BONE IDOL [bohn ahyd-l]
noun Chiefly1. a person from the Oldpark, known as “The Bone”, with aspirations of a career in the arts or above their socio-economic station.
PAULIE HAD TO move school during Primary Three thanks to his parents splitting up. One day he was in class, the following day he was missing and our PE teacher was sporting a black-eye. They’d move house to something smaller and more affordable for his beautiful mother but not just yet, it took a while for the old place to sell. He’d live a few streets away in a new apartment complex so we could still hang out but he had trained our group of friends too well. At the slightest wobble two in particular sensed weakness and made a play for leader of the gang, Paulie barely put up a fight.
A lot of the older kids in the neighbourhood promised, each time they saw him, that the next time they were round at the apartments they were going to fuck his mum good and proper. It would turn his skin red and send him swinging digs towards them. I agreed with them and wanted to tell him that I considered our friendship important and hoped that it would mean he wouldn’t mind if I fucked her first but I thought twice about it when he caught a sixteen year old on the nose and covered both their shirts in claret. They still said things about his mum after that only it was no longer to his eight year old face.
The new family that moved into Paulie’s house was a husband, wife and two daughters. I had promised myself out of loyalty to Paulie that I would hate them all and not be behind the door in demonstrating it. The two kids were incredibly ginger, so ginger they made our friend Ginge (Marty) look like a tanned Adonis. The dad was little better. He had red hair that was beginning to look a little like auburn straw as it thinned to reveal the shape of his head in well lit areas but he was a good guy. When my mum finally purchased a VHS player he called to the house and tuned in all the television channels on it and showed me how to operate the remote.
“So what’s a kid like you doing sitting indoors watching videos?” he’d ask.
“I play out loads, I want to be able to tape Kolchak the Nightstalker and my dad’s movies.”
“Well that’s something then.”
Teresa had gotten bigger. On top of her mental disability she had some sort of physical condition that meant her body didn’t interpret the message to stop growing. Her two brothers were younger than her but both seemed to be touched with the same physical explosion towards the sky. Teresa dirty hole had stopped being funny so the kids just yanked on her ponytail which now swept at the street. I sat on the porch with my sketchpad and watched as a new group of young ones that included my brother Jeff took turns in tormenting her and belittling her for the sake of getting a chase.
“Stop it! Stop it!” she screamed swinging large shovel-like hands at the small children.
“Teresa dick breath!” roared one of Jeff’s friends.
I laughed at that one, it was a funny image.
Paulie called to my house with Malachy. Malachy had a harelip and when he said his own name it sounded like he was saying ‘Malarkey’. He also had a wonky leg making him a risk when we were off exploring, something we didn’t want to get caught doing. The rest of the kids called him “Sixty-Six” because of the fact that when they tried to make him say Sixty-six silly sausages it sounded hilarious. I wondered when anyone would ever need to say something so fucking stupid but the name stuck. Paulie used to only call for Sixty-Six when he was bored but now since we’d broken away from the gang me, him and Sixty-Six were like the three musketeers. I liked that idea. I would be the one my dad played.
“What are you doing?”
“I didn’t know you were left handed.”
“I am.” I said.
“Me and Sixty-Six are going down to the forest, we heard there’s a house at the other side filled with bin bags full of money.”
“That sounds like bullshit to me.”
It was our generation’s Nigerian lottery win and even at a young age I hadn’t really fallen for it.
“It’s not, it’s true!” Sixty-Six replied spraying us both on his S’s.
“That’s shit. It’s stuff ones like your brother says so that when we go down there they bust our asses for whatever money we have on us.”
“Maybe,” offered Paulie “but maybe it’s not. Maybe the house is coming down with money. You want to be the one that got left out so you could sit here and watch Dirty Hole beat up five year olds?”
“Let me get my coat.”
Mum was on the phone with someone in the kitchen. She was using her secret phone voice so I knew something was up. It wasn’t any of our birthdays coming up and it was too early for Christmas so I figured it had something to do with Dad. I grabbed my coat from my room and soft-stepped it back downstairs and out the door with Paulie and Sixty-Six.
