How "Psycho" Got His Name
by Brendan Strong
It is a midsummer afternoon and we are sitting in La Jardin Bierre. I am drinking beer with a lemon in it, served in some kind of giant branded wine glass. She is drinking wine, from a regular wine glass. She is telling me about her day. I am trying to listen, but this reedy voice behind me snags my attention, again and again. It’s husky and high pitched; I think of a three year old who has smoked twenty a day for forty years.
“Why are you smirking?” she asks
“Nothing” I say “go on.”
I seems nothing in her office works. Her computer, the network, the printer. The final straw came with the photocopier coating her skirt in black dust. After a brief but satisfying meltdown, the boss came over and said “Look, just take the afternoon off.” Janie, a superbitch in the office was giving her a look when
“Well,” says the reedy voice, from nowhere, from behind me – shhitch of a cigarette lighter – “then there’s Psycho. D’ja hea‘ ’bout his latest escapades?”
I nearly jump from my seat, from my skin as a deep bass says “Psycho?” A barrel talking to a nail scraping down a blackboard. About ‘Psycho’ no less.
The Jardin is one of these bars where the class war is in truce. Everyone is here for the same reason – to drink outside where you can smoke with impunity. The whole bar is outside. That’s its theme – a European-style garden bar with an Irish twist (a fully retractable roof for when it rains). We sit around in the afternoon, drinking sensibly, waiting for the evening when we’ll pick up the pace and then go our separate ways. She and I will go for dinner, and maybe some more drinks in Shea’s Wild West Saloon – a new theme bar where they serve group cocktails in a pitcher shaped like a stetson. I don’t know what the odd couple will do – but I guess they return to their own world, their own dinner, their own bars.
The reedy voice is finishing its story about Psycho and whatever it was he did. The deep voice rumbles “I heard about dat. I didn’t know his name was Psycho. I know him as Gerry…” he trails off. After a few moments of staring into space, the reedy voice says
“Nice bar, wha? Y’know who owns this joint? You know Spacey? Lives on the corner from yer ma… Yeah, well Spacey’s brother: he owns the place”
“Your kidding? I didn’t know Spacey had a brother”
“Yeah, yeah. Spent a few years knockin‘ ’round Europe, then a good time in London. Came back with a bit of money and bought himself a place. Was just settling when some fellah comes along and throws a wad of cash at him – ‘will you sell me yer place?’ ‘will I wha‘?’ says he. Anyway, that started him, and now he owns a bunch of places. This one is great though, wha‘? All sorts in here.” his voice lowers “Yuppies an’ all…” shhitch, the lighter goes again.
We are talking about maybe buying a place. We’ve been living together for a while. “Renting is dead money” she says and she is right. I take a sip of beer and light another smoke. Buying is a big step. But then living is a big risk, you could die at any moment.
“D’ja know how he got the name?” the reedy voice asks. Whatever physicality the deep voice had obviously signalled No. There was a cough – a throat clearing. I awaited the mighty voice that would relate to all in La Jardin Bierre the Story of How Psycho got his name.
But the voice remained reedy as it said
“Well, he moved in on the street. But you know he’s not one of us. I know you only moved to the street three or four years ago, but yer from the area. He’s nah’ He came from down by the brewery. Anyway, he moved onto the street and you know the way the kids are? Well this one, Barra Molloy, he’d seen the place all empty for so long was kicking a ball against the window. Y’know the way they do tha‘? Anyway, Psycho comes out and grabs the kid by his throat, drags him out to the road and hangs him by his jacket on the railings outside the house. Says nothing, just does that and goes back in. Anyway, later on, the kid’s father, Jamie, he comes down the street, big walk on him an’ everythin‘. He storms up to the door, bangs on it like crazy. The door opens, out comes Psycho and before yer man can say “Who do you think you are?” or “D’jew know who I am” or “I’ll ram this fuckin‘ whatsit up yer arse or down yer throat”, Psycho has dragged him out to the street as well. Bates seven shades of shite out of him, then walks back inta the house.”
“Say anything?” asks the deep voice.
“No. Nobody said anything” says the reedy voice. “Anyway, it’s gettin‘ late. Fancy a chippaw aw sumthin‘? This place’ll fill up with yuppies in about half an hour.”