Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a fictional series entitled “Danny Boy.” To catch up with the entire series, you can read these in chronological order:
Fiction Friday #1: Danny Boy – Promises Broken
Fiction Friday #2: Danny Boy – Moving Up the Ranks
Fiction Friday #3: Danny Boy – Redemption
Fiction Friday #4: Danny Boy – For Viv
Fiction Friday #5: Danny Boy – Outside the Lines
Fiction Friday #6: Danny Boy – Until We Meet Again
Fiction Friday #7: Danny Boy – Making Mother Proud
Fiction Friday #8: Danny Boy – Eyes Wide Open
I know it’s hard to be in the slammer, but you did it all to yourself. You could have had it all. The whore of a woman you called your mother – she was an accident. I used to think she was so worthless. Then I’d look at you. You were my Danny Boy. Now I see that all these years, you were just like her. After hearing you on the stand the other week, I knew you were not a true man. You were never a Dougan.
A single crocodile-sized tear fell to the letter. Even though Danny hated his father, he also loved him. How could he have feelings of love for such a monster?
Wiping his eyes, Danny remembered the story he overheard his father tell one night while at Dougan’s Pub. With a cigar and bottomless whiskey in one hand, Jimmy told his story of sadness, pain and vulnerability for the first and only time…
Jimmy felt the rock poke his back. He wiggled, tossed and turned.
“Quit you’re moving around, Jimmy!” yelled his father, Frank. Seven-year-old Jimmy pulled the cover over his head, and then defiantly stuck his tongue out at his father. “Marianna, get in here! I need the hot water for the mix!” he screamed.
Jimmy continued to hide under the patched quilt that was woven by his Grandmother Irene from their mother country of Ireland. This was one of the few cherished family items brought over by boat when Jimmy was a baby.
The sound of the train shook the empty whisky bottles. Jimmy’s mother finally threw open the door of the tent. Jimmy caught a glimpse of her swollen ankles out of the corner of his eye. Under the blanket, the heat of the fire made him sweat. His mom quietly shuffled across the dirt floor while his father grunted around the whiskey still like a mad scientist.
Like the fire, Jimmy could sense the tension between the two. “Why the fuuuuck did you bring me this metal pot, Marianna? It’s too small,” he slurred, pushing the boiling water towards her round, bulging stomach. And then, in almost perfect harmony, his mother’s shrills and Jimmy’s screams filled the tent echoing past the railroad tracks to neighboring houses.
The rest was a blur except for faint memories of holding his mother’s trembling hands while she was carried away on a hospital gurney with severe burns to her abdomen. Jimmy had big plans for him and his new brother, Aiden. He would teach him marbles and jacks, and after school they could play kick the can and stickball.
But those hopes and dreams vanished. His mother did her best to reassure him. “Oh, my boy, Aiden is now in heaven with Grandmother Irene, ” she said.
That night, his father drank himself into oblivion. As little Jimmy cried himself to sleep, he vowed to be a rich, successful businessman. He would never live the life of a poor, drunken Irish immigrant.
By the tender age of 10, he began his mob career beating up kids for their lunch and pocket change. By age 16, he joined the ranks of his Uncle Bobby Dougan’s Gang of Irish mobsters. And by age 20, Jimmy had successfully run and managed a fairly sophisticated ring of cons, scams and rackets in Boston, and surrounding neighborhoods.
Now, staring at the handwritten letter from his father, Danny crinkled up the paper into a ball and tossed it to the floor. “Jimmy became exactly who he wanted to be,” said Danny to himself in his cell. “You wrote the story, be a man and own it. And now, Pop, I’m writing my own story,” he said. Humming the melody of his mother’s favorite song, “Danny Boy,” he tightly cinched the bed sheet in a noose.
Oh, Danny Boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side,
The summer’s gone, and all the flowers are dying
It’s you, It’s you, must go and I must bide.
But come ye back, when summer’s on the mountain
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,
It’s I’ll be here, in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh Danny Boy, Oh Danny Boy, I love you so.
But should you come, when all the flower’s are dying
And I am dead, as dead I well may be,
You’ll come and find the place where I am lying
And kneel and say an Ave there for me.
And I shall hear, though soft you tread above me
And all my dreams will warm and sweeter be
If you’ll not fail to tell me that you love me
Then I shall sleep in peace until you come to me.
whooooh. dark. once again. loved writing this stuff. this time around i really got into the some of the historical background of the Irish immigrants, but wish i could add more. hope you enjoyed it. i am not sure if Danny is coming back. i guess i will figure that out next week.
Writing prompt this week was provided by lovely and talented Molly Field: “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.” — Anne Lamott
Friday Fiction Friends! Want to read some more fiction for the weekend? Curl up and check out these writers, who have put their hearts into their pieces with their own take on the same writing prompt:Follow