An ordinary man can live a life full of extraordinary events for there is nothing truly ordinary about being ordinary.
Once upon a time in a magical place called Dublin, there lived an ordinary boy by the name of Roy Riley. Roy was a wonderful boy. He didn’t become famous nor did he fly to the moon, he simply lived by the hand he was dealt in a decent working class area of Dublin. What made Roy wonderful was the fact that he was kind, friendly, genuine, charitable and so on. He was an individual of strikingly good character.
Roy’s story begins in the mid 1990’s when he was born in a hospital in Dublin’s city centre. His father was serving a sentence in prison at the time of his birth and his mother was a chaotic drug addict. Not surprisingly, Roy was given up for adoption almost as soon as he was born. After spending the first year of his life in an orphanage, Roy was adopted by Paul & Mary Riley. Paul and Mary had nothing but unconditional love for their newly adopted baby boy. They were two lovely people and there wasn’t one little orphan in the world that could have dreamed of a better family. Paul worked in a slaughterhouse and Mary worked part-time in the local newsagent. Together they brought home a modest income, an income sufficient enough to support themselves and their new baby boy. As Roy grew up he graduated from the local crèche to the local primary school. He mixed well with his peers. He was fun and playful.
One of the first dramatic life changing events that happened in Roy’s life was an event that took place when he was five years old: It was a fine summer’s day and Roy was playing in his back garden while his stepdad was mowing the lawn. Roy’s stepdad often told him not to tamper with the lawnmower as it was dangerous. When Roy’s stepdad popped into the house for a drink, Roy became overwhelmed with curiosity surrounding the wonders of the humming lawnmower. As nobody was looking, he decided to throw caution to the wind and in doing so he initiated contact with the lawnmower. He trimmed a bit of grass before deciding to investigate the underside of the mower. He stuck his hand underneath the lawnmower. The noise went “ssspllaatcvhhhkkkkggchh.” His hand splattered into splinters and he howled with incredulous shock. He pulled the mangled remnants of his hand out from under the lawnmower and just as the gouts of blood painted his face red he fainted only to later wake up in the hospital alive and well. He had survived albeit one hand short of a pair. His stepdad had managed to wrap him up in a towel and get him to the nearby hospital where they did all they could for him. He would grow up to have a stump where his left hand once was.
Roy developed into an optimistic child despite his handicap of having only one hand. He had lots of good friends who loved and respected him. Unfortunately, he did find himself on the receiving end of some bullying from time to time yet his character was so courageously strong that he never renounced his faith in the infinite good of man. He hated the few bad eggs that victimized and humiliated him but the love and support of his friends and step-parents always provided reassuring refuge whenever it was needed.
Hitherto, Roy had formed a wonderful bond with his step-parents, especially his stepfather Paul. Roy really was the apple of Paul’s eye. Paul was a good man and he transferred his benevolent philosophies unto Roy. He taught Roy about the importance of love and positivity and the power of kindness and generosity. Roy was fond of animals and so, on his 11th birthday, Paul gave him the pleasant surprise of a pet guinea pig for a birthday present. It was a beautiful birthday, words really couldn’t describe how happy Roy was to receive such a blessing. Of course, he would go on to love and care for his pet guinea pig with great care and tenderness.
The night after his 11th birthday, Roy chatted with his step-parents before feeding his guinea pig and going to bed. It was a regular school night. However, something went “bump” in the middle of the night! Roy was awakened by the tumultuous sounds of banging, smashing and shouting downstairs. He could hear his stepdad arguing with two voices that he didn’t recognize. The commotion sounded intense. He sat up in the bed as the fear and adrenaline rushed through his gut. At that point, his stepmother burst into his room in a state of panic. She was visibly shaken although she made her best efforts to pacify the situation and she told Roy that everything was fine and that his stepdad was just chatting to a couple of old friends who had arrived to their house drunk. Only seconds later did the noise die down, the denouement was marked by the sound of footsteps scurrying out the door and into the night. Mary told Roy to stay in bed, she was going downstairs to see if Paul had run out the front door with the guests who had scarpered off. What she saw at the foot of the stairs shocked her to the core. The door was wide open and there lay Paul covered in a pool of his own blood, the color draining from his body. The house had been burgled in the middle of the night and Paul had found himself in a scuffle with the two intruders. In an act of desperate fatality, one of the intruders had taken a sharp knife from the kitchen and stabbed Paul sixteen times in the chest, neck and back. The injuries sustained were enough to kill him instantly. Mary’s scream of horror and the ineffable image of his mutilated stepfather became the stuff of Roy’s nightmares from thereon.
