A short story by the Northern Irish writer Carlo Géblerby Carlo Gébler / January 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
The taxi driver whizzes through Belfast. It is early morning. Talk is of cars and babies and the new car I bought-that was years ago-and how I was never able to get the smell of the baby’s sick off the back seat.
“I know where you’re coming from,” he says.
He has a pleasant face and wears a chunky identity bracelet.
“A couple of years back now…”
I feel a story looming.
“Yep. Pick up two suits on the street-we’re not meant to but they look okay; one goes in the back, other in the front; he says, ‘town centre.’
“Off we go. Then the one in the back, he says, ‘Driver, look between the front seats!’ I think, new car-she was new then-and the eejit’s been sick. So I look down and I can’t believe it.”
“It’s a gun. ‘Republican Army,’ he says; then the one in the front, he flaps the sun-visor down, and takes my license from behind. I keep it there; you know handy, for checkpoints.
“He opens it and he says, ‘Hello, Wesley.’ And I think, oh God! Why am I called Wesley? Couldn’t I be John or Tom? But it’s Wesley and that’s like having Prod tattooed right across my forehead.”
“‘This is your home address, Wesley?'”
“But I can’t speak, the words won’t come out.
“‘Just nod,’ he says.
“Oh great, at least he’s a pro, I think, and he isn’t shitting himself because it’s his first time out. So I’m not going to get killed by accident.
“I nod and they tell me where to go. It’s in west Belfast. I drive there very slowly, and all the time I keep praying, please, no checkpoint, I’ll be killed in the crossfire. And God hears me. No checkpoints. So we arrive, I hand over the keys, we go into a house.
“There are two others there and oh, my heart sinks when I see this! They’re in balaclavas. Armed too. ‘This is Wesley,’ says one of the suits. Oh Wesley, that name.
“‘Go and stand over there,’ says the other suit. ‘Look at the wallpaper. These two will look after you.’
“‘Of course, anything you say.’ I’m over to that wallpaper quicker than Bannister ran the mile.
“The suits leave and the old cogs start turning. The guards are going to shoot me. That’s the plan. It’ll be on…