Archive for the 'Rory mentions' Category

Mar 23 2012

Rory Gallagher: Live at the Bridge House!

Published by under Rory mentions

The Bridge House, Canning Town

Every town’s got one. Call it a pub, a bar, a roadhouse, a juke joint, every town has a place where live entertainment rules. A place where the locals come to hear the best bands, where the up and coming musicians hone their skills, develop a fanbase, and hopefully one day land a record deal. It is a place where established musicians come to jam away the hours between tours. Where the crowds cheer on their favourite bands and Proprietors take care of them like they were family. For the London Burrough of Newham, that place was The Bridge House in Canning Town. Named after the old Iron Bridge that spanned the River Lea, the Bridge House became legendary for who played there, the list as long as your arm … and then some.

From 1975 to 1982, the Bridge House, Canning Town, in the East End of London, was the place to be. Heavy metal fans rubbed shoulders with punks, mods, skinheads and goths to watch Iron Maiden, the Tom Robinson Band, Secret Affair, Cockney Rejects and Wasted Youth. The 560-capacity pub is where Dire Straits, U2 and the Stray Cats played their first UK dates, where The Blues Band and Chas & Dave recorded live albums, and where Depeche Mode got signed.–Pierre Perrone, The Independent


Bridge House 1982


Terry Murphy

The proprietor of the Bridge House was a local boxer named Terence Murphy, who had previously run the pub, Rose of Denmark, and then the White Hart before taking over the Bridge House. It was Terry who made the Bridge House into the legend it became. “From Depeche Mode to Dire Straits, from U2 to Chas & Dave, so many music acts that were destined for huge success performed their first gigs at this unassuming and unique place.” In 2007 Terry wrote a book chronicling those times between 1975 and 1982 when he ran the legendary pub. One of the highlights of his time as proprietor of the Bridge House was meeting Irish legend, Rory Gallagher, and in the book he talks about Rory coming down to the Bridge House to jam. The following is an excerpt from his book, The Bridge House, Canning Town — Memories of a Legendary Rock & Roll Hangout. Special thanks to Terry for allowing me to post this on my site.

The Bridge House, Canning Town — Memories of a Legendary Rock & Roll Hangout

RORY GALLAGHER (pp 57 – 63)

When Rory got to hear about us, down he came, but he kept us waiting. ‘Is he or isn’t he going to do a song?’ The last song of the night, up he went, and never came off the stage for two hours, continuing until 1am; and we were meant to close at 11pm! But Rory overruled any laws; if the police had come in, I don’t think they could have stopped him. He was so good, they wouldn’t have wanted to anyway.

Before their next tour, in 1981, Rory Gallagher and his band appeared on stage Live at the Bridge; what a great night! Rory’s brother Donal, his manager, allowed us to advertise the gig and before 8pm the pub was packed with fans from all over Britain and Europe. Donal made a video of the gig at the Bridge. I wonder if he has still got a copy of it. I must try to contact him, as I would love to see it. [*milo: Unfortunately the video along with other memorabilia was stolen from the Gallagher residence years later]


Rory at the Bridge House
Rory at the Bridge House


Rory was born in Ballyshannon in Donegal in 1948, but lived in Cork where his family had a pub. Rory loved it there. Here we had the ordinary fellow at home not the Rock star he was in all parts of the rest of the world. Well, that was his feeling, but to the community, while at home, people would just stand and watch every move he made. There is no other expression for it but ‘hero worship’. In his adopted home town, he was a king.

When he was 15, he left home and joined a show band. He later lived in Belfast where he formed a new band, and so as not to leave a bad taste he called the band Taste. This was the band my good friend Gerry McAvoy was to join. Another friend who was in Taste was Wilgar Campbell, who played drums. [*milo: Terry is actually referring to the first lineup of the Rory Gallagher band with Gerry McAvoy and Wilgar Campbell] …[Wilgar] would later form his own band and play at the Bridge House in a three-piece with Gary Fletcher (guitar) and Dave Kelly as front man, when not working with Paul Jones in his Blues Band.

After Gerry McAvoy introduced me to Rory at the Bridge House, we became good friends. He invited me to all his gigs and I went to most of them, being offered the VIP treatment, with limos, backstage passes, etc. I even got to ride in his helicopter when we got lost at the Gallagher Macroom Festival in Cork.


Rory at Bridge house
Rory at the Bridge House


The Macroom Festival was the very first open-air Rock gig in Ireland. It was held in the grounds of Macroom Castle in the summer of 1977 and what a day/night and day it was.