Time went by; the murderous burglars were caught by police and were duly dealt their dose of justice. Mary never got over the death of her husband, but, herself and Roy were able to help each other through the toughest of times. After Roy turned eighteen he inherited a six-figure sum of money courtesy of his late stepfather. This was because Paul had life insurance as well as some savings in the bank. Despite all the hardships he had been through, Roy managed to do well on his leaving cert and he got his place in a college down the country, he went on to study Science.
Roy started college in September. Two nights before he started his course, there was a party in his house to celebrate the beginning of a bright new chapter in his life. All of his great friends attended the party, most of them were heading off to college too, most of them were going their separate ways in life but of course they all planned to stay in touch and meet up regularly. Roy felt blessed to know such lovely people as his friends and stepmother. By this stage in his life he was all too mindful of the fact that the world was full of contemptible ruffians. Sometimes, he would feel a little bit dejected when wondering why there was so much malice in the world but then he would count his blessings and remind himself that there’s no point in dwelling on negativity because, in his belief, justice always prevailed and the good of the world far outweighed the bad.
Mary was overwhelmed when she waved goodbye to Roy on his first day of college. He took a train to the west of Ireland to begin his new venture. He’d be home every second weekend and of course for breaks and holidays. He stayed in touch with his friends and met up with them every so often. Roy made lots of new friends in college, he was liked by his peers and he loved the freedom and the social activities that he discovered in college. He really enjoyed Thursday nights at the student bar. There was fun and games at the student bar every Thursday night; pub quizzes, karaoke, musical chairs etc. Around Easter in his first year of college he attended a speed dating event at the student bar. The event was great banter and to his pleasant surprise he struck up some good vibes with a third year nursing student named Alice Stone. Alice was reasonably attractive; with her dyed hair and tongue piercing she had an air of playfulness and sexiness about her. At first, Roy was a little bit shy around her. Apart from missing a hand he was a very attractive man but he had never yet experienced a relationship so it took him a while to ease up and relax. Alice was friendly and solicitous towards Roy, they vibed well together and from then onwards began seeing each other.
Roy fell madly in love with Alice. The chemistry between the pair was invigorating and Roy had never been more happy. His friends were all delighted to see him doing so well for himself. His state of contentment was a pleasant reminder that good things come to those who deserve it. After just eighteen months of dating, Roy got down on one knee and popped the question. Alice embraced his proposal and soon thereafter a date was set for the big wedding.
Eight months after she put the ring on her finger Alice Stone became Mrs Alice Riley. The months which preceded the wedding were exciting but Roy’s stepmother had an uncomfortable sentiment regarding her stepson’s hasty decision to get married. Mary felt as if Roy was a little bit vulnerable to the paranormal effects of girls such as Alice. Mary felt as if her stepson was inexperienced in the field of relationships and she had a feeling that Alice had been more promiscuous before she met Roy. Although Roy’s friends were happy to see Roy feeling so joyous, they too were beginning to feel an undercurrent of apprehension surrounding Roy’s relationship status.
