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Fallon's Wake

Fallon's Wake

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by Randy Lee Eickhoff

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Randy Lee Eickhoff is one of today's most treasured Irish-American scholar/authors. His translations of the Irish national epics The Raid and The Feast have won him praise as a poet and historian while his books on famous figures from America's past--Bowie and The Fourth Horseman show his talents as a storyteller.

Tom Fallon is an ex-IRA assassin who is drawn


Randy Lee Eickhoff is one of today's most treasured Irish-American scholar/authors. His translations of the Irish national epics The Raid and The Feast have won him praise as a poet and historian while his books on famous figures from America's past--Bowie and The Fourth Horseman show his talents as a storyteller.

Tom Fallon is an ex-IRA assassin who is drawn back into the movement in an attempt to stop drugs from being shipped into Ireland. But what starts as a simple attempt to make peace with the past quickly opens the door to a dangerous future as Fallon becomes enmeshed in a dark game of international crime, a shocking intrigue that involves political echelons at the highest levels. In the process, he also stumbles upon the bitter truth, buried below decades of war--a truth that leaves a country torn at the seams with one last hope for peace

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
While the establishment of a home government in Northern Ireland may render his material a bit dated, Eickhoff's novel about modern-day intrigues linked to the "Troubles" is an authoritative run-through of Irish history. But a complex cryptogram of Celtic political factions, Irish landmarks, alphabet armaments and arcane covert organizations initially make it difficult to fathom who is out to kill whom in this thriller, and why. (The opening passages alone scroll through such groups as Sinn Fein, Provos, Prods, PIRA, RUC, INLA, GDC, SAS, etc.) After 42 months of idyllic seclusion, ex-IRA assassin Tomas Fallon is persuaded to come out of retirement to stop the GDC, an unsavory splinter group of revolutionaries, from bringing drugs into Ireland because--in a country that Eickhoff represents as fairly awash in whiskey and dead babies--narcotics are a bad influence on children. After refusing help from an old girlfriend, lone wolf Fallon borrows a papal passport from his twin brother, Brian, a priest, and totally unaware of involvement by the American CIA, follows a trail to New York and NORAID, an Irish-American bunch that contributes monies to the PIRA. Eventually, the trail leads to an Irish powerbroker in Boston and his ne'er-do-well son. Interspersed with this tale of international skullduggery are passages of Irish poetry and folksong, anecdotes of Irish myth and legend, and a wee touch of romance. The well-crafted denouement offers hope, but there is little redemption after so many killings. Though Eickhoff (the Ulster cycle) surely did not set out to create the impression that the Irish are a bloodthirsty bunch, some readers may gain that feeling. Yeats had it right: "Romantic Ireland's dead and gone." (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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Tom Doherty Associates
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Read an Excerpt

Fallon's Wake

By Randy Lee Eickhoff

Tom Doherty Associates

Copyright © 2000 Randy Lee Eickhoff
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-7338-0


The sky had been red in the morning but by night it turned black and a storm churned up the mountain called Long Woman's Grave from Carlingford Lough, lashing the small, whitewashed cottage and littering the yard with leaves and small cones from the trees standing around the cottage on three sides. The air had cooled now, although a soft rain still fell bringing with it a tangy smell of pine needles. Inside the cottage, Fallon had placed a new block of peat on the smoored fire and used the billows to pump the fire into life. Now he sat contented, reading by the fire, enjoying sips from the cup of tea at his elbow and the warmth of the fire and the sound of the rain dripping from the eaves. The room was cozy, a bachelor's room lined with bookcases overflowing with books. When he raised his eyes to their titles, his mind read them in the dim light: Rousseau's Confessions, Larkin's Red Branch Cycle, Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, The Fox, the sets of Dickens and Balzac, Yeats, some in collectors' first editions, a rare copy of Joyce's Ulysses rescued from a farmhouse attic near Armagh. Music rolled softly from a tape player on a small corner table while Miss Sheba lay in his lap, purring contentedly, eyes half-closed. The Victorian lamp gave off a soft glow through the roses delicately entwined on its globe. A faint scent of toasted cheese reminded him of his light supper.