Gerry and Top Driscoll had popped into the Bridge House for a quiet pint before going on their travels. Gerry had said, ‘You’ve got to come to the festival. Rory would love to see you.’

‘Great!’ I replied. ‘Where is it? Hammersmith Odeon?’

Gerry in his soft Irish voice answered my question saying, ‘Aw, no, no. It’s at Macroom.’

‘Is that outside London?’ I asked.

‘Just a little,’ said Gerry.

Tom cut in: ‘Jesus! It’s in Cork, in southern Ireland!’

We all had a drink and I asked my son Lloyd, who was serving us, ‘ Do you fancy going to Ireland to see Gerry and Rory play?’

I knew he was a big fan of their music so he jumped at the chance. Gerry gave me his hotel number and told me to ring him once we got to Cork.

We arrived in Cork the day before the gig and booked a nice room in a hotel. We met up with Gerry in his hotel and went straight to the bar. The Murphy’s stout was going down a treat so we had a very pleasant evening.

The next morning, we had a tour of Cork in the limo that Rory provided for us. Then we went off to the gig. These cars had special passes to get into the backstage car park, which was kept a secret. The route had been made known only to promoters, the artists and management. If the fans had found out, we wouldn’t have been able to get through the crowds. I believe there was something like 50,000 fans, so there had to be a clandestine entrance.

When we arrived, we went straight to the band’s dressing room. Gerry, Rod De’Ath and Lou Martin were waiting there. Gerry said that Rory would like to see me, and he took me into Rory’s dressing room. Rory was all alone and, when I went in, Gerry left. This surprised me, but this was Rory, a quiet unassuming man, completely different from other Rock stars I have met.

He gave me a drink, I thanked him and said, ‘God bless you, Rory.’

He looked me right in the eye and asked, ‘Do you mean that?’

‘Of course I do!’

‘Let’s prove it.’

So we sat down. I looked at him and said the Lord’s Prayer. After I had finished, he smiled and said, ‘And god bless you, Terry Murphy.’

He asked me where my ancestors had come from and I told him Cork. ‘Ay,’ he said thoughtfully, ‘that’s the reason; we may be related.’

I don’t know what the reason was, I never asked, but it did seem as if he had been thinking about me. Perhaps being older than him, I was the father figure he was looking for.

Gerry came back, so we wished them all good luck and said we would see them after the gig.

There was a special place set up in front of the stage for the guests of the artists. There were other great bands on the show including Status Quo. But everyone was waiting for Rory. Earlier, back in his adopted home town, the crowds had gathered to watch and cheer as he arrived in his helicopter.

Quo at last finished their set. Now, they awaited their ‘god of Rock’ to arrive on stage.

We watched as Tom Driscoll did all the last-minute checks to the onstage equipment. He winked and raised his splayed right hand; five more minutes to wait. The DJ finished his last record and it went deathly quiet. Then there was a screeching of car tyres and seconds later Rory ran on stage.

‘Welcome, Mr. Rory Gallagher,’ shouted the announcer, but nobody heard it.

Rory went straight into ‘Bullfrog Blues’, the perfect start. The gig just went into full throttle, getting better and better, and the fans were going mad.

Standing in front of us was one Johnny Rotten aka John Lydon (of Sex Pistols fame0, along with Bob Geldof of the Boomtown Rats and a publicist I was to meet later, as well as a few other friends of theirs. Lydon had come in with this bucket of urine, and his friend had another one, and they threw it at the band. Me and Lloyd rushed over to stop the second bucket being thrown. The security was quickly there and they were thrown out. Yes, Sir Bob included! Rory was raving, although none of the urine reached him. If it had gone on his guitar or the amps they could have been electrocuted or set alight.

There was a reception after the gig and the newly formed Hot Press was handing out awards to the bands. It was a nice reception. Gerry, Lloyd and me were standing at the bar, when who walks in but Johnny Rotten. As he came bowling up to the bar, Gerry, remembering the earlier incident, said, ‘I’m going to kill him.’

Gerry threw the best right-hander he had ever thrown, but Lloyd blocked it and I grabbed Gerry. I told him, ‘That’s what he wants, cheap publicity. Don’t let it show.’

By this time, Rotten had run away. This whole incident was filmed by a German film crew, and Gerry has a copy of it, which will be nice to see one day.

Gerry’s management had come to his aid and ushered them all out the door, and then they were gone. There was em and Lloyd left in the hall with no idea where the band were. They had left the hotel where they were staying and there was another reception that we had all been invited to.

