written by Jonny Voorheis. Jonny Voorheis (he/him) was born and raised in Dublin and currently lives in Glasgow where he is studying for a master’s in creative writing. A decent, if unremarkable, undergraduate career was supplemented by extensive, detailed, and immersive research into the pubs, after-sessions and Mad-Ones of his native city. It is this latter project that has come to inform much of his work. He is currently working on a short story collection that uses overlapping, interweaving, and contradicting pieces to study friends grappling with themselves, each other, and the transition from student to adult life.

Like a thumb pushing into soft clay, the pain probed through Jessie’s temple: dull, persistent, just out of reach. She tried to turn over but her eyes flashed open as her body threatened to pitch off the couch. She stuck out a hand and felt clammy stodge, her palm mushing into the mess of garlic cheese chips that had been tipped onto the carpet.

“Fuck,” she groaned, wiping her hand on the couch’s frayed upholstery. Muscles in her legs cringing, she swung her Docs to the floor, sending crumpled cans scuttling in all directions. A moan of protest came from the corner where a lad was sitting curled up in a ball, head wedged between his knees.

The light pooling through the greasy window was colourless and damp. Musty grey smells hung in the air. Jessie’s jaw ached, her chest was tight, and her throat felt spent. She blinked and tried a few breaths.

“Mull,” she rasped, after a while. “Dickhead.” 

Mull was sat on the settee opposite. His head hung and his mouth was open. A never-lit rollie was wedged between two fingers. Jessie hauled herself to her feet and straightened her glasses. She picked her way around the coffee table, which was littered with magazines and take-away menus, each a plinth for some line of blue powder or screw of clingfilm. “Mull,” she whispered, giving his shoulder an exploratory shake.

“nah, t’fuck,” he breathed.


Eyes fluttered open, followed by a sharp guttural sound deep inside his chest. “Jesus,” he gasped. “Jess? ’the fuck?”

“C’mon.” She motioned with her head. “Let’s go.”

Mull leant over and bedded his head into his hands, massaging his crown. “Yeah, okay.” He pulled himself to his feet and held onto Jessie’s narrow shoulder for support. “Okay,” he choked. As he turned, Jessie prodded him in the small of the back.


Jessie raised her caterpillar eyebrows and flashed a look at the low table.

Mull nodded. The pair began stuffing their pockets with baggies and pouches and lighters.

“Here,” Mull whispered, putting a couple of loose halves into a bag. “Is that Yer      One that you were talking to last night, at Conor and Anna’s?”

“Hmm?” Jessie followed Mull’s frown. She peered at the girl curled up on the couch. Bits of yellow sofa stuffing clung to the girl’s jacket. “Maybe?” She straightened up. “Shit. Yeah, might be?”

“What you reckon?” Mull massaged the baggie closed. “Probably wake her?”

“Can’t really just leave her here, can we?” Jessie stepped over to the couch. “Claire?” she intoned. “Claire?”

“Ciara, no?”


“It was Ciara, no?”

“Fuck off,” Jessie hissed. She paused, hand hovering over the girl’s shoulder. “Ah fuck, was it?”

“Nah,” Mull shook his sandy curls. “Nah you’re right, it was Claire.”

“Ah ‘sake,” she scolded. She patted the girl’s shoulder. “Claire,” she said again, louder this time. The lad in the corner groaned once more.

The girl turned her head and her arm flopped off her face and onto the floor.

“Right.” Jessie turned around and made to go.

“What?” Mull looked incredulous. “Just gonna leave her?”

“Yeah mate.” Jessie pushed past him, clapping him on the shoulder. “Yer One definitely didn’t have a teardrop tattoo on her face.”

Out in the hallway the distorted sound of shite phone-speaker-techno was emanating from under the far doorway.

“Someone still going d’ya reckon?”

“Suppose. Thing is though.” Mull rubbed his stubbly chin. “I could really do with a bit of water.”

“Yeah, shout,” Jessie conceded. “Alright, let’s see what the craic is.”

Mull pushed open the door and they peered inside. A lad with his shirt off was sitting at the table, dirty blonde fringe hanging limp above a sweat-glistening forehead, eyes transfixed on the half-rolled joint cradled between his twitchy fingers. Behind him, at the sink, stood a bald man of around fifty. Jaw crooked from the chew, he looked up with eyes that were as deep and dark as two portals into the void. The lance of an erection tented his jeans underneath the belt buckle. Slowly, he smiled at them. Without a word, they closed the door, turned around, and made their way back along the hall.

