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Excerpt from Knick Knack Paddy Whack by Ardal O'Hanlon, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Knick Knack Paddy Whack

A Novel

by Ardal O'Hanlon

Knick Knack Paddy Whack by Ardal O'Hanlon X
Knick Knack Paddy Whack by Ardal O'Hanlon
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2000, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2001, 256 pages

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About ten miles from home the bus came to a juddering halt behind a line of traffic. We couldn't see what was going on because all the windows were steamed up but Balls said it was probably an accident. I thought it might be roadworks but Balls insisted it was a crash. He could be very stubborn. Mind you I thought I could make out a flashing blue light in the distance. So anyway myself and Balls and a few other passengers got off the bus to investigate. It was an accident all right, as Balls very quickly pointed out. What happened was, about a half a mile further on, another bus had veered off the road and plunged into a field. There were a couple of ambulances in attendance, a fire brigade and a few squad cars.

'That's a serious amount of blood boy.'

It was McKenna of course, the nosey bastard, first on the scene. He must have sprinted ahead of us.

'Howarya Spock, what happened?' says O'Reilly. For some reason, he always called McKenna, Spock. And to this day I have no idea why.

'The bus was overtaking a car on the corner, it looks like she skidded, went right over the ditch boy.'

'Anyone killed?'

'Aye there was, a woman. A woman was killed boy.'

'Was she local?'

Somebody butted in and said she was one of the butcher's daughters, Carolan. I knew the Carolans well, neighbours of mine. Our dog stole a cooked chicken from their shop once. We discussed it for a while on the side of the road in the rain and came to the conclusion that it must have been Mary. She was the only one of the Carolans who worked in Dublin. A secretary I think in a dental practice. Very sad altogether.

'I used to go out with her,' says Balls.

Of course he did. There wasn't a woman in the town he hadn't been with at one time or another. I don't know if he got the ride or not. I doubt it. in fact I don't think he ever got the ride off anyone. If he did I don't think I would have heard the end of it.

'Ten badly injured, a lot of them in shock boy.'

Thanks for the update you cunt.

A reporter for the Dundalk Democrat came over to us just as the ambulance was pulling away. People were jumping into their cars as fast as they could, slamming the doors shut and speeding away, not to make up for lost time as you might think. No, it was so as they could follow the ambulance in a convoy to its final destination. That was the thing to do in our part of the country. As soon as a fire engine or an ambulance or a police car or even an ice-cream van made an appearance, people stopped whatever they were doing to follow it. It was very important you see to know what was going on, to be first with the news. In an impoverished town where fuck-all happened, gossip was gold dust.

'Any witnesses?' the reporter says.

'I was on the bus,' pipes up McKenna. Typical. Always wanting to be the centre of attention. He didn't tell him it was a different bus he was on that arrived about three-quarters of an hour after the accident.

Myself and Balls left him there to enjoy his moment of glory and went back to our own bus. I thought to myself, I could just as easily have been on the bus that crashed. I was in time for it and all only I waited for Balls. Just as well I waited for Balls. They might be all talking about me now in hushed tones. 'Scully, from the town.' 'Not Patrick Scully, the guard's son.' 'Aye, the same.' 'Oh no.' 'Oh yes. The poor mother, her nerves are bad enough as it is." She'll be destroyed.''And he was such a good footballer too. He was. 'The Lord works in mysterious ways.'

By the time I got back to the bus, everyone was talking about the crash.

'Anyone hurt?'

Copyright © 2000 Ardal O'Hanlon

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