On Knocknarea, near Carrowmore, I climbed to the craggy top of Queen Maeve’s tomb, cradling a rock in my hand. When I reached the summit I set the rock on the stack. At sea level I’d singled out this rock and carried it all the way. But when I backed away from the cairn I found I’d lost sight of its jagged edge, its network of black lattice. I lit a cigarette, squinting under a foreign sky, and took stock of the limestone heap. I drank a sip of Lucozade, gone warm and syrupy from the sun. Then I climbed back down.
There was no reason to be here, exactly, but there was every reason not to go back.
‘I have signed my own death warrant.’ So said Michael Collins the day he penned his name to the Anglo-Irish Treaty. I didn’t know what it was to face Winston Churchill in Downing Street or to do the dirty work of Eamon de Valera, but I knew what it was to be bone-weary from the strain of failed negotiation. I knew what it was to not want to go home because someone at home wanted you dead.
To escape my troubles I’d taken a month off work and booked a one-way ticket from Chicago to Heathrow. In London I met up with a girlfriend. We spent a week tramping through damp streets, posing in bright red phone booths, trying on silk dresses in Portobello Road. We lit candles in draughty churches and drank coffee with Croatian dissidents in cafés. We climbed onto the sturdy backs of motorbikes with men we’d just met and heckled speakers at the Marble Arch. After seven nights tossing in rickety hostel bunks, we parted ways in Paddington Station. She’d landed a work visa and was staying on in London to make a go of it. I boarded a late flight to Ireland. There were no plans made in advance, but somehow I knew how to get on certain buses going to certain towns. There was always a payphone, there was always a tourist office and a hand-scrawled map directing you to the nearest hostel or B&B. I never worried about where I would spend the night.
The plan was to land, get my bearings, and head west. After the week in London and forty-eight hours in Dublin I checked myself into a bed and breakfast, slinging my army surplus backpack in the corner. In town I rented a purple bike for a tenner and took it through the woods of Sligo. Lunch was a stack of custard crèmes smuggled from the B&B. I lay the purple bike in the long grass and read it lines of William Butler Yeats. From time to time I’d glance up from the nicotine-yellowed pages to take stock of where I was. I languished in birdsong, in branches that swayed in the breeze, in the reedy stillness of the lake. You could imagine it, a ‘bee-loud glade’, going on right here. There were no internet cafés and I’d promised no postcards. The important thing was being alive, I guessed.
As I sat in the stone circle I was not thinking of many things. I was not thinking of the man from Texas who’d pushed my face against the glove compartment of a Ford Thunderbird. I was not thinking of home, a place thousands of miles away that tended to rise up in my mind as a dull mirage of retail outlets and parking lots. I was not thinking about the fella I’d met during my stayover in Dublin, the one who’d told me the story of Michael Collins. Safe among the burial mounds, I hadn’t taken stock of what a fight for independence might look like on even the smallest of scales. My idea of protection was wearing a crystal and hoping for the best. I had no affinity then for the assassin, for the man who made Ireland, for the fugitive on the bicycle who was forever on the run. But that would soon change. One day, and for many of the days that would follow, affinity for an assassin would be all the protection I’d have.
I am standing on a street in Dublin in front of a big fuck-off building. I am twenty-two. I’m dressed in steel-toed boots, faded jeans, and a black chenille jumper (though back then I called it a sweater). I have an army surplus bag on my back and a six-string in my hand. There’s a fella beside me. He’s fair- haired and young, beanpole lean, a smattering of barely-there freckles on the bridge of his nose. A Dubliner. He wears a battered leather jacket with twenty Marlboros stashed in the pocket, a soft black guitar case strapped to his back, a thick Tallaght taint to his voice.
Our story starts like this. He’s scouring Grafton Street for a female singer for his band when he spies my opened guitar case, my upturned knock-off Kangol cap. Bound back to Chicago at month’s end, I can’t sing with his band, but he charms me with his compliments and his fancy-a-pint. We slip into a pub, slinging our axes. By the glow of a broken jukebox we lean over pints, knee grazing knee. When the talk turns fast to old souls I peg him as a Pisces, then write the word on a Heineken beer mat. He flips it over to my dead-on guess. The luck is with us. The night along the Grand Canal lasts till the lager-coloured morning. We brush the dew from our guitar cases, the grass from each other’s backs, and swan into an ill-lit Rathmines café. Over crêpes and burnt coffee I start to brace for the slow bus home and the no-hard-feelings when he grins and says he’s something he wants to show me.
