|Donnacha Minton lives in Salthill, Galway. He was educated in Colaiste Einde, Threadneedle Road, and have worked abroad in England, Germany and the U.S. He spent almost a decade in Dublin before returning to Galway in 2003 to pursue an Arts degree as a mature student. He qualified as a TEFL teacher in 2011. At present, he is a volunteer with Cope in Galway city and hoping to pursue a career in writing.|
Pinky the elephant
By Donnacha Minton
Billy woke with a mouthful of sand and a throbbing headache. He was twenty one years old and maybe six hours. The sun was already up and bouncing off the calm sea in front of him. He pulled himself into a sitting position and leaned back against the stone wall behind him. He had no idea how he got there, lying on the sandy beach half way between Salthill and home. He slowly began to recall the night before; plenty of booze in the local, the odd joint and dancing wildly in the nightclub under the strong influence of a white pill, generously donated by Fats as a birthday gift. Nobody ever got anything off Fats. People joked that he had to pay back rent to his mother after his birth for the nine months of incubation. There was little wonder that he was as tight as he was. Billy smiled at the memory of him approaching with an outstretched hand, the pill in the middle of it and a look of madness and ecstasy carved into his face. It went from hand to mouth in the blink of an eye and the first wave of euphoria embraced Billy three quarters of an hour later. It was pure bliss, a fitting welcome to true adulthood, he thought. Billy had no clue about the reality of life. A warm, protective blanket had been thrown around him for the last two decades and it was about to be cruelly ripped away.
With great effort he got to his feet. He looked over the five foot drop behind him and saw the promenade was empty. He suddenly realised that he must have fallen from the path onto the sand in his effort to return home in the early hours. The side of his head was throbbing now; he was obviously knocked unconscious by the fall. Just as well it didn’t happen further down where there was nothing but jagged rocks. He shivered at the thought. It should have been a wake-up call for young Billy, a moment to make him stop and think. Instead, he climbed the wall, stood on the deserted prom, scanned all round and headed for home.
As he neared the house his thoughts suddenly turned to what if’s. What if the door was locked? What if she was up? What if his father’s mood had changed? The key went in the lock and turned. He let out a big sigh of relief and opened the door as quietly as he could. There had been other mornings when the latch was locked on the inside and Billy had to sleep under the family car or in the shed. Everybody was still in bed and the house was quiet. He went directly to the stairs, climbed them, making sure to miss the fourth step, the creaky one. He reached his room, the door was ajar. He pushed through it and closed it behind him. He stripped and climbed under the duvet. He shut his eyes and dreamt he was swimming in a river, then drowning. He woke with a start and managed to fall back to sleep shortly after. He dreamt again and this time he found himself walking along a cliff edge and falling over. He woke the second time, three quarter way through his dreamy fall, with sweat dripping off him. His head still hurt. He got up and looked in the mirror. There was a red mark near his temple but it was faint. He knew that it wouldn’t be noticed and this perked him up no end. He went across the landing to the bathroom and showered. As he descended the stairs, silence greeted him. They were out. This day couldn’t get any better. A cigarette and a cup of coffee later, he was hurrying down the road in search of alcohol.
He pulled a high chair out from the bar counter, slung his jacket on the back of it, ordered a pint and climbed onto the stool.
“How’s the head”, smirked Tony, the barman.
Billy ignored him. He pulled a newspaper from the corner and pretended to be interested in the news of the day. Tony moved away muttering under his breath as he went. Billy took a long drink from the pint in front of him. He could still taste the stale booze from the night before so it was impossible for him to enjoy it. He scanned the paper, finished his pint and wandered across the road for another drink if only to get away from Tony.
This boozer was rocking. Fats, Beano and Wally were standing in the corner. They were in tears of laughter as Billy approached and the sight of him made them bend over and laugh even louder. The noise silenced a section of the bar and the glaring looks went unnoticed.
“What’s up?” asked Billy sheepishly.
“Did you find Pinky” asked Fats.
Billy was confused. “Who’s Pinky?”
“Pinky the elephant” they replied, almost in unison and then broke down laughing again.
Billy called a round. The trio had stopped laughing by the time the drinks arrived. Fats explained that Billy had been chatting to a group of American tourists who were very interested in his fairytale account of Cromwell’s attack on the village of Barna.
The others began to snigger into their drinks again.
“You had them all enthralled” said Fats, “they were crowded around you and moving their heads closer to yours after each sentence. Then, out of the blue, you looked up at the flashing pink disco light and pointed, shouting ‘Pinky, come back Pinky.’ You were like a madman running around the club, pointing at the ceiling, asking complete strangers if they’d seen Pinky the elephant. Then you were gone out the door. We haven’t seen you since, you teapot.”
“I found him down by the beach” smiled Billy, feeling a redness creep onto his face.