Inspiring creativity and encouraging personal and social change through the arts

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Our team of experienced professional artists working across the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland are offering people with convictions a life-line, helping to improve their creative and communications skills, which is key to personal and social development, building self-confidence and unlocking people’s potential.

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Writing (Short Story)

Rocky Point

—Dylan, Mr Steep is on the line

—Mr Steep?

—Yes Dylan, Mr Steep is Mr Murphy’s attorney. He wants to settle.

—Bonnie, I don’t really have time for this. What is the bottom line?

—£300,000 for the loss of earnings, and £500,000 for agreement to the NDA. £200,000 for the child’s trust fund payable when thirty years old. £1 million bottom line. I’ve to meet my daughter on Wednesday. Make sure the money’s in the account. Can’t afford any slip ups. When conditions are met, I’ll meet with the Attorney General to discuss future protection from the courts.


—Bonnie, arrange a meeting, no more calls. I’m leaving the office.


Dylan Matthews was going places. The owner of a highly successful Hedge Fund account, he was used to risk. Now he was going to risk at all. Based in Dublin, he was a big fish in a small pond. Now, he wanted to be a small fish in a big pond. He wanted to swim with sharks and whales in seas and oceans instead of the claustrophobic fish tank he had outgrown. Dublin bored him. It wasn’t a city like London or New York. Dublin didn’t have an FTSE 100 or Dow Jones. He wanted to be where the action was.

Connor Fulton was Dylan Matthews’ number 2. Someone once told Connor the secret to success was to identify the person moving up through the ranks, grab onto his coat-tails and hang on for dear life. Dylan Matthews was Connor Fulton’s ticket to the big time. Dylan had already made Connor a wealthy man, but Dylan wasn’t content with what he had, he always wanted more and that was fine with Connor. Dylan sights were now focused on America and he had convinced Connor of the American dream. He had set up a meeting with Dick Doherty, CEO of Goldman Sachs. Dillon and Connor were going global.

The flight from Dublin International Airport to JFK lasted Five hours 40 minutes. The difference on arrival was stark. JFK was big. It was enormous. It was massive. Connor felt like an ant in a land of giants. There seemed to be more people in one terminal than there was in the whole of Dublin. All sorts of people, multitudes of black, white, Chinese, Indian, Jewish men with beards, women in Muslim dress. Dylan and Connor followed the rest of the passengers for what seemed like an eternity. Waiting patiently for the passengers, near to the exit, a line of men holding placards with surnames.

Dylan scanned the line of men, spotted his name, and introduced himself. A man holding a sign with the name Matthews emblazoned with black thick lettering replied, ‘I’m your limousine driver.’

Dylan, with Connor, pushing a luggage trolley overflowing with suitcases, followed the driver to the terminal exit, both thinking the same thought, these Americans don’t mess about.

Once outside, they crossed a zebra crossing and entered a car park.

‘Is this the car?’ Dillon asked. ‘I thought you said you were a limousine driver.’

The driver looked at Dylan, quizzically pausing before he spoke. ‘A limousine is a taxicab Mr Matthews.’

Dylan looked embarrassed and Connor was trying hard to stifle his laugh.

Leaving JFK, they drove on to the New Jersey Turnpike and headed towards Newhaven. Looking out the window, Dylan couldn’t help but marvel at the fabled island of Manhattan, the famous New York skyline, the steel and glass megaliths, two towers towering above all others. Everywhere he looked Dylan was impressed. The New York skyline, the size of bridges, freeways four and five lanes wide, basketball courts filled with young men playing with reckless abandon. Everything seemed bigger, it seemed better and they hadn’t left the car, which was bigger and better than anything back home. Everything was more…, more…, colourful, more vibrant, more alive. He even felt bigger and…better.

Dylan’s thinking was interrupted by Conor, asking the driver if he was going the wrong way. He hadn’t noticed the island of Manhattan disappearing into the distance. The driver momentarily glanced into the rear-view mirror, catching Dylan’s eye.

‘We’re not going to New York Mr Matthews. Mr Doherty told me to take you straight to him for dinner. You are to be guests for the weekend at his home in Greenwich.’

‘Greenwich Village?’ Dylan inquired.

‘No, no Mr Matthews.’

‘Greenwich Connecticut.’

Greenwich, Connecticut was a small town almost 30 minutes from New York City. It was the most exclusive town with more median millionaires per square mile in the whole of the United States. Donald Trump, Tom Cruise, Mel Gibson all owned homes in Greenwich. Greenwich was a town that only one percent of the world’s population got to see. Houses were bought and sold for tens of millions of dollars. Most homes had the obligatory swimming pool. The top executives from finance, fashion, sports, advertising, acting and politics all resided in Greenwich. Residents owned speed boats, yachts, and private planes. The clothes shop stocked Armani, Gucci, Versace, and the car showrooms were full of Porsches, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. Greenwich, for all intents and purposes, was heaven on earth.

