Chapter 1 Part 2 – McConville’s Ghost
Mac Giolla bhain took his melancholy dinner in his usual melancholy Glasgow City Council licensed PIRA terror glorifying sectarian Celticminded tavern; and having read all the Main stream media newspapers he detests but desperately wanted to serialise his bigoted venom packed bile book, and beguiled the rest of the evening with his nokia with twitter on it, went home to bed. He lived in chambers which had once belonged to he and his long-suffering wife Kathleen Gillivan. It was old enough now, and dreary enough, for nobody lived in it but Mac Giolla bhain.
Now, it is a fact, that there was nothing at all particular about the knocker on the door, except that it was very large. It is also a fact, that Mac Giolla bhain had seen it, night and morning, during his whole residence in that place; also that Mac Giolla bhain had as little of what is called fancy about him as any man in the town of Donegal, even including — which is a bold word — the alleged Hyde park bomber. Let it also be borne in mind that Mac Giolla bhain had not bestowed one thought on McConville, since his last mention of his seven-year’s dead partner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to me, if he can, how it happened that Mac Giolla bhain, having his key in the lock of the door, saw in the knocker, without its undergoing any intermediate process of change: not a knocker, but McConville’s face.
McConville’s face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or ferocious, but looked at Mac Giolla bhain as McConville used to look: with ghostly spectacles turned up upon its ghostly forehead. The hair was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot-air; and, though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face and beyond its control, rather than a part of its own expression.
As Mac Giolla bhain looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a knocker again.
To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stranger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked in, and lighted his candle.
He did pause, with a moment’s irresolution, before he shut the door; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he half expected to be terrified with the sight of McConville’s tefal napper sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the knocker on, so he said “Tiocfaidh ár lá!” and closed it with a bang.
The sound resounded through the house like thunder. Every room above, and every cask in the Buckfast-merchant’s cellars below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of its own. Mac Giolla bhain was not a man to be frightened by echoes. He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up the stairs, slowly too: trimming his candle as he went.
Up Mac Giolla bhain went, not caring a button for that: darkness is cheap, and Mac Giolla bhain liked it. But before he shut his heavy door, he walked through his rooms to see that all was right. He had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do that.
Sitting-room, bed-room, lumber-room. All as they should be. Nobody under the table, nobody under the sofa; a small fire in the grate; fork and pot noodle ready upon the hob. Nobody under the bed; nobody in the closet; nobody in his sinn fein onesie, which was hanging up in a suspicious attitude against the wall.
Quite satisfied, he closed his door, and locked himself in; double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus secured against surprise, he took off his B O stained Celtic top; put on his Sinn Fein onesie and sat down before the fire to take his pot noodle.
It was a very low fire indeed; nothing on such a bitter night. He was obliged to sit close to it, and brood over it, before he could extract the least sensation of warmth from such a handful of fuel. That face of McConville’s, seven years dead, came like the ancient Prophet’s rod, and swallowed up the whole. If each smooth tile surrounding the fire had been a blank at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have been a copy of old McConville’s head on every one.
“A Hun Conspiracy!” said Mac Giolla bhain; and walked across the room.
After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a twitter account, a disused twitter account, that was on the computer, and communicated for some purpose now forgotten. It was with great astonishment, and with a strange, inexplicable dread, that as he looked, he saw the Rangers Tax Case twitter account begin to tweet.
This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but it seemed an hour. The tweets ceased as they had begun, together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep down below; as if some person were dragging a heavy chain over the casks in the Buckfast-merchant’s cellar. Scrooge then remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses were described as dragging chains.
The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below; then coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his door.
“Woooooooooooh 54 TITLES AND STILL GOING STRONG”
“It’s hun conspiracy still!” said Mac Giolla bhain. “I won’t believe it.”
His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room before his eyes. Upon it’s coming in, the dying flame leaped up, as though it cried, “I know him! McConville’s Ghost!” and fell again.
The same face: the very same. McConville, usual specs high TEFAL forehead and cup of tea. The chain he drew was clasped about his middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail; and it was made (for Mac Giolla bhain observed it closely) of League Titles, League cups, European cup winners cup and Scottish cups even the division 3 title one wrought in silverware. His body was transparent; so that Mac Giolla bhain, observing him, and looking through his ahem Albion Rovers kit, could see the made by Children in Thailand tag behind.
Mac Giolla bhain had often heard it said that McConville had no bowels, but he had never believed it until now.
