Stories from a Dublin Scientist

Month: March, 2013


James walked down the street with the air of a man not used to wearing a suit. He was going for an interview, an entry position in the bank. Money had been getting tight lately. It was important that he get this.

He had prepared for days, researched the role that would be expected of him. He felt he was ready; it was his time.

James was about halfway when he felt a drop on his head. In seconds there was a torrent of rain falling from the sky. James had trusted the weather forecast and was out with neither raincoat or umbrella. He was soaked in seconds.

The rain stopped quickly. Enough water had fallen to leave large puddles on the ground. James passed too close to the crossroads while a truck was passing and there was an almighty splash. Muddy water was thrown over the bottom of his trousers

He went into a nearby pub and tried to dry himself under the hand drier. It didn’t do him much good but the warm air made him feel a little better. The barman was not pleased to see James straight out of the toilet and insisted that he order something if he was going to use it. James tried to get away with coke but the barman insisted on something “stronger”. James had to make do with a quick whiskey and whisked out into the street.

Needless to say; the muddy trousers; still damp clothes and smell of alcohol meant that James did not get the position. He was dejected and instead applied to the hardware store on the edge of town.

Within three months James was so run off his feet in the bustling store that he was barely able to catch the news about the banking collapse and impending layoffs sector-wide. “I’d hate to be working in banking!” said one customer, grinning.

James agreed. It had been a lucky escape, even if it didn’t seem like it at the time.


Written for Trifecta Week Seventy

Picture it and Write: Memories

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again, the picture is not mine I only use it for inspiration.

If you are of a sensitive disposition DO NOT READ THIS.


Laura sat on the lounger looking out over the small garden of her suburban home. It was late into summer; the flowers were in full bloom and the hedges were filled with twittering birds. It was a peaceful, beautiful scene, guaranteed to put you at rest. It had no effect on Laura however as she sat; as so often happened when her mind was allowed to wander the memories began to rise up again, filling her thoughts with their dark recollections.

She remembered the night two years previously. She had been out with people from work. They had ended up in a nightclub dancing and chatting and flirting until the time came to leave. The night was busy and when they reached the stand they found there were no taxis. Everyone else lived on the other side of town so against their protests and confident that she had not had too much to drink Laura said she would walk home.

She remembered the walk through the dark, dead streets. The cool night air had gotten to her and she felt light-headed. She muttered to herself an old joke that she had heard and giggled to herself at the punchline. The laugh was so great that she stumbled over her high-heels and nearly fell on her backside. Embarrassed for herself her looked around and only saw a single man slowly walking along the path, his face hidden by the shadows.

Laura remembered being concerned about the shadowy figure; something about him disturbed her. She turned back in the direction of her home. Picking up the pace as fast as her wobbly heels could take her. Occasional glances over her shoulder showed he was still there, easily keeping pace, if anything shortening the distance.

She remembered turning into the laneway of her apartment block. Her breath laboured from the unaccustomed speed. She heard the figure’s footsteps on the concrete. Looking back in horror, realizing that she was too far to run she waited. A man, emerged from behind the wall guarding the lane. He moved confidently and quickly, crossing the street and continuing down along the main road. He didn’t even notice her. laura remembered feeling incredibly foolish.

She remembered the walk up the laneway and finding a man lurking right at the door. It was Clive, her neighbour. He seemed very drunk, so much so he couldn’t figure out how to use the key to open the door. She offered to do it for him and he murmured thanks.

Laura remembered helping Clive up the stairs. As they reached his apartment he said something about how grateful he was and opened his arms for a hug. She jokingly accepted only to find that he then held her so tight that she could not get free. As his door opened, Laura could smell the alcohol on his breath and hear him speaking about how much he wanted her, how he knew she wanted him. She could feel him starting to pull her inside.

She remembered saying no to him; telling Clive to stop. But he chose to ignore her, instead his grip tightens and his voice took on a darker turn. Not actually saying but implying with the strength of his words and the hands that held her that resistance would not be a good idea. He then pushed her against the wall in his corridor, forced her skirt up and took her.

