Last night we had the January gathering of the Sunflower Sessions in Dublin. It was also the official launch of the second issue of Flare, currently available from Books Upstairs.
And it was an ideal opportunity to announce the Dublin launch of Talkin’ Squirrel Blues, taking place on 6 April at the Irish Writers Centre on Parnell Square.
I did a short reading last night. Much to my delight, I was introduced as a “familiar face”!
In keeping with the squirrel theme, I decided to read a flash piece based on Floyd, the squirrel hero from the novel. I introduced the novel as a combination of Flann O’Brien and Muddy Waters. Ahem!
Anyway, here for your reading pleasure is the piece that I read.
Talkin’ Squirrel Blues
The sun shone on Cartright Road as Moses made his reluctant way to work. Turning the corner into Cartright Road always felt like turning the corner into another world. It was Dublin’s suburbia at its most paranoid. The lawns were always perfectly presentable and the residents’ minor misdemeanours were always perfectly hidden.
Suddenly, something rustled in one of the hedges.
A small furry creature jumped out in front of Moses.
A squirrel! Moses exclaimed to himself. I thought they executed rodents by lethal injection on this road.
For a few fuzzy seconds, Moses thought that the squirrel was actually smiling at him.
The squirrel scurried down the road.
Moses gazed after the squirrel. It was the friendliest, most lovable little creature he’d ever seen. He could imagine taming it, taking it home as a pet. He even pictured himself talking to it in the evening.
Moses was still thinking about squirrel as he settled into his breakfast at the work canteen.
“I saw a squirrel walking into work today,” he declared, shuddering as the coffee slithered down his throat.
“Listen to Moses,” his colleague Lydia sniggered. “He saw a squirrel walking into work! Don’t you know where to place your modifiers?”
“I know where I’d like to shove them!” Moses snapped back.
“You saw a squirrel when you were walking into work,” Lydia explained. “The squirrel wasn’t walking into work, was he? Was he wearing a little suit? Or is it dress-down day in his company?”
Moses sulked in silence, realising that today he obviously preferred the company of rodents.
Two days later, a wretchedly hungover Moses was trudging slowly to work. As he entered Cartright Road, the air was as silent as death.
That was when Moses heard the rustling in the bush.
The squirrel bounded out and landed on the pavement.
Moses’s heart leapt with joy, for about a second.
The squirrel stood still, surveying the scene.
Moses stared at the squirrel and became convinced that, somewhere in the course of his walk, he had gone completely insane.
The squirrel looked different this morning.
I saw a squirrel walking into work today.
The squirrel was wearing a little navy-blue three-piece suit and a bright red shirt, with a pink-and-black tie. It had shiny black leather shoes with grey laces on its feet. Perched rakishly on its head sat a yellow baseball cap.
The squirrel gave a puzzled grunt and looked around. When it saw Moses, its face broke into an eager smile.
“Hiya, Moses!” it chirped. “What’s the story?”
Moses nervously looked up and down the road, hoping to see a film crew.
“You know,” the squirrel said, frowning with sudden concern, “you don’t look the Mae West. In fact, if I may say so, I’ve got decomposed relatives who look better than you. You need to lighten up, bud. Nobody likes a martyr. That’s why all martyrs end up getting killed.”
“Actually,” Moses admitted, kissing goodbye to his sanity, “I feel absolutely terrible. I hate to be rude, but I’m afraid I don’t recognise you.”
“Floyd!” The squirrel extended its paw. “The name’s Floyd.”
Moses gingerly stooped down and shook the squirrel’s paw.
“Hello, Floyd.” The squirrel’s paw felt real enough. Moses wasn’t sure that that was an entirely good sign.
The squirrel looked at its watch – a gold watch, no less – and let out a little yelp.
“Listen, Moses, I’m going to have to shoot.”
And with that, the squirrel sashayed into one of the bushes.
Moses carefully stood up.
Cartright Road continued to sternly gaze at him in silence.
Many thanks to Éamon Mag Uidhir and Declan McLoughlin for giving me the opportunity to perform again.
Don’t forget to buy a copy of Flare next time you’re in the city centre!
See you at the IWC on 6 April…