Click here to find out more about Torn Away
- Newly re-published in North America! -
Book Publishing is republishing Torn Away. It is available in the USA
and Canada in September, 2003. To get you started, here's an excerpt...
They handcuffed him to the seat so he could cause no trouble on the airplane.
He was small for his thirteen years, and wiry, with straight brown hair
worn in a fringe across a wide brow. He needed a haircut. His eyes too
were brown, brooding and dark in a pale face that would have been hard
were it not for the lips which were full and soft. He wore old blue jeans,
white cotton socks, worn-out sneakers, a blue cotton T-shirt, and an old
gray wool sweater. He wore no watch, but on the middle finger of his left
hand he had a gold wedding ring that had been his mothers.
He had the seat to himself at the back. He pressed his face up against
the window, and when he saw the two plain-clothes policemen disappear
into the terminal, he folded his thin hand together like a Chinese fan,
and wriggled it out of the handcuff.
When they had dragged him aboard, everyone had stared. Now, with their
heads turned to the front, they were trying to pretend he was not there.
The flight attendant was standing at the open door speaking into her telephone.
He would have to be quick.
He slid from his seat, took a deep breath, and hurled himself down the
Somebody shouted, Look out!
But he was too fast for them. He was past the flight attendant and out
the door before anyone could stop him.
Stop him! cried the flight attendant to the uniformed boarding
pass official, a tall thin man, down on the tarmac.
He skipped lightly down the steps. Boarding passes fluttered to the ground
as the man reached out to grab him, but the boy was quick. He swerved
and ducked under the mans arms, and was away across the tarmac,
arms pumping, legs flashing.
The flight attendant with the telephone must have alerted the check-in
staff, for three women and two men were scrambling from behind their counters
to form a barrier as he burst into the terminal.
He stopped to consider, his chest heaving.
They advanced on him, arms outstretched.
He turned and plunged back out the door, around the edge of the building
and across the road toward the parking lot.
The man in the Avis rental blue Vauxhall saw him run in front of the car
and jumped hard on the brakes.
The boy struck the hood of the car with the palm of his hand as he went
down. He lay there, still, listening.
The driver, a stout middle-aged man, scrambled out of the car in a panic.
As he bent over the crumpled body, the boy leaped to his feet and kicked
him hard under the jaw. The man reeled backwards and lay gasping on his
back. The boy jumped behind the wheel, slammed shut the car door, restarted
the engine, pushed his foot down hard on the accelerator, and screeched
away from the terminal.
A police car was waiting for him at the highway, blocking the way ahead.
The boy jerked at the wheel desperately, pulling the car around fast with
a scream of burning rubber, and raced back toward the parking lot with
the police car on his tail, siren wailing.
He rocketed through the parking lot, up one aisle, turning tightly down
the other, tight turn, up the next aisle, tires screaming. The police
car tried to cut him off at an exit, but the Vauxhall crashed into its
fender and kept going, weaving wildly. There were two men in the car.
They cut him off at the next exit, and this time when the Vauxhall collided,
it came to a stop, its front bumper and grille locked in the twisted metal
of the police car.
They had him.
They were angry. They wrestled him to the terminal and locked him in the
baggage room. He unzipped and ripped open as many bags and suitcases as
he could and hurled their contents around the room, and when the original
policemen, the ones who had put him on the airplane, got there, the place
looked like a cyclone had hit a clothing store.
The flight had been delayed thirty-two minutes.
This time they took no chances. One policeman was to go with him all the
way to London. He was handcuffed to the seat again, but this time the
steel bit into his wrist and he could not slip his hand out. He sat on
the inside, by the window. The policeman was a large, sandy, silent man
who chewed gum and read the Belfast Telegraph.
The airplane taxied to the runway and stopped. The boy jerked at the handcuff
with his free hand, but the arm of the seat was unyielding; the steel
bit into his flesh, and he bit his lip with the pain of it. The policeman
did not look up from his newspaper.
It had taken them more than two months to catch him. At first they used
to come to the house, knocking on the door for him to let them in. Then
later, after he had joined the Holy Terrors, they came and forced the
door open, and he ran out the back and down the alley. By the time they
took to surrounding the house, he was no longer there but was hiding with
one of the gang members.
Sometimes he hid right under their noses at the OMalley house next-door.
From there he watched the police coming and going, and when their backs
were turned he was often able to sneak into his own house and sleep in
his own bed.
Mr. OMalley had tried reasoning with him. You cant run
forever, Declan. Theyre bound to catch you. Where will you go when
they discover you here? Mr. OMalley wore a black patch. He
had lost an eye ten years ago to a British plastic bullet in the riots
following the deaths of jailed hunger-strikers. And ten years before that,
he had been thrown into the Maze Prison with several hundred other Catholics
where he was kept for three years without a trial. His nerves were wrecked.
He couldnt lift a cup of tea without spilling it.
Declans friend Tim OMalley, his face pale and worried, said,
Listen to my da, Declan, hes right. Dont I wish it was
myself who was getting out of this dung heap and going off to Canada?
Its lucky you are that your uncle sends for you. I hear everyone
in Canada is rich.
I was born and raised in Belfast and here Ill stay,
said Declan, and no man has the right, uncle or not, to make me
Tims father said, Your Uncle Matthew is all you have left,
Declan. He has a right to claim you. He wants you. You must go.
I wont go.
Tims mother was very unhappy. She said, My cousin Julia lives
in New York and she loves it. Canada is close to New York and it sounds
like the wonderful country, so it does. The good Lord in all his mercy
will take care of you, Declan, and our prayers will go with you.
Declan said, The good Lord is it! And prayers is it! Dont
be telling me about the mercy of the good Lord, Mrs. OMalley, havent
I had enough of it!
Mr. OMalley said, Your uncle
Uncle! Matthew Doyle ran away from his country and left it to the
English. Hes no uncle of mine!
Tims mother started weeping.
You can cry all you want, Mrs. OMalley, said Declan,
but Ill not run from Ireland and leave the murderers go free
who killed my family. If they make me go, then Ill come back.
Ill be back, he whispered to himself now as the plane
started its race, gathering speed down the runway. He pressed his cheek
to the window. Ill be back, he said again.
The plane lifted off. The boy looked down. Identical rows of livid red
rooftops slid underneath the airplane, row after row of them. In the gray
gloom, they looked like long angry scars on the blighted landscape.
If the policeman had not been reading his newspaper, and if he had searched
the reflection in the tiny window, he might have noticed that the boy