was the first object I had really looked at since I left the house. My mobile rang. It was her. For reasons all too clear I had linked her to an ancient Beatles tune about love lost. I waited. But then pulled it from my pocket and opened it. The text read, "Come back you arse."

So I turned around, there on the footwalk, and I went back. I went back and was very quiet. I went back and stayed the night, and all the next day.

copyright 2007 by Ira Socol

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Now Available: The Drool Room

by Ira David Socol

"I ain't crazy," declares the narrator of this stunningly original novel-in-stories, "I'm not."

But sanity is always an elusive thing in this tale that carries the reader through a life torn apart by anger, frustration, and disappointment - but held together by an absolute refusal to "give up."

A first grader who can neither read nor sit still. An angry junior high student lashing out at those trying to help. A self-medicating high school athlete. All this leads us to an adult police officer on the streets of The Bronx at the most crime-wracked moment in New York City history.

The Drool Room may not make you love its complex protagonist, but it will force you to see life through the fascinating eyes of a remarkable character.

US $16.00 direct via

Look Inside This Book

Now Available: A Certain Place of Dreams

by Ira David Socol

With more than four dozen pieces of microfiction set in and around the northern Irish city of Derry, Ira David Socol carries you to places of incredible beauty and vicious nightmare, times of absolute joy and moments of complete terror. In stories which tread a blurred line between poetry and prose, a never named and not-quite described narrator reveals a story both national and personal, played out upon a canvas filled with stunning landscapes and fascinating characters.

"When I need peace, I think to myself, I have always come to where the sea meets the land. Because it is at this most primal borderline that we can see in the most directions. Not just up to the heavens and down into the briny deep, not just endlessly north or west or east or south, but forward and backward along the timeline of creation."

US $15.00 direct via

Look Inside This Book