'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Turkey.

I found an old coin in the garden when I was digging up a flower bed. I once found a spoon in the same area. I don’t know what that says about the people who once lived here. It probably just says something about their use of coins and spoons.

My aunt Bridget once got a present of a turkey from a friend of hers, but the turkey was a little bit too alive for Bridget’s liking, and she wasn’t keen on killing it. The friend said she’d kill it for her, but Bridget said, “No, no. I don’t mind killing it at all.” Killing a turkey seemed like a thing everyone should be more than willing to do, and she didn’t want to admit her reluctance. She looked in her cookery book to see how long she’d have to leave it in the oven for, and she hoped she’d find some advice on killing turkeys in there too, but there was nothing, and she wondered if the turkey would ever make it as far as the oven. She became angry with the turkey for being so difficult to kill. She’d lecture it, listing out all the problems he was causing her, and a few of them couldn’t really be blamed on the turkey, like that rattling sound coming from the engine of her car. It became even more difficult to kill the turkey after he became friends with their pet peacock. They used to walk around the garden together, frightening the cat or playing hide-and-seek. The turkey often hid under a box, and the peacock could never find him in the box. One day Bridget was sitting at the kitchen table with the stapler in her hand, absent-mindedly stapling something, and when she looked at what she was doing she realised that she’d stapled a photo of the turkey to the cookery book. She took it outside, showed it to the turkey and said, “Look what I did without even thinking about what I was doing. Now what does that tell you?” It didn’t seem to tell the turkey anything - he just stared back at her. She asked Louise, my cousin Mike’s wife, how she was going to kill her geese, and Louise said, “Kill?” “Yeah, so you can eat them.” “Eat!” Bridget thought she’d ever find a way of killing it, and she had no idea how she’d explain this to the friend who gave her the turkey. Her nephew, my cousin Hugh, went to visit them one day. He was talking to Bridget’s son, Ronan, in the front garden. Hugh noticed a Frisbee stuck in the ivy on the front of the house and he asked how it got there. Ronan said, “I was playing Frisbee with the dog the other day, and the wind must have blown it off-course.” “Why did you leave it there?” “I’m not all that keen on heights.” Hugh said he’d get it, so they went to the shed to get the ladder. When Hugh was climbing the ladder he passed a window over the front door and his shadow climbed the wall in the hall. The dog was sitting in the hall and he looked at the shadow moving up. Bridget’s daughter, Nicola, was playing the piano inside. She was moving up the scale as Hugh was going up the ladder, and when she looked to her right she saw the dog in the hall, slowly raising his head as she played. Her fingers slowed. Hugh could hear the sound of the piano, and he slowed down on his way up the ladder as Nicola’s playing slowed. The dog’s head moved slower too, and when Nicola moved back down the scale, Hugh moved down the ladder and the dog’s head went down too. When Nicola went back up a few notes, the dog’s head rose again. She kept going up and down, moving very slowly or very quickly, and the dog’s head always followed because Hugh was moving with the sound. Bridget looked out the front window and saw the turkey playing hide-and-seek with the peacock. The peacock would walk away and a box would follow him. Then the peacock would stop and look around, and the box would stop too. When the peacock moved away again the box moved too. Bridget turned on the TV. She watched the snooker for a few minutes, but one of the players was taking ages to shoot. As he prepared to take a shot he’d move the cue back and forwards about ten times, getting slower and slower all the time, and then he’d stop moving completely for about ten seconds before striking the cue ball. As Bridget looked at this she forgot what she was going to do before she turned on the TV. She turned it off and tried to think, but then she heard the sound of the piano, moving up and down, getting slower and slower all the time, and then there was complete silence for about ten seconds. She suddenly remembered what she was going to do and shouted, “The ironing!” Nicola got a shock and put both of her hands down on the keyboard. The dog started barking and Hugh nearly fell off the ladder. He fell forward, but he managed to drag himself back, but then he dragged himself back too far and fell backwards. His fall was broken by a box. When Bridget went outside she saw the flattened box and feathers gently floating to the ground. She stared at it in silence for a few seconds, but then tears welled in her eyes. “He was a great little fella. He was so friendly, and so full of life. He always looked as if he was smiling.” The peacock came around the corner and looked at Bridget. “Your poor little friend is gone,” she said. “I’m just glad you’re too stupid to look in the box.” She broke down in tears, but then she noticed that the peacock wasn’t looking at her at all. He was looking at something behind her. She turned around and there was the turkey. She dried her eyes and said, “I hope you understand sarcasm. I knew you were there all along and I was just being sarcastic. Oh no, the poor little turkey is dead, and I was trying to kill him, what am I going to do?” The turkey just looked back at her, as if he didn’t believe what she was saying. That’s the impression she got anyway, so she went inside.

The moose’s head over the fireplace seems to be enjoying the snooker from the World Snooker Championships at the moment. He likes snooker, but tennis just bores him. He hears the sound of the ball being hit back and forth all the time and it puts him to sleep, but snooker is much more unpredictable. He’d probably be even more appreciative of ladders falling on turkeys. Although in fairness, he does seem to understand the ‘miss’ rule.