'The New World', from a coming novel by Ultan Banan. Whiskey fiction from Black Tarn Publishing

The New World

I keep walking til I’m surrounded by Irish, I hear it all around me, the Gaeilge, and here the houses are leaning every which way, not the fine brick houses like those on Broadway, but houses of wood and nail,  leaning every which direction and fulla holes, bending left, bending right, and a woman in every decrepit window, clothes flying out above the street, drunken men on the ground, drunken woman with bottles, pigs underfoot, urchins on bare feet, and a monstrous smell of filth in the air; and I asked a passerby where I was, and he told me I was in Paradise and I laughed out loud, for never was there a place on earth so far from paradise. So there were two New Yorks, then, just like there were two Irelands; one for the fine women smelling of roses, and the other for the poor drunken Irish smelling of whiskey and shite. I’d never been one for the alcohol myself; the brother liked it when he was alive, me never, but I thought now, since I was in the New World, I’d have a drink for the brother who’d got me here and who was even now still with me. Every second building was a drinking house, so I picked one right on the square, and I went in the doors and found myself next to a great barrel, crowds round it, and a bawdy old Irish woman filling glasses. I squeezed my way through and told her I’d have a whiskey. No whiskey there, she told me, only the rum. I’d never had it and didn’t know what it was, but told her I’d have one just the same, and I gave her five cents and she gave me a glass, and I said ‘Sláinte’ and drank the rotten stuff, not for me but for the brother, and I stepped out of that den back into the square, and whaddaya know, but it looked a little more like paradise.

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