THE MAN WORE
MAN WORE BLACK
up, because you are about to take a voyage through the stormy sea of an
emotional, yet topical saga of forbidden lust and its inevitable consequences
for all concerned.
with honesty and realism. A second book from a
sensitive author, brave enough to reveal the frailties and
courage of the human spirit.
done, Sir, once again.”
In Store Price: $19.00
Online Price: $18.00
Format: A5 Paperback
Number of pages:
Publisher: Poseidon Books
Date Published: 2006
Maloney has previously published a book a poems and short stories and The
Man Wore Black is his first novel.
There are elements of truth embedded in the book, but mainly The
Man Wore Black is a work of fiction. After five years of boarding school
, a stint as a barman in
’s West End as well as time served in the Royal Australian Airforce in
, Peter has many more yarns left to tell.
in 1955 as a ‘ten pound’ migrant, Peter spent most of his working life as
an Industrial Engineer in
. With his family ‘up and running’ Peter now lives
Sparkling droplets, sunlight mirrored,
Spray so freely, gaily spread.
Mood encouraged, nymphs at frolic,
Land on skin and downward wed.
Brush the rising,
firm and thrusting.
Unaware of life’s designs.
Master sculptor, His creations,
Smile and know their
Visit, gaze and feel your urgings;
Envy lilies sharing pond.
Tinkling laughter blends
Rise and fall and ever bond.
Places dreamed and yet forbidden,
Budding mounds, a future goal;
Climb and fall, a storm of passion,
Cloaked in youth, at play, control.
Wish; detract the moments squandered,
Life, so stark, a punished dart.
Push the hour hand back a circle.
Leap and join the young at heart.
Splash and laugh and share their freedom.
Bodies tanned and firm, at play.
Arms encircle, stirring contact,
Aware, beware, a hidden fray.
Please conceal your burning
Give them room to hug, be gay.
Envy youth, so brash
enough to share our way.
Maloney – April, 2004
look! There’s a man standing on the end of Hassey’s pier, all dressed in
black. God… he must be soaked! Who’d be out in this weather? He must be mad,
surely.’ Mary, my older sister, wiped the condensation from the front door
glass, pushing me aside as I tried to squeeze past her to have a look for
myself. The storm raged outside, with sheets of rain, wind driven, whipping
across the bungalow roof and walls. Cloud banks, like piles of mechanic’s
rags, raced across the grey, sodden sky.
This weather was not unknown in
, even during the summer months. My precious holiday break from the end of June
to September, each year, as far back as I can remember, was spent in this
bungalow at the shoreline of the Dromineer lake, on the river Shannon, providing
an uninterrupted view across the lake to the County of Clare, ‘the far
shore’, as it was known to the locals here abouts, and about seven miles
across as the swan flies. Half way out, say three miles give or take, lies the
island of the Corakines, a good fishing area with plenty of weed beds where the
big fish hide in ambush. In season, starting on the twelfth of August, each
year, the wild duck are fair game, and a good feed they are, too. Each night,
they come off the lake to head inland and feed off the wheat and barley fields.
They are very clever, and always send one lone bird ahead of the main flock, to
see if there is any danger lying in wait. If the point bird gets through without
incident, then the main flock follows, usually around ten minutes later. If the
weather allows, the shooters hide in the beds of rushes surrounding the point
where the Nenagh river empties into the lake, and watch and wait in their wooden
boats, retrievers at the ready, eyes skywards, to see and blast at the flocks of
wild birds that have the moon as their backdrop. As you can tell, I love my
lake, and am in tune with its moods and all that it provides for the fisherman
and hunter, but it must be treated with respect, as it can turn on the unwary,
with many a drowning, mostly when careless fishermen ignore the changeable
weather patterns that are common in this part of the world.
At school, in town, six miles away from my beloved lake, the dreaded
Christian Brothers have me in their cruel claws, using the excuse of a sound
Catholic education, whatever the cost. At the tender age of ten years, I know
the sting of the double stitched leather, so stiff that it squeals in agony if
moved out of its rigid shape. It is applied mercilessly onto extended hands, for
whatever sin the half-collared semi-priest feel the need to dish it out; and God
help you if you pull that wavering hand back at the crucial moment of impact. If
the holy man missed a stroke because I moved my hand back, he would bring his
leather weapon, specially designed to inflict major pain, up from underneath,
and connect with the back of the offending hand. That hurt as much as across the
flinching fingers. Where did they learn that stuff? In the Gulags perhaps, but
surely not in the holy shrines of the merciful order of
? We had one exponent of the strap, as it was called by its victims, who prided
himself in the dubious record of complete subjugation and surrender to his wrath
with threats of ‘blood on the walls’, which he insisted, we, as the scum of
the town, would stay back and scrub as clean as a new born baby. Are newborn
babies clean? I don’t know about that stuff, but I have heard stories. You
know what school yard gossip is like, eh?
