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Paddy Nolan Screams

by Mac 

Posted: 25 November 2004
Word Count: 796

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Content Warning
This piece and/or subsequent comments may contain strong language.

Paddy Nolan is the cock of the class. He has already started to take on the look of his dad and brothers, as if his part in the divine plan was always the pick, the shovel and the open road. He’s got a benign, ruddy face that should see him get done under the Trades Description Act because when he loses his rag, which happens hourly, it’s like someone’s whipped the mask off him and the beast within’s revealed. Typically, he’s bigger than everyone else and once riled he looks like he’s been in training for violence since he kicked his way out of the womb.
He hates you. He hates Sean. He hates everyone.
“Wait till break time. I’m going to smash your fucking face in.”
You have upset him.
You do not know how.
All morning you sit there like a man on death row. There’s no point in telling the teacher. That will not save you. It would be like a Texan appeal; you might get a stay of execution but sooner or later the Governor will let you fry.
Paddy keeps looking over at you and smiling. For an eleven-year-old he really is a vicious bastard. This talent for mental torture can’t be innate. One of his warped family must have taught him. He brings new dimensions to a playground fight that other kids can only dream of. Later the Americans will invent the phrase “psy-ops“ for what he is doing to you but that is a long time off yet and you may never live to see it. At the moment you quietly shit yourself and wait for the inevitable.
The bell rings for break and you rush for the classroom door but get caught up in the tide of other kids, all with the same idea of getting out fast. Nolan’s behind you and as you head towards the playground he raps you on the back of the skull with his knuckles. It does not feel like an eleven-year-old bully; it feels like a thirsty navvy trying to gain entry to a pub. You turn to complain and he smashes his fist into the side of your face making your nose pop like a party balloon. You would like to say that you don’t flinch and that you fire a punch straight back at him but what you actually do is cry. Your reaction is immediate; not prompted by pain or fear. You are being driven by impotent outrage at the injustice of it all. Nolan is unmoved and lamps you again, this time hitting your ear. Only now the pain is very real. Your arms are wrapped around your head trying to cover as much of his target area as possible. You can hear him calling you a cunt and a fucking bastard just above the other kids shouting “Fight, fight,” and you long for a teacher to call out your names and tell you to stop. A third punch catches you a glancing blow on the top of your head and you hear him snort in anger at his miss. He’ll make you pay for that, you twat.
After that comes a sound you’ll never forget.
Paddy Nolan screams.
It doesn’t seem possible that the noise that comes out of him ever has a right to be in him in the first place. It isn’t a corny horror movie scream or a Beatlemania scream.
It belongs in an abattoir.
People will tell different variations of the story afterwards but there is enough of a rough consensus to glean the basics. Sean has pushed his way through the crowd of gawkers who’ve gathered round Paddy to watch him make you die. He doesn’t wait for a formal invitation to the fight but jumps straight onto Nolan’s back without so much as a kiss-my-arse and bites the lower half of his left ear clean off. Your wounded tormenter’s shirt is now one half white, one half blood. His screaming is joined by that of a good section of the watchers. Then Sean does something that goes down in school folklore. He gets off Paddy’s back, comes round to the front to face him and spits his ear back in his face. Right back in his fucking face. To your left Mary Riordan is sick, splashing your school trousers. For a second you imagine having to explain it to your Mum and then you look up as Sean grabs him by the collar and pulls him forward. Nolan’s out of his mind with pain by this point and doesn’t resist. Sean brings his forehead crashing into the bridge of Paddy’s nose, which breaks audibly. Mary Riordan faints.
There is a new cock of the class. And he is your best mate.

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Comments by other Members

anisoara at 17:48 on 25 November 2004  Report this post

I found this gripping. I admit, I got a little green along with Mary Riordan!

Great line here: He’s got a benign, ruddy face that should see him get done under the Trades Description Act, etc.

Also the Texan stay of execution - classic.

Great stuff.


Anj at 19:35 on 25 November 2004  Report this post

Love this.

"There is a new cock of the class. And he is your best mate."

Just as well, eh?


