“There are more people buried by the mouth than the bullet”. A Northern Ireland saying.
I met Jay in the student bar when I was in with my housemates. I’d noticed him about the place on his motorbike. As he poured my drink he commented “That’s a nice bike you ride.” Then with a grin, “You must be one of them”. I took my drink and smiled. “Sorry, it’s just transport”.
“Because I was really hoping you were one of us”. He laughed and turned to serve another customer, but after that when we crossed paths around Uni we would go to the bar or the caff for a coffee and a yarn, mainly about motorbikes.
I met his boyfriend a few times. They had been friends since school and you could tell they were close. They hardly spoke, they were so much on the same wavelength. They plainly adored each other. I think I have never met such a happy couple. Pat realised that I fancied Jay and gently twigged me about it. “If you were a guy I wouldn’t let you in the same room with him”.
I blushed furiously trying to dream up a witty reply. “Leave her alone” Jay said. “She’s like my sister”.
“That’s what you think” I muttered, as they both laughed. But their happiness was not to last.
I was parking my bike when Jay pulled in after me. When he took his helmet off I took one look at him and blurted “What’s wrong?”
He took a deep breath, but he was trembling. “Pat has gone. I don’t know why. We didn’t have a row. He just upped and left”.
We went to the bar but he was choking on his drink and he didn’t say much, then he rose abruptly saying sorry and left, his drink untouched on the table. I saw him a couple of times after that but he dodged me but then in the corridor someone touched my arm and Jay said, “Fancy a coffee?” I nodded and we went down to the cafeteria.
I talked about the bike and some arguments I had had with one of my flat mates who was a bit of a Republican sympathiser. Jay didn’t say much but was looking over at the corner of the room. I turned to look and in the opposite corner with a clear view of our table sat a young man of unusual beauty. I know it is a reaction you shouldn’t have, you shouldn’t objectify people, but great beauty has that effect of startlement. I found myself staring then forced myself to look away. Yes, he was beautiful. But you don’t get men who look like that in this area. I felt uneasy. But Jay was smiling. “Did you see?” he asked. I nodded. “Don’t you think….”.
“Yes. He’s beautiful” I almost snapped at him.
He looked at me quizzically, but I was late for a lecture so I left him to it.
After that I saw them together often. Jay was so engrossed in his new love – he was besotted – he never stopped for a chat anymore. I felt, but I might have been wrong, that his new beau, Brendan, was separating Jay from his friends. Then one day as I was parking my bike Jay pulled in behind me. I turned with a smile but stopped at the look on his face. It was almost a look of hatred. “Don’t talk to me, ever again. I know what you are”. I stared after him dumbfounded as he stormed away.
I was puzzled, but Jay had had a hard time. His best friend had dumped him and it looked like the new guy was messing with his head. But what can you do? People have to sort themselves out. I missed our chats but it freed me to concentrate on my studies.
It was near the end of term and I was out buying a bite for tea, and on impulse picked up the local paper. A house had been fire-bombed in the main street. The same street where Jay lived. His address.
Feeling shakey I hurried home and spread the paper out on the kitchen table to study the article. Jay was dead. He hadn’t died in the fire, he had been tortured and killed and then the fire started to cover the evidence. But those who’d done it wanted everyone to know who was responsible as the house was fire-bombed. There was no pretence that the fire was an accident.
I was sitting stunned when my flatmate came in, the one with Republican sympathies. She leapt on the paper with glee. “Your little friend is dead and he had it coming”.
” What are you talking about?” Tears were pouring down my face. Jay was the most gentle, kind, funny, innocent person you could find anywhere. “Jay was innocent. He never hurt anyone in his life”.
“Jaaaay” she mocked, “was a Brit”.
“That’s nonsense. He’s Catholic, like you”.
“He was a Brit, you stupid fool. A snitch. A spy!”
A black fog blanketed my mind. I knew that was completely untrue. I remembered meeting Jay in the car park and what he’d said about me. Someone had been spreading lies, dangerous lies, and somebody had believed them. Who would do such a thing?
I couldn’t speak. I needed time on my own to think. I turned to go to my room. Her voice followed me.
“Yes, run away little Prod. We know what you are too. You’re next!”
Copyright 2015 Prayerwarriorpsychicnot