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Troubled Neighbours

by  loopilil

Posted: Saturday, July 12, 2014
Word Count: 698
Summary: This is based on true life & some of the terms used may be offensive to some people. I apologise now.

Chrissie pulls her raincoat tighter around her shivering frame as she stares at the abandoned building that was once Morgan’s sweet shop. An amused expression spreads across her face as she remembers how the Mahon boys would sprint down the street with old Seamus Morgan trailing desperately behind them.  Those were the days Chrissie thinks.  Despite the obvious civil unrest as it was politely known on the nightly news, they were fun times when all the local children could safely play together in the shabby streets without the fear of harm thanks to “The Boys” of course. Local Paramilitaries stalked the streets ensuring suspected drug dealers and paedophiles knew they weren’t welcome and informed to leave the area and not return.  Many disappeared under the cover of night including her own best friend Rosie Murray’s brother who was given two options after being suspected of supplying drugs to local schoolchildren.  He could leave quietly within twenty-four hours or take the risk of being kneecapped before being forced to leave anyway.  Chrissie had thought it was a terrible shame as she had always had a crush on Dameo Murray.
 Of course safety would only be guaranteed if you were in your appropriate area. It would never do if “Taigs and Prods” were seen to be mixing.  Chrissie smiles sadly as she recalls the segregated neighbourhoods side by side in adjoining streets separated by makeshift corrugated iron barriers and the more permanent and secure Peace walls, different schools, youth clubs and even sweet shops. 
  There were advantages of course particularly as a teenager.  At the height of the Troubles Chrissie was often allowed to wear her own clothes to school as a uniform would have identified her as belonging to a particular religion and each afternoon she would pray that a prefect would come through the door to tell those catching a bus out of town to leave early before they stopped running.  If they were really lucky it was before homework had been handed out.  Continuing down the street she stops to admire the recently renovated school proudly announcing Darcy Road Integrated College part of the new peace initiative.
“It wasn’t like this in our day was it Chrissie?”  A familiar voice interrupts her thoughts.
It can’t be, it’s impossible but that voice is so familiar.
“Damian Murray” Chrissie squeals, “What the hell are you doing here? I thought you had been run out of Dodge years ago.”
Chrissie flings her arms around Dameo’s neck almost knocking him to the ground.  Damien ruffles her hair affectionately as he always used to do.
“Seems I’m not public enemy number one any more” he chuckles.  “It was Mr Finnegan the headmaster that was flogging the Wacky Backy to his pupils.  I’ve been back for a few years now and workin’ for my brother Marty. You remember him don’t you?  Been doin’ ok since gettin’ out of the Crum. Obviously time in the slammer has worked wonders on him.
Chrissie remembers the eldest of the clan very well. Strong, dependable with an endearing stutter.  His mother relied on him to help her with the youngsters after his dad had been blown up during the conflict.
“What about Rosie?” Chrissie asks him, “Is she still round about?”
Damian grins mischievously.  “Didn’t you hear? Started running about with a squaddie, ended up she was the black sheep, & that’s sayin’ something considering our family. She ran off to England with him before she got a hidin’ too. She lives among them now but never really settled. Still wants back to our green and twisted land.”
Chrissie nodded sadly knowing that a lot of their generation had fled for a more peaceful life including her.
“I suppose I’d better be going” she tells him regretfully. “I’m heading back home to New Zealand tomorrow and have lots to do yet including visiting my granny for the last time. That’s the only thing about being so far away, I probably wont get the chance to see her again.”
After saying goodbye Chrissie turns to gaze at the place she had once called home one last time. Maybe there is a future here after all…..but she doubts it.