Now we’re standing outside the General Post Office. He’s tracing the contours of the pillars, his fingers long and thin and calloused at the tips. He’s brought me here to tell me the story of the bullet holes. I’ve been to Dublin once before and have heard the story of the bullet holes but I don’t tell him so. He is my lover, we are newly in love, and while we are huddled by the GPO, or knees touching in the snug, or stretched out on the green rugby pitch, I want him spinning stories, I want his version of everything.
I am also twenty-two when I first imagine being killed with a bullet. Despite the fact that I am an American, a gun is a thing in action films till I am faced with the threat of one. I have found myself mixed up with a man from Texas eleven years my senior. That’s the only way to describe it: ‘mixed up with a man.’ Because thirty-three is too old to say boyfriend, because anyway he isn’t really a boyfriend, just someone who I was attracted to who sometimes I’d let be rough with me, someone I am now trying to estrange myself from. Co- worker, boyfriend, stranger, ex. It’s a confusion that won’t help matters when I sit down with the public defender, when I need shorthand to describe who, exactly, is trying to put a bullet into me.
Each morning before leaving for work at the bookstore I’d kneel down and check the undercarriage of my car for a bomb, one of those improvised explosives rigged to go off when you turned the key in the ignition. I didn’t know what such a device would look like but I’d check for it anyway, I supposed I’d know it by its blue and red wires. It was a shitty hand-me-down cobalt blue Buick, a grandpa car, with a shattered transmission and left rear hubcap you had to kick to keep it from clattering off. When I’d turn the key in the ignition and the car didn’t detonate, I’d slip a cassette into the deck and ratchet up the volume. I’d peel out of the parking lot of my apartment complex and for ten to fifteen minutes, depending on traffic, I was alive. Because there was a whole other life I was leading, an alternate life where I was not on the run from a jealous ex. I was sipping a mint julep in a rocking chair, I was swing dancing in a ballroom with a debonair paramour.
Never again will I love as fiercely as I do in this moment, in the slate-grey light when my Dublin lover shows me the bullet holes in the GPO. Or as recklessly as the moment when, after knowing him less than forty-eight hours, I trust him with my guitar and tell him to meet me in a week in Galway after I’ve done the stone circles and the Yeats. My blind trust of strangers. When I think of it now, it makes me want to claw my nails into my skin.
His Ford Thunderbird is in the parking lot again, between the bookstore and the discount fabric warehouse. His car is in the parking lot and he is not. Where is he? He might be in the café, he might be in fiction, he might be in sci-fi or business and finance. Or he might be hospitalised again, which would explain why his car seems to have been there for twenty-four, forty- eight hours straight. Does it make me feel safe to know he is on a locked ward? There is a version of this parking lot where his car never moves. His car is in this parking lot forever collecting rust, and I am watching the car, approaching the building, checking over my shoulder for him to appear with a gun, flinching as I wait for the flash of my assassination. Fiction, sci-fi, business, finance.
I had graduated from a good university. I had a useless major but respectable grades. I wanted two things: I wanted a story for myself and I wanted to write. These did not seem like unreasonable things to want.
When I was twenty-two I sought to end a love affair with a thirty-three-year- old man by stuffing a break-up letter through the slats of his workplace locker. He found the declaration of independence penned in purple ink and cornered me in the break room. The door shut. The back of my head hit a locker. We went shoulder to shoulder as he put a slow, hot drawl to my turned-away ear. Unlike my letter with its haws and hedges, its alternate endings and cul-de- sacs, his side of the story was more to the point. If I tried to leave him, went the gist, he would goddamn kill me.
An easier thing would have been to find somewhere else to work. A telephone would ring, an ordinary phone, and I would startle. He’d leave books of black magic out on the counter where I was sure to find them, or wait till I was in earshot to get on the phone to place his special order for The Anarchist Cookbook. There were days when the only thing that gave me the courage to put on my department store suits in the morning and show up to shelve books was to pretend I was Michael Collins.