Half an hour later, the limousine driver pulled off the Merritt Parkway at Exit 31 onto North Street in Greenwich. The driver pointed to a house owned by a media mogul who owned the Spanish language channel on cable TV. He slowed so the boys could look down a large driveway that had four large fountains that sprayed water high into the air. That guy owns his own satellite. Connor and Dylan were both flabbergasted and speechless. They never before had seen such opulence.

They turned into a huge gateway that had Stanwich Golf Club incorporated on the black wrought iron gates. Stanwich was the most exclusive Country Club in the most exclusive town in the world. The long driveway, shaded by tall ancient trees that seemed to block out the sun snaked through sand dunes and little ponds covered in green algae, obstacles in Stanwich’s famous golf course. They drove past tennis courts and a small car park and stopped at an impressive white and black clubhouse.

Dick Doherty was waiting for them.

‘Welcome to America my Irish friends. I thought it best to come here first in case you got distracted and lost by the bright lights of the Big Apple. We will have some dinner, then go to my house where you can sleep. I’m sure you are jet lagged.’

Dick Doherty was in his 60s, grey with a tight military style haircut. Leading the way to the dining area, he stopped to introduce the boys to Pat Toomey, an American senator, and various other investment bankers and dignitaries.

Arriving at the table, he sat down, lifted a napkin that was folded into a triangle, shook it, and placed it on his lap. He told the boys that Stanwich was the place to be on the 4th of July, America’s Independence Day. All the food you can eat, loud brass bands and a firework display that was unequalled anywhere else on the planet.

Dylan tried to talk business but was immediately interrupted by Dick.

‘Dylan tonight, in fact this weekend, all talk of business is strictly prohibited. This is a strictly getting to know you exercise. Monday morning, when we arrive in the office in New York, that’s the time for business.’

Dick laid out the itinerary for the weekend. Tonight, they would finish the meal, go back to Dick’s house, get some sleep. Tomorrow, they would all go to Westchester County, to a little airstrip where Dick kept his four-seater plane and take them on a flight to Rhode Island.

After an enjoyable day flying. Dick had arranged a cookout at Rocky Point Swimming Club. They were to meet Dick’s wife and family for a nice relaxing evening, before a week of intense negotiations involving their future business plans. When they arrived at Rocky Point, Dylan couldn’t help but notice the cars in the gravelly car park. Amongst the lavish expanse of expensive cars, Dylan realised his BMW five series would look out of place for not being exclusive enough.

Dylan and Connor followed Dick through a little entrance at the end of the carpark. They waited while Dick exchanged pleasantries with the attendant who sat in what looked like a little cloakroom. Dick signed his name into the register and took a key for the individual changing cubicles which were located to the left of the entrance.

Once inside, three steps led to a little burger bar with a seating area containing aluminium tables, sunshade umbrellas and shiny silvery seats. Table tennis and pool tables occupied a small makeshift wooden room, painted white. The burger bar had a noticeboard that documented the names of the fastest swimmers with their record winning times from Rocky Point’s annual swim meets. Dick excitedly pointed to his name, holding the record for the 4×100 metre relay, an unbeaten time from the 1970s. Dylan noticed the pride on his face, like an old soldier regaling new recruits about the glory of his youth.

The terrace of the burger bar was a raised area that looked out over the entire complex. The club was on the coast, waves from Long Island Sound crashing against the rocks that separated Rocky Point from the cascading sea. A platform at the far end held a high diving board that provided kids the opportunity to dive into the ocean. Bikini clad ladies and gentlemen with Hawaiian style short straddled the perimeter sunbathing on towels and sun loungers.

The club had two saltwater swimming pools. The main Olympic size pool had two diving boards with steps located at the deep end. The side near to the burger bar had lanes roped off for swimmers who wanted to swim laps. The far side had a basketball net where teams of teenagers were shooting hoops. A paddling pool at right angles to the main pool, was inhabited by mothers walking hand in hand with their children.

Dick led Dylan and Connor to an area beside the paddling pool. Dick’s wife and children were seated at one of the many picnic tables dotted around the sand, beside the pool. Dick’s son had commandeered a barbecue and was presiding over a feast of swordfish, king prawns and corn on the cob. A cooler with ice-cold beer swimming in an ocean of melted ice complemented the meal.

As darkness slowly crept upon them, a game of touch football, a contact version of American football was instigated. Most of the males’ present played, while the wives gossiped among themselves, cheering every score. Rocky Point was heaven on earth.

Dylan and Connor, when the game was over, sat down, opened two beers from the cooler and silently listened to the soothing sea water wistfully lapping against the rocks. It had been quite a weekend. They didn’t want it to stop. They both believed their world was going to change.

The next day, September 11th, 2001 their world did change, The world changed for everyone. The world changed forever.

HMP Magilligan

1st Prize Short Story Advanced, Listowel Writing in Prison Awards, 2021

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