Alan Glynn Winterland

ISBN 13: 9780571250042

Winterland

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9780571250042: Winterland

The worlds of business, politics and crime collide when two men with the same name, from the same family, die on the same night - one death is a gangland murder, the other, apparently, a road accident. Was it a coincidence? That's the official version of events. But then a family member, Gina Rafferty, starts asking questions.

"Sinopsis" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

About the Author:

Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, where he studied English Literature, and has worked in magazine publishing in New York and as an EFL teacher in Italy. His second novel, Winterland, was published to huge acclaim in 2009, while his first novel The Dark Fields was released as the film Limitless - starring Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro - in Spring 2011.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

ONE

1

He is sitting in what they now call the beer garden. Before the smoking ban came into force it was a concrete yard, a skanky area at the back of the pub that was all stacked crates and kegs and empty cardboard boxes. But with a little outdoor furniture—decking, benches, tables, pole umbrellas for when it rains—they’ve transformed it into a "space," a haven where smokers can congregate, light up their Players or Sweet Afton and give out about the excesses of the nanny state. There has even been some confusion, not to say tension, over etiquette. If a nonsmoker occupies the last available seat, as might happen in summer or on an unseasonably balmy evening in winter, is he obliged to give that seat up to the next smoker who comes along?

Well, in this establishment, yes actually, because if you don’t smoke—the logic runs—what are you doing out here in the first place and what kind of a fucking baby are you anyway?

But tonight the question doesn’t arise. It’s a cold and drizzly Monday, just right for the season, and only five people, hard-core smokers, have come outside with their cigarettes and lighters (plus pints, vodkas, whatever) and settled themselves under the various umbrellas.

"Poxy night," he says, and laughs. This fat, pasty-faced twenty-six-year-old then stares across the beer garden at the young couple who are sitting opposite him. After a moment, he stares at the two old-timers sitting next to them.

One of these old-timers, Christy Mullins, nods his head in agreement. He reckons it’s better than doing nothing. He reckons that the fat, pasty-faced man in the denim jacket and white shirt over there isn’t someone you just ignore. He reckons that life is short enough as it is.

Still grinning, the fat, pasty-faced man nods back. He then takes a long, serious drag from his cigarette, gazing up at the illuminated, slow-falling drizzle as he does so.

He’s a regular here, but not everyone knows who he is.

Christy, for example, doesn’t know who he is—though he’s certainly seen him from time to time, and even remembers, now that he thinks about it, a specific incident that happened some months back. However, he couldn’t give you his name or tell you anything about him.

Which is exactly the way the man himself would like to keep it, because he’s not into any of this celebrity crap—talking to Sunday World journalists or going on Liveline. He doesn’t consider it good for business.

"Poxy Irish weather," he then says, half to himself now, and not looking at anyone in particular. "Poxy Minister for poxy fuckin’ Health."

Christy manages to ignore this, getting lost for a moment in a minor coughing fit. He then raises his pint with one hand and taps his cigarette against the ashtray with the other. That incident he does remember happened late one summer evening out here in the beer garden. The place was crowded, and the fat, pasty-faced man was sitting with a group of other—what were they—twenty-five-, twenty-six-year-olds? They were all drinking pints, smoking, digging each other in the ribs and laughing. Suddenly, out in the street, a car alarm went off—a high-pitched brain-piercing wail. The immediate reaction around the tables was a collective sigh of exasperation, and then, as the wail continued, a loud "Ah Jaysus" from someone near the door leading into the main part of the pub.

It was obvious that the offending car was parked very close by, and possibly even right outside the pub. But something else was becoming obvious, too. As the general hubbub gave way to the mute frustration of shaking heads, one of the fat, pasty-faced man’s co-drinkers put his pint down and said, in everyone’s hearing, "Isn’t that yours?"

Or—

Isn’t that yours, Noel.

That was it. He called him Noel. Christy remembers now.

"Isn’t that yours, Noel?"

At which fat, pasty-faced Noel shrugged his shoulders. "So?"

"I just—"

"Well, don’t fucking just anything."

"But—"

"Shut up, right?"

Noel then reached for his glass, and as he took a sip from it, staring ahead, not saying a word to anyone, an almost complete silence, icy and incredulous, descended on the beer garden, with only one sound remaining—the ceaseless, demented wail of the car alarm.

Christy threw his eyes up. People were obviously afraid of this young pup, and it sickened him. Who was he anyway, one of these gangland thugs you read about in the papers?

Noel took another sip from his pint, and a drag from his cigarette. Minutes passed, or what seemed like minutes. Eventually an elderly woman at the next table piped up. "Ah here, love," she said, "come on, I’m getting an awful headache."

