Ally Kerr is a 24-year-old fiction writer, dramatist and performer. Her fiction has been featured in various publications such as Wordlegs. She is a graduate of NUI Maynooth and the Gaiety School of Acting, Dublin. Originally from County Meath, she now lives and works in Dublin. She is currently working on her novel and short story collection.
Moon Amongst the Stars
Murray Moon put the key in the lock and pressed his shoulder against the door of number 22, Lower Baggot Street. It wouldn’t budge. Perplexed, he shoved with all his might, heaving and hawing. He continued to twist the key and push against the door but to no avail. He started bashing his side against it, cursing loudly which attracted the attention of his neighbours and passers-by. Eventually he burst it open, toppling himself over with the force. His fall was broken by a vast pile of letters and packages that were obviously causing the obstruction. ‘Oh, the fan girls!’ he joked, picking himself up.
Murray took a nap after his three hour flight from Monaco that day. He was reporting on the Grand Prix for the Irish Times. Murray was a true sports-fan but the one thing he adored more than sports were sports cars. He recently bought himself a Humber Hawk (not quite a sports car but as close as he was going to get on a journalist’s wage). He secretly hoped that Paddy Kavanagh, who lived up the road in number 62 , would notice it parked on the street.
He woke up at 9.30 pm. He was a night-owl by nature and promised himself he would go through that monstrous pile of post. He put on his dressing gown and scampered down the stairs. He noticed his whole house was in dire need of dusting and vacuuming.
‘Bloody bills and junk mail… nothing of solitary importance…I blame de Valera for this,’ he grumbled, as he went through the post.
He switched on the TV and put on the Late, Late Show. Gay Byrne was interviewing Dusty Springfield. ‘I could have had your job, Gay,’ remarked Murray, almost regretfully. He banged the television with his fist as the black n’ white screen began to flicker.
Murray continued to flick through the letters, flinging most of them on the floor in frustration. He then came across one that caught his eye. It was a small, brown envelope with childlike writing on it. He furrowed his brows and tore it open.
Dear Uncle Murray,
I hope you are keeping well. I want you to know that I am really proud of you. Every time I see an article of yours in the paper, I cut it out, show it to my friends in school the next day and say ‘My uncle wrote this.’
Murray felt incredibly touched by this gesture. However, his smile melted into a grimace as he read on.
I have missed you a lot. The last time I saw you was at daddy’s funeral. I hope to see you soon.
All My Love,
Murray slumped back in his chair, riddled with guilt. I can’t believe I haven’t seen my little niece since Danny died, he thought to himself. Poor bugger, fell off the roof of his sweetshop, snapping his neck. He was only thirty-three – younger than myself. Jesus, that was over a year and a half ago! I must see Lucy!
He thought for a few moments. Of course! It’s her ninth birthday on the 16th of June – that’s next Tuesday. I’ll take her around town and really spoil her.
Murray hurried into the hall to phone his sister. ‘Hello Operator…’ he called out the number from his phonebook. The dial tone rang for a few moments. He thought it was about to ring out until it was answered by a raspy voice.
‘Hello, Agnes? It’s Murray…you’re big brother! Listen, I’m really sorry I haven’t been in touch for so long – I’ve been extremely busy with work and everything. How have you been?’ he asked, earnestly.
The voice on the other end sounded tired and confused. ‘Eh…alright…I suppose…’
‘Good, good. I was wondering, since its Lucy’s birthday next week, if I could bring her up to Dublin for the day? You know, take her off your hands and all that,’ he asked, casually.
There was a brief silence. ‘Um…yes…that’s fine. You can come up and collect her whenever,’ she replied, nonchalantly.
‘Brilliant! That’s settled then. Talk to you soon, my dear. Bye…bye…bye!’ He hung up and clapped his hands together elatedly.
June 16th was a surprisingly sunny day. Murray stewed in the sun as it belted through the glass of his Humber Hawk. County Meath, although only an hour’s drive away, felt like four in the sweltering heat of the car. Seeping rays of sunshine flashed through the trees as he drove underneath them. He finally arrived at Emmet Street which was right in the heart of the Trim.
Trim Castle overlooked the town like a gallant, stone sentry. The street was packed with cars and shop proprietors placed items outside so buyers and sellers could remain in the wonderful weather. Every door and window in the street was open to let the glorious sunshine in. Every door except his sister’s shop which said ‘Sorry, we’re closed’ on its sign.
He parked his car in front of the shop. Children paused to gawk at the glorious car. Murray tipped his cap at them and smiled. His smile vanished when he looked up at the shop sign. The once glittering sign that said ‘Brady’s’ was now waned and rusty and on the verge of falling off. He felt incredibly ill-at-ease standing where his brother-in-law had fallen to his death.
