The Branch is as thick as two ditches, that’s what you think when you come home and see what they did, you see her there and what they said, crying and everything and frightened and afraid, two of them, pulling the place apart and shouting, awful things, just to frighten her-your son’s a terrorist, a fucking dangerous bastard that’s trying to destroy everything there is, and it’s there, it’s in her eyes, you don’t know what to say, what can you say, you just look around at what they’ve done, at the mess and the damage, out of the blue, the stupid thick bastards, what did they have to do that for, why did they have to take it out on her?
Down the hill, down to the station, and you ask the first cop in there where the Branch is, can I speak to the Branch, please? You don’t want to, but it gets out-they’ve been up there at the house, where the mother lives, frightening the life out of her, wanting to speak to me, it’s me they want to speak to, but they couldn’t wait, they had to start on her, abusing her and pulling the place apart, so can you get them for me, the Branch, you can get them now, I’m here, they want to speak to me. And the cop, he’s just standing there, he’s got a big grey moustache and a big red face, and he looks pissed off by your story, at having to listen to it. He tells ye calmly that the Branch is over in the main station, across the river, that’s where you gotta go if you want to speak to them, sir.
You go there and you wait, you’re waiting a while cause the Branch is busy, a long bloody while, so you kick up. Can you see the Branch, you say, can you see them, you asked to see them and you’ve been sitting here for ages and no one has come near ye or said anything to ye other than wait-you want to see them, can you see them now? And, the cop, the one you’ve asked, the one they have at the desk filling in forms, he looks up quickly and says the Branch is busy, just sit there and wait, can’t you. You say no, you can’t, you can’t do that, you came here to see them and you want to see them, is it so much to ask, when they were up there at the house just a few hours ago, tearing the place apart, supposedly looking for ye, like it was a life and death matter? And this cop says, not to you, but to this other cop that’s across the way, that’s also looking at ye, Know now why the Branch is having problems with him, what with his attitude. And this second cop, he nods as if it’s true, very obviously true, couldn’t be truer in fact. Well that starts ye, it starts ye all over again, the aggro builds, from everything, from the bullshit, but also from earlier, from when you were protesting outside the hotel, about being unemployed, how they broke your banners and placards, the smack across the face ye got, and the fella from the Kinsale Good Food Circle saying Fuck you and your unemployed protest, fuck the unemployed, think I give a shit about them when I’ve a gourmet food festival to be attending and looking after, just fuck you, you lazy unemployed bastard; having to put up with all that and then getting home, finally getting home to some respite and peace, you think, and seeing all that had happened there and what had been done, by the Branch, well it gets to ye, all of it, right then. You nearly climb across the counter. Indeed, you shout at the two cops, is that right, is it? And neither says anything, they just look at ye, a bit sorry now that they’ve drawn ye on them. Tell me then, you say, if I’m such a problem, why has the Branch got to go and frighten the life out of the ma, well, what’s it got to do with her, or abusing her and calling her names and threatening her, just an old woman, a fucking sixty-year-old, what’s it got to do with her, well? And ye add, quiet like, but so the two cops can hear, Fucking lackey bastards that’s all ye are, IN THIS STATION. Well that sets them off, goodo. The younger cop comes over, right up to ye, he’s in your face and you’re in his and he says, Want to be arrested, do you, right now, do you, because if you do, just carry on, carry right on, IT WOULD BE MY PLEASURE!
You wait and you wait, that’s what you do, that’s what happens. Until finally he comes, square in the face, you see that, one of those faces they have on Crimeline or that, saintly-saintly my arse and ye know it. What’s the problem, asks the Branchman, and you say, Well I could ask the same question, couldn’t I? And he looks at ye. You know from earlier that he knows about ye and what you think, but he’s never seen you this close before, not face to face, and he’s interested. You go at him, you tell him you know what they’re at, you couldn’t care less about them and what they do, you wouldn’t expect anything else in this country, but your mother, your fucking mother, that’s different, that’s the line, shoving her and pushing her around, pulling her clothes out and throwing them on the floor, and threatening her, that’s a disgrace, ye say, it’s not acceptable. And he laughs, he starts to laugh, saint fucking Branchman starts to laugh. You look at him, ye just stand there and look at him, ye can’t believe it, ye’re amazed. You wouldn’t want to carry on, says the Branchman, that’s what we’re telling you, that’s what we’re saying. You won’t stop me, you say. We’ll stop you, says the Branchman: she’ll fall flat on her face going down that hill one day, when you’re not around, when no one is-understand now, do you? No, you say, you don’t understand, you don’t understand at all, even though you do, you understand very well, it’s perfectly clear.
Out, out of the station, out onto the quays and ye don’t know what to do, what can ye do, you walk around for a while not sure of what you’re doing or where you’re going. There’s people here and there going to the pub and away from it, but you feel a million miles from that, and them. You’re trying to make sense of it all, that because of what you think, because of the ideas in your head, they’re trying to get to ye and hurt people close to ye, because of the ideas in your head. You walk around, along the dreary quays, and up the river, and then around again, and ye don’t know what to do, what can ye do, you go home. In the door and the place is cleaned up since earlier, the mess is gone, and the chairs are back where they should be. She’s sitting there by the table, having her tea, but she doesn’t say anything, she just sits there and for a while you don’t say anything either, you just sit there too until you notice the cup in her hand is shaking, and that she’s been crying, very recently too, maybe just before you came in, or just after.