Table of Contents
Excerpts from James Beardsley’s interview segment with Wendy Shade from his upcoming book The Profile of the Fenian Avenger
My children and I lived in an apartment above a pub named Mary Mac’s in Ballsbridge. The apartment could not have been more convenient to my job, but hardly the best environment to raise children. When I was a little girl, I dreamed I lived in a beautiful flat in Ballsbridge. That was before the Drop. By the time I had a family and the opportunity to move them into this old neighborhood, the village no longer held the same magic. On the wrong night, my kids were not safe here.
Years ago in my twenties, this location over a pub would have been a prime flat. Today, I can only find fault. The walls and floors, made from thin boards, offer no insulation. Throughout winter months, the wind blows between the gaps in the windows and the cold seeps through the walls and make the apartment bloody cold. On weekends, the noise from below keeps my children awake. Someone stole our air conditioner unit last year, so in the summer we have to open the windows and experience the smell of patrons as they urinate on the back wall of the tavern. Nevertheless, the place was clean, dry, and reasonably cheap, with plenty of floor space for all of our clutter. Quite sad, but we were happy to have this nice of a home. We are just a rednecks new to Dublin, and I heeded my father’s advice to “get up to Dublin and get a job” after my husband died in a Limerick mill accident.
On that October night, we ignored the first indication of trouble. An earsplitting din of noise penetrated our paper-thin walls from the street. Loud noises from Merrion Boulevard happened on a nightly basis and a fight usually spilled into the streets from the bar and gathered a crowd. So, as usual, I ignored the noises.
The first waves of heat through the walls caused us little concern. While this October night was not particularly cold, the blokes next door tended to crank the heat early in the fall. However, when I went to the nursery to feed my son, the heat in the room scorched my skin, coming from both the floor and walls. I grabbed my son and ran for the door. Before I reached the hall, the hot wall exploded in flame. Had I hesitated a second, the fire would have killed my son in an instant. My other children ran into the hall, each of them screamed my name. I drew them close in my arms. Before I took a step, the fire spread to the hall and walls of flame surrounded us, it blocked our way to the stairs and sealed off all other exits.
My five-year-old daughter saw him first. She said she could see a person as he moved through the fire. I held them tighter. I thought the terror made her see things.
After a few seconds, I also saw something move.
A dark figure walked stepped into the hallway in front of us, the flame seemed to part for him. My head swam, my thoughts confused, and my senses scrambled. This had to be a hallucination. My mind wanted safety for my children and created this vision of a hero. This figment knelt in front of us, cloaked in a hooded coat, but his face glowed green. I was convinced the Grim Reaper stood in front of me.
My oldest child spoke his name first. “It’s the Fenian Avenger,” he said.
I saw the Fenian Avenger’s mouth move, but the sound of the fire drowned out his voice.
He took my hand and helped me to my feet. He removed his long leather coat and wrapped it around my oldest children and I. He leaned his head close to my ear. His hoarse voice yelled into my ear.
“My coat is flame resistant,” he said. “Keep it wrapped around you and it will protect you through the fire. Hold on to my belt with both of your hands, I can see through the flames, but you may not be able to. Trust me.”
The Fenian Avenger took my two youngest children from my arms and smiled as if to reassure me. He hunched over to shield the children from the flames. I looked at him, and studied the uncovered shiny metal suit. The suit appeared fire resistant as well. I almost asked if they were safe in his arms, but I realized the stupidity of the question, because the Fenian Avenger would keep them safe, I knew he would. I hooked my fingers from both hands into his belt. He walked us through fire down the stairs. I closed my eyes tight. My children’s fingernails dug into my hand as they gripped me harder.
As the flames grew louder, I also heard the structure of the building creak and snap around us. My hands shook, slipping in and out of his belt. A large wood beam fell behind us. I screamed, but continued to follow the Avenger as he moved through the house.
I felt the Avenger kick something in front of him. After the sound of wood breaking, a cool breeze hit my face. I opened my eyes and saw my children and I perched on the landing outside my front door. I followed the Avenger down the metal stairs. Once on the sidewalk, I let the leather trench coat fall to the ground. The paramedics surrounded me in a moment and checked my children.
In front of me, the Fenian Avenger bent and picked up his leather jacket. My emotions overflowed with relief, happiness, and gratitude. I looked at my children and tears came to my eyes as I saw them alive next to me.
I turned back to thank The Fenian Avenger, but he was gone.
Post a Comment