'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
Click here to buy the paperback or download the ebook for free.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004


I spent the evening trimming some of the hedges with the hedge clippers. I did it just a few weeks ago, but they’ve grown a lot since then. The grass was cut just a few days ago, and that’s after getting high again too.

My cousin Hugh was once caught in the hotel where the Australian women’s volleyball team were staying. He had recently become engaged to his girlfriend, Annabel, and her cousin Betty was coming over from America to stay with her family. A few days before the visit, Annabel’s aunt asked her if she had Betty’s phone number in America. Annabel picked up a dictionary and looked through that, and then she wondered why she was looking through a dictionary when she should be looking in her address book. And she found it even more curious that she was looking in the dictionary under J. She got the number from her address book and wrote it down on a piece of paper. When her aunt reminded her about it later, Annabel said, “It’s J… No, sorry, that’s not it… I have it written down somewhere.” Her sister had just got back from a holiday in Belgium with her husband and her son. Annabel asked her nephew what he had learnt about Belgium. He hadn’t really learnt anything, but he tried to think of something. He said, “In Belgium, snails can get jobs as… doormen. Or door snails.” Annabel didn’t put much thought into that, but something in the back of her mind told her that it didn’t sound quite right. Later on in the evening she decided to check it up in the encyclopaedia, under B for Belgium, but she ended up looking in the dictionary under J. As she looked through the pages she tried to remember what it was she was looking for. Whatever it was, she couldn’t find it in the dictionary under J. She decided to look in her address book under B. She came across the name of a friend of hers who she went on holiday with on the previous year. This friend got into an argument with the doorman at a hotel and she called him a pig. The barman in the hotel was much nicer. He was from Australia, and Annabel’s friend called him a lamb. Annabel remembered all this when she saw the name in her address book, and it seemed to provide the answer she was looking for, even though she still couldn’t entirely remember the question. On the following evening she went to see a musical called ‘The Hill and I’. The woman in the starring role would say ‘It’s cold up here’ to indicate that she was on the hill, or ‘I’m glad to get out of the wind’ to show when she’s not on the hill. She had a pet lamb who was played by a young boy, and the only words he ever said were variations of ‘baa’. Annabel could definitely hear an Australian accent in his baa-ing. The other main character in the musical was a man who kept trying to catch the lamb with a net, but he always failed because the lamb constantly jumped up and down. Betty was arriving on the following day. She was travelling around the country and she was due to check into a hotel, and my cousin Hugh was supposed to collect her there. He called Annabel on the phone to get the name of the hotel, but she couldn’t remember it off the top of her head. She had written it on a piece of paper, but instead of looking at that she looked at a newspaper article she had been reading about the Australian women’s volleyball team. As she read it, in her mind she saw the lamb jumping up and down at the net. She gave Hugh the name of the hotel where the volleyball team were staying, so he went there to collect Annabel’s cousin. At the reception he said he was there to collect Betty and they gave him the room number. He went up the stairs and knocked on the door, and a voice from inside told him to come in. When he went into the room he could hear the sound of a shower, so he assumed that Betty must be having a shower, which seemed to be confirmed when he heard the voice again: “I’m just having a shower. I’ll be out in a minute.” But Hugh heard an Australian accent and he assumed he was in the wrong room. In the wrong room with a woman in the shower was not the place to be for a man who recently won a local election. He went towards the door to make his getaway, but he heard voices outside, and the door knob started to turn. Hugh headed straight for the wardrobe, and he managed to hide himself inside before anyone saw him. But a woman who had come into the room headed straight for the wardrobe too. She opened the door and saw my cousin inside. He saw her too, next to a man who looked familiar. He was a journalist who had come to interview the volleyball players. The woman in the shower thought it was this journalist who knocked on the door. Her team mate met him in the hall and brought him inside. Hugh decided that the best course of action in this situation was complete honesty. He said, “I think I’ve got the wrong room,” and he left as quickly as possible. On the following morning, the headline on the front page of the paper was: Local Politician Caught in Women’s Volleyball Team Hotel. He had a lot of explaining to do when Annabel saw it. He told her the story and she accepted it because she couldn’t help feeling that she was partly to blame. She didn’t know exactly how, but she got that feeling. He didn’t have any explaining to do to the electorate. The incident did his popularity a lot of good.

The moose’s head over the fireplace was staring blankly ahead when I came into the room. I glanced up at its face and its expression seemed to suggest that he remembered meeting Ingrid Bergman. I couldn’t figure out what it was about the expression that suggested meeting Ingrid Bergman. I looked out the window for a while, then I walked back to the other end of the room. I looked at the moose again and I could see Ingrid Bergman stroking his head and whispering something in his ear. I could see it in the eyes.