The police raided the MC clubhouse and seized a quantity of suspected cocaine valued at approximately €20,000. Also seized were a sawn-off shotgun, bulletproof vest three stolen cars, a stolen Harley Davidson motorcycle along with mobile phones, knives computers and documentation. They also found a drug-dealing tick list and weighing scales. Police have linked the gang to 40 robberies from shops and other establishments and almost 30 robberies on persons where iPhones, wallets and jewelry were stolen. Nine members were arrested other charges are pending.

Police returned to the farm to advise Paddy of findings from the raid of the clubhouse. Inspector MacNamara said, “We found three mysterious craters on the club property. Judging by their depth, these craters were caused by a military rocket launcher with a range of 32 kilometers. Do you know anything about this?”

“No sir, there’s nothing like that around here. The only gun I keep is a shotgun to chase the foxes from the henhouse. Have you checked with the army?”

“I’ll do that.” said the Inspector.

After the police left Paddy conversed with his Irish military friends. “It’s time to return the rocket launcher to the army before they realize it’s missing. We have a flatbed truck available. Make sure the launcher is covered and disguised as much as possible.”

With the excitement over for a while, we continued construction of the homeless shelter.

A man with a white beard walked into the farmyard. I greeted him and said, “I’m Patrick, how can I help you?”

“My name is Bernard. I heard something about a homeless shelter around here. I’ve applied to the Carlow County Council, but I can’t receive anything until I have an address, so for now, I’m sleeping under a bridge. They gave me some forms to fill out. I don’t fill out my own applications because I’m illiterate.”

“How did that come about?”

“I just didn’t like school and I missed as much as possible until I was eighteen, then I was allowed to quit. They passed me from grade to grade even though I couldn’t read or write. If I try to complete an application I can read some of the questions and the words are flying around in my head, but I can’t put them on paper. Now both my long and my short term memory are gone. I don’t remember what happened last week. When I left this mornin’ I knew I had forgotten something, but couldn’t figure out what it was. Then it came to me — rolling papers. Sometimes I’ll go into a room and forget what it was I went in for.”

“We’re still under construction, but we have a cot and blankets for you. We serve meals at regular times, but if you’re hungry right now, knock on the kitchen door Brianna will be happy to fix you something. Before that, I’ll show you to your cot and introduce you to the other staff and guests. If you have valuables I have a secure safe. I’ll give you a receipt for anything that you want to store. I’m the only one who has access, so I take full responsibility for your things. If you’re inclined to help with the construction it will be appreciated, but it’s not necessary. We’re not looking for slave labor. Our rules are simple:  don’t lie, don’t steal, treat everybody with respect. If there is a dispute it will be discussed at a general meeting, everyone has a say. If disciplinary action is required it must be agreed on by the majority.”

“That sounds fair”

I led Bernard to a communal table where a number of guests were enjoying coffee. “Bernard, this is Rhondda, Paddy, Sean, Ted and I’ll let the rest introduce themselves.”

Ted offered a handshake as did Sean, Red, Shakes and Paddy. “How are you, Bernard?” asked Ted. You missed some excitement yesterday. One of our neighbors sent some mortars in our direction. You can see the damage to the house and barn. Nobody was hurt. I walked in the direction of the mortar fire and found an MC clubhouse. By the time I got there one of our soldiers had returned fire with rockets. They didn’t see that coming. We also had a platoon of fully armed mercenaries check things out. When the bikers saw them they ran back to the clubhouse and locked themselves in. Nobody was hurt on either side. I hope they won’t bother us again, but if they do we’re ready.”

Bernard said, “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I thought this would be a safe place to stay. I’d be safer on the streets.”

Ted asked, “What is the worst thing that’s happened to you on the streets?”

“I’ve had my tent set on fire while I was in it.”

Ted replied, “One of my friends was doused with gasoline and set on fire. Another had his teeth kicked out while sleeping on a park bench. It’s a tough life.”

Bernard said, “If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to lay down. I walked a lot of miles today. I look forward to seeing you all in the morning.”

In unison, everyone at the table said, “Good night, Bernard. It’s good to meet you.”

Rhondda and I also said goodnight to the group before heading to the farmhouse and bed.

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