Protection by Marc de Faoite

Roses on the Wall, Dublin

Roses on the Wall, Dublin

Photo by John P Brady


‘Protection’ by Marc de Faoite

“What’s dish a day?” asks Niall.

“Chicken curry with basmati rice,” I answer. “Ye want some?”

“Yeah. Give us a big plate, I’m feckin starvin.’”

“There ye go. Get that inta ye.”

“Thanks. Smells great…. I saw ye chattin’ with Mad Dog Ray the other night.”

“Yeah. Some stories. Do ye think they’re true?”

“I know whatcha mean. Mad Dog’s tall tales. All sound a bit far-fetched. I din’t really believe him at furst. But then the boss tole me a story about Ray that he swears is true.”

“The boss? What did he say?”

“Lemme eat summa dis furst an’ den I’ll tell ya,” he says through a mouthful of chicken and rice. “It’s not as spicy as last time ye made it. Thank fuck. Nearly burned the mouth and the arse off me, so it did.”

“Spare me the details.”

“I’m just sayin’ like. Anyway it’s better like this, at least ye can taste what you’re eatin’.”

“Jaysus, slow down will ye. You’re supposed to chew it. That’s some feckin’ appetite ye have on yerself. Did ye not eat today or what?”

“Nah. Slept all day. It was a late one last night. Or an early one, I suppose ye could say. Didn’t get to bed until ten this morning.”

“Ye were goin’ to tell us a story?”

“Oh yeah, ‘bout Ray. Mad fucker. Here make us a cuppa tea first will ye?”

“There ye go – last of the Barrys. Hope someone is coming over soon. Else its gonna be feckin’ Lipton Yella.”

“Fuck dat. Who’d drink dat shite?”

“More like piss. The French’d drink it.”

“Zackly – what do de French know about a decent cuppa tea?”

“Not much. Anyway cheers.”

“Yeah, cheers.”

“Ye know those windows in the front of the bar?”

“Yeah. Is this the story already?”

“Yeah, it is. Anyway, one afternoon the boss is there in the bar on his own. This fella comes in the door. He’s one of them Moroccan fellas. Lives up in them high-rises at the end of town. Has a scar down the side of his face. Says to the boss, they’re lovely windows ye have there. Be a shame if anything happened to them.

The boss knows full well what he’s talkin’ about, but says what d’ye mean? and the Moroccan fella says, well, some young fella’s might come ‘round and throw stones through the windows.

The boss strings him along, playin’ naive. But why would they do that?

Who knows? says yer man. Lotta angry young immigrant men out there.

So the boss goes, yeah? well I’m an immigrant too and I work hard for me money. Any young fellas get stupid ideas like that I’m goin’ to call the cops.’

The cops? says yer man …sure they’re scared shitless of us, so they are.

“You sure this is a Moroccan? Sound more like he’s from Dublin. Maybe Tallaght.”

“Ah Fuck off. Ye want me to tell the story in French is it?”

“Nah, go on.”

“So yer man says, I’ll be around with the lads on Tuesday to collect. Hopefully you’ll have changed your mind by then, or somethin’ might happen to them windows.”

“Protection racket then?”

“Yeah, ‘course. So the boss calls the cops and tells them the story. Describes yer man. Skinny fella. Scar down one cheek. The cops say, fuck, that’s Rachid. Don’t mess with him. Just pay him what he wants. Better for everyone that way.”

“Better for the cops, ye mean. Lazy gits.”

“Nah. They’re afraid of him, so they are. Ye know how it is. Small town. He finds out where they live. Tyres slashed, or maybe the dog goes missing. Small stuff, but enough to frighten them. And he does it clever. Never gets caught. It’s never him anyway. Just young fellas tryin’ to build a reputation. Tryin’ to impress him.

So anyway, the boss calls up Mad Dog Ray, ‘cos he knows Ray is the kinda man ye want to have around whenever there’s a bitta agro in the air. So Mad Dog just sits there readin’ the newspaper for a week. When Rachid’s young fellas come in the bar the boss gives Ray the secret nod.”

“So what did he do? Beat the shite outta them?”

“Not at all. The boss picks up the phone and calls the cops. Says a fight has broken out in the bar. On a Tuesday afternoon? Right. So he asks the lads straight out if they are Rachid’s boys. Course they say they are. He asks them what they want to drink. They ask for beers, but the boss just gives them lemonade. Says that good young Muslim lads shouldn’t be drinking alcohol. The boys don’t know whether to agree or disagree, but they drink their lemonades anyway. Then the boss tells them to look outside. The cops have just pulled up. So lads, do we have a problem, or are yis just finishin’ yer drinks before yis go?

The lads aren’t too happy ‘bout the cops comin’ in the door. One of them mutters something about not wantin’ any trouble. The boss tells the cops that the fighters are gone and sorry for the inconvenience like. But the cops are eyein’ up the lads. One of them says something smart about a bunch of Moroccan teenagers in an Irish pub.