Haunting notes from a tin whistle nearly hid their approach across gravel in front of the house, but Miss Sheba heard them, a low growl emanating from her throat as she leaped lithely from Fallon's lap to the mantel, her black fur gleaming in the light from the peat fire. Fallon placed a leather bookmark between the pages of Arthur Rimbaud's Une saison en enfer, carefully placed it beside the mug of tea on the small table near his elbow, then rose and slipped the Baby Browning from the hidden shelf beneath the mantle, stepping to the left of the door. He checked the pistol, slipping the safety off.

They moved quickly, throwing the door open while simultaneously sliding into the room, ducking to miss the low beam and fanning out to each side, crouched, pistols trained on the empty chair. Miss Sheba snarled, drawing their attention as Fallon slipped behind them.

"Good evening. Don't," he murmured warningly as they started to turn toward the sound of his voice. They froze. The tall one straightened, shaking his head in disgust. The tin whistle died and Phil Coulter slid into "The Rose of Mooncoin," the notes from his piano falling like silver leaves into the room.

"Do it, Johnny," the taller one said after glancing over his shoulder. "The bugger's got us." He tossed his pistol onto the chair.

"Ned," Johnny said.

"You won't make it," Fallon said softly. Johnny hesitated, then tossed his pistol after his partner's.

"How'd yuh know? Yuh owe us that," he said, the Ulster vowels long and harsh in his words. He started to turn, dropping his hands, then stopped as Fallon raised the Browning.

"Do you take me for a fool, now?" Fallon said.

"Sure, sure, now. Be careful with that," Ned said nervously, stepping back and raising his hands.

"On the floor. Hands straight in front of you."

"We was only having a bit of fun," Johnny protested. "'Twas himself sent us. MacCauley."

"He said how good yuh were," Ned explained.

"And now you know," Fallon said calmly. "The floor."

Johnny swore, dropping to his knees, gingerly lowering himself to the floor. Ned hesitated, glanced into Fallon's eyes, then followed his partner. Fallon stepped between their legs and quickly searched them. Johnny had a flick-knife in his pocket. Fallon tossed it into a corner. Ned had a small Beretta in an ankle holster. Fallon took it and slid it into the back pocket of his trousers and moved away from them.

"You may sit up, now," he said. "But keep your hands in your laps where I can see them."

"Bleedin' bastard," Johnny muttered. He rolled to a sitting position and glared at Fallon standing over him.

"You're alive," Fallon said. "You don't have to be." Ned slid backward across the floor until his back could rest against the bookshelves.

"What does he want?"

"MacCauley? I dunno. He just said to bring you."

"Where?" Fallon asked.

"Yuh have to be blindfolded," Johnny said sullenly. Fallon stared at him; a tiny flush crept up Johnny's cheeks. Ned shook his head disgustedly.

"Don't mind him. Leaves his good senses in the jakes when he shats. Will yuh come?" Ned asked.

"I'm finished. MacCauley knows that," Fallon said.

Ned regretfully shook his head. "Now, then, yuh know how it is. Yuh were part of us for a long time. Once in, always in. If yuh don't come with us now, he'll only send others. More next time. Yuh've had a good time of it, now, ain't yuh? What? Two, three years?"

"Forty-two months," Fallon automatically answered.

"There, now. Yuh see? Yuh see what I mean? Don't yuh? It's a good rest yuh been havin'. And sure, haven't yuh been deserving, now? I was sayin' that to me mate here while we were comin' out. 'Johnny,' I says, 'yuh know that Tomas Fallon has been restin' a good while now, while others have been dyin' in the North. Yuh canna be tellin' me that a man like that isna tired of all that peace and quiet.'"

"That's what you were saying, is it?" Fallon said. Ned vigorously nodded.

"Aye. An' may God strike me where I'm sittin' if it ain't so."

"So you came in with guns. Not very friendly."

"Ah, well." He smiled sheepishly, rubbing his nose with the flat of his hand. "That were a mistake, yuh see." Johnny cleared his throat. Ned gave him a warning look, and he slumped back against the wall, staring at the floor between the toes of his engineer boots.

