The Judas Kiss

Written for the Edinburgh Meet-up…

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. That’s what they say, isn’t it? Good Intentions…

God, I’m pissed. Then again, maybe I’m not. If I was really out of it, I couldn’t hark to these nagging, contrary voices. This dark corner of The World’s End suits my mood. No. I’m not being morbid, it’s the name of this pub. A dark name, aye? but not as dark as my wee orbit.

‘Are you ok, son?’ Billy Gilfedden crouched over me as I bled into the pavement. It was how we met. I’d fallen foul of two blue-nosed orangemen. Intelligent ones with the decency to tell me why they were going to kick the shite out of me. Remarkably decent I thought. Billy lifted me and dusted me down. We became pals. Actually, I was more of a retainer, a part-time jester. It’s what I’m good at. Always fancied myself a scribbler; a raconteur and wit. It was what those orange bastards took exception to.

I’m Jimmy, by the way. Jimmy the Rhymer… It’s what Billy’s always called me. Aye, well…

We fed on each others’ enthusiasm for Scotland and her story. The Gilfeddens have always been warriors, God bless them. Me? I’ve always admired the soldiers, the fighters. Never felt the inclination to be one… except on paper, that is. I’m a bonnie fighter up here. It’s what they say about the pen and the sword, aye? We lived and breathed William Wallace; Robert the Bruce. John Knox and Jacobites. Bluidy Clavers; Bonnie Dundee. Oh, and maybe Jim Baxter, Kenny Dalgleish? We got caught up in the movement. One day, almost unnoticed, they said on the news there was going to be a Referendum. They said it was something we had always wanted. News to us, aye? But we got used to the idea till, in the end, we thought we’d inspired it.For a year and a half it was hardly mentioned. Then the Younionists crawled out of the ‘establishment’. We began to parade our pipes and tartan.

‘We’re needed tomorrow. George Square for the big yin, the Freedom Rally.’ Billy had been building for weeks. Whilst I was content to march and be in the band, Billy wanted to be with the patriots. After the big gathering in Glasgow we joined the freedom movement. We stood in the shadows whilst I talked insurrection and Billy took up the sword. Before long we were so deep immersed we couldn’t get out if we had wanted. And then in a kind of ecstacy o’ self doubt our countrymen said no to freedom. I watched Billy’s rise in the movement. ‘We have to go on the offensive,’ he said. Me? I took to dark rum and became his glib-tongued Lieutenant. If this were Ireland I’d have been called his Quartermaster. Two years on and the struggle has intensified. That’s BBC speak for the turmoil we’ve created both North and South o’ the border. The Police started to take the batons to us. We caught them off guard and offf duty. It was retribution and they deserved it; but it stuck in my craw. The Movement became the ‘establishment’ and us patriots became terrorists. It’s how civilised society deals with malcontents, apparently. One man’s North Briton become damned Scotch rebel.
They hold all the cards. Off course they do. The biggest weapon in their armoury – Legitimacy. It’s what makes state sponsored murder acceptable. Billy felt it necessary to respond in kind. There was a time when he wouldn’t contemplate such a response, but we’ve crossed that moral boundary. Our ain folk have died. Billy claimed it was the price we had to pay. And I just emptied the rum bottle. That’s where Major Alastair Hamilton found me, the bottom of the bottle. A fine judge of character, the Major. He spotted a weak drunken sot with a strong sense of morality. My Thirty Pieces of Silver would keep me in Black Heart rum for weeks, and I sold my sovereign prince for some liquid solace. I couldn’t live with the deaths of my countrymen. So I drowned their cries in alcohol. Governments have no such scruples. It’s Realpolitics for them. I just hope Billy understands that. I’ve made him the martyr he always wanted to be, God Bless him….

© franciman 2023
Views: 2531
critique and comments welcome.
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

You do this stuff so well, would love to have heard you read it.


Enjoyed this – gives a good sense of Jimmy and tells a story – and a thought provoking one at that.

 <span title="Pro Commenter" style="font-size : small; color: red;">***</span><p>

I’m not up on UK politics these days, since I’ve been in the States forever, so forgive me if I sound ignorant on the twists and turns in your plot. But was confused by this; The Movement became the ‘establishment’ and us patriots became terrorists. Do you mean literally – or in public opinion? You mention all the violence that the Movement gets involved in; at that point in your story, I was making comparisons to what happened in Russia, for in fact the Movement there DID become the Establishment, eventually. Those folks took over the country. ( Even if… Read more »

Flag Content