“Here-” Jessie stooped to pick up a bottle of tonic from underneath the hall table. “This’ll have to do.”

They stepped into the damp, clinging cold. A row of houses crescented around a patch of dog-shitted grass. A girl stood on the kerb, smoking the end of a joint.

“Hey.” The girl took one last pull and flicked the roach into a bush.

“Story?” Mull took a swig of the tonic and grimaced. “What’s the craic?”

She shrugged.

“Might be a bit of a random one-” Jessie took the bottle, sloshing the contents around. “But you don’t know whose gaff this is, do you?”

“Nah.” Her expression brightened. “Yis want to come on the roll-over?”

“Ehm.” Jessie smiled wanly. “Probably not to be honest.”

The girl reached down the front of her top and rubbed underneath her tits. “You sure?” She withdrew her hand, sniffing it quickly before wiping it on her jeans. “Mates of mine are still going, up in a gaff in Sandyford.”

“Nah, you’re good I think.” Mull ruffled his hair and threw a look at Jessie who avoided his eye. “Sound though.”

“Grand.” She shrugged again. “Well, I’m gonna see if there’s still any yokes going.” With that she pushed past them, skitted around the spray of vomit that fanned across the path, and thrust open the front door.

“Ah.” Mull looked at Jessie. “Ehm?”


Mull widened his eyes at her. “Yokes?”

“Ah Shite.”

As one, Mull and Jessie bolted up out of the cul-de-sac, and around the corner.

“Well?” Jessie panted. They’d stopped at a junction, the frost-laden air biting at their needled lungs.

“Man.” Mull looked at the darkness of his phone screen. “Any battery?”

Jessie pulled out her phone and unlocked it. The screen flickered grey, the loading wheel appeared, and then it went black. “Yeah, nah.”

“Right.” Mull peered at a street sign. From underneath various elaborations of ‘loves cock’ could be made out the words ‘Beech Park’. “Ring any bells?”


“Yeah me neither to be honest.” He kicked at a doubled-up can of Tyskie, sending it clacking against a skip. “Wait!” he clapped his hands together. “That says Kilgobin over there, does it?”

“Up above?” Jessie adjusted her round glasses and squinted. “Yeah. Where the fuck is Kilgobin?”

“Leopardstown basically.”

Jessie groaned.

Mull ignored her. “I reckon if we go that way, we’ll be able to get to the Goatstown Road.”

“Fine.” She lifted up her glasses and wiped at an eye. “Lead on, Columbus.”

They moved off, passing the tonic between them. The sparse calls of birds trilled amongst the tree tops, spilling down onto the lonely road. The morning was so still that the click could be heard as the traffic lights dutifully changed colour. An iridescent dew hung upon the grass, a dawning stillness.

Cars whooshed below as Jessie and Mull passed over the M50, the sounds of the individual vehicles calling to one another as they echoed all the way up to the fly-over.

“So Yer One that you were talking to last night?” Mull chewed his bottom lip.

“Yeah?” Jessie sniffed.

“So like, look I know it’s not my place.” He breathed out and looked up at the tinge of blue that was infecting the grey.

“Yeah?” Jessie narrowed her eyes at him.

“forget it.” Mull scuffed at the cement with his foot. “forget I said anything.”


Mull drained the last of the tonic and grimaced.

The light was sharpening as they passed through Clonskeagh. Old Man Belfield was leaning against the railings of the bank. He nodded at them as he sucked at a fag end, and Mull stopped. Rooting around in his jacket, Mull pulled out a half-pack from an inside pocket which he handed to him. Jessie smiled and did the same. He grunted in thanks and looked through them, to the salmon-underbelly of the morning sky that stretched out above the tree tops.

The city comes to life unexpectedly, each nascent shift feeding on the next until a bustle emerges from between the drips. By the time they reach the Dodder, the dog walkers are out, all wheezing pure-breds and oversized keep-cups. Rathmines brings haggard parents shepherding side-stepping children in knee-length football jerseys. There are people in leggings eating scones, and auld wans peering at yet-to-be-creased copies of the Indo. Girls wearing over-sized hoodies walk down the main street hand in hand with boyfriends in jumpers and shorts, comparing eggs benedict to avocado toast, while two scagged heads in yesterday’s socks share a tin of Lucozade.

