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A BOLT FROM THE BLUE

By Wordsworth All Rights Reserved ©

Drama / Thriller

Chapter 5

After the disaster the snow was falling heavily on the streets of Halifax, Many of the dead and wounded had been accounted for but the weather was making it more and more difficult to find those that were missing. Each day they would pray for a thaw so that they might find those buried under the snow and rubble. The freezing weather was taking its toll and many folk were dying from the cold as well as the disaster many were without decent clothing, and those buildings that were still standing became makeshift homes. Although help arrived the endless line of the wounded could be seen daily outside the first aid station’s Sally worked tirelessly until after dark on many many days.

The town of Halifax began to resemble some kind of normality and blankets became the thing more people wanted. Soldiers worked side by side with the rescuers but the weather was a long hard battle and those without homes died in the streets in the freezing cold winds. January 1918 and Ireland is still occupied by the British Army. The I.R.A. was running out of money to finance the cause. Many of Shamus friends had gone to America and Canada in an attempt to escape the violence that was sweeping Ireland at that time. Shamus had become a target for not only the British but also his very own people. An evening drinking in Murphy’s public house the place erupted into a shooting gallery and suddenly the place was surrounded by Soldiers as Shamus along with many others were placed in irons. Try as he may to plead his innocence it fell on deaf ears as they were herded away.

The rattle of chains could be visibly heard as the prison wagon taking Shamus and the others to the barracks to be placed in stinking cells. Suddenly a bomb hit the wagon and Shamus found himself thrown clear of the debris along with a guy who was chained to him? The guy was English, an ex Provo Sergeant who had struck an officer. Sergeant Jack Brown came from a poor part of Liverpool that had more Irish families than anywhere else; He was six feet tall and had served in France for four years before hitting the officer. Shamus reckoned he was not a man to make friends with but chained at the ankle he had no choice? The bomb had killed the escorting soldiers and the rest of the prisoners leaving Only Shamus and Jack still alive and of course chained together. To add to the problems it began to rain and they searched for shelter. As they ran towards the rear of a house they were confronted by a large fence which Jack began to climb not realising he had Shamus shackled to him. The rain got heavier as the two men climbed the fence together landing in a heap on the other side. Shamus noticed a shed and his thoughts turned to tools; tools that might help them each go there Separate ways since he had no intention of staying with Jack Brown especially since he was English.

As they opened the door they began to search high and low for something to free them when suddenly Shamus saw what looked like bolt cutters. As the chains fell to the floor a dog began to bark and a light went on in the house. With the rain Falling fast they once again climbed the fence only this time Jack fell on his ankle Yelling obscenities as he did.” I think I have broken my bloody ankle paddy?” he said as he almost fell on Shamus. The dog was barking and a voice shouted for it to shut up as Shamus reached for Jack and helped him to his feet Jack cried out in pain Shamus carried him on his back towards a barn in a field. Because of the rain the two men sunk into the wet mud, Shamus dragged Jack into the Barn just as the Rain stopped. With Jack crying out in pain and he himself completely exhausted Shamus wondered how long it would be before they discovered the chains they left behind in the guys shed?. Jack was in pain and Shamus knew he had broken his ankle he also knew he wasn’t going to be able to take him with him. As Shamus sat contemplating his next move Jack said,” Listen Paddy I aint going much further with you I Have got plans and you aint included see?” Shamus replied,” Firstly the name isn’t Paddy and secondly I aint best pleased to be saddled with a bloody cripple so how About you go your way and I will go my way?”. As Jack tried to stand he fell over swearing as he did.” Try to make it to the docks er Shamus?” Jack said, as he knew he was not going any further with a broken ankle,” I will try and get them lost in the fields

Meantime!” Shamus shook his hand warmly and said,” Good luck” as he turned leave.

The Steamship S.S.Celtic bound for America was busy loading its cargo of Emigrants looking for a new life and a job, people that had enough of poverty. Life in America was becoming more and more attractive by the minute as Shamus hid Behind some boxes when soldiers marched by. As Shamus contemplated his next move he felt a lump in his throat as he thought of Ireland and how he was going to leave ?. But he also knew if caught he could face the firing squad or spend the rest of his life in prison?. Pulling up his collar to ward off the cold wind he waited for his chance to get on board. As the rain began to stop Shamus mingled with the crowd hoping he would not be seen by the soldiers who were having a smoke break. Spotting a mother attempting to get her baby on board he knew this was his chance to board himself. Mrs Flanagan was infact a widower her husband had been caught up in a shooting but nobody knew who shot him since the shot was fired from a window of a block of flats. Jack Flanagan died before his daughter was born, and Mary was on her way to America to start a new life for her and her child. This was Shamus’s chance to get on board without anyone noticing, he would for the most part of the Journey become Jack Flanagan. Mary Flanagan realised Shamus was a wanted man but decided since he was helping her it would be fruitless to give him away and it was good to have company on such a long journey. Not once on the long journey Was Shamus asked to prove who he was, infact he was even told how much the baby looked like himself, to Mary’s surprise.

