So there I was. Wednesday night. Clock about to strike another ungodly hour. Finger tips numb from a writing frenzy.
My doorbell hardly rings during the day. It has fallen more and more silent as the years drifted by. So why now in the middle of the night?
After I cleared my throat of the annoyance, I made my way down to answer the door. It was Sonny with a friend.
'We didn't think you'd be up,' he said, brushing past me into the house. The smell of alcohol and cheap perfume made their way into my nose as they swept past. I won't go into how Sonny smelled.
I hadn't seen him since the night he stayed over. I'd assumed he got things sorted at home. I assumed wrong - not for the first time in Booker's World.
'So who's your friend?' I asked, as i followed them into the sitting room where they took no time taking position on the sofa.
'Sorry,' Sonny said. 'This is April, we met down the pub.' April? You wouldn't write it!
She smiled nervously at me. Thin as a wisp, her chin touched her shoulder like the shy. She was missing a tooth. Front and center, along the bottom gum. Her hair long and straight. She belonged on a Californian Beach. Without the missing tooth. Not hanging out of Ireland's last great Ray of Hope, Sonny feckin' Strange.
'I'll fill you in tomorrow,' Sonny said, winking me out of the room. I should have stood my ground and not have been so compliant. It is my house. I left them to it. Compliance. I'm used to it at this stage. It must be an Irish thing.
Needless to say the writing frenzy was over. I returned to the attic and tried to sleep. The laughter bellowed from downstairs, before eventually going quiet. I watched the moon, almost full, make its cycle past my attic window, disappearing at times as the clouds swallowed her, before re-appearing again until it disappeared out of sight.
I eventually fell asleep. I slept like Mitt Romney has in recent days, I expect. Soundly. I didn't wake until I heard the door downstairs close over. I jumped up and dressed quickly. I went downstairs. They were gone. I went into the kitchen. It was 10.30. No note. No thank-you. No explanation. Nothing. Just a freezing morning. Like winter was back.
I'm not sure if this happens to other people or not. You know, when you hear about something or someone for the first time, and then within days you hear of it or them again. No?
What about a piece of music you haven't heard for years suddenly cropping up again. And then again soon after. No?
Maybe it's just me.
Anyway, there I was the next night. Tapping away again. Not quite so late. My heroine is beginning to come together. Half American - Half Iranian. She's just taken out one of societies underbelly, when -
I couldn't be having this. I wasn't running a half-way house. Had people no consideration for failed writers and the hours they keep. No. I wasn't having this.
I made my way downstairs. Running. Bringing words forth from my vocal cords just as my hands touched the door.
'What the fu...' I began. Brakes on vocal cords.
'Expecting someone?' asked Amanda - Sonny's wife. Wrapped in an anorak that obviously wasn't hers.
'No,' I said.
'Is Sonny here?' she asked.
'No,' I said. Her arms folded a little tighter as the temperature outside hovered near zero.
'Have you seen him?' she asked.
'No.' I said. She looked at me. 'Not since last weekend,' I lied.
What was I supposed to do? Say he was here last night! I invited her in. We went through to the kitchen. I put on the kettle and wished I was a praying man and hoped that Sonny didn't arrive back.
She sat there for nearly an hour, spilling her guts. Chain-smoking. She admitted her recent affair - not that I asked. I almost expected her to say, 'It's what I do.' But she didn't.
She said she was worried for Sonny. That he was popping in and out to change clothes, but that was all she saw of him. What did she expect?
'He won't talk to anyone,' she said. She told me Sonny had been like this long before he found out about her latest martial misdemeanor.
Oh, I didn't know that.
'He's gone past caring about anything,' she said.
I've only known Sonny a short time. I had to agree with Amanda. The Sonny I met first-time out, was not the Sonny that I knew now. He had tried to get things moving for us in a few ways. For a few months. Until he realized it was no good. Until he stopped believing that shit he was selling himself. Until he realized that Ireland was screwed. Anyway you looked at it.