The field was like a swamp, the ground unstable and the grass was overgrown. Sixty-Six lost a shoe right out of nowhere. One moment he was limping along the next his foot was soaking wet and we couldn’t find it. He muttered something about going home but Paulie correctly pointed out that I had come along for the same reason he should stay.
“You go home Sixty-Six and you’ll get nothing you hear me? It’ll be split between me and Doug, do you really want that?”
He shook his head and we ploughed on.
We reached the forest as the sun began to slip from the sky. From my bedroom window the tire swing seemed to be the furthest point possible to travel but yet here we were about to pass it surrounded by empty cans of Tenants and skin magazines. The unclothed women plastered across each page excited us all but the magazines were little more than a collection of badly weathered pages; any attempt to move them from their environment would lead to their beauty being lost to the world forever. We’d have to settle for committing as many top pages to memory before pushing on. The forest cleared eventually, though now it was almost as dark outside the woods as it was inside. A duel carriageway was all that stood between us and either a house full of money or a ball-beating from a lot of drunken teenagers. Either way. The only way to know for sure was to look straight ahead and run as fast as your legs would carry you. I had taken part in a couple of school sports days winning a few sprints and considered myself powerful in the legs. I feared for Sixty-Six. The oncoming traffic was fast and indiscriminating; he’d be cut down for sure. There was a momentary break thanks to a red light which set Sixty-Six off like a shot, Paulie sprinted after him and caught him easily. He tried to wrestle Sixty-Six to the ground in order for the two of them to play chicken with the traffic but he was too powerful for Paulie and shrugged him off. I started running as the lights turned green and caught up with Paulie as we raced for the imaginary tape on the other side. We both left Sixty-Six eating our dust as blasts from a multitude of vehicles swore at him to get off the fucking road. He’d reach safety by a hare’s breath – had he been two pounds heavier he would have had his ass taken off him by a big rig.
Sliding down the embankment we landed in a sod covered heap at the steps of the money house. I got to my feet and helped Sixty-Six up before the three of us marched purposefully towards our ill-gotten fortune. The house was blind, all the windows boarded up and the wood had been well worn by at least two good winters. The front door had a steel sheet bolted to the frame making it impenetrable.
“You see that door?” asked Paulie “Would hardly go to all that hassle for no reason, right?”
“How’d you reckon we’re going to get in?” asked Sixty-Six
I was already halfway round the back of the house when Paulie answered him. If there was anything in that place worth money I was sure to be getting my hands on it. Money had been tight since we moved to Poleglass. Mum wasn’t able to work because it cost more money to have someone look after three kids during the summer than she could make and most nights involved her pretending she had already had dinner because there was only enough in the house for three small mouths. That money was going to be mine, fuck those older kids.
The back window’s boarding had been pulled away so frequently that it flapped limply in the wind. I pulled it to one side and climbed into the dark, piss stinking abyss. The house was cold and frighteningly quiet. Paulie and Sixty-Six climbed in behind me and we checked our way through all the cupboards and shelves on the ground level before climbing the stairs. The house was a damp wreck. The stairs swayed from left to right and back again as three kids ascended them to the first floor but there was nothing there either. Several of the steps on the stairs to the second floor were missing and when we got to the top I knew we weren’t alone. Groaning and coughing reminded me of Saturday mornings as a voice growled from a masked far room.
“What the fuck are you punks doing here?”
“We’re here for the money.” I answered.
“Oh the money, yeah the money’s in here boys.”
“Throw it out!” dictated Paulie.
“No I don’t think so, you boys want it come in and get it!”
Paulie pushed Sixty-Six forward.
“Go get it Sixty-Six.”
“Because you’re strong as a Hulk.”