As you can tell, the classroom and I are not the best of friends. Ah, but
let’s not dwell on that topic, because now I am on summer
vacation, far away from the musty smell of crowded rooms and clanging bells
Each year my mother rents our bungalow, as I proudly call it, for three
glorious months of adventure. I live for this time by the lake, taking full
advantage of the swimming, fishing and exploring, alone, mostly. I am the
youngest of three children, and am allowed to take our wooden boat out on the
lake by myself, on calm days, yet, always in full view of the shoreline. To row
past the point, four miles out, is forbidden, unless accompanied by an adult. My
favourite pleasure is to row out a mile or so, far enough to feel alone, ship
the oars, lie back and watch the fluffy clouds chase each other across the blue
sky. Maybe I’m a bit of a dreamer, but as the youngest, with nobody to play
with each day, I make this lake and all it contains my friend and protector,
understanding and eager to collect and dispose of abandoned rubbish, especially
from the indifferent townies who invade the shoreline, each week end, for
picnics and swimming. As I run about on bare feet, I have suffered the
occasional cut from broken glass, discarded by these careless visitors. Each
Monday morning I search and collect the discarded waste, as I wish my lake to
look its best at all times. The lake and I are the closest of friends.
Alone in our boat, I can find faces, animals and castles in the cloud
shapes, allowing my vivid imagination to run riot, watching the ever-changing
sky scene. Curious seagulls plane and swoop above me, taking advantage of the
gentle breezes. The wide winged, long necked white swans, intent on their
desired destination, sometimes fly past, showing no interest. Peace I find in
these precious moments, lulled by the gentle lap of the surface ripples against
the wooden hull of the boat; slap, slap. On a calm day, the lake appears as a
sheet of glass, mirroring the sky above, yet responding to the movement of the
fickle breezes that caress its surface.
Today, however, Mother Nature is reminding us that there are many sides
to her moods, and being angry, so is the lake. White topped waves, white horses
we call them, roll in to crash against the shoreline, breaking against the two
concrete piers pointing their long arms out in to the lake. Storms aplenty have
gouged holes in the weathered concrete; so care is needed to reach the dogleg
end of Hassey’s pier, the one opposite our bungalow. Boats that normally tied
up at the pier opposite the boat house had been pulled well onto the shore
before the storm arrived, to avoid damage against the pier.
Why would a man stand on the end of the pier, facing the rain, wind and
breaking waves? Hatless, his black suit soaked, he gazed out over the boiling
water, with waves breaking and washing over his black shoes, yet he seemed to be
unaware of the raging elements pounding his manly frame, his legs spread wide to
maintain his balance in defiance of the driving force of the summer storm.
Mammy turned away from the front door, speaking to me with urgency in her
voice, ‘Peter, put on your raincoat and hat and go fetch that poor man inside,
now.’ I togged up, and she, having checked that I was covered and buttoned up,
opened the door just enough to squeeze me out. This was new. This was exciting.
Wind and rain buffeted me as I ran down the gravelled pathway, through
the front gate, bare-footed, as normal for the holidays, across the road and on
to the pier, stepping nimbly around the rain-filled holes in the concrete. I
stopped behind the man and squinted up at his tall frame. He was unaware of my
presence, as he leaned forward against the wind and driving squalls of rain. I
reached out and tugged the soggy end of his suit coat. Turning slowly, he gazed
down at my oil-skinned form, then crouched to look into my eyes beneath my
floppy head gear. A smile creased his handsome face, and I lost all fear, and
grinned back at his rain-covered face. Something about him, his eyes, maybe,
dark, kind and knowing, made me want to be his friend.
‘Where did you come from?’ he asked, his voice deep and reassuring,
as the rain rivulets coursed down his strong face. Somehow I knew that he was at
one with the raging elements, revelling in their power, completely undaunted,
and that confidence transmitted down to me also, and all awareness of the storm
vanished. In truth, I felt grateful to the wild fury raging around us for
introducing this stranger to me.
‘Mammy told me to bring you in out of the storm. That’s our house,’
pointing to the white-walled, red-roofed building behind us. I squinted up at
him as I shouted those words above the noise of the breaking waves and howling
‘And what’s your name?’ He was talking to me, man to man, not like
my sister, who called me Squirt, or Boy, depending on her mood.
‘Peter,’ I shouted, ‘and what is your name?’
‘John,’ he replied. He glanced over to the bungalow, hesitating
momentarily, as if considering the offer, then, with a smile and a nod, called
out above the storm, ‘Right, lead the way.’
as I sidestepped or jumped the water-filled holes in the old pier, I glanced
back to reassure myself that he was following, and he was.
front door opened just enough to allow us, separately, to sidle through,
accompanied by the wind driven rain, demanding entry, also. Once inside, Mammy
firmly shut the door, stood back and surveyed our sodden forms. Puddles formed
at our feet. ‘This is John,’ I announced, proudly, from under my dripping
can come later.’ Mammy was in action mode. ‘Mary, get towels from the
sister, at seventeen, was beautiful, as I had often heard from the fawning local
lads. She now stood, staring at our new visitor, with admiration in her eyes.
She was a born flirt, yet very choosy, with many admirers at her beck and call.
In her bare feet, she stood at least five feet nine inches, with long flowing
ink-black hair reaching half way down her back; yet, she was a bully to me, the
Squirt, as she called me, when in her show off mood; but I didn’t take much
notice of that, as I knew that she had a good heart, and dearly loved me, my
brother and our Mammy, when the chips were down, so I and Martin teased her,
whenever the opportunity presented itself, much to the annoyance of our
refereeing mother, God bless her loving soul.