Laura remembered it not lasting long. Clive used her and when he had his fill of her he pushed her back out of the door and slammed it behind her. Laura walked over to her door. He body aching and her mind in tatters. Had that just happened? Was she dreaming? It didn’t feel real, she felt that she might have been going mad.

She remembered the smell of him on her. She tore her tainted clothes of herself and stepped into the shower. She welcomed the hot water in the hope that it would wash away how she felt. She didn’t know how long she was in the shower, she lost track of time but her misery was interrupted by her Roommate Sandie. The look of annoyance on Sandie’s face instantly changed to concern when she saw laura.

Laura remembered clutching her cup of tea while telling Sandie what has happened, hesitating often due to the still present shock, and then protesting loudly when Sandie marched over to Clive’s door. Sandie must have spent ten minutes shouting vile abuse against the unresponsive door after which she went straight to the phone and called the guards. “Let’s give the bastard what’s coming to him” she said confidently.

Laura remembered the Garda cars, a glimpse of Clive being lead out in cuffs, a quick perfunctory exam by a doctor overworked as it was and questions after questions. They left her in a waiting room while Sandie tried to get into contact with the Laura’s family.

She remembered the woman Garda who came in with yet another cup of tea. She sat beside Laura, looked into her eyes and explained the situation. “I want to start by saying that I believe you; we all do. The thing is. We have seen a lot of cases like this. If it goes to trial with no physical evidence of being forced, it will be your word against his. We cannot tell you how it might go.” She put her hand over Laura’s “I wish we did; but we don’t. I might get very difficult for you.”

She remembered the wait for the wheels of justice to turn. She left the apartment; she couldn’t bear to see that hallway again, she moved back to the suburbs with her family, Sandie visited regularly. Clive was bailed and moved to a friend’s. They tried to keep it a secret but things got out, they always do. People split over what they believed, two stories were circulating, the rumour mill was spinning. There was counselling but it could only do so much. Laura’s work suffered, she never went out.

Laura remembered the trial coming after twenty months. She saw Clive for the first time outside her memories; looking nervous, as if he was waiting for an exam. She remembered the defence barrister; an odious turd from the deepest pits Clive’s family’s money could afford. He questioned Laura on every part of her story, asked her about her sex life, he even showed video stills from the nightclub detailing every man she had talked to, and offering signs on flirtatious body language.

She remembered his closing speech “Reasonable doubt. That is what I am here to provide. You have to ask yourself , ‘is it reasonable?’ Could Ms Williamson here, bereft of male attention, yielded to my clients innocent advances and then, shamed by what she had done, invented the story of saying no, without fighting or struggling or resisting in any way to save her damaged reputation? You don’t need a certain doubt, just a reasonable one. But if you have a doubt; a reasonable doubt, then it is your duty, ladies and gentlemen, your responsibility even, to acquit my client.”

Laura remembered the verdict. It was a majority; acquitted of all charges. The judge said he was free to go and all laura and her family could do was watch. She saw Clive smile, he actually smiled, and hug his lawyers. The papers were filled on how justice was not done and once again the same talking heads came out and decried the problems with the system. Questions were asked but nothing changed. laura; anonymous to the world, was left to fade into the background.

She sat back into the lounger as she often did when left alone. She searched her pockets and removed the collection of sleeping pills and painkillers that she had acquired from trusting shopkeepers and liberated from friend’s bathrooms. She had more than enough there, she had enough for quite some time.

The only thing that stopped her taking them was the thought; the horrible thought, of something she had once heard. It was said memories live on after you die and the thought of living with such horrible memories was not something that Laura could abide. It was a fantasy but it had kept the thoughts of ending it all at bay.

The question was; for how much longer?



Light rain fell on the ranks as the president walked.

He liked to spend time with the men.

Helped him remember.

He was not much older starting rebellion.