He rang the doorbell to the above apartment. He heard the instant clumping of little feet charging down the stairs. Agnes pushed Lucy out the door and slammed it behind her. No time for a greeting or even a grunt.
Murray, a little perturbed, took Lucy’s hand then placed her into the passenger seat of the car. She was in total awe. ‘What’s the matter? Have you never been in a Humber Hawk before?’ he asked. ‘I’ve never been in a car before…’ she replied, breathlessly. ‘Well today is going to be an exciting day for you, my dear,’ he reassured, patting her on the head awkardly.
They rolled down the windows and speeded through the town. Murray forgot how unpleasant the country-side could smell during this time of year. ‘So, what would you like to do first?’ he asked, filling the silence. ‘I don’t mind, as long as we get to go and see Antony and Cleopatra. It looks class!’ she replied, cheerily. ‘Is it based on Shakespeare’s play or is it historical?’ asked Murray. Lucy shrugged. The uncomfortable silence sneaked back. It was never like this before; it was just that he hadn’t seen her in so long. ‘So…what do you want to be when you grow up?’ he asked, trying to come up with something to say. Lucy shrugged again ‘People always asked me this but I have no idea,’ she replied. ‘Really? When I was young, I discovered I had a flare for writing and decided to become a writer. What are your interests?’ he asked. Lucy sighed, pondering for a moment. ‘I don’t know… I like watching films, I suppose…’ she replied, impassively. Murray decided they would make chit-chat for now and have a serious heart-to-heart later.
When they arrived in Dublin, Murray parked the car outside his house and headed straight for Grafton Street to go shopping. Posters of Antony and Cleopatra were emblazoned on billboards everywhere. ‘Well, they’re promoting the feck out of that flick. And indeed, every Hollywood flick. This is what happens when you let an American rule the country. Your country will turn more and more into America,’ remarked Murray, snottily. ‘This is a grand, auld country,’ replied Lucy, defiantly. ‘And I’m sure America has its charms too,’
After shopping in Grafton Street, he took her to an Italian restaurant in Temple Bar. After a fancy dinner and a malt, he took her to the market on Moore Street. There was an overpowering aroma of fish and spices. Lucy tugged on her uncle’s arm ‘Murray, why are those women selling fruit out of prams?’ she asked, genuinely puzzled. ‘I have honestly no idea, Lucy,’ he replied. ‘None at all…’
At half five, they trotted down O’Connell Street hand-in-hand. They entered the Savoy Cinema and were greeted by a peeved -looking woman inside the ticket box. ‘Two for Antony and Cleopatra, please,’ said Murray, cheerily.
‘What age is yer wan?’ asked the obviously bored woman, in a nasally, monotone voice, glancing at Lucy. ‘I’m nine years old today,’ Lucy replied, proudly. ‘Sorry, that film isn’t suitable for anyone under twelve. There are scenes of a violent and adult nature,’ the woman explained, languidly.
‘Tut, tut. No one can have any fun in this country. I blame Dev. Would you like to see something else?’ he asked. Lucy shook her head despondently. ‘Na, it’s all right. Let’s just wander around for a little longer…’
The sun was setting as they were walking through St. Stephen’s Green. They were both tired from walking and carrying heavy bags of presents around. Murray decided that now was a good time to have that heart-to-heart talk. ‘Would you like a cup of tea?’ he asked her. Lucy nodded.
He took her into the Shelbourne Hotel directly across the street. The lobby and café were eerily quiet, with only a handful of people there, most of them at the bar. They sat down in a booth ordered two teas.
Lucy leaned her head on the palm of her hand, gazing forward glumly. ‘Apologies again about the cinema earlier. I know you really excited about seeing that film…’ Murray began. ‘Don’t worry about it,’ replied Lucy, earnestly, ‘Thanks for bringing me up today,’
‘So you enjoyed your day then?’ he asked.
‘Yeah, definitely. I think I liked Grafton Street the best with all its shops and music and people pretending to be statues,’ she replied, smiling weakly at him.
She isn’t happy. I have failed in my mission. I am not absolved, he thought to himself. The waitress poured them both two cups of loose-leaf tea and hurried back into the kitchen.
