'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

A Dog on a Bed

On the day before yesterday, the ground in the garden was dry enough for me to walk around in my new shoes, but that didn't last long. There's no point wearing them in the garden anyway. I have to take a stick to keep the dog away from them, and if he can't get at the shoes he'll just try to take the stick. And if he does get the stick he'll get at the shoes.

My cousin Chloe spent a week in her aunt's summer house with her boyfriend, Bill. She was there with her friends, Jenny and Martha. Her brother, Gary, was there too, and he brought his friends, Kevin and Dan. The house was out in the middle of nowhere. Chloe and Bill had each other's company to pass the time, but the more time they spent together, the slower it seemed to pass by.

One morning, she leant against the window ledge at the front of the house. He stood on the lawn nearby, looking towards the front gate, and the quiet road beyond it.

"Maybe we'll find something to do in the shed," Chloe said.

They went to the shed at the back of the house. It was full of paint tins, boxes, old furniture and many other things that became unidentifiable beneath the dust and cobwebs. They found the front of an old brass bed, and after looking around for a few minutes they found the other parts of it too. Chloe suggested they put it together and clean it, just for something to do.

They put the bed together in the back yard. They removed the spots of white paint and polished the brass. It proved to be a great way to pass the time, and when they'd finished they spent another half-hour admiring their work.

Jenny arrived and admired it with them. She was holding a necklace with red plastic beads. "I won this when some Swedish people fell out of a boat," she said.

They went for a walk down the road.

Gary was at the lake with Martha. She was telling him about her dreams. "I often dream about talking to the wall. Sometimes I think it'd be nice to dream about something I can't do in real life, just for a change."

They met Jenny, Chloe and Bill, and they all went back to the house together. When they got back, an Irish Wolfhound was tied to the brass bed. He seemed very friendly. Chloe patted him on the head and he wagged his tail, but when she tried to remove his lead from the bed, he growled.

The lead was tied with a bow knot. It would have taken just one quick pull of the lead to remove the dog from the bed. Chloe distracted the dog by tearing a piece of paper into small pieces, giving Bill a chance to un-do the knot, but the dog seemed to know what they were up to, and he wouldn't let Bill anywhere near the bed.

As they were trying to figure out what to do, the Swedish people arrived. They looked very angry, and wet too, which is probably why they were angry. Jenny held out the necklace and said, "Ye can have this back."

"You can keep the necklace," one of the Swedes said. "Just say sorry."

"No. And I'm going to keep the necklace too."

"If you're not going to say sorry, then we want the necklace back."

"No." She put the necklace around the dog's neck. He seemed to like that too, and when one of the Swedes went to get it back, the dog growled at him.

They told the Swedes about how the dog seemed to like the bed, and one of them said, "Wouldn't he prefer a more comfortable bed?"

There was an Ikea self-assembly bed in one of the bedrooms upstairs, just waiting to be assembled. Gary's friends, Kevin and Dan, were staying in this room, but neither of them wanted to assemble the bed because they didn't know how, and even if they did, they'd just have a double bed for the two of them.

They brought the parts for the bed down and left it near the dog. Then they turned around for about ten seconds, and when they turned back, the Swedes had assembled the bed.

"That certainly looks more comfortable," Chloe said.

They all turned around this time, and when they turned back, the Irish Wolfhound in the red necklace was asleep on the Ikea bed.

"Why can't I dream about things like that?" Martha said.

"He just wanted a place to sleep," Jenny said. She turned to the Swedes and said, "What if I just said 'thanks' instead of 'sorry'."

"Okay. And you can keep the necklace too."



They all went for a walk to the house where the Swedes were staying. They sat on the verandah for an hour, drinking beer and talking about making jam (the Swedes had just been to a jam-making exhibition).

When they got back to the house, the bed and the dog were missing. They looked all around the garden, and in the shed too, but there was no sign of either, and they surely wouldn't have missed an Irish Wolfhound on a bed.

A young girl arrived and said, "Has anyone seen my doggie? I left him here earlier."

"What does he look like?" Gary said.

"He has brown eyes, and his ears are lovely."

"Is he taller than you?"


"We've seen him alright. I don't know where he could have got to."

"He's probably wherever the bed is," Chloe said. "And the bed is probably in the bedroom."

They went to the bedroom upstairs, and there was the dog on the bed. Kevin and Dan were there too.

"How did ye get the bed inside with the dog on it?" Gary said.

"How do you think?" Dan said. Their clothes were torn. Kevin just had one shoe -- the dog had the other one.

The dog was happy to see his owner, but he didn't move from the bed. His name was Brainey. "He'll come home when he's hungry," the girl said. "He ate a big box full of food this morning, so it could take a while. That's why he's sleepy."

"Is there any way of luring him out of the house?" Gary said to the girl.

"There was a woman at this thing in the park a few weeks ago. It was at something in the park on a Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago. I don't know what it was. They were selling things. Some people were anyway. Some people were dancing. And some were trying to hide a violin under their jumper. One person was anyway. But this woman was dressed as Maid Marion and she was singing. I don't know if she was selling anything or dancing. Well, I know she wasn't dancing. I could see that. At first I thought she was selling spoons because she was holding two spoons, but one of them belonged to someone else and the other was probably her own. Brainey was very interested in her when she was singing. He followed her everywhere. I think it scared her a bit. Even when she stopped singing he was still a bit interested in her, but he didn't follow her everywhere."

"So we just need someone to dress as Maid Marion and sing," Chloe said.

"You should do it," Gary said to Martha.

"But I can't sing."

"All the more reason to do it. You should try to do something you can't do. You might dream about it later. Maybe you only dream about talking to walls because that's the sort of thing you do in real life. You've got to try something exciting, something you think you can't do."

They found an old dress in the wardrobe, and they made a cone-shaped hat out of cardboard. They put a silk scarf on top of the hat.

Martha put on the costume and sang, but she was terrible. The dog closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep, but she kept singing. He was probably wishing there was a way of closing his ears.

The dog eventually got sick of it and ran away.

Martha dreamt about thumb tacks that night. "Lots and lots of thumb tacks," she said, and she smiled.

The moose's head over the fireplace likes the glasses we got for him. He's always preferred big things to small things, and when he wears the glasses, the things he has to look at all day are slightly bigger. We didn't exactly 'get' the glasses for him. We found them, and we couldn't find their owner. The wife's uncle says he once found a pair of contact lenses at the end of the rainbow. He couldn't be sure it was the exact spot where the rainbow ended, but when he first saw it he guessed that the end would be in a field a few hundred yards away, so he went there and found the contact lenses.