The threat was still fresh, my hands unsteady. I was shelving books in history when I spotted the book. It was a biography of Michael Collins. I was not typically someone who read biographies of important historical figures, but at the sight of the tricolour cover I thought of the lover I’d taken in Dublin and recalled his tender reverence for the man they called the Big Fellow. I took the tome in my hands. At home, under the covers, I fanned through the pages and traded my life for another. Instead of an ex I was dodging the Cairo Gang. A bad guy for the Irregulars. For the blue Buick and red Thunderbird I substituted armoured cars and Crossley tenders. The conflict between two opposing sides, so terrorising in the present, would one day be historicised: there was comfort in this fact. Of course historicising is its own kind of violence.
Historicising is a kind of violence. I cannot excuse what I have done with this story, only to say I know this much: it is a story that saved my life.
I’ll try again. In the year after I graduated from college, while I was minimum waging at a bookstore in the suburbs of Chicago, I found myself mixed up with a co-worker, a man from Texas eleven years my senior. He had a prominent scar on his forehead and hailed from a family of preachers. I was drawn to the novelty of him, his southern drawl, his old-school gangster haircut, the way he rolled the sleeves of his shirts. He didn’t give a pigeon shit for my love of big books and Brit pop. Our compatibility was founded on darker grounds, an attraction planted in the soil of a dangerous empathy and watered by curiosity and a cross-referencing of symptoms in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
He was attractive in a used-car salesman kind of way. There was something he was selling me and that something was himself. Cocaine and years of binge drinking had probably decimated a few crucial brain cells, but he was a good listener. He opened doors and paid for my dinners. Mostly I was drawn to him for his stories. He was an ambulatory cautionary tale, the consummate bad-idea boyfriend, an ex-bartender who had attracted every type of injury and anecdote, trailing across state lines angry ex-lovers and brushes with death. He’d once spent a night in jail. Though my stories lacked his rattlesnake swagger we did share a history of self-cruelty, and I had mistaken this discovery as a suitable foundation for follow-me-home.
He’d been with too many lovers for me to want to legitimately sleep with him but we worked our way around this prohibition in other ways. Typically this all went down in the detached garage at the far end of the parking lot from his condominium. There was a padded bench for bench-pressing, a cracked concrete floor. The door slid shut on massive casters. I stalked back and forth over the concrete, smoking expensive Nat Sherman cigarettes. They were 101 mm, gold filter. I wore high-heeled boots and used a fake name. The things we did to each other were things you’d do in a garage with a broken car. A broken car you liked taking for a ride but goddamn it you couldn’t help it sometimes you had to give it a kick because it was a piece of shit. It coughed, it cheated, it let you down. Sometimes I was the broken car on that bench, back arched, ratcheted up to the roof. Other times I’d be the one knee-deep in elbow grease, a twenty-two-year-old girl mechanic with a bike chain for a bracelet, an extension cord coiled in my hand.
It went wrong at the end of that summer. I’d played a solo gig one night at a coffeehouse, a divey sort of joint in Rogers Park. In my three-chord repertoire was a song that hit the wrong wavelength. He’d thought it was about X. It set him off. He began cultivating a jealous fantasy that I was sleeping with a lanky, shaggy-haired bookseller named X. It was true I’d gone to see an art- house movie with X, but there’d been no romance in the way we traded names of directors. Next he suspected a bookseller named Y, a prematurely balding guy with wire-rims and a pickup truck. Gradually his jealousy spread to Z and then to every male I came in contact with: co-workers and customers, ex- boyfriends and men I might meet if I went out unsupervised.
Nursing this paranoia, he showed up the next Friday to the suburban bar where I went drinking with my co-workers. The place was packed with minimum wagers like myself from nearby retail outlets. Just before midnight he appeared at the head of the table like a lugubrious figure from a German Expressionist film. X was wedged in beside me. All conversation skidded to a halt. The party stuttered back to life but this man stayed at the head of the table just glowering at us, knocking back bottle after bottle though I knew he wasn’t supposed to drink anymore. X made his exit first, tapping Y’s shoulder, the two men exchanging low words before making their getaway. By the time I slipped out to the parking lot, a shadow was following fast at my heel. I stopped when I saw the rusted wheel rims of his dark red sports car.
‘Get in,’ he said. A door slammed. He lurched the engine to life and launched into a tirade. He steered wildly, at full speed, down the streaking road. I dug the lit end of a cigarette into the back of my hand to make him stop shouting. The pain seared with white heat. At a traffic light by the all-night car wash I threatened to jump out of the car but he hit the locks. I cranked down the window and tried to crawl out of it but he grabbed me by the ankle and dragged me back into the passenger seat. Something struck my back, a fist or a flashlight. My forehead pummelled the glove box with blunt force. You burned yourself, he was yelling, you hit your head.
