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Dublin...Whore of a City (standard:travel stories, 1004 words)
Author: CyranoAdded: Oct 23 2006Views/Reads: 2146/1152Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Forewarned is forearmed at sea, so when the radio warns of gales heading my way I make for the nearest harbour and look for somewhere to rest up. But Dublin is a sorrowful place at five in the morning.

It's almost dawn as I step ashore. The sea mist, soon to be a fog,
slides across the tiled rooftops, licking its way passed unlit windows 
and gliding down drainpipes until it catches in my throat, chilling my 

Dublin - did I ever know such a town? Whore that she is! Opening my
nostrils I can smell the religion, even touch her filthy heart. I leave 
the harbor to search out a bed and breakfast; somewhere to put my head 
down in this forlorn, this damp and sorrowful city. People pass, men 
mostly, walking with backs bent forward, leaden gait, heading toward 
the dock. Dockers, I have observed from my travels, have a universal 
uniform; caps slightly askew, newspapers under arm, hands deep in empty 

I want to weep. It's what Ireland does to you; cuts your heart out with
delinquent ideas about romance and peace and other such ambiguities. 
True, it's not Belfast; it's not that sorrowful, not yet anyway; Dublin 
doesn't smell of dead flesh in its streets, nor harkens to the hopeless 
prayers of angels sitting in overgrown graveyards. It's a half hour 
walk into the city. Women and children sit in endless doorways, hands 
and hearts stretched out, wanting coins. “Giv' somethin' mister - I'm 
pleadin' wid yer, just a little, the Gods'll be kind ta ya, mister.” 
The Gods, had they been kind, would not have put me at anchor outside 
this forlorn city. 

Dublin city. Sorrowful city. One writer wrote, I don't remember where
‘...places have souls' but that writer wasn't in Dublin at five on a 
winter morning. 

The sun, a yellowy blob of light mingling with the fog, rises coldly
over a figure coming toward me. Her slight, buckled frame appearing 
from out the swirling silver haze. She's dressed shabbily and smells of 
lavender. She holds up to me a twig of heather. 

"Jesus, Mary and Joseph! What?" I said, irritated by her presence. 

“You'll be lucky, sir - ta'day you'll be lucky.” 

I want to push by but she stands firm. 

“Does ya not want to be lucky, sir?” 

I reach into my pocket, pulling out a few coins. 

“Ah, ‘tis the day you'll be lucky fur sure, my darlin' man - ‘tis the

A shaft of light pierces the soggy murkiness. Not the first inexplicable
happening I've seen living a life at sea, but nothing to rival this 
instant shriek of light. It shines down, flashing off a balding skull 
riding by on a bicycle. It's meaning lost to me. This is Dublin, a 
sorrowful beast. Same age as Rome but without the romance. 

I pace the streets knocking on doors where the word ‘Vacancy' hangs in
curtained windows. But this is Dublin and no one wakes for a stray 
animal in need of sleep, or bowels emptying. 

In the end a barber, opening his shop, invites me in, saving me from the
possibility of the alley toilet. The least I can do is let him cut my 
hair and with stomach pains subsiding, the weightless fog slips 
surreptitiously passed the glass-framed door while his scissors clip 
and clatter, sending strands of hair flying to the floor. He asks my 
business in the city?  I explain that a storm warning sent me 
scattering to the harbor. 

I leave his shop with an address scribbled down on a piece of crumpled
paper and pushed into my hand. “A nights stay,” he assures me, near the 
castle walls. 

When the old girl opens the door my nose singles out the smell of decay,
an aged mustiness disguised by the scent of violets sprayed from a can. 
She bids me enter, as if expecting my arrival. I do so, her knobby 
fingers taking my hand as she leads me through a narrow hallway. Years 
of damp saturating the embossed wallpaper, peeling in drifts from the 

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