No, nor did he believe it even now. Though he looked McConville through and through, and saw it standing before him; though he felt the chilling influence of its death-cold eyes; and marked the ahem, Albion Rovers scarf bound about its head and chin, which scarf he had not observed before; he was still incredulous, and fought against his senses.
“How now!” said Mac Giolla bhain, caustic and cold as ever. “What do you want with me?”
“Much!” — McConville’s voice, no doubt about it.
“Who are you?”
“Ask me who I was.”
“Who were you then.” said Mac Giolla bhain, raising his voice. “You’re particular, for a shade.” He was going to say “to a shade,” but substituted this, as more appropriate.
“In life I was your Rangers hating partner, Paul McConville.”
“Can you — can you sit down?” asked Mac Giolla bhain, looking doubtfully at him.
“Do it, then.”
Mac Giolla bhain asked the question, because he didn’t know whether a ghost so transparent might find himself in a condition to take a chair; and felt that in the event of its being impossible, it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing explanation. But the ghost sat down on the opposite side of the fireplace, as if he were quite used to it.
“You don’t believe that Rangers are the most successful Scottish Football Club in History,” observed McConville.
“I don’t,” said Mac Giolla bhain.
“What evidence would you have of that reality beyond that of your senses?”
“I don’t know,” said Mac Giolla bhain.
“Why do you doubt your senses?”
“Because,” said Mac Giolla bhain, “Because being a Bigoted Scottish and British hating scumbag affects them. Also a slight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may be an undigested bit of Pot noodle, a trifle for one, a fragment of an underdone jacket potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
Mac Giolla bhain was not much in the habit of cracking jokes, nor did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for McConville’s voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones.
“You see this bottle of aspirin?” said Mac Giolla bhain, returning quickly to the charge, for the reason just assigned; and wishing, though it were only for a second, to divert the vision’s stony gaze from himself.
“I do,” replied McConville.
“Well!” returned Mac Giolla bhain, “I have but to swallow the lot, and be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, all of my own creation. Hun, I tell you; A hun conspiracy!”
At this McConville raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Mac Giolla bhain held on tight to his chair, to save himself from falling in a swoon. But how much greater was his horror, when McConville taking off the ahem Albion Rovers scarf round its head, as if it were too warm to wear in-doors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast!
Mac Giolla bhain fell upon his knees, and clasped his hands before his face.
“Mercy!” he said. “Dreadful apparition, why do you trouble me?”
“RANGERS ARE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SCOTTISH FOOTBALL TEAM IN HISTORY!” replied the Ghost, “do you believe in me or not?”
“I do,” said Mac Giolla bhain. “I must. But why do spirits of Rangers haters walk the earth, and why do they come to me?”
“It is required of every Rangers hater,” McConville returned, “that the bigot within him should walk abroad among his fellow-men, and travel far and wide; and tell the world that RANGERS ARE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SCOTTISH FOOTBALL TEAM IN HISTORY!’ and if that spirit does not in life, it is condemned to do so after death. It is doomed to wander through the world saying RANGERS ARE THE MOST SUCCESSFUL SCOTTISH FOOTBALL TEAM IN HISTORY!’ — oh, woe is me! — and witness what it cannot share, but might have shared on earth, and turned to happiness!”
Again McConville raised a cry, and shook its chain, and wrung its shadowy hands.
“You are fettered,” said Mac Giolla bhain, trembling. “Tell me why?”
“I wear the chain I forged in my Rangers Hating life,” replied McConville. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it. Is its pattern strange to you?”
Mac Giolla bhain trembled more and more.
“Or would you know,” pursued McConville, “the weight and length of the strong Rangers hating coil you bear yourself? It was full as heavy and as long as this, seven Christmas Eves ago. You have laboured on it, since. It is a ponderous chain!”
Mac Giolla bhain glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation of finding himself surrounded by some fifty or sixty fathoms of iron cable: but he could see nothing.
“Paul,” he said, imploringly. “Old Paul McConville, tell me more. Speak comfort to me, Paul.”
“I have none to give,” McConville replied. “It comes from other regions, Phil Mac Giolla bhain, and is conveyed by other ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I tell you what I would. A very little more, is all permitted to me. I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere. My spirit never walked beyond the knights of st columbas hall — mark me! — in life my spirit never roved beyond the narrow limits of our Rangers hating hole; and weary journeys lie before me!”
It was a habit with Mac Giolla bhain, whenever he became thoughtful, to put his hands in his Sinn Fein onesie. Pondering on what McConville had said, he did so now, but without lifting up his eyes, or getting off his knees.