While we were standing there wondering what to do, an official came over and told me that Rory was on the phone. He told me not to worry and that he would send someone down to pick us up in about half and hour. We waited for well over an hour, and then all of a sudden there was a terrible loud noise over the hall. What a surprise! Rory had sent a helicopter to pick us up and take us the 10 miles back to Cork. A lovely time was had by all.

Gerry and Tom came back to London with us and who’s sitting next to us on the plane? Bob Geldof. During the flight, we downed a couple of bottles of champagne and Tom looked like he was going to give Bob a wallop.. A good job my son Lloyd was there to stop him. We managed to get to London without any serious incident and I dropped Tom off at his home before we hurried back to the Bridge House where we had a busy gig to promote.

We were to see a lot more of Rory, Gerry, Rod and Lou as they continued to play for us at the Bridge. Rory was to change his drummer on a couple of occasions, first to Ted McKenna and then Brendan O’Neill; they both became regulars at the Bridge, thanks to Gerry McAvoy.

Gerry and Brendan now play with another band that started at the Bridge, Nine Below Zero. They had started with us as the Stan Smith Blues Band, and their harp player, Mark Feltham, had joined Rory’s band with Gerry and Brendan. Now they’re altogether in this band fronted by founder member Dennis Greaves on vocals and doing very well indeed as one of the busiest bands on the circuit.

The last time I saw Rory was down the Kings Road, Fulham, in 1994. My daughter Vanessa had put on a musical play down there. Rory, seeing the name Murphy on the promotional material, had come down to support us. He was living locally and he looked fine. It was a lovely to see him. He didn’t stay to see the musical but we had a drink together. I remember saying to him, ‘See you at the next gig,’ and he replied, ‘I will not be playing any more.’

I turned to him and said, ‘What about Gerry and the guys?’

He looked me in the eye, and his eyes were sad as he said, ‘Oh, they’ve got a new band together. They’re looking after themselves.’

This was not the Rory I knew. He had put on a bit of weight, which all musos do when they’re not on the road, and he seemed very sad. Little did I know that at that time his liver had packed up and he was waiting for a transplant. Sadly, he died on the operating table at the age of 47. It was a really big loss to the whole world.

On the day of Rory’s funeral, the hearse left O’Conner’s Funeral Parlour with Rory’s Stratocaster guitar laid alongside the coffin. Crowds of people lined the streets, and traffic was at a standstill. Nobody cared; they were all in dee mourning. As the hearse pulled up at the church, the rear door was opened so Donal could lift the Strat away from the coffin. He handed it to Tom O’Driscoll, who had been with Rory for 18 years. As Tom took the guitar, his eyes met Donal’s. It was the very same action as when Rory left the stage, always handing the Stratocaster to Tom. The tears were never far away.

Then a strange thing happened. The very quiet deep-in-sympathy crowd began to cheer and applaud, a very rare occurrence at a funeral. This showed us that this was not just an ordinary funeral..We had come to bury Rory Gallagher, our god of Rock. Everyone was pleased. Donal glanced at his wife, Cecelia, and his children and at last there was a smile in his eyes instead of the tears of the last week. Even the sun shone brighter at that moment. Was that the moment Rory was passing through the gates of heaven? We like to think so.

You can purchase the book The Bridge House, Canning Town — Memories of a Legendary Rock & Roll Hangout as well as various CD’s of the Bridge House legends at the Bridgehouse’s official online shop, here: Bridge House Online Shop. Thanks again to Terry Murphy for allowing me to reprint this excerpt from his book, and for the photos of Rory playing at the Bridge House. More photos of Rory at the Bridge House can be seen on Chino’s Forum.

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Nov 18 2011

The Ghost of Rory Gallagher — by Jim Fusilli

Published by under Rory mentions

author Jim Fusilli

Jim Fusilli is the Rock and Pop music critic for the Wall Street Journal. He is also the author of six novels. His latest novel is Narrows Gate, an epic tale set in the years surrounding World War II in the city’s Italian-American community. He has also contributed short stories to various anthologies including “Chellini’s Solution,” which appeared in the 2007 edition of the Best American Mystery Stories. Of particular interest to Rory Gallagher fans is a short story Fusilli wrote that was included in Ken Bruen’s 2006 short story anthology, Dublin Noir: The Celtic Tiger vs. The Ugly American. The title of Jim Fusilli’s story is “The Ghost of Rory Gallagher” and deals with an unrepentant white collar criminal who is finally laid low by his obsession with Rory Gallagher bootlegged recordings. The idea for the story came from a chance attendance at a Rory Gallagher tribute night at New York’s Bottom Line Cabaret in 2002.

