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Twenty -One Years Excerpts: Getting Out

I started to find one when I went to my bed in the dormitory, got everything that I owned that filled one plastic bag, and looked around one last time. Before I could get a chance to go down memory lane, Gerry Hunt, came over from his bed where he was doing his studies, stopped me and asked me what was going on. I was still out of breath with excitement but was able to string a few words together to let him know how it all went down. He pressed a five pound note into my pocket which was equal to my week’s wages as an apprentice. I tried to give it back and told him that I could not pay him anytime soon. He just said, “when you can, you will,” and refused my hand. Leaving his company, I picked up the pace and was out of the building as fast as I could thinking the police will be here in a minute. I found the front gate in less time than that. Then it started to rain. Looking up at the night sky, I started to laugh and broke into a run. At fifteen years old with no fixed abode, I just earned the best address of all, freedom. The euphoria didn’t last long as I soon realized I had no place to go and no room at the inn for there was little money to pay my way. By now I had put a mile behind me from the prison and was running at an easy jog. The problem was I had no back up plan and was out of ideas. I went with the only option left. I would sleep in one of the farm sheds at the prison and that is what I did. Finding a dry spot among some old and rotting hay, I lay down for the night. Too tired to dream for even if I could, instead I was assaulted by the terrible clamour of rain that clanged on the corrugated roof over me, along with the wind that whistled through every crevice and crack in the old building. Somewhere in the night, real sleep came as the rain died away and the curious mice went off somewhere else in the darkness. No door came crashing in and by morning the rain and wind had moved on, leaving shafts of light coming through the holes in the roof. It was as if a new dawn was being ushered in by the spirit world to give me hope again that things would get better, and maybe they would for I could not see that it could get any worse. “Bring it on, you bastards!” was the mantra now but I was not sure that I believed it. But bring it on in they did, whoever ‘they’ were.
For the next couple of weeks the farm shed became my room and board, rent free of course. Going to work a lot earlier than I needed to, and coming back to base a lot later than I wanted to, was a delicate balancing act. At work, no one seemed to notice that anything was a miss even when it was observed after a few days that I was starting to get a bad smell of body odour. My clothes had enough of me as well but I held on long enough to at last find an apartment in Salthill without putting a deposit down as collateral.

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