“You must have been very slow about it, Paul,” Mac Giolla bhain observed, in a business-like manner, though with humility and deference.
“Slow!” McConville repeated.
“Seven years dead,” mused Mac Giolla bhain. “And travelling all the time?”
“The whole time,” said McConville. “No rest, no peace. Incessant torture of remorse.”
“You travel fast?” said Mac Giolla bhain .
“You try bloody walking with 100 Miners chasing after you for their money,” replied McConville.
“You might have got over a great quantity of ground in seven years,” said Mac Giolla bhain.
McConville, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a nuisance.
“Oh! captive, bound, with Rangers doubles and trebles,” cried McConville,
“But you were always a good Rangers hater, PAUL,” faultered Mac Giolla bhain, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Rangers Hating!” cried the McConville, wringing its hands again. “The Law was my business. Not Shafting those miners was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my Rangers hating!”
It held up its chain at arm’s length, as if that were the cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the ground again.
“At this time of the rolling year,” McConville said, “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of evidence that Rangers were not dead with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Club which was led by those the 4 young gallant pioneers?”
Mac Giolla bhain was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly.
“Hear me!” cried McConville. “My time is nearly gone.”
“I will,” said Mac Giolla bhain. “But don’t be hard upon me! Don’t be flowery, Paul! Pray!”
“How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you can see, I may not tell. I have sat invisible beside you many and many a day.”
It was not an agreeable idea. Mac Giolla bhain shivered, and wiped the perspiration from his brow.
“That is no light part of my penance,” pursued McConville. “I am here to-night to warn you, that you have yet a chance and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my procuring, Phil.”
“You were always a good friend to me,” said Mac Giolla bhain. “Thank’ee!”
“You will be haunted,” resumed McConville, “by Three Spirits.”
Mac Giolla bhain’s countenance fell almost as low as the McConville’s had done.
“Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Paul?” he demanded, in a faltering voice.
“I — I think I’d rather not,” said Mac Giolla bhain.
“Without their visits,” said the McConville, “you cannot hope to shun the path I tread. Expect the first to-morrow, the spirit of Rangers past when the bell tolls One.”
“Couldn’t I take ’em all at once, and have it over, Paul?” hinted Mac Giolla bhain.
“Expect the second the spirit of Rangers present on the next night at the same hour. The third the spirt of Rangers pumpings yet to come upon the next night when the last stroke of Twelve has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more; and look that, for your own sake, you remember what has passed between us.”
When it had said these words, McConville took its ahem, Albion Rovers scarf from the table, and bound it round its head, as before. Mac Giolla bhain knew this, by the smart sound its teeth made, when the jaws were brought together by the bandage. He ventured to raise his eyes again, and found his Zombie like visitor confronting him in an erect attitude, with its chain wound over and about its arm.
The apparition walked backward from him; and at every step it took, the window raised itself a little, so that when McConville reached it, it was wide open.
It beckoned Mac Giolla bhain to approach, which he did. When they were within two paces of each other, McConville’s Ghost held up its hand, warning him to come no nearer. Mac Giolla bhain stopped.
Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear: for on the raising of the hand, he became sensible of confused noises in the air; incoherent sounds of lamentation about persecution by the British establishment and regret about the “old Country”; wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory. The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the mournful dirge of the Roll of Honour; and floated out upon the bleak, dark night.
Mac Giolla bhain followed to the window: desperate in his curiosity. He looked out.
The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and thither in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every one of them wore chains with all Rangers triumphs on them just like McConville’s Ghost; some few (they might be guilty governments) were linked together; none were free. Many had been personally known to Mac Giolla bhain in their lives. He had been quite familiar with one old ghost,Paul McBride QC was its name, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous bag of what appeared to class A drugs attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to assist a wretched rent boy with a line of coke, whom it saw below, upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly, that they sought to Rangers hate, for good, in human matters, and had lost the power for ever.
Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded them, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices faded together; and the night became as it had been when he walked home.
Mac Giolla bhain closed the window, and examined the door by which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he had locked it with his own hands, and the bolts were undisturbed. He tried to say “Hun Conspiracy!” but stopped at the first syllable. And being, from the emotion he had undergone, or the fatigues of the day, or his glimpse of the Invisible World, or the dull conversation of McConville, or the lateness of the hour, much in need of repose; went straight to bed and fell asleep upon the instant.
Read the next thrilling installment of this wonderful story, the Next Time when we meet again Dear Reader