Hatchet Boy.

by ericavanhorn

8 October Friday

It was 5.45 in the morning. I was just off a flight from Boston. I walked and walked and walked through the darkness to find Zone 16. The Clonmel bus used to leave from a place closer to the terminal and that place was together with all of the other buses, but my transport is now at Zone 16 and anyway I was looking for a different bus than the one I used to catch. Now I was looking for the JJ Kavanagh bus. The old X8 BusEireann Express has not reappeared since the lock down. It was a long walk in the dark and the cold. It was at least a half a kilometre.  Maybe more.  I was weary. Zone 16 was a long distance from where the other buses stopped. The only thing Zone 16 was near was the small airport church that is called Our Lady Of Heaven. My bus was scheduled to depart at 6.15 but there was no sign announcing it, nor was there a schedule listed in among the other pinned up schedules. There was no reference at all to the bus I was hoping to board.  I was glad to see it pull in at 6, because that gave me time to talk to the driver and to make sure I was in the right place for the right bus. The driver told me that she was indeed going to Clonmel and asked me if I was here on holiday. When I told her that I was not on holiday but that I lived near Clonmel, she wanted to know where I lived and then she told me that she lived just down the road in the village. She told me that she was originally from Ardfinnan and that later she ran the shop in Goatenbridge, but she said it was finally too expensive to keep the shop going. She said she could buy her own groceries in town at the Tesco for cheaper than she could sell them in Goatenbridge. The shop went out of business and she later bought the house in Newcastle when Dessie and Noel were selling up their family land by the river. I knew exactly where she lived. Now she drives the bus first up and then down from Dublin Airport starting at midnight with a lot of stops along the way. I was not even at home yet but already I was being collected and delivered by a neighbour. I wondered why I had never even seen this woman before but she said her hours are erratic and sleep is the single thing she does most of when she is not driving her bus.

10 October Sunday

All week, the afternoons have been warm and bright. The honeybees in the roof of the barn are busy around their entrance. They are out and about in the garden on every bit of blossom available. The door and the windows of the house are all wide open. Some of the bees come into the house and they buzz around the skylight and the windows in the big room. I catch them in a cup when I can reach them and I take them back outdoors, but I cannot catch them all and some get stuck in the house overnight. Mid-morning, as the sun warms the room, the bees wake up and start their buzzing again. I like the sound of their work outside, but day after day, the buzzing is becoming annoying inside.

11 October Monday

It is not the first time. I heard a thump followed by a long whoosh noise as I drove up the boreen. I assumed I had hit a stone because I was going too fast and I thought nothing more of it. By the time I reached the village, my front left tyre was completely flat. I was driving on the wheel rim. I was lucky that Anthony was open and that he was able to replace the tyre for me. 85 euro. He could not be certain what had caused the puncture. We noticed two cuts in the side of the tyre but they seemed too high on the wall to be made by stones and they were definitely not thorns. That was about six weeks ago. Last week Simon was driving out and he felt a bump that he thought was a stone. When he reached the point where the dirt road meets the tar road, his front left tyre was flat. Another cut mark. Another 85 euro. This morning I went out to drive to the village to fetch the newspapers. A completely flat tyre. Another cut mark. Another 85 euro for another new tyre. These are not regular tyres for town vehicles. These are heavy duty tyres produced to accommodate rough terrain like this uneven road.

I have walked up and down the boreen examining both sides carefully. There is nothing sticking out from the rocks and the growth that could be responsible for this kind of cut in the sidewall. I keep making the same walk and I keep trying to figure out what is cutting the tyre, always the same tyre. I do not like to point a finger but I have begun to think about Hatchet Boy. It was about three years ago when I used to see him walking down the track holding a hatchet closely pressed against his leg. He was trying to walk carefully in order to hide the hatchet. He never said hello nor made any gesture of friendliness. He just waited until I had passed with the hatchet held tight to his leg. He was about eleven at the time. Or maybe he was nine. I knew that he walked down the track here and then turned off into the expanse of Cooney’s wood. I assumed he was doing some cutting of trees or branches down there for some project of his own. Maybe he was making a hide-out. I never saw him returning because he could use the route through the woods to get back to his own house. Now I am wondering if perhaps Hatchet Boy has graduated from his small axe to a knife. Perhaps Hatchet Boy is annoyed that our parked vehicle partly blocks the route down the track. Maybe Hatchet Boy is stabbing the tyre to punish us for blocking his way. There is plenty of room to walk even with the motorcar parked off to the left but maybe Hatchet Boy has taken offence. Maybe Hatchet Boy has evolved into a bit of a vigilante. Or maybe he just enjoys using his knife.

Since the most recent cut tyre, I am parking in a different location. I am keeping an eye on the vehicle in the hours after school, especially the hours just before dark. I cannot go to the home of Hatchet Boy and ask his mother is he is now carrying a knife, but I am not sure what to do next.

13 October Wednesday

Last night I found a slug draped over the bristles of my toothbrush.  I threw the slug out the window and washed my toothbrush multiple times in very hot water. Then I brushed my teeth. It is the problem of this time of year. Windows are open and things come in. This morning, I saw a slug stretched out long and thin on a window. I was interested to watch the body so elongated. I wondered how much time it would take for him to move across the expanse of the glass. I was interested but mostly I was glad that this slug was outside and not inside.

14 October Thursday

I had not seen her for many days. Paulina has been studying for exams and she has spending hours and hours every day and every night at her computer. When I greeted her and I inquired as to how she was, she threw up her hands and said, “Don’t ask! Don’t even ask!! My Eyes Are Cut Out of My Head and My Brain is Scorched!”

15 October Friday

Today is grey and wet. The soft drizzle is soaking. Not a bee is buzzing, neither indoors nor out.