They might start the next.


Written for Trifecta’s Trifextra Week Sixty.

Horoscopes 7

Capricorn (22 December-20 January): When job hunting it is important to list all of your accomplishments. That includes all of the pie-eating contests where you have been a ribbon holder.

Aquarius (21 January-19 February): You’re in for a wild few weeks when you’re forced to live in the wilderness with a wolfpack for company.

Pisces (20 February – 20 March): Jupiter’s return to your sign signals your eventual triumph over your problems. Which is big of Jupiter considering that that stripy bastard caused all your problems in the first place.

Aries (21 March – 20 April): Nothing much happens this week. You’ll buy a hat.

Taurus (21 April – 21 May): Beware a stranger bringing gifts. You’ll know him when you see him, he’s the one covered in blood.

Gemini (22 May – 21 June): Adaptation is the order of the day this week when you suddenly find yourself without fingers.

Cancer (22 June – 23 July): You like her. She likes you. You both like bog snorkling. It’s a match made in heaven.

Leo (24 July – 23 August): Do you see the little red button? The one to the right of the screen? For God’s sake; don’t press it!

Virgo (24 August – 23 September): Your dance skills will show no improvement when a medical mixup leaves you with two left feet.

Libra (24 September – 23 October): There is no power on Earth greater than the love of a mother for her child but even she has come to loath the sound of your voice in the morning.

Scorpio (24 October – 22 November): Your love-life will take a whole new dimension after you finally get your blow-up doll to inflate. 

Sagittarius (23 November – 21 December): Big things are coming to you. Multi-ton things in fact. You might want to keep an eye out.

The Plague

It started with a single case. Uncontrollable mood swings, pustules on the face. The effects were horrific, everyone was terrified, they all tried to stay safe, keep clean, but it soon spread. From the school into nearly every household. It was relentless, no one was spared.

As the news became widely known a panic took over the excitable which then came to infect even the most calm of individuals. Doctor’s surgeries were over run, pharmacies were sold out of even the most basic medicines. There was fighting in the aisles such was the desperation of the people.

When medical science failed people turned to less conventional sources of healing. The churches all showed record attendance, especially remarkable considering how people how feared one another. A faith healer out to sell snake-oil did a roaring trade. When nothing else worked everything was worth a try and a secondhand anecdote of success was as good as a cure to some.

The oldest in the town had seen this before. They had seen the signs and had tried to warn the people but had been ignored. “Besides” they said “No one had died. This was something you just would have to live with. It would get normal again in the end.”

No one believed the elders. This was just too horrible. They could barely stand the two weeks it had lasted, how could they live through the five years the elders said it was likely to go one for? It was too much to ask. Their town used to be peaceful now it was a nightmare.

Some said it was a poor choice, that it would only end in tears. But they figured they had to do something. The mayor issued an ultimatum. Any child found to be acting like an adolescent was to be banished immediately. With gods will and a lot of luck that would be enough, they hoped that would be enough Their last hope against this insidious menace.

A plague of teenagers.


Written for Trifecta Week Sixty-Nine.

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 10

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle, Solves the problems of the rich and famous*.

Dear Doctor Joe,

I need to lose at least 5kg in 2 weeks so I’ll look good in my swimsuit for our vacation.  What do you think is the best thing to do to achieve this?

Supposedly Dieting Karen


Dear Supposedly Dieting Karen,

The very first thought to come to mind is that 5kg is approximately the mass of a human leg from slightly above the knee. If you can get that lopped off cleanly (I know a guy) that is your weight-loss goal right there and then.

I am aware though that some people may not find the idea of having only one leg very attractive (I don’t know why not; think of the possibilities!) so perhaps another method might be more appropriate.

One way to do it would be to take on a crack habit. The weight loss really is quite substantial and you will lose those stubborn kilos and more especially after your teeth start falling out.