A buddy dragged me to tribute show at the Bottom Line a couple of years ago, and Rory’s family was there and a bunch of good quality Irish musicians. It was a kind of a middling show with a lot of high spirits. The last guy was this kid from Red Bank, NJ, and he was unbelievable. A total buzzsaw on a beat-up old pre-CBS Strat. Stunned, my mouth hanging open, I said, “That’s the ghost of Rory Gallagher.” Not long after, Ken Bruen asked for a story for “Dublin Noir.” — Jim Fusilli

Jim has graciously allowed me to post the story here. Be sure to check out his latest novel, Narrows Gate at



The Ghost of Rory Gallagher


HE’D LEFT LONDON in disgrace. A banking scandal, one of the worst. More than a half-billion pounds sterling in losses, bolloxed up every trade he made for months, going deeper and deeper. The end of days for the 230-year-old Ravenscroft Bank. Hundreds sacked. Pensions gone. Dreams shattered. Suicides, at least five of them, including Desmond Chick, for thirty-eight years the janitor at the Con Colbert Street branch in Limerick, a widower, raised three sons himself, working dusk till dawn. Sent away without so much as a plaque for comfort, he cried himself to death, they say, too old to start anew and as heartsick as if he’d lost his Minnie all over again.

The trader, meanwhile, was sentenced to four and a half years. Got out in three. Good behavior, though the arrogant shite never owned up to what he’d done. Eleven hundred days in Coldbath Fields and every one spent planning to cash in like Nick Leeson did—a book, Ewan McGregor on the silver screen, lectures—his reward for breaking the Barings Bank in ’95. Now you can play poker online with Leeson, punters thinking, Here’s yer guy, he’ll ride a bad patch straight to hell.

None of that for this trader, save a photo that went on the wires: scowling, bruised, itching, hollow eyes darting this way and that, maybe two stone lost to labor. No publishers, no producers; banking scandals old news now, a story already told. His wife gone off with an orthodontist, moved to Hamburg. Not even a word from his mott Trudi, tossed aside by the Sun after she told of their life together, all coke and cognac, laughing at regulators and the likes of Desmond Chick before they tracked him down.

Ah, Trudi, bleached-blonde and beyond plump, a hostess now at the Odyssey in Bristol, and she knows her time has passed. Her fifteen minutes and all. Let the Remy warm her belly and she’ll talk the ear off a man’s head, give him something she never told them at the Sun. “Ever hear about the only time he expressed regret? No? Well, Ducky, we were in that big comfy bed of his in that hotel in Tokyo, and he props up on his elbows, and he says, ‘Trudi, they can keep it all, the bastards. Every last piece, every last shilling. But I’ll tell you, I’d give my left thumb to have back my old guitar.’ That being what they call a white-on-white 1961 Fender Stratocaster. Owned and played by Rory Gallagher, it was. Rory Gallagher, love. Sure, you heard of him. Rory—Rory Gallagher, for fuck’s sake . . .”

As for the trader, the bitter prick, still thinking who he was, packed up and disappeared. Did a good job of it too. Four years gone by now, and not a word. Man barely qualifies as a bit of trivia these days. Funny, isn’t it? Sometimes, when the world is turning and the craic is good, it almost seems as if it had never happened.

The trader, clever man, re-emerged in Dublin, just another stranger brought in on the wave of the Celtic Tiger. Had a plan, he did: shaved his head, and when his auburn hair grew back he had it done blond and spiked. Put 80,000 miles on the Audi, nose redone in Nice, jaw in Seville. Teeth in Milan. Didn’t have to do much about the accent. Born in Sligo, he was, not London, as he claimed.

As for wardrobe: gone were the Spencer Hart suits, Turnbull & Asser shirts, Hermès ties, Fratelli Rossetti shoes. Would’ve run around like Kevin Rowland, scruffy Dexy himself, Come on, Eileen, if he could’ve, if it wouldn’t have drawn eyes. Instead, old jeans, T-shirts, a gray Aran sweater, and a brown knit, and he put holes in the elbows with a Biro, having tossed the Parker Duofold. (Not true: like all else, the fountain pen was seized and sold at auction.)

Figured now he could hide in plain sight, more or less.

With all the expenses, he still had about 300,000 euros stashed here and there. No one knew, not even Trudi.

