33 Francis Street, Dublin 8
It's a wet and freezing Thursday night and Thomas Street is teeming with young, pretty things -- presumably students from NCAD -- raucously celebrating something or other. When you're young and attractive, I suppose, what more excuse do you need?
Aidan and I are a little older, but not necessarily any the wiser. The pubs are mobbed so we duck down Francis Street and stick our heads in the door of the Liberty Belle. It's a traditional Dublin pub, with football scarves and a couple of old guys bickering at the bar.
A little more our speed, I think. As the barman serves us up two creamy pints of Guinness, I tell Aidan that I once visited the original Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
("Any good?" he asks. Useless, I tell him. Worst tourist attraction ever. We spent half the day looking for it and it's just a feckin' bell.)
We take a table down the back where we're soon joined by the rest of our group. Fergus' girlfriend gave him the heave-ho before Christmas, he tells us. ("It was a case of get a job, or get out," he explains. "Well, there was only ever going to be one answer there...") He's been forced to move back in with his parents, sharing bunk beds with his teenage brother. And let's just say, teenage boys will be teenage boys.
"You mean he's...?"
"Every fucking night," says Fergus. "As soon as the lights go out. Regular as clockwork."
Linda looks confused.
You know, I had a similar experience in a hostel in Barcelona one time, I tell him. I thought it was the German guy in the bunk below. Turned out to be a dripping tap...
Fergus is annoyed. "It's not a feckin' dripping tap, okay?" he snaps. "It's me little brother. He's a dirty bollox."
Linda finally twigs. "Oh my God," she gasps. "What are you going to do about it?"
Fergus shrugs. That's the question.
"Well, if you wanted to freak him out," suggests Aidan. "You could try saying 'Ooh... yeah!' really softly..."
"You're a sick man."
"No, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em," reckons Declan. "Get a duelling banjos thing going...."
"Oh my God!" Linda pleads. "Will you ever stop it? This is really, really awful. The poor boy... Why don't you talk to him, Fergus? He looks up to you. He might have some... I dunno, some questions or something?"
This notion is met with great mirth.
"Questions?" laughs Fergus, "Oh, I'm pretty sure he hasn't any questions... This one he's figured out all on his own!"
You know, I say, there's always the option of getting a feckin' job, getting your own place and leaving your brother to masturbate in peace?
This idea Fergus dismisses out of hand. "Now you're talkin' crazy talk..." he says.
Catch up with Eoin's escapades on www.eoinbutler.com; firstname.lastname@example.org