But I know your planning a vacation so your budget might be a little tight for substance abuse. Why not take on the lifestyle of a crack addict without the addiction itself? Yes Karen; leave your home and live on the street for the next two weeks, begging for money and fighting with other homeless for scraps out of rubbish bins. Not only will the daily struggle for a crust of bread melt away those unwanted kilos but you will also save a lot by not spending on those non-essentials such as heat, clothes, a roof over your head and proper nutrition. A word to the wise, some of that money might be well invested in a good makeup artist just prior to your trip. Just to hide the sallow complexion, heavy bruising and bite marks which are standard side effects of this novel weight loss program.

Whatever your decision good luck with the weight-loss and I hope you enjoy your holiday.

Doctor Joe

*Editor’s note: Rich idiots mostly; of which there are a surprisingly large number.

To view doctor Joe’s other columns or to ask him a question yourself just click here.

Picture it and Write: Working in Paradise

Hi there. This is my offering for this weeks picture it and write from Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine it is from the lovely Marisa Lyons an excellent writer who you should check out. Anyway; enjoy.

Working in paradise

People tend to have these notions about living in a resort like here, they think it must be just a constant celebration, like I was on a lifetime holiday. But the reality is I have to work just as hard as anyone else only I have to do it where everyone else doesn’t.

The sign on the pub I run; O’Reilly’s on the strip says that we close at 3AM every night. The reality is the most determined drinkers always orders giant rounds withing a minute of the bar stopping serving and then spend at least an hour afterwards finishing off their drinks and trying to coerce us into giving some more or god knows what else.

You add on cleaning off the night’s spilled beer, broken glass and vomit. It can be closer to 6 in the morning before I finally lock the doors and get to travel home. Dawn is usually starting to break when I get in my car and leave the resort town on the coast.

I don’t live nearby, couldn’t afford it. I live about ten miles inland, barely in the range of a jalopy older than I was. After such a long night I am seldom fit for anything but bed.

My home is small, but nicely built. There are trees in the garden with a swing that was there when I bought it. It looks lovely with the morning sun blazing from over the mountains. I always regret when I see it since I can contribute so little to it apart from the money I bring in, my wife is left to that mostly.

I remember a morning when I just closed the door to my car when I heard a squeal from outside. “Daddy!” shouted my son, Geoff, his four-year-old legs running down the the stairs, the family beagle in hot pursuit. I see him up and about so irregularly that I was a little taken aback. He wrapped himself around my leg and shouted again “You’re back!”

“Yes I am kiddo!” I ruffled the hair on his head bringing a soft giggle “Aren’t you supposed to be in bed?”

“Just got up!” Geoff lied “Do you want to play on the swing?”

The bed was calling me but I found it hard to argue while I was being dragged over to the tree swing. I lifted him up and placed him gingerly on the wooden seat. “Push me! Push me!” he demanded so I started to shift the swing back and forth. Geoff laughed with joy, the noise filling the small garden as the sun slowly rose into the sky. I found it difficult to stay awake sometimes, my eyes starting to feel unbearably heavy, but that laugh, that infectious laugh kept me going that little bit longer. “Just one more push Daddy! Wheeeee!”

“What is all this then?” called the cavalry; my wife Jen from the front door “Your father had a tough night. He needs his sleep.” Geoff made a face as if prepared to argue but thought better of it. Instead he jumped back into my arms, kissed me on the cheek and whispered “Nite Daddy Love you!” He then calls the dog who had been waiting expectantly at my feet and runs off into the garden, searching for some excitement.

I am reluctant to let him go on mornings like that. As he is prepared to go like any boy of his age and see the wonders of the world. But I always argue that he needs me working more than that. “How was it love?” Jen asks; the look on my face tells her everything, the same as it always is.

As I head up to my small bedroom, the black-out blinds fully drawn I always try and take one final look at the sun. If I was with Geoff it would be hopefully a little higher but seldom by much. If I get a good day’s sleep it would we waning by the time I see it again. But then that is what is expected, to spend my time like a reveller, out of synch with the rest of my world, the price of working in paradise.