Decided to buy himself a perch and look down on the world, laugh as the rabble passed by. But then it came to him: no, he wanted his nose in it, wanted to smell the stench of ordinary life, to listen to the love song of the forlorn, revel in their petty grievances, in their miseries, watch as the bloody stasis took hold, watch as the light dimmed and died.

The trader bought himself a pub.

A dump over on the north side of the Liffey, off the Royal Canal, a regular shitehole it was, a right kip. Entrance in a stone alley beyond mounds of rubbish, and you couldn’t stumble upon it without a map. Celtic Tiger, my arse, it seemed to say. Two steps down and the rainwater flooded the drain, and that was all right too. Mold and rotten wood, the floorboards sagging.

The place reeked of failure, of resignation.


“Welcome home, you bastard,” the trader said as he
stepped over the moat, dusted his hands, coughed.

It needed a name, didn’t it?

The trader, who by now was calling himself Eamonn or English Bill, depending, thought about it, and his first instinct is to call it “Rory’s.” No, “Ballyshannon,” after Rory’s birthplace. “The Calling Card,” that’s a good one, after Rory’s–

“I must be out of me feckin’ mind,” said English Bill to no one.

Which wasn’t far from true now, was it? Talking to shadows, the cobwebs: took more than one roundhouse to the side of the head in the community shower in Coldbath Fields, he did, though well short of what he had coming.

Pitch black now in the pub and he doesn’t know it, maybe his eyes have gone weak again. Thinking a little crank would do him good.

“The Rag and Bone,” he said, his throat feeling like he ate sand. Thinking of his childhood, and Yeats.

Yeah, and soon tour buses are parking out front and the Japs are snapping photos, thinking they’ve tripped over history.

Back to square one, and two hours later, still not a clue.

And then another hour after that, come and gone.

Cheesed off, he came up with “Póg Mo Thóin,” as in “Kiss My Arse,” but he let it float, and he fell asleep on the bar, woke up to the gnawing and cheep-cheep chatter of a rat inches from his skull.

Got up, pissed in the sink when the jax was two feet away. Cupped his hand and took a mouthful of brown water, felt the rust wash over his Italian teeth.

Soon, sunrise and thin white light through the veins in the painted windows, and he can see the booths against the mudbrick walls, drunk-tilted and ready to fall in on themselves, creaking even in the shouting silence, and who’d give a shite?

And then, like inspiration, like Yeats dreaming, “Cathleen Ni Houlihan,” it comes to him: “Desmond’s.”


But he don’t know why.

“Desmond’s,” and he likes the sound of it. “Desmond’s.” Likes it because it don’t mean nothing.

They started coming within minutes after the Guinness and Murphy’s trucks pulled out, smelling it as they stumbled along, squat little men, and they were the dregs and had nothing to say. The same story, again, again: never had a break, this bastard or that, she was hell on earth she was; ah, but me dear sweet mother, I’ll tell ya, and me da, Fecky the Ninth he was, but, God, I loved him. Sitting but a stool apart, three, four of them, each brutalizing the same tune. Clay faces in the flicker of cheap candles, a motley bunch straight out of Beckett, and moths flew up from under their tattered greatcoats.

The trader wanted entertainment, stories of the long, long fall, and soon he realized he had put Desmond’s at the end of the shite funnel, and who but them was going to appear?

“Jaysus,” he said as he rinsed a glass in foul water, “the sin of pride, my arse.”

“What’s that you say, Eamonn?” asked one of the sagging men, spider veins, rheumy eyes, fingers stained piss-yellow, paralytic before noon.

“I said, ‘Get the fuck out.’ All of you.” Shouting, bringing it from the bellows. “You and you and you!” Finger stabbing the air, and there’s the door. “Out! O. U. T.”

The men shrugged, plopped down, hitched up their trousers, and slouched out, forearms a shield from the sun.

And then the trader made a mistake.

He jammed the bolt across the door, poured himself a
pint to wash the crystal meth off the back of his throat, went into a threadbare carton, and dug out Rory’s BBC Sessions, cut in ’74 but released when he was in Coldbath Fields, four years after Rory died. Whipsnap “Calling Card,” “Used to Be” like a cold knife against yer skin. The trader blasted it, oh did he blast it, and they heard it in the alley through the cracks, the ancient splinter wood, rattling bricks. The trader had every piece of music by Rory Gallagher that was ever recorded—all the officials, bootlegs too, bits of tape, third generation copies; snatches of solos, rehearsals, sound checks, Rory turning the white Strat into a chainsaw, Rory levitating.

