'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, February 01, 2006


It's raining again, but just a little bit. It's the first rain we've had in about two weeks. The lawns dried out for the first time in months. The other day the wife said something about sending something in the back porch back to the post office as she was walking out the door. I didn't catch all of what she said because I wasn't listening, and when I went to the porch all I could find were a penguin and an apple on a box. I spent a good while just looking back and forth between the two, wondering which one would go back to the post office. I settled on the penguin in the end because it wasn't alive (it was stuffed) and its head was covered in stamps. I've no idea how to explain the apple.

My cousin Gary worked in a radio station. He loved working there, despite the fact that he didn't get on with one of the DJs, Andrews. They were always doing things to impress the weather girl, Samantha. Andrews appeared on a TV show once, and on the following day he said to Gary, "Samantha said I looked like Cary Grant on TV."

"He's dead."

"You're just jealous."

"Anyone with half a brain can appear on TV. In fact, the less brains you have, the more likely you are to appear on TV. And Cary Grant doesn't have any brains at all because he's dead."

"You think anyone with half a brain can get on TV?"


"I bet you couldn't get Jeff on TV."

Jeff was the karate coach who appeared on Andrews' radio show to talk about the Winter Olympics. No one was entirely sure why they got him to talk about winter sports, and Jeff was nowhere near entirlely sure of anything. Years of breaking things with his head had taken its toll. His mortal enemy was a vacuum cleaner.

Gary accepted the bet because Samantha was there, and he didn't want to look weak in her presence. He had no idea how he'd go about getting a karate coach on TV. He couldn't even think of a show where they'd need someone to talk about the Winter Olympics. Gary was delighted when Samantha said she'd help, and she was able to provide more help than anyone when she was asked to stand in for a weather forecaster on TV for two weeks.

It all went horribly wrong when the news reader on TV fell in love with Samantha. He asked her out for a meal and she said yes. Gary felt like breaking something with his head when she told him about it.

He went to see his cousin Hugh and asked for his advice on Samantha and the karate coach. Hugh said he'd need more time to think about getting Jeff on TV, but there was a simple plan to disrupt Samantha's date with the newsreader. He'd been to that restaurant before. "The chef there is amazing," Hugh said, "but he gets transfixed by moths. He'll follow the moths wherever they lead him, no matter what gets in his way. It's not really a problem anymore because they hired someone to kill the moths. But if you remove the person who kills the moths, it'll be chaos. How is the newsreader going to impress her if their first date descends into chaos."

"But how will we remove the moth-killer?"

"There are hundreds of ways you could do that."

Hugh went through a few of those ways, and they settled on the one that didn't involve kidnapping. One of Hugh's friends owned a dog who used to walk in circles around a pineapple. It had an almost hypnotic effect. As the moth-killer made his way to work through a park on the evening of Samantha's date, Gary said to him, "Look at that," and pointed at the dog walking around the pineapple.

He spent over an hour looking at the dog, who never slowed down during that time.

The owner of the restaurant was getting nervous when his moth-killer didn't show up for work. He decided to kill the moths himself, but it wasn't as easy as he thought. It looked more like a martial art when the professional did it. One of the moths made it into the kitchen when he was trying to kill another one outside the back door.

Adrian, the news reader, was sitting at a table for two with Samantha. He told her about how he was getting tired of people looking down on him for being a news reader. "Some people say it's just reading," he said.

"It's much more than just reading."

"That's what I always say. But still, it'd be nice to do something where... y' know... something I could do and say 'aha!', and they couldn't say anything then."

"What if you did reports, like going out to meet people and interview them. That could be news. You could go..." She tried to think of the best place to meet a karate coach who talks about the Winter Olympics. "You could go anywhere."

"That's not a bad idea."

There was panic amongst the kitchen staff when they saw the moth, but the chef was completely serene when he noticed it. He knocked over pots and pans, and he walked over a waiter as he followed the moth around the kitchen. When another waiter came in, the moth made its way into the dining room through the open door, and the chef followed.

The chef walked over Adrian and Samantha's table, and then he walked around in circles as the moth flew around a chandelier in the centre of the room. Adrian seemed to be transfixed by the chef. He followed the chef around the room. Samantha was much more disappointed in this behaviour than in the chaos their date descended into.

Adrian's first report outside the studio featured the chef in his kitchen. They told the chef they wanted to film him at work, but a moth appeared as soon as he started listing the ingredients he'd be using. He followed it around the kitchen, knocking over things, breaking glasses and plates. They showed five minutes of this on TV, with Adrian just looking at him all the time.

