RODDY DOYLE

NOT JUST
FOR

CHRISTMAS

Roddy Doyle is the author of The Commitments (1987), The Snapper (1990), The Van, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1991, Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha, winner of the Booker Prize in 1993, and The Woman Who Walked into Doors (1996). His latest novel is A Star Called Henry (1999). He co-wrote the screenplay for The Commitments, and wrote the screenplays for The Snapper and The Van, and the television series Family. He has also written two plays, Brownbread (1987) and War (1989).

Open Door

NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS First published by GemmaMedia in 2009. GemmaMedia 230 Commercial Street Boston MA 02109 USA 617 938 9833 www.gemmamedia.com Copyright © 1999, 2009 Roddy Doyle. This edition of Not Just for Christmas is published by arrangement with New Island Books Ltd. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews. Printed in the United States of America Cover design by Artmark

12 11 10 09 08 ISBN: 978-1-934848-02-9

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Library of Congress Preassigned Control Number (PCN) applied for

OPEN DOOR SERIES

Patricia Scanlan Series Editor

C H A P TE R O N E

Danny Murphy was going to meet his brother. He wrote in his notebook: “Meeting my brother at 8 o’clock.” He knew it looked silly. “My brother” instead of “Jimmy”, his brother’s name. When he spoke to Jimmy on the phone, two days ago, Jimmy had called himself “Jim”. And their mother still called him James. Jimmy or Jim or James. Danny didn’t know what to call him. He hadn’t seen or heard from Jimmy in twenty years. More. Twenty-one years. But then, two days ago, the phone rang.

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RODDY DOYLE

“Dad?” His son, Little Dan, shouted from the hall downstairs. “Yes?” said Danny. He was upstairs, shaving. “Jim wants you,” said Little Dan. Danny wiped his face with a towel as he went down the stairs. He knew a few men called Jim. So he didn’t know who he’d be talking to when he picked up the phone. “Hello?” “Danny?” “Yes?” “It’s Jim.” Danny waited for more. He didn’t know the voice. “Jim, your brother.” “Oh.” That was all. “Oh.” Danny could think of nothing else to say. No other words came to him. His brother spoke again.

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“How are you?” he asked. “Fine,” said Danny. “Yourself?” “Grand.” “Good,” said Danny. “So. Do you want to meet?” “OK,” said Danny. “For a pint or something.” “OK.” And now, here he was. It was two days later and he was on his way to meet Jimmy. His long-lost brother. The bus was coming up to his parents’ house. It was the house he had grown up in. It was the house Danny and Jimmy Murphy had grown up in.

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C HA P T E R TW O

They were never apart, the Murphy brothers. Jimmy was a year older than Danny, so they weren’t twins. But they were like twins. Everybody said it. Their parents, their sisters, the neighbours. They all said it. Even the O’Connor sisters down the road said it, and they were twins. It wasn’t just because they were always together. There was more to it than that. They didn’t have to speak to each other. That was it. One brother always knew what the other one wanted or needed. Danny would pass the salt to Jimmy just

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NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS

before Jimmy put his hand out for it. Danny would pass the ball to Jimmy without having to look first. Once, a teacher was just about to smack Jimmy for not having a red biro. Then there was a knock on the classroom door. And Danny walked in – with a red biro. Most of the boys in the class clapped but one or two started crying. They were never apart. Through primary school and secondary school, they were always side by side. Games, gangs, football, girls, Guinness – they discovered them all together. They both got Lego from Santa. They both got their first kiss from the same girl. (Mind you, so did every other boy in the parish.) They got drunk together the first time. They shared the same hangover the next morning. They shared their money. They shared their clothes. They shared their lives. They shared the same bed.

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RODDY DOYLE

“Go to sleep!” their mother shouted. The kitchen was under the bedroom. Her voice came through the floor-boards. This happened when Jimmy was ten and Danny was nine. They put their heads under the blankets so their mother wouldn’t hear them laughing. And they met the smell that had made them laugh in the first place. Jimmy’s farts were famous. “Oh, God!” Danny tried to get his head out from under the blanket. But Jimmy wouldn’t let him. He held Danny’s head down on the mattress. Danny kicked and tried to get away from Jimmy’s grip. He could hear their mother. “If I have to come up to you, there will be two sorry boys in the Murphy house!” Danny pushed and pulled but he couldn’t move Jimmy. His neck was sore. He couldn’t breathe. He had stopped

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NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS

laughing a long time ago. Jimmy’s fingers were hurting his neck. He tried to yell for his mother.

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