The bastards didn’t get the trader’s stash when they sent him up, the pricks, they let his lawyers cart it away; and he could tell you which was the solo in “Walk on Hot Coals” on Irish Tour ’74 and which was the night before, two nights hence, thanks to some boyo who smuggled in a recorder under his coat. The trader had twenty-one versions of Rory doing “Messin’ with the Kid,” one more kick-ass than the next, and he blasted every one of them, and more, for four days and nights straight, shaking Desmond’s to its foundation.

And when he opened the door, they were lined up halfway to the Liffey, shivering in the cold, shuffling, frozen fingers tucked under their arms. Hopeful eyes now. Expectations.

Word was a Rory pub was opening by the Royal Canal, and they wanted in. Rory was their man. Rory pushed the
blood through their veins, and if someone was going to pay him tribute, they were going to be there, ice and snow and wind and hunger be damned.

“What the fuck?” the trader said, squinting against the silver light, suddenly wishing he hadn’t the need for more crank and something other than stale crisps.

By 8 o’clock they were three deep at the bar, totally jammers, and the snug was swollen, and Rory wailed, setting the fingerboard ablaze, and the trader had hired himself a bouncer and a lass to clear the tables. The next day he needed a man to pull the taps, and a plumber to fix the jax.

By the time he closed on Saturday night, he’d netted 1,100 euros on nothing but beer and Rory. The guy from the chipper round the block offered him a stake, saying business tripled since Desmond’s was born, thinking he’s on to the new Temple Bar. The Black Mariah pulled up, the Gardaí came in, and the trader prepared to slip them a gift, “Sinner Boy” pounding the walls and all, but they loved Rory too and as long as no one lit up a fag and the coppers got in, Desmond’s was sweet, at least for now.

“Jaysus,” the trader said as he made a neat stack of his notes, “the whole country’s full of eejits.”

He folded the bills, crammed them in his pocket, and wasthinking he’d found justice. Finally, he told himself, he was getting his due.

He did the lass on the cold floor, ripping her from behind, and she went home in tears, mascara running down her baby cheeks.

A week or so later, past closing time, but the little pink man in the far booth stayed glued to the wood, though the power had been cut and the votive candles gave little light.

The bouncer was in the alley, tossing them off cobblestone, so the trader, his ears ringing, went across the beersoaked boards.

“Thinking of moving in, are ya?”

The little pink man reached into his coat and placed an ergo machine on the tabletop.

The trader blew onto his hands, the chill returning now that the crowd was gone.

Suddenly, a piercing note from a Stratocaster split the air, followed by a blinding flurry that knocked the trader to his heels.

The music continued for almost four minutes, burning ice daggers, an angel blasting pure light. Pinwheels, butterflies, blood spatter on virgin walls. Grace.

Neither moved, the little pink man starting intently at his enraptured host.

“Where’d you get it?” the stunned trader asked when silence returned.

“It” being a Rory he’d never heard.

Little Pink Man eased back toward the brick.

“Well?” the trader repeated. The crystal meth had him pumping nitro, bugs crawling on his lungs, and yet it had
been Rory, beyond doubt.

In a small, eerie voice, Little Pink said, “We call him up, is what we do.”

The trader frowned, scratched the top of his head. “Listen, just what’s your game—”

“We call him up and up he comes,” Little Pink repeated. “Now, for someone like yourself, that is all and more. A mystery, true. But all and more, is it not?”

The trader couldn’t focus to study the visitor, there in his too-big hound’s tooth, his black tie pulled tight to his pink neck. Nose a ball of putty, a hint of an impish smile.

Little Pink reached with a translucent finger, popped open the machine and pointed to a silver disk much smaller than a standard CD. Candlelight skittered across its surface.

“Take it,” Little Pink said as he wriggled out of the snug. “Take it and know there’s more.”

The top of the man’s head, covered in curly red hair, sat below the chin of the trader, who had snatched up the disk as if it were the gold of Magh Slecht.

“Who are you?” His accent slipped, revealing his years far from home.

Little Pink turned up his coat’s collar, the darkness carrying a chill. “I’m the man who’s knowing how to bring you to Rory, I am.”

The trader watched as the little man leaped the moat and vanished.

A moment later, the bouncer, whizz-wired like his boss, said he hadn’t seen a little pink man, “No, Eamonn, why? And if you don’t mind, I’ll be on me way . . .”

