Colours and faces swim past him as he readjusts to the light and tips out his cigarette with a hairless white arm. He glances at his desk, completely clean with a gilded leather finish replaced only this week reflecting the city lights outside. He has relinquished all forms of paper communication.
Here he reaches out to the ether, to the anti matter, to the still point of the spinning earth contained entirely in the sensory deprivation tank inherited after the fall of the old guard. He remembers the oath he swore around the deer heads and heroin frosted eyes of Varadkar’s crypt. They’d take him with them if he wanted. Simon Harris, Chief Whip, how did that sound Baby H? He hadn’t hated the old guard as much as the others. But by the end, the poor fuckers, they were too dicey with the swarkowski body scrubs and Garda inspectorate units.
Baby H plays his hand tighter. No Ardagh Chalice Cum Cams using your own IP, no reclaimed milkyway Labour assistants on the knee. Junior ministry, you got it sugartits. The ghostly Soc Dems mad and still trapped in the walls would beat chunks out of the walnut door for the noise until they were finally dragged off into the Seanad chambers and the key thrown away. The claw marks are still there he must get that door replaced he remembers. Rule the tank or be its victim.
Our hero shuts the lid and settles back into silent, grey waters. Tomorrow is the meeting with the media team and if he fucks this one it will be the pickled fingers of Sean Crowe pointing in his direction. One last chance, Varadkar said after those women died down in Ballyferriter. Maniacs choking on bath salts. Doctors said they’d presented a few weeks before giving their reason as risk of suicide but that was becoming the oldest trick in the book. It was always going to be risky, but Noirin assured him by the studio lines of Montrose that they had whole teams working day and night seizing packets and tea leaves.
The heeled boots of every rhinestone cowboy backbencher were pressed against his temples since the Rotunda went public about the contradictory 7 month waiting lists in all public hospitals for the various hot tickets such as ectopic pregnancy etc. An abortion is not that hard he thought he’d fucking do them himself if he could but his hands are tied. They were ramming this same shit down his throat every second of every day until he landed his fists in an unintended splat against the leatherette of his bureau and told his secretary he would only be communicated with by eagle or through scheduled appointment at the tank. If the Taoiseach wanted him he’d be here, working, really working with his glutes facing God.
Colours rushed before him. Pick a colour, Leo said. Pick a fucking colour and that’s it. It was a beautiful idea, he had to admit. They’d found it on the whiteboard of Labour’s old canteen back when the very notion of an extra hospital bed was enough to give even the lowliest troika pitbull the protein shakes. The Moon Tan- Protecting Mothers and Babies. When they eventually tracked Kelly down in a Tipperary marshland tearing the wings off a butterfly he said they would launch it as the Roisin Dubh, protecting the daughters of Ireland. It was amazing, not even fucking Putin could do this although the pumps would be bought in from Russia, recycled from an old machine that dispersed cloud separating crystals into the air and prevent rain only used once at Sting concert in Moscow. Another fucking genius.
“You see”, Kelly had continued catching a fly on his tongue and swallowing quickly, “you pumped this chemical into the air and it reacted to heightened levels of progesterone in the body. Every pregnant person within a 50 mile radius would glow. You never looked so beautiful through the eyes of the state.” But Roisin Dubh wouldn’t fly, it was seen as the wrong colour, so to speak. Black face, coal face, good grief. So Moon Tan, wrenched up through the gullet of 10 hungry interns over 17 hours of a liquid only diet at last years’ convention. Moon Tan, watching over you and yours.
Colours swelled before him as he wandered in the darkness. Never moving but travelling through light years of Harris family history from the first lobed tetrapods to leave the water and crawl along the rocky beaches of Greystones. Keep it in, let the breath flow.
Another three women dead. Every headline said it even the ones they’d got in the stocking from 10 christmas’ ago. There’s no keeping a leash on this, Leo said. I’ve given you everything, he screeched over the shoulder of a caramel two up two down parliamentary assistant rescued from the rubble of social democracy. Pick a fucking colour. Pass this through those Matt Talbot’s in PR and clear us a deck.
The red of his eyelids rushed and bounded into eternity. He reached deeper into the chokehold of his mortal coil beyond the reaches of this dimensional prison and braced himself against the gushing tides of human, animal, mineral, chemical the incredible whiteness of his being and behold. Blue. Blue like the veins of his pulsing temple. Blue like the lips of his forefathers shattering their guns against the heads of co-op farmers. Blue like the morning sky. Blue like the new garda recruits flushing down their 25th baby guinness and reaching for his hand under the bar. Blue, like the moon that shines on him and blue like the light that shines from the pearly arses of Dublin Bay South.
He was saved, he was made. Protecting mother and babies, there wouldn’t be a woman in this country they couldn’t find before the journos got there first. He would be no English on a motorway telling abandoned mothers they could sleep here for the night, he would be no deer in the headlights. He opened his eyes and breathed in deeply. He had a facial in the Dail bar in 20 minutes. He climbed out of the tank and into the night, slapped a towel over his shoulder and knocked off the lights on his way out. He remembered his manifesto. Baby H always finds his way to the spray booth.
Words by Simone Harres. Illustration by Mice.