'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, May 04, 2005

The Storm

I noticed the leaves starting to come out on the trees yesterday. And then in the evening Liverpool beat Chelsea in the Champions League semi-final. I was talking about winter last week, but now it’s difficult to imagine anything but summer.

My uncle Harry and aunt Bridget went to visit their daughter, June, one Saturday afternoon. June’s kids, Daisy and Graham, looked out the kitchen window at things blowing by on the breeze - newspapers, a scarf, a rabbit asleep on a box. The rabbit and the box disappeared behind a hedge. “You’d think it’d wake up,” Graham said. They left the kitchen window and went to the front room where their grandfather was talking to their father about the four horsemen of the apocalypse. Uncle Harry thought that one of the four horsemen was a dead fox, and Daisy wondered how a dead fox could be a horseman. She remembered the rabbit on the box. If a sleeping rabbit could glide along the ground like that, then a dead fox as one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse didn’t seem all that unbelievable. But then she realised that the four horsemen of the apocalypse wouldn’t be a good sign. And a rabbit blowing by on the breeze wouldn’t be a good sign either. She looked out the window and said, “Oh my God! It’s a storm!” The rain came with the thunder and lightening, but after an hour the skies cleared and they went outside. Graham’s rabbit was asleep in the hutch, but Daisy couldn’t find hers. Graham drew a chalk outline of a rabbit on the ground, but he couldn’t resist adding in a speech bubble with the words ‘I’m dead’, and he gave the rabbit a curly tail, like a pig’s. He was often saying that the rabbit was dead - that was just one of his hobbies - and his sister never believed him. But when she saw the chalk outline, tears started to well in her eyes. Graham tried to take her mind off the rabbit. He had a James Bond Action Man figure and he said, “The one man we need in a situation like this is James Bond.” So he got Bond to help in the search, but he got bored after a few minutes (Graham, not Bond) and he glued the figure to a ladder. He couldn’t get it off the ladder then, so he started playing with the ladder instead. He got bored with that too, so he decided to kill James Bond as well. He drew a chalk outline of the ladder with a speech bubble that said ‘Tell Moneypenny I’m an idiot’, but Daisy didn’t believe he was really dead. Their father and grandfather were walking around the garden, putting things back in their rightful places after the storm. A towel that was on the clothesline had blown into a tree and Harry said, “You’ll need the ladder to get that down.” The kids’ father, Dan, was nervous after listening to Harry talk about the four horsemen of the apocalypse for an hour during a storm, and he didn’t feel like climbing the ladder when the wind was still strong. He said, “I think I gave a loan of the ladder to someone.” But Harry had remembered seeing Graham talking to the ladder earlier. He was saying, “I was talking to a flag pole about it, and then I thought, wait a second, I’m talking to a flag pole.” Harry said to Dan, “I’m sure it’s around here somewhere. Graham was talking to it earlier.” They went looking for it, and they found the chalk outline of the ladder first. This only made Dan more nervous. And then they found the ladder leaning against the shed. Dan couldn’t get out of it then, so he took the ladder to the tree and leaned it against the branches. He climbed up very slowly, and just as he was reaching out for the towel, a strong gust of wind blew the tree forward. Dan fell off the ladder and into the tree, and he was just about able to hold onto the branches when the tree swung back the other way. The ladder fell backwards and landed on the kennel. Daisy’s rabbit ran out of the kennel and James Bond came off the ladder, landing in a hanging basket, where he hung upside down, swaying from side to side. “I told you he wasn’t dead,” Daisy said as she pointed at James Bond.

The moose’s head over the fireplace has spent the past few days staring a new painting on the opposite wall (apart from a brief distraction when Luis Garcia scored against Chelsea to put Liverpool into the Champions League final - even the moose’s head thought it was over the line). It looks as if he’s taking in every detail, trying to appreciate this work of art, but it’s just a painting of a hen. We thought about unveiling it to surprise the moose and see his reaction, but it was easier to cover the moose’s head and ‘unveil’ him instead. I have a feeling that the hen in the painting looked more surprised to see a moose’s head than the moose’s head was to see a hen.