“Lock it behind ya,” the trader said, turning his back.

Pitch black save the light of the player, cranked to the gills he was, listening over and over and over to the guitar solo until near dawn, the hair on the back of his neck up, Rory, Rory, and the trader knew whatever the little pink man wanted he’d get. All of it, the hidden 300,000 euros, the money in the till, the money yet to be made. Desmond’s, if need be. All of it.

All. Of. It.

It took four days for Little Pink to return, four unbearable days, and he brought Fat Pink with him. They stood in the doorway on the business side of the moat, deadpan and composed.

The trader saw seraphs, and he tried to turn off the frenzy in his mind and under his skin.

The bouncer, dim bastard, held them back, being it was past midnight, and the trader had to scramble across the room to halt their dismissal, freezing the dope with an X-ray stare as he grabbed Little Pink by the forearm.

“Come,” he said, almost desperately, “come.”

They went to the little office he’d fashioned out of the storage room.

“Jaysus, where have you been?”

“It’ll cost you,” Fat Pink said, his voice a throaty growl.


“What me brother is saying is that the ghost appears at no charge, but we have our expenses,” said Little Pink, collar up on the hound’s tooth.

He saw they had not a mind for charity.

“Sure,” said the trader. “Expenses.”

The Pinks kept still.

The trader took a breath. “Go on.”

“We all get what we pay for,” Little Pink said. “In the end, the accounts tally.”

And with that, the trader had found his hitching post. Negotiations had begun.

“But you’ve seen this place,” he said. “Be flattery to call it a dump.”

Big Pink looked askance at the beam an inch or so from his head. The cobwebs had cobwebs, and the wood wore moss.

“Suit yourself,” Little Pink said, with a faint shrug.

The visitors spun slowly toward the door.

“No, no. No,” said the trader, groping again for Little Pink and to hell with negotiating. “What I’m saying is I don’t know what I can raise.”

“Sure you do.” Fat Pink said it.

Little Pink dipped into his pocket: the machine, the button, and this time it was Rory on the twelve-string acoustic guitar, a slow, agonizing, gorgeous blues. No singing, not yet, but pain released from deep in the heart of Ireland filled the musty room. The sweet chirping of blackbirds too, and platinum rain, and yer ma’s tears.

“Oh,” the trader moaned. “Oh, sweet Jaysus.”

The music stopped when Little Pink popped open the

He held out the disk. A gift, and Fat Pink didn’t mind.

“Recorded not twenty-four hours ago,” said the little man.

The trader swallowed hard. “Name your price.”

They settled on 75,000 euros—Little Pink knowing the US dollar was weak—and the Audi. In return, they’d record for as long as the ghost chose to play.

Driving in the rain through Ballsbridge toward Kill o’ the Grange, headlights sweeping across the diamonded windscreen, the trader had it figured. He’d report the Audi stolen before he left Stillorgan Road for the meeting, record Rory, glorious Rory, and then he’d double-back on foot to grab his money, putting the sight of the bouncer’s Ruger MK right between Fat Pink’s googly eyes.

He’d pick up a new set of wheels in Spain and be in Seville by tomorrow noon.

That was fair play to the boys in Coldbath Fields, and he wasn’t too far gone with the beatings and the crank to have forgotten what he’d learned in the yard. A real tutorial it was, day in and out.

The call made, he put the mobile back in his pocket, and rolled down the window, searching for a sniff of Dublin Bay. None, his nose as numb as stone.

“Eejits,” he said to the night air. “Eejits and wankers. Come to rip off Eamonn the barkeep, and look who’s here. The man who broke the Ravenscroft.”

He was still chattering when Fat Pink opened the door to the cottage on a grainy road two rights and a left off Kill Avenue, and there’s yer open field and the black tree branches groping for the indigo sky.

“You’re early,” Fat Pink said, filling the door frame, all but
blocking out the light.

“I got the money.”

The rustle of wings, or his imagination, all too alive.

“Well?” said the trader, who’d left the Ruger in the glove box.

Fat Pink stepped aside.

The wobbly stairwell was his only choice, and he all but leapt from his head when Fat Pink killed the lights.

“What the—”

“Whisht now,” Fat Pink warned as he joined him on the creaking stairs. “Remember what we’re on about.”

“I can’t see,” the trader mumbled. He stopped at the landing, wondering where to go. As his eyes began to adjust, he saw a white knob and started for the door in front of him, but Fat Pink grabbed his shoulder and led him along the banister.