One of the lads gets lippy. Says he’s French, born in France and has the papers to prove it. The cop says been born here and havin’ papers doesn’t mean a thing and that yer man is still a dirty foreign beggar whatever his ID card says.

Well ye know the boss. Peace and love for all beings. He doesn’t take kindly to that kinda shite, but isn’t goin’ to get in an argument with cops. Specially not in front of the lads who were goin’ to break his windows. So he asks the cops what they’re drinkin’. The cops are on duty, in uniform so they can’t take anything. They take the hint though and fuck off.

A few minutes later the young fellas leave too. They even thank the boss for the way he handled the cops, but they still want to say something about why they came. But they can’t ‘cos they sorta like the boss now. He’s after givin’ them free drinks, he’s respected their religion, he’s got the cops off their backs – even though it was him who called them in the first place. So they just go.

Mad Dog Ray is sittin’ there playin’ the invisible man all along. With his newspaper and his pot of tea. He gets up and follows the lads. Tails them in the car.

They go to this kebab shop and meet up with scarface Rachid. He’s shoutin’ at the young fellas a’cos  they didn’t do what he asked. Ray is watchin’ from his car. Does a bit of a stakeout. Knows there’s no point in askin’ around about Rachid. So he just waits. When Rachid finally leaves Ray follows him. Finds out where he lives.”

“So he didn’t say anything to Rachid?”

“Not straight away, no. Mad Dog is a smart fecker. He decides to go psycho- logical on Rachid.”

“Ye mean psychological?”

“No. I mean he goes fuckin’ psycho, but in a logical sorta way.”

“What did he do? Blow up Rachid’s house?”

“Nah, scarier than that. He says if yer goin’ after a fella on his own territory he’ll fight harder to defend it. Plus his mates will be close by. So if ye want to attack him on his own turf ye have to do it clever.

So Ray finds out where Rachid lives. The door locks that can keep Mad Dog out haven’t been invented yet, but the door to Rachid’s place is reinforced steel. So Ray waits until the middle of the night when all the lights are out and goes in through the window. Ray has these feckin’ goggles can see in the dark. Says he kept them as a souvenir from the legion. Ask me, he kept a lotta souvenirs.

He gets into yer man’s bedroom. Yer man is out like a light. There’s the end of a big fat joint sittin’ in an ashtray beside the bed. Mad Dog gets a chair. Puts it down beside the bed and sits there facing Rachid. He leans over him and Rachid wakes up with the touch of a ring of cold steel against the centre of his forehead.”

“A gun?”

“Fucken right. Mad Dog says to Rachid that he’s messin’ with the wrong people, and to leave the Irish pub alone. Keeps the gun on him all the time. Asks Rachid if he understands. Rachid just nods. He’s fucken wide awake now. Then he tells Rachid that he has to pay him 50% of everything he makes on his rackets. Then Ray does the unexpected. He pulls the fucken trigger.

Click. Empty chamber.

Rachid shits himself. Literally. I mean he empties his bowels right there and then in the bed. Ray shows Rachid the missing bullet. Makes sure he sees him put it in the gun. It’s fully loaded now. He puts the gun back on his forehead and stands up. Says to Rachid, fuck this, I don’t need you. I’ll take 100%. Rachid is bawlin’ like a baby now.”

“He didn’t kill him, did he?”

“Course not. Just puts the gun back in his pocket and walks out, leaving yer man lying there blubbering in his bed in a pile of his own shite.”

“So Mad Dog is a ganglord now?”

“Nah, but next day Rachid is gone. Packed up and left. No one has seen him since. The cops might be pussies, but they’re not completely stupid. They knew well enough that the young fellas in the bar were Rachid’s boys. Put two and two together. So the word on the street now is – don’t fuck with the Irish pub.”

“Some fella that Ray.”

“Fucken right. I’m tellin’ ye, yer better off stayin’ on his good side. Not the kinda fella ye want to piss off. Any more tea in that pot?”


Did you like the story? Opinions? Praise? Please leave a comment below



Marc de Faoite
Marc de Faoite was born in Dublin in 1968, but has spent more than half his life abroad, living in England, Belgium, France, India and currently Malaysia, where he leads a quiet, reclusive life on Langkawi island. He reviews books for The Star newspaper (Malaysia) and has had several of his short stories and essays published in anthologies in Malaysia, Singapore, France and Ireland (Sini Sana: Travels in Malaysia, Fish Eats Lion, Readings from Readings 2, KL Noir, Love in Penang, Esquire Magazine, Revue Pyrénéenne, The Irish Times). A collection of his short stories entitled Tropical Madness was published in November 2013. Besides writing short stories, he likes to drink tea and listen to the frogs singing in the paddy fields at night.

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Twitter: @marcdefaoite
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4 Responses to Protection by Marc de Faoite

  1. Nicely done. A tight, sharp, almost violent narrative presented within a rolling, funny conversation. I enjoyed this story a great deal.

  2. psycho-logical, that is brilliant!

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