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When Inspiration Strikes: Or Opening Yourself to Your Surroundings

A tense situation became inspiration for author Richard O’Rawe’s future book. Here, he makes a case for opening yourself up to your surroundings.

(Trigger warning for violence and self-harm.)

I have a heart condition so when my doctor advised me to go to the hospital to check out chest and stomach pains, I listened.

(Richard O’Rawe: On Enjoying the Writing Process)

My wife and I arrived at the triage center of the local Accident and Emergency department at approximately 5 a.m. There was only one other person there, but shortly after we had sat down, a young lady who said her name was Violet arrived, dressed like a goth, accompanied by her debonair boyfriend. The pair looked like they had been partying all night and seemed to be high. They approached the counter, and the caring young man told the receptionist that Violet had self-harmed, whereupon she removed a cloth and displayed her scarred and bloodied arm, declaring all the while that she wanted to die.

Just as the young man calmed down his girlfriend and convinced her to take a seat, someone called “Seamus,” a 30-something-year-old, staggered into the reception area and up to the counter. Seamus’ face was dirty and scrapped to the point where it looked like he had been pulled backwards across a concrete pathway by his feet. The receptionist knew Seamus and asked him how he got his injuries, at which point he turned around to see who was watching him and declared he had been talking to the devil, who had instructed him to murder someone.

Violet’s ears picked up. “Murder me!” she shouted.

“I ……. will,” Seamus shouted back, “the devil told me you’d be here; he told me to murder you.”

“Well, do it, don’t just say it.”

“Don’t murder her,” the young man shouted, “she doesn’t mean it.”

“I do.”

“I will.”

The girl’s boyfriend, frantic that the drunk might have a knife, put his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet.

Meanwhile my stomach feels as if the world’s strongest man is firing a 10-kilo medicine bag into it. I suspected that all I had was food poisoning but here I was, in agony, in a hospital reception area, surrounded by troubled souls.

Fortunately, before the confrontation developed any further, security personnel came and talked Seamus into not listening to the devil.

10 hours later I walked out of the hospital with the bones of my new Ructions O’Hare book down in sketch and note form, with Seamus and Violet inserted into the script, thus solving a problem that had confronted me for weeks. So, what did I do? I welded Violet and Seamus together.

When Inspiration Strikes: Or Opening Yourself to Your Surroundings

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In the opening scene of the yet-to-be-written book, Ructions O’Hare, my protagonist in two novels thus far, and his wife, Eleanor, will be driving up a deserted country lane in County Kildare, Ireland, at night when he notices something or someone lying at the side of the road. He stops the car and inspects an old man with a long grey beard, who appears to be struggling for breath. Ructions puts the old man in his car and takes him to the nearby hospital.

And so, the original Violet and Seamus scene was acted out, only this time, instead of Seamus wanting to murder Violet, he wants to murder the frail old man. Seamus pulls back his arm to punch the old man, but Ructions intervenes and pins him to the ground. Eleanor talks to a screaming Violet who tries to punch Ructions. At that, security personnel arrive and break up the fracas.

In a later scene, Ructions and Eleanor are looking through a glass window of a private hospital room on the old man, who is breathing through an oxygen mask. Ructions asks a nurse if he may have a short visit with the patient.

Inside the room, the old man stares at Ructions, who is sitting, before pulling away his mask. “I’ve seen you before,” he says in a frail clipped English voice.

“I can’t say I recall.”

“I’ve seen you before. I’ve a trained memory. I used to play cards.” The old man points a shaking finger. “Got you. You’re the bank robber. O’Hare, ‘Troubles’ O’Hare, isn’t it?”

Ructions puts out his hand and they shake. “Ructions.”

“That’s it … Ructions.” They shake. The old man thanks Ructions for stopping Seamus from assaulting him.

When Inspiration Strikes: Or Opening Yourself to Your Surroundings

A nurse arrives, adjusts her patient’s drips, and tells Ructions that the visit is over. As Ructions goes to stand up, the old man’s hand reaches out to touch his arm. “One minute.” The nurse nods and leaves and the old man beckons Ructions to put his ear to his mouth. “I’ve been waiting on someone like you for years. I have secrets.”

Eleanor watches the scene from outside the room. Ructions’ ear is almost touching the old man’s lips at times, then he occasionally pulls back and stares at the patient. It strikes Eleanor that whatever Ructions is being told, it is piquing his interest. Eventually Ructions leaves the room. Ructions stares through the window as the old man’s eyes close. “That’s a remarkable man with a remarkable story,” he says.

“Who is he?”

“As far as the hospital is concerned, he’s Frank Tubridy.”

“Who is he really?”

“You’ll never believe this…”

“Try me.”

“He says he’s Lord ‘Lucky’ Lucan,” (Lord Lucan, the seventh Earl of Bingham, disappeared in 1974 after his babies’ nanny was found bludgeoned to death. He has not been seen since).

“But he’s dead! Isn’t he?”

“Apparently not.”

My point is: Adversary and confrontation are often the mother and father of invention and creativity. Prior to the Violet and Seamus incident, I was having trouble marrying Ructions to Lucky. A goth and a drunk solved that problem for me.

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