"Will yuh come wit' us, now?" he asked.

"I won't have to wear a blindfold?"

Ned laughed, nodding at the pistol in his hand. "I think we can forget the blindfold, don't yuh, Johnny?"

"MacCauley will have our balls," he answered dourly.

"Better than being dead," Fallon said. "Dead's a long time." He backed to a hook beside the door and removed a jacket, shrugging into it while keeping the Browning trained on them. "Shall we go?"

Johnny glanced at their pistols in the chair. "Our guns?" Fallon smiled and shook his head. "No, I didn't think so," he said resignedly. He walked to the door, opened it, and stepped out into the night. Ned followed, pausing at the door. He turned.

"Yuh're a hard man, Tomas Fallon," he said.

"You're alive," Fallon said, lifting the pistol. "For now."

Ned nodded thoughtfully and turned to follow his partner. Fallon closed the door behind them.


They had left their car, a black Ford Cortina, parked behind a stone wall across the graveled yards from the cottage. They walked toward it through the cold night air, their breaths appearing in tiny clouds above their heads. To the north, the lights of Warrenpoint glowed softly against the low-lying clouds along the coast. Johnny drove while Ned sat quietly in the front seat beside him. They turned south toward Dublin and rode in silence through the night. When they reached the city, Johnny turned off the main road, taking the backstreets, weaving his way back and forth across the River Liffey. When he was satisfied no one had followed them, he pulled up in front of a warehouse and killed the engine. They sat for a long minute, listening to the metal ping as it cooled. Finally, Ned opened his door and stepped out. Fallon slipped out behind him and motioned Johnny to his side. He took a deep breath, smelling the water and rotting fish. A ship eased down past the wharf, sounding its foghorn, strange, lonely like the cry of a loon. He glanced back the way they had come, but the street was empty, long serpentine lines of tire prints running through glazed pools of blue-white light from the lamps. He looked at the pair waiting in front of him.

"You know the way," he said, gesturing with the pistol. They exchanged glances, then Ned stepped forward and opened the Judas gate. Fallon followed them into a small yard. Broken crates had been piled at one end. The old cobblestones were wet from the fog and glistened from the single light over the warehouse door. Ned slid it open. Bales and packing cases of all shapes and sizes were piled high, filling the interior. A light shone at the far end. They moved toward it. Rats squealed and scurried away, then turned to see if the men followed them, their eyes glowing redly in the dark.

A man sat at a trestle table, quietly waiting as they approached.

"Hello, Tomas," Seamus MacCauley said.

"Seamus." Fallon motioned his two companions off to the side. MacCauley's eyes flickered toward them then slid impassively back to Fallon.

"It's been awhile. How've you been?"

"Not bad," Fallon answered. "You're getting gray. Your hair was darker then."

"My heart was lighter then." MacCauley laughed. A fit of coughing struck him, doubling him over. "Damn," he said, straightening. He ran his hand over his thinning hair. Deep wrinkles gouged his forehead and trailed down over his cheeks. Heavy pouches sagged beneath his eyes. His face looked bloated and gray. He wore an old leather coat like the old ones connected with the IRA had worn. A battered fedora lay on the table in front of him. Two men stood silently in the shadows just beyond the pool of light cast by the single bare bulb suspended from the ceiling over the table. Straw spilled from an open wooden packing case on the floor beside the table. A red cross had been painted on the sides of the boxes, marking them as medical supplies. The box held a few liter-sized plastic packets. MacCauley looked at the pistol in Fallon's hand and gave a tiny smile.

"Why the pistol, Tomas?" he asked.

"Your messengers got a wee bit excited," Fallon answered dryly. "Given the circumstances, I thought it best."

MacCauley closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair away from the table. A large vein began to pound in his temple.

"Christ," he sighed.

"We didn't know what to expect," Johnny said defensively. "Yuh just said to bring 'im."

MacCauley grimaced. "I'm sorry," he said to Fallon. "We're having to make do these days."