“It’s all a bit wholesome isn’t it?”

“Pricks,” Jessie spat.

The Black Church could be seen at the end of the road as they turned the corner. It’s stone implacably grey for the lack of rain. The tall houses, set back from the road, were bathed in the dappled light that shimmered through the high leafy branches of the beech trees.

“Yer One looked a bit like Yer One, I thought.”

Jessie let herself smile. “They always do.”

Mull laughed but it turned into a cough half way through. He beat against his chest with a fist. “Funny that, eh?” he wheezed.

Jessie nodded, more to herself than to Mull. “Yeah.” Her Docs beat out a step under her gaze. “You and Stephen, what’s happening?”

They reached the church and stopped by the railings.

Mull sighed, his shoulders deflating. “Ah.” He pulled at an ear. “He’s just. Look, I fucked up.” He raised his hands. “I’ll admit that, like, fuck man. I’m an idiot, won’t deny that, but like he needs to stand up to his dad as well right?”

“Easier said.”

“I know, I know,” Mull cut across her. “It’s just, I dunno, makes me feel like Stephen isn’t fully with me you know? Like he’s met my family, loads of times.”

“That’s different.”

“I know, but like.”

“No you don’t.” Jessie shook her head, bob-cut bouncing. “Stephen’s dad, I know you don’t want to hear this, but he really doesn’t want to know you.”

“He doesn’t give a shit about you though,” Mull protested. “You’re always around there.”

“First off, I’m not ‘always’ around there and second off, it’s different.”

“Yeah, that’s what Stephen always says.”

“I’m not riding his son.”

“Very little fucking riding going on last while,” Mull muttered.

Jessie smiled. “Look, Stephen loves you to bits. Christ, the fact that you’ve been such a dick about his dad and he’s still willing to consider talking to you is proof enough of that.” Jessie held up a hand. “And before you butt in, you have been a dick alright? You didn’t grow up with Stephen, I did. I saw how hard it was for him to come out, not everyone has Green Party parents like you, yeah?”

Mull leaned back against the church railings and looked up to the sky, jaw tight and hands stuffed in pockets.

“You’ve apologised a hundred times right?” Jessie leant back as well. “Apologise a hundred more, stop being at him about his dad, and give it time.”

Mull sighed. “I suppose I’ll just have to trust him, I love him enough that I should.” “That’s a very touching sentiment, Mull.”

“Oh my god, actually fuck you dude.”

“Here look, I dunno,” Jessie grinned, dodging his swinging arm. “Just take it easy with him, he’ll come back to you.”

Mull nodded, stuffing his hands back into his pockets. “Reckon it’s time?”

“Ah yeah,” Jessie sighed. “C’mon.”

They had a quick hug and parted ways. Mull stumped around the church and out of sight while Jessie picked her way down the little side-street, stopping to let a tabby dash across my path and ignoring Mr. Connolly’s glare as he attempted to rub the marks of his middle age regret from his right wing mirror. The front door key fell to the scrabbly path twice before the lock was successfully turned, the heavy door swinging inwards to the gloom.

The house still held the night’s cold in its breath. As the city stretched itself awake, the interior of the house lagged behind, motionless but waiting.

In the living room Jessie emptied the ash tray into the damp grate. A general sweep of the table and the couch trawled up a couple more cigarette ends, and an earring which she placed up on the mantle. She couldn’t find a spare screw cap amongst the mess of magazines and lighters, so she pulled a plastic cork out of the bin and worked it into the end of the Power’s bottle.

In the kitchen Jessie paused, bottle hovering inside the top press. Sighing, she put it down on the counter, unwilling to be led so easily into the next fight. Her mother would just stand on a chair anyway, she did that to sweep her hand over the top of the cabinets in an emergency. She looked at the crockery sardined into the sink but couldn’t face it, or the damp-gone-musty washing in the machine.

Jessie pulled a straight from her mam’s packet, not arsed rolling. In the back yard, the lighter crunked under her thumb, coughing sparks until eventually, a nub of flame lapped against the end of the cigarette. She took a drag and leant against the down pipe, watching insects flitter amongst the vines and creepers that enveloped the high walls. The cigarette smouldered, next door’s cat nosed about amongst the overgrown shrubs, and light spilled over the neighbour’s roof, illuminating the tiny patch of anaemic grass.

CategoriesIssue VIII