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Brown-Eyed Boy: Chapter VII

Last update - Tuesday, July 1, 2014, 11:10 By Roddy Doyle

  The Garda and HSE raided an empty house. 

There were no Beltons, or Murphys, or Belton-Murphys. The television was on and there was evidence of some sort of chocolate orgy all over the floor in front of it. But there were no children waiting to be saved.

A male Garda pocketed an unopened Flake while his female colleague looked behind the sofa.

–Nothing, she said.

–Just as well, maybe, said her colleague.

They’d had sex once, after a night in Copper’s, but neither of them remembered it.

–Why? she asked.

–You know what they say, like, he said. –Never work with children or animals.

–I think that’s films or acting.

–Still, though, he said. –Kids, like – they’re tricky. They’re small.

–Would you be scared you’d break one or something?

–Yeah – a bit. Tricky little fuckers, like.

–Anyway, they’re not here.

–Someone else’s headache, so.


Fiachra Smyth sat in a 2009 Vauxhall Corsa. He always left his real car, a Cadillac XTS, at home when he was meeting the non-profits.

He’d made his excuses – sick mother, crowded A&E – and walked out of the meeting before he’d even walked in. The line of disappointed faces had been pleasant to witness, but not diverting enough to let him forget that he was in some kind of shit.

Deirdre bloody Belton.

Fiachra allowed himself one cliché – he put his forehead down on the steering wheel, and groaned.

Then he started the car.

He’d think of something.

He already had.

He broke the law. He texted as he drove. What colour Jacob eyes? X

He deleted the X and fired it off to Deirdre.


Mary listened.

She was in the car, also breaking the law, holding the phone to her ear as she took a right. That feeling – her career, falling away from under her – increased as she listened and turned. She nearly went off the road, onto the path and into a Spar.

She braked, parked, and found the phone under her seat. Her contact in the HSE had hung up.

They’d been too late. The Belton-Murphy’s hadn’t been at home. And Mary knew where she’d find them. They’d be at her house by now.

But they wouldn’t find Jacob. They wouldn’t find anything.


If the team had managed to get him away, before the Belton-Murphys arrived at the door.

She hated that pair.

She started the car, got back onto the road.

She hated them. She’d only met them a few times, at school things – the nativity play, like, and the summer fair – and she’d picked Marcie up from a birthday party at their house once. But she knew Deirdre would never have remembered her. The self-satisfied bitch. Mary had been fighting the Deirdres of this world all her life.

And, today, they were winning.

She examined the road ahead. She’d been in a bit of a daze. She knew where she was going. A Big Mac would sort her out. The salt, the sugar, the cow – and a shake. Then she’d be able to think again and she’d get back in front of the Deirdres.


Fiachra arrived just as they got to the front door of Mary and Marcie’s house.

Conor watched him climb out of his Corsa. He’d put on a few pounds. Conor couldn’t remember why Fiachra had been at the wedding in the first place. But he saw him now and, and even though Fiachra was there to save the day, he felt the urge to give him a dig.

He went back down the path, to meet him.



The kids were still in the back of the car.

–Listen, said Conor. –Just so you know. If I’d seen you put your hand on my wife’s –

–For Christ’s sake, Conor, said Deirdre. –Grow up. Hi, Fiachra.

She slid between the two men and let Fiachra kiss each cheek. He even put his hand on her back.

–How are the starving millions, Fiachra? said Conor.

–Conor – stop that, this minute.

–They’re grand, Conor, said Fiachra. –They’re your only man in a recession.

–Cynical prick.


–Okay, okay.

Fiachra clapped his hands together, rubbed them, and looked at the house.

–What have we here, Dee? he asked.

–We think Jacob’s in there, said Deirdre. –Did you get my text?

–I did, I did. Brown, brown, brown.

He kept looking at the house – he wasn’t sure why. He couldn’t believe his luck. He knew exactly where he was. He’d been in the kitchen behind that door a few nights before, pretending to be drunk, listening to Mary from the Department trying to sound sober, blithering on about brown eyes and blue eyes.

–Right, he said. –Right, right.

He looked at Deirdre, then Conor.


He pointed at the carful of daughters.


Deirdre nodded.

–This is huge, said Fiachra.



© Roddy Doyle 2014

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