Out Come the Bastards
Years later. The cell now has a lived-in
feel. There is a neat single bed and several religious placards lying around
His small table now has many books neatly stacked to one side and an open Bible
lies beside his notebook and pencil. He is sitting upright on the bed fully
clothed with his eyes closed. We hear seven echoing gunshots and the sound of
booted feet running down a cobbled entry. After a long pause he opens his eyes.
He is very calm.
Yes, that was me. Oh, yes, definitely
me. Twenty five years. Twenty five years for seven souls. ‘If a man therefore
purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and
meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.’ Timothy.
[He gets up from the bed and walks
slowly to the front wall of his cell looking through an invisible window.]
In the high summer of 77 I was shacked
up with my woman. No marriage. No ties. Just sex. No love. Just the beauty ...
and the beast! She was a glamour puss when I first met her, but after two years
of drink, fights, savage sex an’ all the rest of it she became my ma and I was
my da incarnate! The wheel had turned full circle an’ da was laughing ...
somewhere! She vamoosed and that same night, two days before I was arrested,
I fell to my knees an’ asked God to help
me make a new life. When the Special Squad picked me up I was glad. The
albatross had been removed an’ the relief was spiritually overwhelming. I was
the cancer and the ‘surgeons’ of the RUC ripped the malignancy out. Ha, ha, ha,
that was the only time in my life that I had any ‘truck’ with the ‘RUC’, ha,
ha, ha! The big boys in green, ha, God love ‘em.
I don’t know what it was, but when they
bashed through that door, guns bristling like porcupines, I was glad. It was
like drowning I suppose. All the bloody crap, the brutality, the pain just
flashed in front of me and it made me sick. For the first time I recognised the
monster ... the maniac I’d become. All the widows an’ the orphans. All the
funerals. The lower depths.
That night was my road to Damascus I
suppose. My ... well, not quite my burning bush ... more like my glowing twig.
Like, it wasn’t a great big blinding light. More a glimmer like the door just
left open a bit. A wee hint of something else out there. It was a bit scary.
Why me? An’ then my mind flashed back to Miss Pollock at Sunday School and my
expulsion from the Garden of Eden.
An’ then zap, fast forward to Saint Francis
an’ the animals. But he was a right whore just like me an’ he saw the light,
just like me! But he wasn’t really a bad man. He just liked sowing his wild
oats, plucking every wee flower he could find. But he never killed anyone. But
I did and that’s the difference.
Apart from the relief of knowing my reign
of terror was over, my spiritual sun-rise didn’t last long. Not then anyway.
During my first interrogation I covered up for
other people. The armchair generals of the UDA were safe. If I was going down,
I was going down alone. I was taking it full on the chin. When I was first
banged up my hard-man reputation had gone before me. My inquisitors knew I
couldn’t be broke. No-one could tame me. Not even Jesus, at that time.
I was soon leading the way within the
loyalist prison structure. Ordering prisoners to strip naked when they appeared
in court just to show our contempt for a system that was locking up Freedom
Fighters. Although I did terrible things I wasn’t a common criminal. What I did
I did for Ulster, for Britain. I was fighting the enemy and what do the
‘baldie-boys’ do? They dump us in the same shit-house with the IRA!
[He turns round and walks to his bed.
He bends down and pulls out a paper Union flag. He waves it mockingly as he
moves down stage and during the recitation of his bitter poem he rips it into
My country has abandoned me, Tho’ dirty
deeds I’ve done For Ulster, that she might be free From bomb and Fenian gun.
I held the bridge with Britain’s shores.
I volunteered to fight.
To give my best and even more I carried on with might.
Blood and slaughter was my game, Eye for
eye my boast;
Avenge our martyrs in the name Of
Ulster’s Orange host.
Now Britain has imprisoned me
fighting on her side,
And gives me weeks of solitary.
I may as well have died!
[He throws what is left of the flag
violently on the floor.]
I always had a short fuse an’ when
authority muscled in my touch-paper exploded. Violence was like sneezing to me.
Somebody gets up my nose an’ my reflex boot kicks the walnuts outta them. I got
a week’s solitary for every cracked nut. It got so bad they moved me to the
Maze—Butlins on razor-wire!
The powers that be thought that I would be ‘tamed’
in a facility that housed most of the evil bastards from both sides. But they
didn’t know me. In the H-blocks I became notorious as ‘that maniac in cell 13’.
The screws wouldn’t come near me.
It was me who introduced the IRA tactic
of the hunger strike. I was the only Prod paramilitary to do it. Twenty-four
days of sacrifice, ha, ha, ha, an’ they bloody couldn’t believe it when I put
on over a stone in weight, ha, ha. Them daft buggers hadn’t a clue. They didn’t
know that some of my mates were smuggling grub in, ha, ha, ha.
I also did a
‘Bobby Sands’! Refused to wear prison uniform an’ paraded up and down the Block
in a blanket. But we Prods were different. I couldn’t stand the smell of keek
so we faked it. We smeared the old blanket with brown paint an’ farted a lot.
Ha, ha, ha, I remember these two big pigs standing down wind at a
safe distance an’ ordering me to put on the prison garb they’d thrown at me.
laughed an’ then said very quietly: ‘If you an’ yer mate can make me wear that,
let’s go.’ I mean, they’d seen it all before. They’d been calling me ‘that
maniac McClurg’ because I was bouncing them off the walls. Total violence ...
no compromise. I wouldn’t take orders from any of them unless they asked
nicely. Gave me full respect as a human-being. If they tried the master-slave
crap blood transfusions would be the menu of the day!
It’s funny, isn’t it, the way we all
crave for respect. To be noticed. To be a person an’ not just a number ... a
nothing! Well, I sure as hell made them notice me an’ in next to no time I
became Commander of the Loyalist paras in the H-blocks. But that made me an
even bigger target. The green bastards an’ even some of my own side wanted me
‘done’! ‘The maniac’s getting too big for his boots, let’s bring him down a peg
or two and cut his fucking feet off!’ Ha, ha, ha, they hadn’t a clue but they
During all this ‘jungle warfare’ I was in and out of solitary
like a worn out pawn ticket. But I didn’t mind. Locked up on your own was a bit
of a holiday an’ ye didn’t get a crick in the neck watching yer back! In
Catholic terms it was a sort of retreat. A time for cleansing, for planning,
and on the rare occasion, like the good Lord during his forty days in the
wilderness, a time for temptation. But my temptation was the black variety.
[He moves to the centre of his cell.]