Sixty-Six inched forward, he was on the verge of the doorway and the endless darkness of the money room when an old figure jumped out and grabbed him. The man was dirty from head to toe, covered in ground-on mud and track marks. He was skinny, his ribs sat out like a xylophone on his naked body as he pressed his wiry arms out, grabbed Sixty-Six and began pulling him into the nothingness. Paulie and I charged forward grabbing an arm each and pulling back on Sixty-Six causing him to lose his other shoe as the naked old pervert fell to the ground and grabbed a hold of the kids wonky foot. Running towards the scrambling hobo I flung a boot into his face and he scuttled back into his nest. Sixty-Six leapt to his feet with a level of agility I’d never seen in him before and the three of us charged down the two flights of stairs bringing down slabs of plaster from the wall as the stairwell swung severely from the supporting wall. We hit ground level and rushed to our exit.
When we made it home that night Paulie’s mum was camped out in my living room with mine and the rest of the women in the neighbourhood. They had sent their husbands out searching in the pitch black of night for the three little troublemakers of Laurelbank. I barely had a moment to savour Paulie’s mum’s beautifully firm buttocks, encased in denim and planted squarely on my couch before I was pointed towards the stairs. In the morning we’d be in a position where our parents had finally stopped yelling at us long enough to tell them about the naked old hobo who tried to pecker Sixty-Six.
are you making this up?” Mum asked “Because this is very serious.”
“I swear Mum, he was staying in the house and he tried to grab Malachy.”
“Leave it to me.”
That was the last on the matter. Later that day I came home to find three men in leather jackets sitting in my kitchen with my mum leading the conversation which stopped as I entered the room. I was sent to my room which Jeff had been rummaging around and had managed to find and partially destroy my A-Team van which I cherished. It led to another swinging match, mutual bruised lips and all on the eve of our school photograph day.
I can’t remember how long it was after the money house rape attempt but I sat by my window drawing and looked up to remind myself of what the old house looked like before I tried to lay it down on snow white A4 only for it to not be there.
I’d tell Paulie all about how the house was no longer there as he couldn’t see it from any of the windows in his apartment. He’d stare into the air for a moment as though he was waiting for the wind to confirm what I’d relayed to him before blinking three times.
“You know what they’ve done don’t you Doug?”
“And what’s that Paulie?”
“We got too damn close and they’ve moved the money, we might never find it again.”
“Hey Sixty-Six, come tell that joke you know!” screamed Richard McCluskey.
Paulie had been coming around less and less recently. Me and Sixty-Six had found ourselves hanging out with a load of older boys. There was even a couple of girls in the group. Fiona McCluskey was Richard’s sister and had the face of an angel; she was in my class in St. Kieran’s though I had never dared to speak to her. When I started hanging around with her older brother she’d say hello in the corridor and every once and a while she would come play with us all and send me goofy.
We’d been playing in Richard’s backyard for a couple of hours. His old man supplied hay and the like to farmers all over
and had a large
silo reaching out beyond his property where he kept it all. Richard had piled up ten stacks and convinced
everyone it would be aces if we all jumped out of his bathroom window on to the
bales. I stood by the bathroom door
waiting my turn to climb over the green sink and out the window. I tried ignoring the frilly little panties
that could only belong to Fiona as they hung on the radiator drying. I wanted to own them more than anything I had
ever seen in Leisure World; I wasn’t too sure why and worried that it made me
what my dad called funny. Northern Ireland
“Sixty! Come over here and tell that joke!”
I pulled myself over the sink and out on to the window ledge looking down at the hill of hay that lay below ready and willing to catch me. I wished goodbye to Fiona’s panties and the little buns they usually wrapped themselves around and pushed myself out off the ledge, off the house and towards the absent arms of gravity. I hit the hay moments later, unsure of whether I had broken anything or not. Another kid landed beside me near breaking my neck with his dropping leg. Rolling off the hay I looked up towards the window and the sight of Jeff. Richard also had a younger brother, Charlie, who was probably why my baby brother was about to chuck himself from a twenty-five foot drop.
“Hey Doug, come here a minute and hear this joke Sixty-Six knows.” requested Richard.
I watched Jeff land and roll, he seemed ok. I walked over to Richard who was smoking one of his dad’s cigars. It almost completely masked his face it was so large. Inside one of our friends had started scratching with Richard’s dad’s Black Sabbath LPs and I knew that was going to lead to a beating being put on someone.