The floor creaked too. The house 200 years old if a day.

And in the room, gaslight.

Little Pink and another guy, bulldog snarl, neck as thick as a post, his melon flat on top.

“This him?” Pug asked.

Little Pink nodded.

The trader squinted and he saw an old table, longer than it was wide, and two chairs. The fireplace had been shuttered a while ago, and the green shades on the windows were drawn.

Fat Pink nudged him in.

“How do we do this?” the trader said, his voice cracking. Darting bees xylophoned his ribs, the march of wind-up ants, barbed wire made of licorice and lace.

Pug took a sip from a half-pint, offered it to no one.

“We wait,” Little Pink replied. He pointed to a chair.

The trader walked in, and the trader sat down.

Fat Pink took the chair to his left. The flickering gaslight made his features quaver and dance.

Leaning against the slate mantel, Pug twisted his head until his neck cracked.

As if anticipating the question, Little Pink said, “Hours, minutes. You never can tell.” He took out his silver machine, set it on the table.

“That’s what you’re using? No microphones? You’ve got no facilities?”

Pug grunted and Fat Pink pushed down a laugh.

“It’s what we use.”

Dumb bastards, the trader thought. You get the ghost in a recording studio and you’re John Dorrences, you are.

He folded his hands on the table, and Fat Pink turned round to Pug, but neither man spoke.

Skeleton key in hand, Little Pink locked the door.

Five minutes later, felt like five hours, the trader sat tall when he heard the snap-squeal of an electric guitar going into its amp, and a quick punch on the strings to make sure it was in tune.

“Calm yerself,” Fat Pink said.

Little Pink nodded toward the machine.

And soon the sound of a Fender Stratocaster filled the room, and the ghost was running his blues scales, warming up, and soon he was toying with some old Muddy Waters lick, and the trader knew his man was working his way to something brilliant. And then the guitar let out a cry and a hole in the sky opened and here it came, lightning and molten gold and, God in heaven, it was glorious.

The trader shut his eyes in bliss.

And Fat Pink grabbed him by the left forearm and wrist, pressing the man’s hand flat on the table, and with one brutal swoop of a hatchet, Pug took off the trader’s thumb.

Blood spurted, and it ran in a river toward the machine.

The trader howled and the trader howled, and he was almost as loud as the guitar, the blizzard of blues notes, the screeching feedback, the beauty.

Pug took off his belt, wrapped it around the trader’s left arm, cutting the flow.

Standing, Fat Pink put his hands on his shoulders, pressed the trader deep and hard into the chair.

Little Pink, off the door and tapped the machine. Silence. Absolute silence, save a man’s agony cry.

“And you had to name it after him, didn’t ya?” Little Pink said, glaring at the trader, his eyes colder than cold.

Pug was digging in the trader’s pocket for the Audi’s keys.

“Desmond’s,” Little Pink went on. “That’s your idea of a joke?”

The trader’s thumb lay on the table, pointing with recrimination at its former host.

“I don’t—Jaysus, my hand. Look at my—”

Little Pink smacked him, and then Little Pink smacked him again.

“My name is Chick,” he said through grit teeth. “His name is Chick, and the man going to your car is named Chick. We’re from Limerick, and we don’t forget.”

“I don’t know . . .” Near shock, the trader blubbered and whimpered. “My thumb . . .”

“Our father was a good and decent man who didn’t deserve to die ’cause of the likes of you.”

Despite the searing pain, the trader was starting to get it. Ravenscroft, and some people won and some lost, but who the fuck is Chick?

Little Pink stepped back and he smiled, and when he smiled, Fat Pink smiled too.

It was Fat Pink—Larry Chick being his real name—who came across Trudi in Bristol, and it was Bernie Chick—him the one that the trader dubbed Pug—who heard about the guitar player over in the States in Red Bank, New Jersey, who could play it like Rory done. Little Pink, who was Paul but went by the name Des to honor his father, put it together. The club off the Royal Canal was a gift, it was. The crystal meth situation too, meaning the trader didn’t think to see if Bernie was behind him when he finally stumbled back to his ratty flat.

“We’re going to take your teeth too,” Des Chick said.

“And the nose,” Larry nodded.

“And the nose,” Des agreed, “if Bernie comes back emptyhanded.”

The trader could not believe he had been duped. Better than them all, and smarter, and yet he’d been duped.

Des said, “And then we’ll talk about regret.”

The trader looked at his thumb on the table, and he heard the one he called Pug trudging up the creaking stairs.

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