Brian Moore, Lies of silence (extract)
Shortly before leaving for London Dillon gets a phone call. A Catholic priest, Father Conolly. wants to speak DilIon in private. He says he knows Dllion from their schooldays. Dillon, however, does not rernember him at all.
‘There‘s something I want to discuss with you. It’s a boy I know. Actually, he‘s the son of a parishoner of mine, a lovely woman, I won‘t give you her name, you‘ll see why in a minute.’ The priest then looked around as though worried he might be overheard. He Ieaned forward even further, lowering his voice to a confessional murmur. ‘lt‘s to do with this business the other night, with yourself and your wife. Can I ask you one thing? Are you going to England for good?‘
‘Why do you want to know?‘
lt was as though with that question Dillon had declared his hostilty. At once the priest‘s confidence seemed to falter. ‘Sorry, now; it‘s none of my business, of course. I just wondered if it had anything to do with -
‘The Rah, the IRA -
‘You mean that‘s what their supporters call them?‘
The priest tried a smile. ‘Mike, I know how you feel, people breaking into your house at night, pulling guns on you and your wife. Who could blame you? But, the thing is, nobody was hurt. Thanks to you, of course. Now I know that Mrs Dillon is very much against the Rah. lt seems she told some newspaper people that you recognized one of these lads who came to your house?‘
‘Where did you see that?’ Dillon asked. ‘lt wasn‘t in the papers.‘
‘I don‘t know,‘ the priest said.‘I heard it somewhere. Or maybe it was the police that said it, when they came to see that woman. They came to arrest her son.‘
‘Was he one of those who were in our house that night?‘
‘Oh,no,‘ the priest said. ‘l‘m not saying that. His mother thinks he just mlght be mixed up with the Rah. When the police came round he wasn‘t home, and she hasn‘t seen him since. Poor woman, she‘s half crazy, worrying about him.‘
‘ls his name Kev?‘
There was a silence. The priest‘s red face flushed full of blood, his icy eyes blinked as though faced by a bright light. ‘Kev,‘ he said, pronouncing it as though it were a foreign word he had just learned. ‘This woman‘s a lovely woman,‘ he said. ‘She only has the one child. The father died ten years ago. You know what these Iads are like, they‘re just kids. They get these romantic ideas. They see the injustice around them. Die for lreland. All that. We heard it all in school.‘
‘Yes, we did,‘ Dillon said. ‘That was one of the troubles with our school.‘
‘Depends on your point of view,‘ the priest said. ‘There is injustice here. Discrimination against Catholics is a terrible thing. These kids see that.‘
‘We all see that,‘ Dillon said. ‘But does that justify going into someone‘s house at night and threatening to kill his wife if he doesn‘t go out and plant a bomb in a place where a lot of innocent people will be killed?’
‘What‘s the Fifth Commandment, Father? Thou shalt not kill.’
‘Hold on now, Mike,‘ the priest said, anger in his voice. ‘I‘m not saying I agree with these kids. I say they see what‘s going on here as a political situation. This boy l‘m talking about, he‘s only nineteen. He‘s not a murderer or a criminal. Maybe he‘s misguided. But we‘re talking about him being Iocked up in prison for maybe as long as fifteen years. That’s a shocking waste of a young life. And I’m thinking of his mother, too.’
‘And what about my wife?’ Dillon said. ‘What if they had killed her?’
‘Ah, but they didn’t, did they? the priest said. ‘They probably had no intention. I mean, they left the house before it was time for the bomb to go off.’
‘But they did intend to kill Pottinger. And if that meant blowing up innocent people, was that all right, too? l’ll tell you something, Father. If the police find that boy, Kev, l’ll make sure he’s a lot older before he gets a chance to kill anybody else.’
When he had said it he sat, staring at the priest’s red face, knowing at last what he had done. It was as clear as if he had said it to the IRA themselves.
confessional murmur -
His confidence seemed to falter -
1. Why has Father Conolly come to talk to Dillon?
2. Compare Dillon’s and Father Conolly’s views of what the IRA did?
3. ‘It was as clear as if he had said it to the IRA themselves.’
What are the things in the text that confirm Dillon’s suspicion that Father Conolly is in with the IRA?
4. Talking to Andrea later, Dillon says he should have kept his mouth shut. What makes him say that?
5. Why do you think Brian Moore called his novel Lies of Silence?