Riots in Dublin
Friday, 19 July 2024 21:41

The Suitcase

Published in Fiction

He carries the suitcase like he means business. He carries it like he cares about it. He carries it like he cares about it too much. He carries it like he’s been somewhere with it. Like they’ve been somewhere. Together. The suitcase and him.

The suitcase never leaves his side. A family heirloom some suggest. Or it’s carrying stolen goods. A suitcase of lifesaving or painkilling pills. For his gout – he has a limp, after all – or chemo for his unseen cancer. A suitcase to hold his collection of false teeth. Only one person suggests that. That would mean he’s a travelling tooth salesman. Tooth fairy? Disgraced dentist? After a short argument, we agree the suitcase isn’t carrying false teeth, and the man who suggested it gets his coat and leaves.

It's a serious business and people get unsettled, don’t they, and need to know what’s going on because a man carrying a suitcase everywhere he goes, never leaving his side, arouses suspicion. It’s natural, it’s human nature to be inquisitive. To care what’s happening in their neighbourhood. What if he’s a refugee wanting shelter? A home? One of our homes? What if he’s come out of hospital and he’s lost his mind and doesn’t know where he is or even who he is? What if he’s a murderer carrying the body parts of his victim? What if he’s carrying a bomb?

Wouldn’t it be a good idea to talk to him, some people might think. To ask his name. Ask him where he’s come from. How long he’s staying. Where he’s going. Ask him what he has inside the suitcase.

But what if he becomes defensive when he’s questioned? Aggressive? Upset? Starts crying? Starts shouting? Starts laughing? Uncontrollably? Like he’s demented or having some kind of fit? What if he triggers the bomb? On purpose? By mistake? Either way, it’s going off, and then everyone will be sorry.

Better to call for help before it’s too late. Ring friends. Supporters. People who care about this type of thing. Shout into alleyways. Yell from rooftops. Send messages online. Sort it out. Sort him out. Grab his suitcase. Open it – it’s not going to be a bomb. Very unlikely to be. It would have gone off by now. Empty it out. Throw everything away. Burn it. Tell him he shouldn’t be here. Making trouble. Threatening people. Taking what’s ours. He doesn’t belong. Tell him that even if he doesn’t understand.

He’ll know it anyway. He’ll see it in our expressions. In our eyes. In the flickering flames above him. On the soles of our shoes raining down. On the tattoos on our arms and fists – mum, flag, love, hate, united, brothers.