“The Tormentor” by Finbar Rafferty

‘I did not!’ ‘You did so!’
‘Jesus, I must have been some bollix when I was younger.’
‘You were! Some of the lads were wondering if you’d have the nerve to turn up tonight.’
‘Ahh now, c’mon, it’s a long time ago now.’
‘Thirty years since we did the Leaving. Christ! Does that make us nearly fifty?’
‘Fukkin’ hell – apparently so.’

The two men sat back to reflect on that calculation. A thirtieth class reunion. Not a particularly tight class. There had been no previous reunions, but one class member returning from the US had taken the initiative to organise the event. Tracking down the disparate group had not been easy, and much of the research had been done on the internet, or through parents living locally.


Rayo and Muller, were busy catching up.

‘You were a fukkin’ menace – bullied everyone – don’t know how you didn’t get kicked out.’
‘They tried, but the old man told the Hun that if he even thought about it again he’d get him fired.’
‘I’d forgotten about your old man. He was some bastard. I mean – sorry, you know what I mean..’
‘You’re alright, he was … He’s gone now’
‘Sorry to hear that.’
‘Ah, don’t worry about it. I didn’t hear until weeks afterwards. Wasn’t in contact at the time.’

The two paused.

‘Anyway on a lighter note. Any other particular outrages you remember?’
‘Eh – there was putting Shayo’s car up on blocks. Smoking in Woodwork, and then putting the butts in Doyler’s pencil case.’
‘Oh yeah! He nearly got kicked out for that!’
‘Painting the door of the art room stripey and saying that the stupid hippie art teacher told us to do it to express ourselves.’
‘And! – She got fired!’

‘D’you remember Brenno?’
‘Not really. Sap that came up from Waterford or somewhere in second year? Total sap?’
‘Yeah. Christ, when I think about it, we must have made his life hell. Apparently he was dyslexic or something.’
‘Don’t really remember him.’
‘You don’t? I can remember you and Coyle comparing how many greeners you could get into his hair from the desk behind in Science!’
‘And there was the day Shayo was out, and the temp wouldn’t let anyone out to the jacks so you pissed in his school bag!’
‘Fuck off!’
‘You did so!’
‘Anyway, I’m off for a fag.’
‘Do you still smoke?’
‘Eh, well, – what do you think?’
‘I gave it up yonks ago.’
‘Ah –  I give up, I start, I give up – started again since the wife left. Back in a minute.’


Finishing his cigarette, Rayo flicked the butt onto the lawn. Hands in pockets he headed back across the car park towards the hotel.

The bumper of the car caught him behind the knees. He twisted as he fell. The second last thing that went through his mind was that he had no idea who the elderly woman was, at the wheel. The last thing that went through his mind was the metal corner of the car park Pay Station as it met the front grille of the car.

Mrs Brennan had remembered. She had remembered picking the phlegm out of her only child’s hair when he came home from school. She had remembered washing out his school bag again and again trying to get rid of the smell of urine. She had remembered her son’s inexplicable silence as he withdrew more and more into himself. Above all, she had remembered coming home one day to find him hanging from a beam in the garage.

It had been six weeks since she had received the reunion inquiry. ‘Hi! I’d like to ask for your help in tracking down some of my old classmates!‘ She had recognised the name of her son’s tormentor on the mailing list.

With trembling hands, she lit a cigarette. The car horn sounded incessantly and the broken radiator hissed as water leaked, mixing with the blood on the ground. She waited for security, or the guards, or whoever, to bring on the next part of her painful and empty life.


Biographical Note:

Finbar has lived in the US, France, London and now Donegal He writes with the ‘Write for your Life’ group in Letterkenny







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