‘So…I notice the shop wasn’t open this morning. Very unusual for a late Tuesday morning,’ Murray remarked. Lucy looked up at him. ‘Oh….mam hasn’t opened the shop in a long time,’ she replied, gloomily. ‘She just goes to the post office now to get her money. A lot of the time she locks herself in her room all day and rarely comes out…not even to eat. Sometimes she forgets to make dinner,’ Murray’s face shank into his hands, feeling the hideous prang of guilt. ‘How long has this been going on?’ he asked. ‘Not long after dad died…’ she replied, sullenly. ‘I really miss dad…’
Murray eventually raised his head and look at Lucy straight in her blue, almond-shaped eyes. ‘Lucy…I am so sorry. I was so distracted with my career and my social life that I have totally neglected you and Agnes. I lost my mother when I was very young. The pain is…well…indescribable. As you know…’ He held her hand tightly. ‘I’ll talk to your mother tonight about this problem. We never really got on, but I’m the only family she’s got…and you’re the only family I’ve got. But Lucy, I want you to know that you are the most important thing to me in the whole world and I am always here for you.’ Lucy looked up at Murray, her eyes watering. ‘Thank you,’ she whispered.
They sat in silence for a few moments. The silence was now blissful. The tranquillity was interrupted by a couple having an argument in a booth beside them.
‘Dick!’ shouted the woman, shrilly ‘Stop being such a dick, you dick!’ Her accent was a cross between British and American.
Murray spat out some of his tea into his cup, shocked and mortified after what he heard.
‘Oh shut up, you fat-bellied, old bag…’ her husband replied, wearily. He had a faint Welsh accent and a lofty tone. They were obviously exasperated and inebriated.
‘A prenup? What do you mean you regret not making me sign a prenup? Give me one goddamn reason why I should’ve signed a prenup!’ the woman bellowed, furiously.
‘Well, my darling, it’s a combination of all your nagging, lying, spending and cheating…you slag!’ he jeered, snidely.
Murray’s jaw dropped. He was amazed that the couple hadn’t been kicked out yet.
‘How fucking dare you speak to me like that!’ the woman screeched. ‘I made you what you are!’ ‘And what’s that, my dear? Bankrupt? You are the most extravagant spend-thrift I have ever met! You see those diamonds you have dangling from your ears? They’re bigger than my balls!’ her husband yelled, flippantly. The couple continued to brazenly make a spectacle of themselves in the middle of the café.
‘Why aren’t you wearing your wedding ring, may I ask?’
‘-I’ve got a ring for you and it’ll be around your neck soon if you don’t shut up!’
‘Oh dear…’ muttered Murray, blushing.
‘No wonder your last wife left you!’ the woman barked. ‘Oh yes, throw that in my face…’ her husband replied. ‘Alright!’ she retorted, picking up a china tea pot and smashing in over his head. He roared savagely with the pain, stooping to the floor and covering his bleeding face, speckled with china pieces.
‘Okay, that’s enough scenes of a violent and adult nature,’ remarked Murray, disgusted, leaving the correct change on the table plus a tip. He rushed out of the hotel with Lucy.
The woman stormed off, leaving her male-counterpart crouching and crying on the café floor. The hotel staff gingerly crept over to help him.
‘Can you believe the audacity of those two?’ Murray scoffed as they stepped outside into the cool evening air. He noticed that the woman in question was behind them, pushing the revolving door, irately. In her drunk and furious daze, the woman stumbled out and accidently bumped into Lucy. She held onto Lucy’s shoulders to stop her falling over on her backside. She was wearing big sunglasses and a white scarf around her dark, curly hair. She took off her sunglasses, revealing her face. Murray and Lucy froze in astonishment when they realised who she was – it was Elizabeth Taylor. She forced an awkward smile at them. ‘Oh, I’m terribly sorry, little girl,’ she apologised, dizzily, ‘I’m a tad bit upset. You see, I just realised that I’m married to one of those…oh, what are they called? Oh yes…assholes,’
Lucy was speechless. Just then Elizabeth’s husband – Richard Burton – stormed out of the hotel, dabbing a beefsteak over wounded face. He grabbed his wife by the hair and hurled her into the back of a limousine parked in front of them. He turned towards Murray and Lucy. ‘I do apologise about my wife – she’s a tad bit drunk,’ he explained. ‘Oh and a word of advice – never marry an actress!’ He turned and leaped into the limousine, slamming the door behind him. The limousine then drove off towards Merrion.
Murray turned to Lucy. ‘Are you all right?’ he asked, concerned. She remained still. Then suddenly she burst out laughing. ‘Hahaha! Just goes to show ya, ya can always be worse off – you could be like those pair of fecking eejits!’ she guffawed, hysterically. ‘I can’t wait to tell everyone at school who I just saw!’ Murray sighed with relief. ‘Want to try and watch that film in another cinema? I’ll tell your mother you’re staying up here tonight’ Murray said, grinning.
They walked back towards Grafton Street. ‘You know that question you asked me about what I wanted to be when I grow up? Well, I want to be an actress!’ Lucy announced, proudly. Murray gulped ‘Oh…’