'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

A Dot on the Carpet

We've had a few days without rain. It's possible to do things in the garden again, or do nothing in the garden. That's about all you can do, as long as the wife's niece isn't practising her violin. She plays it in the garden for the birds. It serves them right for their so-called singing.

My cousin Hector and his wife, Liz, bought a cream carpet for their front room. After it was installed, Hector noticed a small red dot on the carpet. He pointed at it and said, "Is that dot meant to be there?"

"No, it's not," Liz said.

They looked closely over all of the carpet, but there was just one single red dot. Liz phoned the carpet shop about it, and they sent someone out to see the dot. But when he saw it he said, "That's meant to be there," and he showed them a sample of the carpet with the red dot. Liz asked him why they'd sell a carpet with a single red dot on it, and he said, "We didn't really think anyone would buy it until you came along."

The dot always annoyed Liz. It was the first thing people saw when they went into the room, and they saw little else because they kept looking at the dot. But one day, when Liz walked into the room, she barely noticed the dot at all. She wondered why this could be. She looked around the room, and she saw a red cup on the coffee table. When she took the cup away, the dot became more noticeable again. She tried placing the cup in various positions on the coffee table, and then standing back to look at the room. Some positions hid the dot better than others, and after a few minutes experimenting with this, she found a position for the cup on the coffee table that made the dot almost invisible.

It was the perfect way to hide the dot. No one noticed it when they came into the room, and everyone said they loved the new carpet. But the dot became noticeable again when Hector bought her some red roses for their anniversary. When she put them in a vase in the room, the dot on the carpet and the cup on the table stood out. She wondered if there was something else she could add to the room to restore the balance. She was looking for something red, and she saw a lamp with a red shade in a shop one day, so she bought that and brought it home. She found the perfect position for it on a small table in the corner. It restored the balance of the room, and the roses, the dot and the cup on the table all became less noticeable again, but it only worked when the light was off.

This balance didn't last long. Hector bought a painting of people in a room and he hung it on the wall. It was a nice painting, but it was dominated by bright red curtains. When Liz came into the room she noticed the lamp, the roses, the cup and the dot on the carpet, especially the dot.

She had trouble finding something else to restore the balance, but her twin daughters, Alice and Grace, solved the problem for her. They made a little Santa hat for their Labrador puppy. When Liz saw him wearing the hat, she took him into the front room, and after a lot of careful adjustment, they found the perfect place for him near the TV. The dot, the cup, the roses, the lamp, the painting and the puppy himself were almost invisible. Liz was always telling the puppy to stay when he was near the TV, and giving him biscuits if he stayed there. She put his basket on the carpet there too.

Hector and his brother, Albert, were in the city one Saturday and they saw a mime artist who was breakdancing. "I think he's confused," Hector said.

They also saw two men going around to people on the street. One of them was dressed as a goalkeeper, and the other man was saying to people, "This man is looking for his brother. He's a goalkeeper." The man dressed as a goalkeeper put his hands out then.

"I don't know what he is," Hector said.

When they got home and walked into the front room, they noticed the dot, the cup, the roses, the lamp, the painting and the puppy, who was sleeping in his basket. The roses were starting to wilt, and the petals were falling off. Hector thought that this must be the reason for the breakdown in the balance.

"I wonder if the breakdancing mime artist could make everything invisible again," Albert said.

"There's only one way to find out."

They went back to the city, and Hector asked the mime artist if he'd stand in a room for a few minutes. The mime artist pretended not to hear until Hector mentioned money.

So they took the mime home and they found the perfect position for him in the room. All of the other things faded from view once more, including the mime himself. Then he started breakdancing, and the other things remained almost invisible, but it was blatantly obvious that there was a breakdancing mime artist in the room. Hector asked him to stop, but he pretended not to hear again.

Albert said, "Maybe the brother of the goalkeeper is a goalkeeper, and they dressed him up like his brother to see if anyone would recognise him."

"What about the breakdancing mime artist?"

"I don't know about him... Do you think the goalkeeper and the man with him would make the mime invisible?"

"It's worth a try."

They went back to the city and brought home the goalkeeper and the man with him, and the two of them did distract from the breakdancing mime artist, until the man with the goalkeeper said, "Hey, this is the guy who wouldn't answer our questions earlier," and started poking the mime artist in the shoulder.

Hector asked him to stop, but he kept doing it and saying things like, "You think you're too good for us with your breakdancing."

Hector and Albert tried to think of what they could get to balance this out before Liz got home.

She had gone for a walk with Hector's mother, Aunt Audrey. When they got back and went into the front room, there was a brawl that involved a soccer team with two identical goalkeepers, the mime artist, the man who was with the goalkeeper, a women's hockey team and a cowboy. Hector was trying to calm things down, but he was impeded because the puppy was clinging to his leg. Albert was taking photos.

Audrey pointed at the dot on the carpet and said, "Is that a stain?"

Liz said, "It's... Is that a spider on the ceiling?"

When Audrey looked up, Liz looked around the room to see if there was any way of restoring the balance. She turned on the lamp and said, "What stain?"

Audrey looked down again. "I... I thought I saw a stain... The room is looking lovely."


"Especially the carpet. I love the colour."

"Yeah. I must show you what we've been doing to the garden in the back."

They left as the mime had one of the goalkeepers in a headlock, and the hockey team were attacking the back four of the soccer team. Even the bloodstains on the carpet blended into the background.

The moose's head over the fireplace has looked confused ever since the wife's uncle told a story of an encounter with a cow on a narrow road, but after a few glasses of brandy it became a story about wearing a fake beard and glasses at the opening of a museum. But it could have been The Smurfs on TV that confused the moose's head too. I could understand that. Thand God he's never seen the Teletubbies.