“So what’s this joke then Sixty?” I asked.
“Tell him Sixty, tell him it…” Richard insisted impatiently.
“So there’s this kid called Buckerharder…”
“What sort of stupid name is Buckerharder?”
“Will you fuck up and listen to the joke, continue Sixty…”
“Right, so there’s this kid called Buckerharder and every day he walks home from school, goes to his room and pretends he’s kissing his girlfriend…”
I figured if I went upstairs again I’d grab a feel of Fiona’s panties for sure.
Sixty-Six starts groping the air and pretending he has a girl locked to his lips. He looks stupider than usual.
“And every day his mum comes home after work and yells Buckerharder! Buckerharder! Get downstairs and eat your dinner! And every day Buckerharder finishes off sticking it to his fake girlfriend and goes downstairs and eats his dinner.”
Richard is laughing and nudging people who agree it’s funny already.
“So one day Buckerharder is walking home from school and there’s this big blonde girl with a big hairy pussy standing on the street corner bent over with hunger.”
Richard’s bent over too, only he’s in fits of laughter.
“The blonde says Hey kid I’m starving you got any food on you? And Buckerharder says I don’t but I’m going home to practice kissing in my room and then my mum’s making me dinner so the blonde says Well if you bring me home I’ll kiss you for real, I’ll suck your dick and let you fuck my pussy for as long as you want, as long as I can have some dinner. So Buckerharder thinks about it for a moment and then says Yeah, my mum makes too much anyway and your pussy looks pretty fuckable. So Buckerharder takes her home, takes her upstairs and starts kissing her.”
Sixty-Six tongue flicks the air as he begins running his hands up and down in front of him.
“Then he undoes her bra and begins sucking on her titties.”
Fiona catches me looking at her when Sixty-Six said titties and I start turning red from the collar up.
“Then she drops to the ground,” Sixty-Six drops to the ground “and starts sucking his cock. Then he picks her up turns her over and starts riding the life out of her.”
Richard is close to pissing himself by this stage. If awkwardness was deadly we all would have dropped stone cold.
“You guys ought to tell your folks this joke, they’ll love it!” he said slapping his leg.
“Next thing you know Mum comes home and starts yelling Buckerharder! Buckerharder! No answer, so she walks to the bottom of the stairs slams her hand on the banister and yells Buckerharderrrrrrr! And he screams back I’m trying Mum, I’m trying but if I buck her any harder I’ll get my balls stuck!”
Richard collapses on to the ground. Two or three of the other guys pretend to laugh but it doesn’t even reach their eyes. Sixty-Six looks at me; I shrug my shoulders and go back upstairs to jump out the bathroom window.
Richard’s dad came home and threw everyone out. Richard’s friend had scratched through his dad’s copy of Black Mass and drank three of his beers for which Richard was getting an ass whooping. I walked home with Sixty-Six and Jeff trying not to think about the panties Fiona wears, or the toilet she sits on, or the bath she bathes in.
“Can I ask you something Sixty?”
“That joke you told, the one about Buckerharder…” I paused for a moment, I felt vulnerable.
“What about it?”
“I don’t get it.”
“Me neither, my brother told me it and they all seem to find it really funny when I tell it with all the actions.”
“You see Fiona’s pants?”
“Doesn’t matter, night Sixty!” I waved as Jeff and I got dragged into the house.
The living room was in darkness, not even the TV played. Mum stood in the doorway smoking a cigarette as our neighbour Ronan made himself her favourite person by fixing the electrics which had burnt out. The house was recently built but whatever they had managed to do with the electrics meant that the system overloaded quite easily.
“I think it might be the transformer Ruth, but if I’m honest I’m not one hundred percent.” came a voice from the downward-facing-spark.
“What’s going down, Mum?”
“Going down? No more American TV for you.”
“What’s Ronan doing?” I asked, correcting myself in the hope she’d forget her threat.
“Electrics have gone again. Ronan’s lending us a hand, would you like a cup of tea Ronan?”
“Milk, three sugars Ruth-love that’d be wonderful.”