In the end he dropped me back at the parking lot where my blue Buick sat waiting. He gunned the engine and was off, his wheels screeching burnt traction. I unlocked the car and got in. I gripped the wheel for a long time, my shoulders heaving. I imagined a man in uniform, an officer of the peace, finding a young woman sobbing at the wheel and setting things right. A cup of coffee, a warm blanket, a promise of protection.
I took a leave of absence from my job. I gathered what was left of my savings and went to London, then flew to Ireland by myself. In the windswept west I hiked through stone circles and read pamphlets of local lore. I sat cross- legged in the lumpy grass near ruined abbeys. I was moved by scenes of rural simplicity, a red-faced farmer in overalls, a blind kitten tumbling and mewling in the tall grass. From time to time the strap of my backpack would graze the sore spot, but I did not think much about the jealous man I had left behind, the one who delivered lectures at me at full speed about X, Y, and Z.
In Galway, as arranged, I met up again with my Dublin lover. I never once doubted that he’d meet me in Eyre Square, guitar in hand, because he’d promised he would. We met by the statue of the poet and embraced like long- losts. An unmarried couple knocking on doors, looking for lodging: in those days it was still frowned upon. We rented a room in Salthill from a white- haired tongue-clucking proprietress, a fussy upholstered double room with baroque floral sheets and a bed with creaking springs. Among the scattered souvenirs from my travels I’d ended up with a flyer for a Dublin walking tour. He picked it up, a glimmer of admiration in his eye. He had two idols: one was Jimi Hendrix and the other was Michael Collins. I knew less about Michael Collins than I did about Jimi Hendrix so I asked him to tell me about this hero of the Irish Republic. He undressed me with his calloused fingers, and he did.
The bugle sounded at 11:45AM at Liberty Hall. The rebels stood to attention. By the midday Angelus their march was well underway, a motley assemblage of comrades dressed in dark green and bandoliers. They dragged handcarts of smuggled German guns towards the GPO, wheels clashing on cobblestones. In the basement of Liberty Hall they’d cranked out their proclamation on a warhorse of a Wharfdale Double-Crown. The set of metal type trafficked in from Capel Street had lacked letters, so they’d improvised, cutting a C from an O, dabbing sealing wax on an F to make an E. Inside the GPO, they staked their flag, clearing the main concourse of customers. A gun went off, blowing out a piece of stucco ceiling. In the lobby a policeman buying stamps begged not to be shot. Michael Collins, steering the throng towards safety, revolver in hand: ‘We don’t shoot prisoners.’
After six days of defending their posts, the rebellion is clearly failing. The khaki uniforms have closed in. The city has been burning steadily for a week. The air on Moore Street is thick with gutted timber, the cobbles below deckled with wreckage and broken glass. Collins picks through the rubble, ash on his coat, his boots flecked with debris. Surrender is certain. He rages. His fury is that it has come to this. If they aren’t all rounded up and shot at dawn, as many of them will be, he swears one thing: never again will he wait for the enemy to close in.
Face the mirror and don the regalia: the eyeliner, the armour. On the morning of the court date, I trade the crystal for a Celtic cross. The silver links slink round my throat as I fix the chain in the mirror. As I’m fastening the clasp I realise the public defender is wrong, that my ex will appear in court. Of course he will appear. A restraining order for such a man is not an end to the story. It is a declaration of war. In the aftermath that is to come, I’ll need better protection than a Celtic cross and a sheet of grievances in triplicate. What I’d require is a uniform: a military cap like the one Michael Collins wore, the braided brocade and stiff brim. If I had a military jacket I’d put that on as well, snug in worsted wool and great brass buttons. It flashes through my mind the cross will look good in the coffin if I happen to be wearing it when I’m shot. Nothing for it but to don the armour, the cross, the eyeliner. Sure I’ll be looking grand for my assassination, for my three-day lying-in-state.
I march through the aisles of the bookstore. But at night floats the image of my ignoble end. Over and over again I wake up to sweat-soaked sheets and find myself half inside the dream and half without: the gunshot in the back of the head. An ambush on a tiny road in Cork. Béal na mBláth. In the mouth of flowers.