It was only then that Noel stubbed out his cigarette and got up from the table to leave. He was huge, Christy saw—not only fat, but tall and broad as well. A barman appeared in the doorway just as Noel was approaching it. The barman’s eyebrows were raised, ready for a confrontation.

"All right, all right," Noel said, strolling past him, "keep your fucking hair on."

Less than a minute later, the car alarm stopped. Noel didn’t come back, and noise levels in the beer garden gradually returned to normal.

Now, of course, it is much quieter—later in the evening, later in the year. Darker, colder. The young man and woman, huddled close together, are more or less whispering to each other. The two old-timers, in contemplative mode, have barely exchanged a word since they came out here. Noel himself has been the most voluble, finding it unnatural to be sitting alone, not talking to anyone. He would rather annoy strangers, roping them into any conversation at all, than sit in silence.

"I was watching that fucking Discovery Channel the other night," he says, lighting up a cigarette. "Apparently there’s over two hundred types of shark in the sea."

The young man and woman both look up, startled. Christy glances over as well.

"Tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks, pigeye sharks, Ga-fucking-lapagos sharks."

With his cigarette in one hand, Christy puts his other hand up to his chest and coughs. He is retired now, but for fifty years he worked as a barber, and in that time he had plenty of what you might call "characters" in his chair. He recognizes this Noel across the way as a distinct character type himself.

Unstable, unpredictable, dangerous.

"The great white is the only shark that sticks its head out of the water to look around. Amazing, isn’t it?"

Again—though he’s barely listening—Christy nods his head in agreement. All he wants is a quiet smoke.

"I love those names," Noel says, flicking ash to the ground. "They’re mad. Fucking hammerhead, what?"

The young couple have turned back in toward each other and are whispering again.

"I said they’re mad, aren’t they?" He is staring directly across at the young couple now, but they don’t seem to have noticed. Christy rests his cigarette in the ashtray.

"Love!" Noel shouts.

The young woman looks up.

"The names. I said they’re fucking mad, aren’t they?"

She doesn’t say anything. Christy can’t tell if she’s nervous or annoyed.

"Well?" Noel says.

"Well what?" the young woman says, definitely annoyed. Her boyfriend hasn’t looked up yet. He’s definitely nervous.

"What do you mean well what? Don’t fucking well what? me, you frigid little bitch."

Christy throws his eyes up.

The boyfriend exhales loudly and slaps the palm of his hand on the table.

"What’s your problem?" Noel says. "You bleedin’ ponce."

"Stop it," Christy says. "Enough of that."

Everyone turns now and looks at Christy.

"Who asked you?" Noel says.

"You’re nothing but a bowsie," Christy says. "Do you know that?"

Noel holds up his cigarette. "See this? I’ll stick it in your fucking eye if you don’t shut up."

There is a long silence.

Christy wants to say Go ahead, I’d like to see you try, but when he opens his mouth to speak, nothing happens. He’s seventy-three years old after all. He’s thin and wiry and actually quite frail. He has more or less permanent bronchitis from decades of smoking unfiltered cigarettes.

So what does he think he’s doing?

The man beside Christy, nudging him in the elbow, whispers, "Leave it, Christy, leave it."

But with his heart thumping, Christy makes another attempt, and this time he manages to get it out.

"Go ahead, fatso," he says—the "fatso" coming out of nowhere—"I’d like to see you try."

"Whoa," Noel says, sliding along the bench to get out from behind the table, "what did you say?"

For some reason, as Christy stares over at Noel, all he can think about is the newspaper headline this is going to generate. More specifically, and like a knotted synapse in his brain, it’s the wording he can’t get past: Vicious Thug Assaults Pensioner. Vicious Assault on Pensioner by Thug. Thug in Vicious Assault on Pensioner.

Noel gets to the edge of the bench, and pauses. He takes a drag from his cigarette.

The young woman, meanwhile, stubs hers out. She picks up the lighter and pack of Silk Cut from the table and stuffs them into her bag. Slouched next to her, the young man is trying to look casual, unconcerned.

"Come on," she says to him, "we’re going."

Pensioner Viciously Assaulted by Thug.

With the cigarette now dangling from his lips, Noel glares over at Christy. He brings his hands together, intertwines them, stretches his arms out and then cracks all of his knuckles simultaneously.

As Christy glares back, a part of him doesn’t believe this is happening. He glances down at his half-finished pint on the table, and...

"Sobre este título" puede pertenecer a otra edición de este libro.

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