Mum disappeared into the kitchen to make a cup of tea on the gas hob, Ronan wriggled around a little more before the house woke up and everything began screaming again. The TV started playing the football highlights, every light in the house sprang into life and the washing machine started up again. Upstairs I could hear
Tara singing along to some terrible music with one of her
Ronan sat at the head of the kitchen table sipping down a cup of tea and eating a sandwich. It had been years since there was a man of the house that wasn’t me. It felt good to take the night off. I sat beside him drinking a cup, much to the old lady’s amazement.
“So Mum,” I said with a slurp “there’s this kid called Buckerharder right…”
My face met with the palm of her hand as a crash of searing pain shot through my cheek.
“Don’t you use that kind of language…”
My lip trembled; my eyes began to drown under their own moisture. I felt angry with her. She had embarrassed me in front of another guy. I got up from the chair lifting my half empty cup of tea and threw it at the kitchen window. What chance did I stand? It exploded into a hundred pieces cracking and distorting the picturesque reflection that sat in it moments earlier. Mum flinched.
“You didn’t have to fucking hit me!” I screamed “How was I to know you don’t like fucking jokes!”
I ran upstairs to my room as another hand came down to slam thunder across my body. Banging the door Jeff leapt up from his bed.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Fuck up Jeff,” I cried “nobody even asked you anything!”
I threw myself under the cover, kicking out all the books I had piled up in and around my bed. I was furious and yet sad. There was a knock of the door and I tried holding my breath until whoever it was went away but another knock came and then I heard the squeak of the hinge as the door relaxed closed again.
“You there buddy?” it was Ronan, relief.
I grunted and then felt the pressure of his man-sized frame push down on the corner of my bed. Pulling the cover down from over my head I wiped the remains of the salt water from my eyes.
“So this kid called Buckerharder huh?” he said with a smile.
“Do you find that joke funny?”
I shook my head.
“Do you know why your mum wouldn’t have found it funny?”
I shook my head again before breaking eye contact.
“Do you know my kids Douglas?”
“I got two girls, and if you count the wife that makes three girls…even the cat’s a god-damn girl. I’m completely outnumbered. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what that’s like, you must have felt that before your brother Jeff came along. A man needs male company sometimes, you know?”
I nodded even though I wasn’t entirely sure what he was getting at.
“I thought maybe me and you could hang-out some, maybe go fishing or ride our bikes along the forest trail.”
“I don’t know how to ride a bike.”
“You don’t know how to ride a bike?”
“I haven’t had a bike. I mean I had a Spiderman bike when I was a kid but my dad had to give it to Gandhi.”
“Well,” Ronan said, digesting the imagery “if you want to learn how to ride a bike I know a guy who can get us an old bike. We could fix her up over the summer, get it up to riding standard and get you out on the road. You fancy that?”
“That sounds cool. Would it be like Easy Rider?”
“How do you know about Easy Rider?”
“The video man. When he comes around on Friday I get movies from him, I get him to put the good ones in covers for stupid kid’s cartoons so Mum won’t take them off me.”
“What else have you watched?”
“Mainly action movies. I’ve watched Commando, me and Paulie play Commando all the time out in the field. Other than that I watch movies my dad makes.”
“Your dad makes movies?”
“Sure does. I watched one were he’s wrestling with another guy in front of a fire, I didn’t like it much so I stopped watching.”
“You like Alf?” he asked.
“Me too kid. How about me and you start watching Alf together. My kids don’t like Alf… you know, cos of them being girls and stuff.”
“I’ll watch Alf with you.”
“Cool, very cool Doug. So I’ll drop in this Saturday and we can watch Alf and plan out our bike trek like men, sound good?”
I nodded. I was fit to bust with the amount of Bromance that was taking place, even with Jeff sitting on his bed watching like a little blonde gooseberry.
“That’s aces Doug. You got to do one thing for me though.”
“Name it!”“You’ve got to go downstairs and say sorry to your mum. That joke isn’t the kind of thing you tell ladies and now there’s bits of cup and tea everywhere and that ain’t cool.”
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