This man knew his way around a shooting range. His father owned guns and had taught him to shoot. This father still lived in Texas. One of the last things my ex had threatened as he hassled me down the bookstore aisle was that he was going back to Texas for Christmas and he was coming back loaded. I pictured it crossing state lines, the gun snug in a glove box, or else a rifle tucked inside the trunk, making its way along a blue vein of lonesome highway towards me. Nacodoches, Shreveport, Memphis, Champaign, Chicago.
Michael Collins on the signing of the treaty, on the fateful return home: Sure they won’t kill me in my own county?
The last time I saw the man from Texas was in the Cook County Courthouse. The saplings that lined the traffic islands were leafless and stabby. That frigid morning, I checked for the car bomb, kicked the hubcap, and drove my blue Buick to the house of justice. The courtroom was an immense force field of polished chestnut. There was a massive American flag suspended in the back. The confines resembled a Department of Motor Vehicles with its throng of sad cases crammed together, the same stale air of prolonged waiting and depleted expectations. Disloyal wives and deadbeat dads, low-grade domestic abusers and petrified exes: we were all packed together, hashing out our harrowing tales in amplified monotone. The death threat, under fluorescent lights, had been reduced to a mere bureaucratic event. The defendant had showed up that morning with an entourage of a legal team. They swished down the hallway, slicked back and well-heeled, smelling of aftershave and money. I didn’t look at him during the proceedings. A hassled judge presided, separating the wheat from the chaff, emotion from facts. In the end the judge said he was sorry for my trouble but he could not grant me the order of protection. He cited a lack of evidence. He rapped the gavel.
One week after the court date, I got the phone call. My boss from the bookstore was on the line. He repeated the news that had reached him from Texas. At his words I started to tremble uncontrollably. For a time I could not speak. I hung up the phone. What I’d wanted to say, had I been able to say it, was that there had been a mix-up. I was sure that the bullet at the hairline had been intended for me, not him. The bullet had my name on it. Only it had no narrative loyalty. You could say it entered the wrong skull. The assassination had happened. The man had used it to take his own life. I was still alive.
‘I saw Death in a dream last night,’ I’d said to him once, one day behind the counter when we were re-shelving books. He replied with a sly smile, ‘Are you sure it wasn’t me, poorly dressed?’
I’d wanted romance, and I’d wanted a story. And for what? At what cost? The day I got my story was the day I shut my mouth.
Today I am thirty-three. As I walk to my office in downtown Chicago I see girls fettered in army surplus wear. They pass me on West Madison Street, heavily lipsticked and wrapped in wool, flashing insignia, dressed for battle. On their chests they wear labels they did not earn. They bear the names of regiments they did not, and do not, belong to. Their battles are not recognised, have never even been declared.
I work at a historic preservation trust. My supervisor is an architectural historian whose basic attitude seems to be, ‘That’s a protected structure! Don’t knock it down, just let it turn to shit.’ Needless to say, I have a lot of respect for him. It takes a special type of person to speak his mind when the logical consequences of his theory, were it to be carried out, would be to make himself obsolete. Our days are spent on site visits or sifting through paperwork, applying for demolition-delay ordinances that are duly overturned after the ninety days. I spend a lot of time ruminating over ruins and cracked paving stones. I’m in awe of those blades of grass and spindly flowers that somehow find a way, those signs of life that in their humble growth and stubborn existence put us all to shame.
The other day as I was drawing up a draft of a preservation report, an invitation arrived at my office along with the afternoon mail. It was a postcard from my former Irish lover, the one who’d approached me in Grafton Street and shown me the bullet holes in the GPO. I don’t know how he found my address. He was to deliver a special lecture on Michael Collins and his place in the Irish romantic imagination. Apparently he was some kind of a respected academic now, a lecturer at a university. This lecture was at a prestigious academic institution in Dublin. It would require me flying overseas. The lines he’d scribbled on the postcard were from a poem by W.B. Yeats. I recognised them immediately. He’d read these lines to me more or less verbatim one afternoon as we lay together on the grass of a rugby pitch, our limbs entangled, a rare blue slash of a sky over our heads. Under the lines from Yeats, he’d written two words: Please come.