Johnny flushed and started to speak, then bit his lip and looked away. His cheeks reddened.

"Get out," MacCauley said.

"Seamus," Ned began, then stopped as the flesh tightened across MacCauley's cheeks and the Belfast commandant for the PIRA stared stonily at him. "Yes sir," he said meekly. He grabbed Johnny by the arm. Johnny jerked his arm away. Ned stepped close to him.

"Don't be foacking crazy," he whispered hoarsely. He glanced white-eyed at the men standing impassively in the shadows.

Johnny stared defiantly at MacCauley, then his eyes blinked, and he turned and strode rapidly away into the darkness toward the door.

"Follow them," MacCauley said to the shadows behind him. One of the shadows moved around the rim of the pool of light and disappeared. Soon, a door slammed, echoing hollowly through the warehouse. MacCauley gestured to a ladder-backed chair across the table from him. Fallon shook his head.

"I won't be here that long," Fallon said. "I brought your dirty laundry back to you this time. But no more."

A tiny smile tugged at MacCauley's lips, but his eyes remained dead, frozen in the past like a statue. A rat scratched softly over a pile of scrap wood in the corner, his nails making a rasping sound in the silence. MacCauley gently rubbed the bridge of his nose between his eyes.

"The best are gone, Tomas," he said tiredly. "It's been too many years. But now, it might be over."


MacCauley nodded. He reached slowly into a briefcase beside his chair and took out a sheaf of papers held together by a large clamp. "We seem to have come to an agreement with most of the Protestants and the British," he said. He tossed the sheaf of paper in front of Fallon and pointed at it. "That will be released tomorrow. Gerry Adams and the others are going to support this fully. Of course," he added, "that bastard Ian Paisley and his riffraff aren't taking part in it, but what do you expect from a man with a pebble brain?"

Fallon leaned forward, glancing at the title: NORTHERN IRELAND PEACE AGREEMENT/DECLARATION OF SUPPORT. He shook his head and leaned back.

"We've been here before, Seamus," he said softly.

MacCauley rubbed his eyes and leaned back against his chair. Tired lines made his face seem gray and large pouches sagged the bruised flesh beneath his eyes. "I know. I know. But we have hopes that this time it will go through. The British prime minister, Tony Blair, is supporting it —"

"Means nothing," Fallon interrupted. "The Brits would support anything, now, that would get them out of Ulster. You know that. Read the Manchester Guardian. Latest polls show the people are tired of the 'Troubles' and willing to do anything to get out. Blair's a politician. He'd support the Devil himself if it would make him look good in the polls."

"Aye," MacCauley grunted. "There's that. But Mo Mowlam — the Northern Ireland secretary — is standing firm on releasing the prisoners despite what that bastard Lesley Rodgers, the chairman of the Police Federation, shouts. She's holding the line on that despite the Royal Ulster Constabulary protests. And," he emphasized, stabbing a blunt forefinger at Fallon, "the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is supporting the agreement as well and even David Trimble, the head of the Ulster Unionist Party, is supporting it."

"Trimble?" Fallon shook his head. "The Democratic Unionists won't stand for that. Not if Ian Paisley has anything to say about it and he will. Or his son. Doesn't matter. If this agreement goes through, the good Reverend Paisley will slip out of the limelight and that lying whoreson won't stand for that. That son of Satan should have been sent below to his father's realm a long time ago despite political repercussions."

"Ah, Tomas, Tomas," MacCauley sighed, shaking his head. "We knew that we wouldn't win this war with a gun. Eventually we had to come to the table. The gun was only a way of forcing the issue. And now we have it." He pointed again at the agreement. "Right there, lad. Right there. It's peace, Tomas. Is it so hard for you to accept?"

"Not hard at all, Seamus," Fallon said. "I don't think it will hold, though. There's been too much killing on both sides for it all to be forgotten at the snap of the fingers, a scribble of a pen."

"Nevertheless, there it is," MacCauley said. "And it goes out tomorrow. A cease-fire."

"I'm happy for you," Fallon said. He pushed the sheaf of papers back toward MacCauley, who shook his head.