Joe’s Adventure: Day 5

I sit here, on a late Saturday Morning in my native city, wrecked from a mixture of Jet-Lag and 26 hours with no sleep, writing about the last day of my adventure.

It started as always before sunrise. Taking my final morning swim and after finishing packing I checked out and headed with my new Irish companion to my host business.

I’ll not try and bore you with the details but suffice it to say it went rather well and everyone went away happy as well as rather full after the extensive lunch we had together before we left. So; the job done, myself and my companion aimed the car out of the keystone state and headed for New York.

Modern cars are incredible, of that there is no doubt. Still we still found it rather unsettling to note that the ground was still cold enough to freeze water spilling from rocks into cascades of ice like whitish mushrooms while we felt rather warm in the car.

A mid transit phone call lead to me being suddenly informed that we were not heading directly for JFK but rather into Manhattan where my companion. We figured that we would still have enough time to get to the plane if the meeting was short enough so I braved the streets of the big apple once again in the same week.

Manhattan is an island were the head is drawn up rather than kept at eye level. My companion said that this made driving somewhat difficult. Nevertheless we found our way to Park Avenue and a little piece of Ireland including the New York offices of the IDA, Ireland’s office for getting big corporations to bring jobs home. The meeting was again inconsequential but on the way out we found a few lads from the body that pays my wages.

Being Irish, these young men were not the kind of people to leave another Irishman wanting “You want to drive to JFK?” one of them asked “At this time of the day? You’ll never make it! Take the E-Train! And then the AirTrain straight there.”

I therefore abandoned my companion and found myself again trying to navigate the New York transit system on my own. Now I have been in tube systems before but never in a rush hour scenario. From Lexington Avenue out into the Queens area had us doing sardine impressions. But the further out of the metropolis we traveled the less full it became and the more comfortable I felt. The final hop on the AirTrain was like a step into the future and within less than an hour I was in JFK terminal three.

After the usual wait I ended up at the gate for my flight surveying the rest of the passengers. Patrick’s day is this weekend so there was more green clothes in the line than I would think was usual. I asked a few what they were doing. Most where tourists, trying to experience Ireland, a couple had won tickets to walk in the parade this year, another of the bright ideas from the Irish Tourist board.

We poured into the plane and practically every seat was filled. There was an interesting mix of wiley local Dub and fresh faced tourist. Directly behind me were two Dublin lads enthusiastically ripping into a young American college girl who seemed on occasion to be in serious danger of choking such was her laughter.

Besides me was a young woman who was traveling to Ireland on a whim. She seemed to be lucky too. She had managed to find a room in a B&B in Dublin on Patrick’s weekend on short notice. We mused wistfully about travel and the differences between our respective cultures.

Most sweet I think had to be the older woman to the right of me. She was widowed, but seemed to have developed something with an old widower for the duration of the flight. They kept on looking over seats at each other. Exchanging photos, mementos and speaking to each other in the loud voices. Too loud for some. One man got considerably angry as the plane’s lights went dark. Nearly shouting about how he was being disturbed. Oddly enough it was only the Americans who said anything in complaint. We Irish are loud speakers. I bet you Dublin would be a shock to those overly sensitive.

After six uneventful hours we arrived back in the old country. It was a miserable -3 Celsius but with clear skies and I walked into an airport filled with newly arrived tourists seeking the best party of the year.

Thus ended my adventure. Will there be more? Only time and this blog will tell.

Joe’s Adventure: Day 4

Waking up on my fourth day. I could sense what could best be described as a change in the air. That undefined air of coldness, of change coming. I tried to do what any self respecting man would do in this situation and ignore it but the sense refused to go away.

I only realised when I went to the lobby of the hotel to eat my breakfast that I discovered what the sense had been trying to warn me about. It was snowing.