When I got home I made the mistake of looking him up online. It is a terrible thing. There is no mystery. He lives in England with an English wife. Maybe he was planning an English child right now, an entire English brood. Now it was no longer a reverie, this springtime visit. I would have to employ seduction. Perhaps, if the seduction went well, he would leave his wife for me. Would I attend this lecture? He seemed to think I would, otherwise he would not have reached out across the span of a decade, across the reach of an ocean, to find me. I thought about what he’d say if I met him afterwards for a pint. I wondered if I could ever tell him the story, the one history of Michael Collins that he didn’t know.
Historicising is its own violence. That’s the kind of thing he might have said, he might still say. It’s no stretch to see him standing at a lectern saying it, shrouded in the tweed he’d probably traded for his leather jacket: ‘Historicising is its own violence.’ Serious young ones in horn-rimmed glasses would write it down, taking his dictation. Would he say that about history or would that be admitting that his line of work was wrong? I don’t know. I’ve lost him. The slagging, the singing, the taking each other down a peg, all the love-making and street-wandering, this romance is far in the past. Ten years is it now? Eleven? It doesn’t matter. Today he furnishes his life with objects we used to scoff at: a sturdy desk, an office, a reputation to uphold. For my part, I live in a railroad apartment on Ravenswood with two women in their mid-thirties, not friends so much as young people I located in a newspaper listing. I carry a clipboard to falling-apart buildings and overgrown lots and draw up reports in strangled legalese. I argue for the cultural impact of these buildings, structures festering in blighted neighbourhoods that even aldermen want nothing to do with. I outline five-point plans for what should be done with these heaps of ruins though these reports end up, more often than not, in someone else’s trash.
Was it too late to insinuate myself among the smart set, to fly to Dublin to accept his invitation, to carry to a lectern my own sheaf of papers and interpret the ruins? I could do it. Or else a poem. Surely I haven’t lost touch with that side of myself. Surely a career has not rent that romance from me. There are verses and songs and language in me yet. I’d show him. I’d start the poem with the iconic, with the pillars he’d shown me one day in Dublin with such tenderness. I’d put into this poem all I knew about the bullet holes in the GPO, about the day he took my hand and we traced the gouges in the granite. This poem would say what the bullet holes had meant for the brave men and women who’d fought for Irish independence. It would not be historical per se but it would have facts, facts that he’d taught me, facts that had nothing to do with him, facts from the biography that had kept me alive. The words would bridge the distance that had separated us. They would explain what it had all been for. But the right question is not what do the bullet holes mean or even what is to be done with the bullet holes. The right question is always, do you see the bullet holes? Do you see what has been wounded and rent? That day on a flowered duvet in a rented Galway room I had wanted this fella in the leather jacket to look me in the eyes and tell me he saw the damage, the bruising on my back, the stain of purple yellow on the shoulder blade. He might have seen it. He might have tried to look me in the eyes. But if he saw, he did not say, or I did not hear. And I did not want to say, look at me, see how I am hurting.
I slipped the invitation into the recycling bin at work, though I think that was not enough. Reduce, reuse, recycle: it would come back. I should have burned it. I should have returned it to the ash from whence it came, the ash of our old acquaintance, with a fare thee well and please fuck off to my fair Irish lover. There was nothing left for the relics but to burn, burn, burn them all out—the letters, the pictures, the poems—to burn the relics as I’d burned the letters written for me by the man who, when I left him, would lose his mind. My Irish lover had not saved me from the other’s violence, any more than he should have. How could he have? It didn’t matter. I’d burn out the men, and the memories along with them, but they leave their own residue.
This is not a story at all but a shelf upon which I’ve lined up bits of sculpture, bits of history, here a blown-off head, there a pillar riddled with dents from old rifles. I should burn this story, too, and along with it my notion that I, a young woman of twenty-two, had any business doing myself up in the garb of an Irish commander-in-chief. I should do away for good with the notion that a book I’d read under the covers while I waited for my car to be bombed was anything more than what it was: a book about a man named Michael Collins that I happened to fancy. Fancy—that’s a word I don’t use. These words should be wrenched right from my mouth. I can’t be trusted with a pen.
This isn’t a story about Michael Collins. This is a story about damage. This is a story about two lovers: one who took me to see the bullet holes in the GPO and another who took his own life with a bullet. They crossed over in time but were so removed from one another it was as if I had two lives, was two people. I had one life in Ireland and another in the suburbs of Chicago. Everywhere, everyone was looking at violence, staring at it, looking around it, blinking, not blinking, and not a single one with any idea of what to do with it.