Mr and Mrs Riley enjoyed a luxury cruise for their honeymoon. They wined and dined and made love every night. When they came home from their honeymoon, Roy started his final year in college and Alice took a full-time job as a nurse in the west of Ireland, close to the college. By this stage Alice had finished college and the couple had started renting a nice little bungalow together. Roy attended class and studied in the evenings whereas Alice worked varying shifts from week to week. Alice suggested that it would be best for Roy if he were to focus lots of attention on studying for his finals, she propounded the notion that if they worked hard for a few months then the celebrations to come would be even more satisfying. In order to prevent herself from distracting Roy, Alice opted to work evening shifts and night shifts more often. The couple knuckled down to their work/study schedules and after a while, when the pair did find time for intimacy, Roy noticed that Alice became less interested in lovemaking; she was often either too tired or overworked. Of course, Roy was as trusting and compassionate as a man could be so he thought it best to give his wife as much personal space as she needed. He just couldn’t wait until the day of his final exam, he had planned to book a beautiful holiday in the sun for the summer that followed the end of his studies.
The day finally came when Roy finished college. It was another immensely proud moment for himself, his wife, his friends and his stepmother. To top it all off he had booked the holiday for himself and Alice and they were all set to fly out to Costa Rica the following week. At the celebrations for the final exams, Roy and Alice posed for photos; they smiled, hugged and kissed. To the naked eye they were an adorable couple, madly in love. However, Roy’s friends noticed that Alice took a lot of toilet breaks at the celebrations, and, they noticed that she spent a lot of time texting people on her phone. They brought this to Roy’s attention and expressed concern when he told them that they had spent a minimal amount of time interacting during the months prior to the exams. Roy explained to his friends that the purpose of their time-off together was for the sake of maximizing his academic potential. Eventually, Roy got angry with his friends and ordered them to stop intruding on personal matters that were none of their business. The expression of anger was something that Roy had never shown before, it surprised his friends.
The day of the Costa Rica holiday came closer and closer and Roy was buzzing with excitement. However, he noticed that Alice was growing nervous and she didn’t seem so energetic. The penny dropped two nights before the holiday, Alice came clean and confessed the truth. It was to transpire that Alice would not be going to Costa Rica with Roy, instead, she would be packing her bags to leave Roy and move in with her long-term affair partner who she had been seeing since shortly after she married Roy. His friends and his stepmother were right when they smelt a rat – Alice had been a black widow, she had made a fool out of Roy and in filing for divorce she was entitled to take half of Roy’s money. The inheritance funds received from his stepfather were to be split, a considerable sum was to be transferred into Alice’s personal bank account. Alice dealt her blow swiftly and within no time she was living in England with her new lover.
Heartbroken, humiliated and crushed beyond repair was what Roy was feeling. He howled in pain internally and externally for months on end. He howled in hopeless agony, he lost his appetite, he lost weight, he fell ill and got pneumonia that winter. He was well and truly broken beyond repair.
Roy moved back in with his stepmother. He couldn’t bring himself to seek employment as he was too despondent after Alice had left him. He spent his days bedbound; his mind constantly shrouded in a cycle of negativity. He mused over the purpose of life, he wondered why such horrible things could happen to nice people. He told himself that life must be utterly purposeless, that their could be no God. The only glimmer of benevolence he could see was that which existed in his stepmother and his few good friends who always stood by his side. To him, nobody else in the world mattered and nobody else would ever matter.
One day, amidst a dose of lethargy came a burst of energy, a burst of ecstasy. Without thinking too much Roy sprung up out of bed and commuted into Dublin’s city centre. He relayed everything to himself in his head to make sure he hadn’t forgotten anything; he had tidied his room, left all his possessions behind and written his heartfelt goodbye to his stepmother and his friends. He had left his farewell letter on top of his bed and he had read it and reread it to make sure it animated his imperishable love for his stepmother and his friends. In his letter, he apologized for the early departure but assured his readers that he was slipping out to a better place.
On O’ Connell bridge he popped himself up onto the ledge and tied a fifteen kilogram dumbbell around his stumpy arm, he had grown to hate his stumpy arm. With the weight fastened he looked up to the sky and saw one last glimmer of light in a world of darkness – a trait he had been known for. He smiled blissfully and reclined until he splashed into the River Liffey, sinking into the eternal abyss of non-existence.