The chef was furious with his moth-killer for missing work, but when he heard about the dog and the pineapple he decided to track down the real culprits.

When Gary met him outside the radio station one evening, he was holding the leg of a piano. "You better have a very good reason why you took out my moth-killer."

Gary couldn't think of a very good reason, so he told him the truth. The chef's attitude changed when he heard it was an attempt to sabotage the news reader's date. He was furious with Adrian for making him look stupid on TV, and he promised to help Gary with any plan that involved getting Jeff on TV if there was a chance it would make Adrian look stupid.

Hugh was playing golf with a friend of his one day. His friend, Mark, had recently been elected treasurer of the golf club, and he'd found out all about the history of the place. He was telling Hugh about how a gypsy cursed the course over sixty years ago, but Hugh found it very off-putting. Mark kept pointing at things and saying, "The gypsy cursed that."

Hugh had a long putt on the tenth green, and it was heading right for the centre of the hole, but a crow landed in the ball's path and blocked it. The crow tried to fly away with the ball. "The gypsy cursed that too," Mark said.

After the game, Hugh was thinking about his fiancee, Annabel. He remembered saying to her, "What's the one thing you don't like about summer?"


"What about autumn?"




"You can say crows if you want."

"Yeah, crows."

She had recently appeared on a TV ad for shampoo with an eagle on her head. That evening he asked her about the eagle and she said, "That wasn't really part of the script. He just landed there."

"Where did he come from?"

"I don't know. Birds often land on my head."

He met up with Gary to discuss their plans to get Jeff on TV, and he told him about the crows and the eagle.

"Crows landing on a woman's head would be just the sort of thing Adrian would want to film," Gary said. "We could get him to go to the golf course to film this, and Jeff could be there playing golf. The chef can come along too, and he can do whatever he needs to do to Adrian. I hope it's what he was going to do to me."

"Annabel is hardly likely to agree to this."

"She doesn't need to know. Just say you'd like to play golf with her. And what are the chances of crows actually landing on her head?"

Hugh asked her if she'd like to play golf. "I just thought it'd be good if we... spent more time together."

She liked the sound of that, even though she didn't like golf.

On the day of the game, Hugh insisted that she wear a hat. They called in to see my cousin June on the way to the course. Her daughter, Daisy, had a lemon. She held it up and said to Annabel, "My lemon likes your hat."

Annabel took the hat off as soon as they left the house, and she refused to put it back on again.

Jeff was already at the course. He was wearing plus-fours, a green sweater and a green hat. The camera crew were there too, and they seemed to know that Annabel would be the one most likely to attract the crows. They followed her around. She kept looking back at them and smiling, but she stopped suddenly when she came across a peacock in front of the clubhouse.

The peacock just stood there staring at her and she stared at it. She was used to this sort of stand-off with birds. It normally ended with the bird perching on her head. She tried to think of an alternative conclusion to the stand-off. She was eating crisps, so she offered the peacock one of them.

The peacock spread his feathers when he ate the crisp. She gave him another and he did the same again. They did this for a few minutes, until the producer realised that they were live on air in ten seconds and there was no sign of Adrian.

TV viewers saw two minutes of Annabel giving crisps to the peacock, but then she ran out of crisps, and there was another minute to go. The producer asked her to say something, but she couldn't think of anything to say.

That's when Jeff stepped in. He gave a very eloquent and coherent speech about the history of golf and this particular club, and when he finished he broke a three-iron with his head. He staggered around the place. Annabel applauded.

Then the camera focussed on Adrian, who was running away in the background, trying to fight off the crows who were attacking him. The chef was following him, transfixed by the sight. He was dressed as a golfer too, but he was still wearing his chef's hat.

Adrian never left the studio after this, but Jeff got the job as reporter. At the end of each report he broke something with his head. Samantha was very impressed with Gary for the way he won the bet. Not only had he got Jeff on TV, he got him a job as a reporter as well.

The moose's head over the fireplace looks as if he wants to say something. Some of the wife's relatives called around the other day. Her aunt said, "My hat is, aha ha ha... it's a bit..." She looked up and moved her fingers around. I told her she wasn't wearing a hat. "Hmm," she said, and tapped her chin. "Can you solve this one?" She said that to the moose's head. He looked as if he could, but he couldn't tell us one way or the other. It's very easy for him to look as if he can solve things like that, or the reason for the word written on my face, but he never has to prove that he can.