It's not like I didn't try to tell him. I'm sure I told him at least a dozen times that if it was not for bad luck, Don Booker would have no luck.
'Luck's what you make it,' I believe he quoted from someone. How I could laugh now - alas, it's not inside me. Must be the time of the year.
Sonny headed to Dame St. after he finally copped on it was all a pipe-dream, and that becoming a motivational guru was not going to cut it in a country in decline. Every time I'd seen him since, he's a little further away from that breezy version of Sonny I'd met first.
'If you see him, tell him to come home,' she said, stubbing out another cigarette and getting to her feet.
I nodded. She smiled.
'I knew your friend, Leon,' she said, catching me by surprise. A lot of people knew Leon.
'Did you?' I said.
'Never would have thought,' she said, the corner of her lips tightening somewhat.
Never would have thought, or never took the time to think, I asked myself as I followed her to the door.
'Just tell him to come home if you see him,' she said, putting the anorak hood on to cover her head. 'I'm worried about him.'
'If I see him...' I said, as I closed the door over.
I didn't feel much like sleeping so I went into the kitchen and made a big fry-up before wrestling with words until well into the morning. I slept like Romney again, dreaming of government ministers granting meetings to Michael Lowry, while tenants of rogue developments were not granted the same privilege.
I was dreaming. But there was no door.
No way. Three nights on the trot. This was too much. I stumbled down the stairs still half- asleep. I opened the door. Who the hell was it this time?
Gustav. With a rather large bottle of vodka.
'Happy, Good Friday,' he said, not waiting for the invite to enter. At least it was a reasonable hour. It was only 9-30 in the evening.
I needed to eat, so as Gustav rummaged through my meager selection of TV channels, I delved into one of Leon's old recipes for the man on the run.
Fish Fingers Ala curry sauce with rice. Fried egg on top. Pepper. It was enough to numb the hunger pangs and line whatever needed lining for the bottle ahead.
'I do not understand why the pubs are closed today,' Gustav said, as we tucked into a few Vodkatae's, before dispensing with the tae for a more honest, white and raw, stomach-burning approach.
I wasn't absolutely positive of the answer, so I didn't give him one. Conversation can be like that at times with Gustav. I'm sure it has something to do with the church and the day that was in it, but I'd become engrossed in documentaries about different tribes of people scattered all over the world. People who have never seen a material thing in their lives. They certainly haven't heard the word 'bailout' and that's for sure. It was another world.
It's a small box I live in. Wish I'd seen more of the world. Might have made it further than a mountain top in Mayo then! Might have suited me better. A bit of wanderlust. Might have opened my eyes a little more to things a lot earlier.
We don't have real problems up this side of the world really. Not in comparison. Things pale into insignificance when you see children hunt spiders in tropical rainforest's, before toasting them for supper.
Or hunters, who's only means of meat is stealing it from the hungry mouths of a pride of lions. Or a man climbing a forty foot tree with nothing more than a vine and an axe for company to raid a bees nest, so his family can have all the sugary delights of the honey. Or a village coming together to build the mother of all tree houses. One big enough to house them all. Using nothing, but the raw material around them and a little thing the narrator, John Hurt, called ingenuity.
I doubt adrenalin like that exists in the real world either.
Gustav dropped off as the bottle caved to emptiness as usual. Another dosser in my house. Not that I minded. Can't be easy being away from his own at Easter time.
I'm just glad he didn't mention anymore about that Ballinspittle thing he was mulling over. I do love that entrepreneurial spirit in people - I've dabbled when sought - but you have to admit, there's one or two that take it a bit too far, and for no other reason than to profit well from the hard work of others. You know - like the government.
What was Gustav thinking of doing anyway? Building a shrine above on Haunted Hill so people could watch a bud become a leaf.
'Stranger things have happened,' as Leon used to say. I must drop by and see him one of these days. Maybe Monday. After the Masters.