Halifax and Dartmouth was slowly returning to normal. Sally and I were finding more time to be together even though Sally would occasionally return to the States to visit with her folks. It was during those times John would find himself feeling lonely, lonely in that he was still mourning the loss of his family and death was never far away as the daily burials took place. As the S.S.Celtic made its way towards what had become the land of opportunity Shamus began to feel homesick. What lay ahead he wondered as he stood on the deck contemplating his future.” Penny for your thoughts?”, Mary Flanagan said As Shamus turned to face her.” I have a lot to thank you for Mary?”He said as she replied, “Go on with yourself Shamus you owe me nothing, its plain to me you are a wanderer Shamus, and that married life is not for you in this part of your life I hope you find what you are looking for Shamus and if not then I am staying in a town called Boston should you ever decide to settle down?”,

Mary leaned over and kissed Shamus. It was then that Shamus realised how close he and Mary had become on the journey.” I am a wanted man Mary, and going to America has not changed that?”.” But you could remain Jack Flanagan even in the states and nobody would ever no?” Mary replied as Shamus said,” And live looking over my shoulder the rest of my life?, no thanks Mary you will meet someone who Is not on the run and marry again one day but sorry Mary it won’t be me!”, Mary Was clearly upset by Shamus reply and hoped he might change his mind before they arrived in America. But Shamus had other thoughts on his mind and a Ready-made family was not one of them. As the ship approached the docks Shamus overheard someone say,”Boston, well that is a place not unlike Ireland?” as he turned he noticed a young guy talking to Mary and gave her a wink. With aching legs Shamus asked where indeed the bus station. Was” it is the town of Boston I am looking for?”, he said to the man behind the counter. without looking up the man replied”, that will be four fifty to you, Number 107 over to your right leaves in ten minutes and its non stop to Boston!”. Shamus fumbled with the money and finally placed a five dollar bill on the counter and turned to leave.”Oh sonny you forgot your change?”, the man shouted.” Well Thank you kindly sir”, Shamus replied as he retrieved the coins Suddenly a voice he knew climbed aboard the bus along with the young guy he had Seen talking to Mary, Mary Flanagan was being helped by the young guy and they were About to board the same bus to Boston.

Shamus pulled his flat cap over his eyes and decided since the journey would take awhile he would catch up on some sleep.”Boston?”He said to himself,” Maybe that is going to become my home town from now on?” The sound of the open door made him jump and a voice yelled out,” Boston U.S. of A?” As Shamus stepped off the bus he was taken aback by the size of the town.” Are all towns as big as this in America?” he asked the driver.” They sure are sonny”, he replied. Shamus remembered the guy on the ship saying a lot of Irish settled in Boston and it was not long before he saw the sign above the bar, it was infact a large Shamrock. As Shamus headed towards the bar he noticed guy who was a little drunk begin to sing as he got nearer Shamus noticed he had an Irish accent.

As the guy stopped singing he knelt to retrieve his cap which had fallen to the ground.”Well well I can see you are from the old country and its job you will be looking for?” he said as Shamus took his arm to stop him falling over.” Names Ginty or that is what they call me around these parts? He said as Shamus replied,” Shamus and it’s a pleasure to meet you Ginty!”Shamus Replied.” If you aint afraid of hard graft I hear they are paying up to twenty dollars A day for builders to help rebuild a place in Canada called Halifax, seems they had an Explosion awhile ago and it took most of the town with it you a builder sonny?”, Ginty said as Shamus replied,” I can turn my hand to anything Ginty?, how do I get to this place called Halifax?”.” Well son you got to register for work then say you want to help rebuild that place say you are an experienced builder o/k?, see the Shamrock bar yonder well go in and ask for a guy called Jack Mulrooney he is also from the old country tell him he owes Ginty a pint or two and he will put you right after you buy him a glass or two, by the way son you don’t happen to have A couple of dollars so that I can eat tonite?”.Shamus knew the old guy was about to buy himself more drink but gave him ten dollars anyway.” You are a kindly lad”. Ginty said as he walked with Shamus towards the Shamrock Bar.

Jack Mulrooney was about to down his third whisky of the evening as Shamus walked in front of him and said, “I believe you are Jack Mulrooney?”Ginty told me to come and see you about a job in Canada?”.” Not so loud son” the big man said as he lifted his glass,” Many of these guys are looking for work and will do almost anything to get it and they are local lads? what did you say your name was son?”.”Er Shamus Riley”, Shamus replied.” You came in on the Orion I believe?”” No sir it was the Celtic?” Shamus replied. As the big man said,” I will be having another scotch with you son and see about a permit for you that will be fifty dollars get you a permit and on you’re way to Canada, by the way you have never heard Of Jack Mulrooney have you?”. Shamus grinned and replied “never”.

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