The Holes of Athenry.

The setting sun through the chain link fence cast crosshatched shadows across the hard faces of the police inspectors that stood around me. It was a nice effect, but it wasn’t venetian blinds. Nothing matches the shadow of venetian blinds.

The Minstril Boy Through This Hole Has Gone

The Ubiquitous Police Bulldog and some duck I’ve never seen before are looking over my shoulder, trying to seem like they’re looking for clues and not just waiting for me to say something.

Is it our help ye’ll be wantin’ then? the duck pops out with. I almost jump.

“Someone had Lucky Charms for breakfast,” I say, cocking an eyebrow at him, “but nah, I think I get what happened here. This Opossum, he got friends on the outside, Warden-?”

Ah, Warden Flannery, that’s me! Sure, and I don’t recall word of any kith or kin from the lad. Why d’ye ask?

A spend a couple seconds blinking at him, then point through the fence, “Because that side of the hole was dug from- wait, why would he tell you if he had, er, kiths or kins?”

Well and wasn’t it meself that was his warden?

“Wasn’t it?”

Wasn’t what?

“What was what?”

Faith and it was!

“Who’s Faith?”

What’s eatin’ ye, lad? Ye look like ye got somethin’ leaking out inside!

“I do. You turned my brain into pudding!”

Ah, well, a good stiff drink’ll be takin’ care o’ that! Me sainted mother always said-

“Here, look!” I shout, trying to cut him off, “You… look for… clues! I’m gonna go interview suspects.” I trudge over to the little knot of prisoners all staring blatantly. Funny how prison does that to a guy: you get so that you’re not embarrassed about doing anything, just cautious about getting caught doing it. Heck, I should know. These guys certainly have something to stare at, thought. That duck is insane.

Since I’m over here more as a diversion from the Neverending Quacking of the Emerald Isle, I’m not listening too hard. I’m in my head, going over possible people outside who’d have an interest in springing this guy. So I almost miss Harry Ape muttering that dat boid snook over to da fence an helped ‘im dig.

“Wait! Say that again!”

Wut, you din’ know he dug out yet? Feh.

“The part about the bird, idiot!”

He shrugs. I look out mah window, and there he goes, and there’s this bird with ‘im.

“And where did the bird go after that?”

Where’dya think? Oz? Back to da warden’s office!

Oh really….?

As I get back to the hole, I call “Nice tie!”

Me tie? Ah, surely ’tis a beauteous piece ‘o work, tis! Me own da gave it me, not-

“Not regulation.”

Yer pardon?

“Your tie. It isn’t regulation. Everyone else is wearing a black tie. Why’s your’s blue?” He just stares at me. If I achieve nothing else before my life is over, I’ll go to my grave proud that I finally said something to shut him up. “Officer? Go to Flannery’s room and bring his black tie.”

Bugger and blast it! the duck shouts, Yer a sight or three too clever for yer own good, ye great hairy pillock!

I grin at him, and decide why not, he deserves it: “Why, is it dirt that someone got upon their owld black tie last night in the wee ‘oors?” Hmm, kinda turned into fake-Scottish at the end there. Oh well. “His name wasn’t ‘Patrick Opossum,’ was it? It was Patrick O’Possum. Right?”

He glares daggers at me, but he nods.

“I guess maybe this is a family job, or maybe Irish mafia… heck, could be IRA, even. So were you his cousin, hired goon, just another nut playing secret agent? But you’ll tell us, won’t you?”

It’s nothin’ I’ll be tellin’ ye.

I shrug. “Then at least they’ll have someone to stick in that empty cell.”

Jes one tiny question, ye sessanach hound. Sessanach? I musta touched a nerve. How’d you know I wasn’t really the warden?

“Two things. First, policemen only have accents like that in broadway shows. Second… the warden here is a great big Ox with a Texas drawl, who’s probably sleeping off his chloroform tied up somewhere–you’d know more about that than me. Not a little duck that sounds like a leprechaun. Oh, and your badge is upside down.”

As they drag him off, I find myself reminiscing. I suppose O’Possum snuck out through the back of the kitchen… if those huge refrigerators are still there, that is. Or maybe he crawled up the laundry chute, that used to lead outside. I wonder what cell they had him in. And if he ever saw the name a certain fox–just a kid, really–carved into the cell wall.

It might be my job to catch him, still… I can’t blame him for wanting out.

The Final Word.


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