Account Closed at 19:40 on 25 November 2004  Report this post
Viscious stuff, Mac but like Ani I was drawn in despite myself. It could do with a few breaks (visually) but I imagine that was the formatting.

The narrator is lucky to have a mate like Sean who seems to be reavealing his true self for the first time. As an over-anxious mother, I am concerned that this can happen with no teacher in sight!

I like your use of the 2nd person and the Texan appeal was funny but I felt the psy-ops was distracting and took us away from the main story.

Maybe you should write this from Mary's POV next!!


crowspark at 20:03 on 25 November 2004  Report this post
Mac this is brilliant. Great build, excellent tension. A white knuckle ride.
You briefly mention Sean but nothing memorable until the end. I wonder whether you could make him stand out more earlier without giving the game away?
Great stuff.


dryyzz at 12:45 on 26 November 2004  Report this post

Second person narrative (I think) and it reads so easy. The first time I've experienced that.

Interesting and emotionaly involving. Can't ask for much more than that.

The 'psy-ops' phrase seemed a little out of place for me, but no-one else has mentioned it. The 'stay of excecution' also. Only because, I think, it's something from beyond the world of these children. As I say, no-on else has mentioned it, so perhaps it's just me.

Nice work, a pleasure to read.



actually the phrases I picked out have been mentioned. Anyway, it's your story, up to you.

me at 01:12 on 27 November 2004  Report this post

I particularly liked this piece, it held a lot of memories of my own schooling and the 'top-dog' rivalry that existed as a sub-culture within it. Very good analogy of a de-throning.

Fantastic stuff.



bjlangley at 14:55 on 29 November 2004  Report this post
Mac, this is great. I particularly enjoyed the description of Paddy. Personally I liked the Texan appeal simile, but the psy-ops bit felt a little out of place.

When Sean came back into the story I did have to look back to see if he was the other kid earlier mentioned, so perhaps we need something more from him early on. Maybe Sean would say something - "don't worry" or something similar?

All the best,


DerekH at 15:37 on 30 November 2004  Report this post
Mac, you took me right back to junior school, and reminded me how serious those childish fights and struggles for rank seemed back then ... and how completely demonic, and skilled in metal torture some kids seemed to be (though as I remember from a terrifying visit to one school bully's house, some of them were perhaps just dishing out some of what they got at home...some of them). You put all the elements in there superbly.

Wow, this really did bring back the memories, and strangely enough, Shaun was the cock...and my best mate... and didn't like bullies.


Nell at 08:27 on 01 December 2004  Report this post
Good God Mac, what can I say about this? It's incredibly powerful writing - a kick in the gut, a head smash against a wall - and rightly or wrongly, politically correct or otherwise, I think it's brilliant. I was there with racing heart. Beautifully written too, and each carefully judged sentence pulls one inexorably to the end - opting out or escape not an option. Compelling and courageous - write on.


Jubbly at 19:31 on 08 December 2004  Report this post
Mac, this is absolutely fantastic, a real treat. Great stuff, I winced and squirmed and nearly retched. Interactive flash I feel. This could be the beginning of a novel....


Silverelli at 19:51 on 08 December 2004  Report this post

Great blow-by-blow commentary, Mac.
Really enjoyed this. I think you may even be able to expand this and have plenty of room for more humor. The fight description is on point. I think Paddy's Scream might have resembled a similar reaction to having his nutsack in a vice.

Mary Riordan doesn't have such good aim, does she? She also must have been sitting ringside-that's the price she pays for wanting to be so close to the action.

Keep cranking out the goods.


Jardinery at 11:25 on 09 December 2004  Report this post
good stuff!

the pace works, the repetition of the first/last line. and everything is nicely described with great tension and lovely insights - like him thinking of explaining to his mother.

one thing struck me was the analogy to the navvy - the feel of it - ok i accept there is a certain amount of adult looking back at an incident kind of thing but I feel we're too close to the kid's POV at this moment , to accept that analogy without it pulling the reader up short - or at least this reader. I kept thinking - how does he know what a navvy hitting him feels like? and it took me away for a moment. if that doesn't bother you then fine.

my only quibble.

again sure to find a market I would have thought.

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