Rory and Brendan, sharing a few beers and more than a few laughs. Just like old times. They’d fallen out now and again, lost touch for a couple of years after college – who doesn’t? – but in eachother’s presence they were still the same cheeky bastards bitching about everything in the world and ripping the piss out of one another. You could set your watch to it; greetings, slaggings, braggings, moanings, chucklings, supportings, huggings, farewell…ings.
Trouble was, something had changed. On the surface the banter and back an’ forth appeared the same, but it merely hid a darker reality. A mutual acquaintance, a fella they knew from school – not well, but to see, ya know? – had suffered the incredible misfortune of dying. As a result of using drugs. Rory’s drugs. Any other person would be ok with this. Well…not ‘ok’ exactly, but they might just bemoan fate, or luck, or amateurs not taking the fucking shit properly, or cutting/lacing/mixing it with some lethal stuff that really did the damage. Then they’d shake their heads, tut once or twice at the sadness of it all, and leave it at that.
Plus, Rory and Brendan shared everything; when Brendan lost his virginity – finally, at 23 – who was the first bloke he boasted about it to? Rory. When Rory got engaged, Brendan was the only possible person he had in mind for Best Man. When neither wanted to go to college after getting their Leaving Certs, each talked the other into it…with the usual mixture of bullshit, compliments, insults and wise-assery. When either became a little too full of themselves, the other would be sure to bring them back down to earth.
So it cut Rory up that he couldn’t confide in his longest and most trusted friend. For you see, Brendan was a cop. Not just any Garda either – Brendan was a Detective Inspector…with the National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his explicit remit was to investigate narcotics fatalities and pursue those responsible. He had a whole Task Force at his disposal!
There was, therefore, an undercurrent of finality to this meet-up. A Last Supper quality. Brendan could detect this subtle atmosphere, even if he was unaware of its cause. And Rory…Rory now had absolutely nobody to turn to. Nobody to hear him, console him, absolve him. Was this his penance? Or was it just a prelude to the real punishment that was to come?
Solidarity, brothers & sisters…