“Laffey Minor” by Seamus Scanlon
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
by Seamus Scanlon
Lynch’s Window, Cemetery Hill Road, Galway City, Ireland
The new teacher, Mister Moran, was on an exchange program from New York. Our school was a nickname maelstrom—Ghoul, Moose, Bull, Scab, Pox-face, Arse-brain. He was Moron straight off. He got off easy. You should have seen him.
How he picked Galway and the Bish was a mystery. Our school was the toughest in the Western Hemisphere, and Galway can have serious undertows.
Moron was fine-tuned to the art of culling the runt of the herd, diverting hyenas away from himself. He started his first class by picking on the most vulnerable specimen in the room apart from himself: me, Laffey.
I had a skeletal frame, a full-metal stammer, a foul clubfoot, and one blue-green eye care of amateur archery practice in our backyard. Laffey Major ran out of the house, flicking away his cigarette, and pulled the deep arrow free. My eye fell out, attached to the optic nerve and tendrils of tissue. Blood and vitreous liquids squirted onto the tainted ground. He did the most damage, as usual.
Get in the house you fucken eejit!
Everyone has childhood crosses to bear, I suppose.
What’s your name? Moron asked me.
Silence abounded in the classroom. Seagulls shrieked outside, diving into the stagnant black water of the canal.
He doesn’t talk, someone said.
Is that so? Has the ca..ca..ca..ca..cat got your tongue then?
Moron beamed in delight.
He definitely doesn’t like cats, someone said.
Laughter exploded across the classroom. Moron looked around, puzzled.
I was shaking like an hour-old foal. Sweat cascaded off me.
Moron studied me with new interest.
So you’re a Laffey? I thought they were supposed to be ‘wild and dangerous.’ He mimicked an expression of mock terror. I’m from the Bronx, Laughing Boy—that’s dangerous.
Everyone was terrified of the Laffeys—even me, and I was one of them. They were into abduction, assault and battery, arson, arsing-around, breaking and entering, guns and ammunition, involuntary manslaughter, mugging, smuggling, driving without insurance, driving without the knowledge of the owner, driving with the owner tied up in the backseat.
Sit down outta my sight!
Moron read his notes.
So Lynch’s Window is where the mayor of Galway hanged his own son to prove his impartiality? That’s not the American way!
Lynch’s Window was an arrow flight away from the Bish. Every day we passed the Window, the medieval skull and crossbones carved above the lintel, looking down on the city and us.
Such junk! Tonight write 750 words on ‘Lynch’s Window is an Urban Myth!’ It’s kinda like the ‘Laffey’ threat that way.
Last gasp flies brushed against the ceiling-high glass. Thirty boys, drowsy from the trapped heat of the late-September sun, looked over at me. I looked back with what I had.
After school, I limped after Moron. Grey Galway evening shadows sheltered me. Nuns Island, Dominick Street, Sea Road, Palmyra Avenue. Moron stopped and fumbled for his keys. My flawed foot ached.
A sudden-onset heavy mist from the sea-bound River Corrib shrouded me as I walked home up Cemetery Hill Road, its surface slick with rain and fallen leaves. Rooks watched me from the black tree line. The backyard of Laffey Land was stained with oil and diesel purged from sundered JCBs, trucks, cars, tractors and motorbikes. We had medieval siege-laying tendencies. We had constructed battering rams, pulleys, crucifixes (don’t ask), and catapults; we fired broken paving stones, bricks, bones, bottles, tins of beans, and pregnant cats into the surrounding streets. The bleached skulls of 500 cats were on poles all over the yard. The Laffeys hated cats. Galway was a cat-free zone.
Laffey Major watched me from the backdoor.
He hated me madly.
He wanted to cull me badly. Another one.
He smoked Major (I know!) all day. If he had cut back before I was conceived, I would have missed the Black 47–chic physique, the gyrating gait, the flawed palate.
I gathered some equipment, loaded one of the hundreds of supermarket trolleys we had stolen from Dunnes Stores, and shuffled off down Cemetery Hill Road. The darkness sheltered me.
Next morning, school was cancelled. Galway Bay FM led with the news:
Newly arrived exchange teacher found hanging from Lynch’s Window. Gardaí baffled by how he scaled the sheer, thirty-foot wall. And today’s other headlines: Galway United beaten again; supermarket trolley shortage reaching crisis proportions; Aladdin playing all week at the Town Hall; live cat found in Bohermore.
SEAMUS SCANLON is from Galway, Ireland and currently lives in New York. He writes memoir fiction and plays often underpinned by the trauma and subsequent fallout of childhood violence. He does not write romantic comedies! He was a 2012 Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction in New York and a 2012 MacDowell Fellow. His recent collection, As Close As You’ll Ever Be, was selected as one of the best short story collections of 2012 by Library Journal and will be published in Spanish in November 2013. He won the 2011 Fish Publishing Flash Fiction (One Page) Story contest, and was a runner-up in the 2012 Short Memoir contest. In December 2009, he won the prestigious Carnegie Corporation/New York Times ‘I Love My Librarian!’ Award from a nationwide field. He works at City College’s Center for Worker Education.
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected] Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jul 15, 2013
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