Heaps of Trouble

Heaps of Trouble by Emelyn Heaps

Book: Heaps of Trouble by Emelyn Heaps Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emelyn Heaps
of hearing, the Christian Brother repeated the question. His look of sheer disappointment when he finally realised that he was not going to get his hands on my body gave way to an explosion of rage directed at the others. Ordering them to move out into the aisles and to stand to attention, he beckoned to his two similarly attired henchmen, who had not moved from the door as if they were expecting an escape attempt. With military precision, arms swinging, they marched the boys out of the classroom and off down the street. He slammed the door with a final glance in my direction, his features once again silhouetted by the bright light from outside, only this time he looked more comical than frightening.
    Sister Charlotte had not moved once during the whole episode, nor had ‘skull head’ made any attempt to converse with her, almost as if he believed the nuns had only been playing with our education and they, the Brothers, were now going to show these kids what real teaching was all about. She turned to the six of us scattered around the now very empty classroom and, with a voice like that of a mother whose children had all been abducted, whispered that we were free to go. Very slowly we filed past her and went out the door and, as I was the last to leave, I turned to close it.
    My last memory of that classroom, in which I received my first few years of education, was that of a nun standing in the middle of an empty, gloomy space, softly crying. The feeling of sadness lasted about three paces from the door, until the realisation of freedom and the thought of never-ending summer holidays ahead lifted my spirits. I bolted off down the street with a skip and a hop and was just in time to see, off to my right, a long line of small boys slowly marching their way across the square.
    Two days later I was standing in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother who (for once) were conversing with each other, when, with a cry, the mother clutched her stomach, which appeared to have grown a lot larger over the past number of weeks. The mother grabbed the grandmother, who helped her into a chair, and instructed me to run to the dispensary and get my father as quickly as I could. By the time I returned, the mother was in the hallway with a packed bag and a blue blanket under her right arm. As the questions tumbled out of my mouth, the father led the mother to the car and settled her in the back seat. Then they drove off together in the direction of Kilmainham. When the father came back, all of the questions I had stored up dissolved quickly at his suggestion that I go with him to Newlands Golf Club and caddy for him.
    The father had joined the club about ten minutes after he had bought the car and I loved these visits to the golf club, as I got to play with the flags on the greens. I became the flag-holder for the seventh cavalry and could gallop up and down the fairways, leading an imaginary charge against fearsome foe. That particular evening, when we had completed the eighteen holes and a lengthy stay in the clubhouse bar, he suggested that we visit Wong’s restaurant on the way home, which had me rushing to the car before he had finished talking. Wong’s coleslaw was the tastiest food that I had ever eaten and, if served with a burger (another new item that I never got at home), well, I was in seventh heaven.
    We got home as the bells of St Michael’s were tolling out the midnight hour. He parked the car on the pavement outside the shop and, much to my amazement, Mrs Clooney appeared as if by magic and announced to the father that he had a baby daughter. Whereupon he turned to me, grinning like an idiot, and suggested we should visit the mother. We set off for St James’ Hospital, where we found on our arrival that children were not allowed in at that time of night. Following directions from the father, I crept along the outside of the building, peering into each ground-floor room, until I could see the father

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