"Keep them. They're yours, Tomas," he said. "Read it and see what you think."

"So you brought me here for this?" Fallon shook his head. "No, I don't think so. This could have waited until tomorrow. What is it?"

"We still need you," MacCauley said quietly.

Fallon shook his head. "No. I told you when I left the North: I'm finished."

"It wasn't your fault," MacCauley said softly. "It was just an accident. Accidents happen in war."

Shadows suddenly shifted, displacing light, and he saw again a bright red flashing burst from the automatic rifle in the soldier's hands as he sprinted across Shankill Road toward the darkness of an alley, his shadow dancing grotesquely on the walls of gutted buildings from the light of burning gasoline spilling from the overturned Saracen, and he laid the trigger back on the UZI sending bullets into the darkness after the soldier and the screams came back at him, screams from young voices that would never grow old.

"Tomas," MacCauley said gently.

Fallon blinked. The harsh light returned. He clenched his hands tightly in his lap to hide their trembling.

"We need you," MacCauley said again, quietly.

"No," Fallon said.

MacCauley stared at him for a long minute. A foghorn rolled on the river, a lonely sound in the night. He raised his hand. Another of the shadows stepped forward and placed a large manila folder in his hand then retreated back beyond the rim of light. MacCauley held it for a moment, then placed it in front of him and bent the silver prongs together, opened the envelope, and removed two photographs. He slid them across the table to Fallon.

He glanced at them. The first showed a young boy sprawled in the garbage of an alley, an empty bottle of cheap wine in the palm of his hand. The bones of his face had been broken and one eyeball had fallen from its socket and lay across his cheek. In the other, a young girl lay naked on an iron bed, her thin legs an obscene sprawl. Cigar burns covered her body. A hypodermic lay in her hand. Fallon looked up impassively at him, leaning back in his chair. MacCauley took another photograph from the envelope and slid it across the table.

Fallon stared at them. What was that Joyce said about pity? — The feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the human sufferer — Appropriate.

"I have a dozen of these," MacCauley said quietly. "All drug victims and not one from a broken home."

Fallon frowned. The authorities were exceedingly harsh on anyone caught trying to smuggle drugs into the country and the penalties if one were caught with them were stiff. One had to be either arrogantly sure of one's own invulnerability or desperate enough for the money to be willing to gamble with one's life. Despite himself, Fallon felt his interest quicken, and he took a deep breath and held it. This is how it begins: the adrenaline push, the pulse quickening, the challenge. But in the end, it is always the same.


Excerpted from Fallon's Wake by Randy Lee Eickhoff. Copyright © 2000 Randy Lee Eickhoff. Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Randy Lee Eickhoff holds several graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in Classics. He lives in El Paso, Texas where he works on translations in several languages, poetry, plays, and novels of which two have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His translation of Ireland's national epic is now a text in not only schools in the United States, but countries overseas as well. His nonfiction work on the Tigua Indians, Exiled, won the Southwest History Award. He has been inducted into the Paso Del Norte Writers Hall of Fame, the local chapter of the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters. He spends his time in El Paso, Ireland, and Italy, lecturing on Dante and The Ulster Cycle.

Randy Lee Eickhoff holds several graduate degrees, including a Ph.D. in Classics. He lives in El Paso, Texas where he works on novels, plays, poetry and translations in several languages. His translation of Ireland's national epic, the Ulster Cycle, is now a text used in schools in the United States and overseas. His novel And Not to Yield, based on the life of Wild Bill Hickok, was selected as the Best Novel of 2004 by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage. His nonfiction work on the Tigua Indians, Exiled, won the Southwest Book Award. He is also the author of Return to Ithaca, Then Came Christmas and The Quick and the Dead. He has been inducted into the Paso Del Norte Writers Hall of Fame, the local chapter of the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters. Eickhoff served with distinction in the early phases of the Vietnam War, and was awarded the Purple Heart, Silver Star and Bronze Star. He spends his time in El Paso, Ireland, and Italy, lecturing on Dante and The Ulster Cycle.

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Fallon's Wake 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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