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Works of Cindy Brandner   


In Every Country...
Excerpt from Exit Unicorns

In every country with a rebel past or a rebel future there are similar rooms for similar men with different faces. Cramped, dark, dirty rooms. Cold with damp, cold with snow, cold with pain. The only real warmth coming from the internal fuel of idealism, the belief that their moment in history has come. In Russia there will be a bottle of vodka on the table, a dog-eared copy of ‘The State and Revolution’, tattered slogans adorning the walls from last season, last year, last century. In Beirut, qahveh, lemons and the Koran will grace the table, a fine scree of sand under the bed. In El Salvador a picture of Che beside a statue of the bleeding Christ, priests who disrobe in order to serve God more clearly, martyrs who die in foreign lands fighting for lost causes. They will travel everywhere in search of a hope, a prayer. Men with delicate amber faces working the kitchens of white hotels in cold, chattering cities. Tall straight-backed ebony princes trudging through the snow and indifference of the northern hemisphere’s great bloody swathe of industry. Cities built on the backs of their ancestry, cities where they must now beg, borrow, steal time and money, where the past is prologue and prologue past.

In Belfast there is tea, tepid and scummy, a bottle of Powers whiskey half drunk in a doorless cupboard, a nicotine stained copy of the Proclamation of 1916 lining a drawer in a desk rarely used. Paint peeling walls, a cot without sheets for men on the run, men who sleep briefly during the brightest hours of day and flee at night with messages, with guns, with the hope of a nation in their hands. Men on intimate terms with fear, exhaustion, dirt, a rebel Celt version of the White Rabbit, running, running, forever madly running, with the vision of a cell in the not too distant future. Not a job for the easily disillusioned or the romantic of heart, not a job for a human being.

Hope skips a generation and returns in the form of a strong back and even stronger mind, idealism stripped down to a bare bone and left in a corner of the soul for the knacker’s cart. The men vary and there will be the odd woman thrown in but for the most part they will be working-class, raised on bleakness, poor diets, piety and fear of the other. There will be a few from the upper classes, well educated, maybe bored, maybe afflicted with true idealism, waiting to be crushed by the great slow grind of social change.

The question, regardless of country, will always be the same. How to inspire hope, naked and raw, in the minds, hearts and bellies of the general population? How to pull a people up off their knees and remind them as they clutch their rosaries and plaster saints that God helps only those who help themselves. Blood, their own and that of The Other will often be the answer, the only answer that demands certain attention.

Casey Riordan knew such rooms. Knew that hope sometimes was as simple as washing the cups, keeping the tea hot, the whiskey bottle full, the walls painted and a warm blanket on the bed. Taking the proclamation, the ghostly ideals out, shaking off the dust and pinning it back on the wall where it can be seen. As simple as being ready, regardless of the mindless fear, to bleed and die for a thought, a breath of words spoken generations ago. As simple as a lit candle in a dark window, even if the comfort of light was only for yourself and your memories.

He sat down on the edge of the freshly blanketed bed, eyeing the new white paint, the clean cups, the re-hinged cupboard, the polished desk with satisfaction. He looked then into the clear heart of the candle flame and whispered to the night and its ghosts.

“I’m home daddy.” 

© 2002 Cindy Brandner


…Brandner possesses a unique gift, shared only with the most effective writers in history, to weave a tale of intrigue, love and adventure, sewn into the fabric of real historical events. Her characters easily become a part of you, the images she portrays of Ireland with its rich and tragic heritage course through you long after the book has been put down…
-D. Lamarche, BC


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