Being Irish and thus unable to handle the very idea of snow and with the added incentive of my recent experiences with snow on my outbound flight, I was in no mood to handle this white shit falling from the sky. With increasing horror I watched as the couple of flakes graduated to a full blown flurry, turning the sky white.

Thankfully; it soon abated but though the snow may have been gone, the cold was still very much in presence and I had to wrap myself up in my coat while I made my way through the windswept streets of the campus.

My earliest impressions of America has to be the sheer vastness of it. And it was today where that size became most apparent. Being driven “just a little” way out of where I was working with some others for lunch. Involved traveling through what can best be described as a labyrinth of roads, motorways and little side streets. It quickly became apparent that to walk that distance may have taken me at least half an hour, probably longer.

There is no doubting it. The car is king where I am. I’m not entirely sure what was going through my head while I planned this trip. But not renting a car has to have taken on the aura of a big mistake for me. Sure enough they drive on the wrong side of the road, and it is very much the fact that I wouldn’t have a clue how to operate an automatic, or know my way. But the fact is I have been very contained in this trip.

My journeys have been marred by the restriction of walking only as far as the concrete barrier of the nearby motorway. I am dependent on the complimentary bus and people who have been far too generous to me to get to and from where I needed to be. Without them, this trip would be considerably more of a pain.

There has been a game changer this evening. Another colleague has shown from the land of Ireland and he does have access to a car. With increased mobility tomorrow, which also happens to be my last day in Pennsylvania should be a more on the move day.

Joe’s Adventure: Day One

Joe’s Adventure: Day Two

Joe’s Adventure: Day Three

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle 9

Doctor Joe: Agony Uncle, dives straight into the heart of the problem*.

Dear Doctor Joe,

I have been with my boyfriend now for over three months and I think I am falling for him. The problem is, he is quite well off and used to the finer things. Whenever we go out he insists it is to the finest restaurants, the best events or the most exclusive clubs. My finances are not the best and I can’t afford to keep on doing this. When I broached the subject to him he insisted that he would pay for our excursions himself as “his treat”. I don’t like the sound of that as it makes me feel like I am using him.

What can I do?

Poor Penelope


Dear Poor Penelope,

I had to read your letter several times to finally understand what it was you were trying to say. You have a man you are crazy about, willing to pay for you to go to all the best things in life, and you think this is a  problem?

Boggles the mind!

However I do kind of see where you are coming from. You don’t want to constantly impose on your boyfriends hospitality without paying your fair share or giving back in return. This is noble of you. But you forget one crucial thing here Penelope. You are able to give something back in return.

It really is simple. By paying for the meal or the entertainment your boyfriend is in essence paying for your company. The man seems to like having you around and is willing to pay through the nose for it. Instead of being disturbed Penelope, you should be flattered. The question therefore becomes not what he pays but rather whether or not you are giving him his money’s worth.

For illustrative purposes I have decided to consult the price list from Madam Chao’s house of eastern delights (Not something I am wont to do, I just have an account.) The prices there vary from around 40 for a blowjob from toothless Charlotte (A dependable woman) to a whopping five thousand a session for a foursome with the Lin triplets in the jumbo paddling pool filled with treacle (A birthday treat for someone special). You may of course need to reduce your rate slightly since these girls are experts in the field and earn professional fees. But for general purposes I think these values are fair enough.

What you do then is simple. Whatever your boyfriend decides to spend on you, you consult the list to find what would be the ‘service’ that is closest to that value. Of course; you don’t necessarily have to go for the straight price-match either. Much like several elements going into your nights out, you can build up your payback with more than one ‘service’ with for example five blow-jobs instead of an S&M session in a Furry Costume (again for illustrative purposes; I’ll send you the price list). It would be a simple matter to reach an agreement on all this through some negotiation with your boyfriend.

Have fun leveling the score!

Good Luck,

Doctor Joe

*Editors note: Unfortunately the straight route to the heart is through several other vital organs. Significant damage may occur.

To read doctor Joe’s other columns and to ask him a question yourself click here.