'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
Click here to buy the paperback or download the ebook for free.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Meeting Goldie Hawn

All the insects are returning to the garden. The leaves are starting to appear on the trees. People with long hair are dancing barefoot on the lawn to the sound of folk music. I must do something about that. I asked in the garden centre if they had something to get rid of them, but they said I should ask in the pharmacy.

My cousin Hugh once went to a lecture about carpets with a friend of his called Mark. Neither of them had an interest in carpets, but they thought Goldie Hawn would be speaking at the lecture.

She never showed up, which was very disappointing for Hugh and Mark. The lecture itself didn't cheer them up. After they left the lecture hall, Mark said, "I know someone who looks a bit like Goldie Hawn. We could go to see her."

"We might as well."

"And she looks like Goldie Hawn looked thirty years ago."

"That sounds even better than the real Goldie Hawn."

So they went to see her. Her name was Imelda, and she lived in a small cottage out in the country. They met her in her front garden.

She looked very like a young Goldie Hawn. Hugh and Mark stood there, in silence, just looking at her and smiling. She smiled back at them. After about a minute of this, she started to laugh, and then they started laughing too. The three of them spent another few minutes just laughing for no apparent reason.

The laughter came to a sudden end when her boyfriend, Trevor, came out of the house and said, "What are ye laughing at?"

"Nothing," Mark said.

"What's going on here?" Trevor said, obviously not believing that they were lauging at nothing.

Hugh said, "We just came to look at..." He stopped when he noticed the menacing stare on Trevor's face, and he also took note of the fact that the face was about a foot above the top of his own head. Trevor wouldn't have had any reason to laugh if he found out that they came to look at his girlfriend.

Hugh eventually said that they just came to look at the garden, which wasn't much of an excuse anyway, and the best possible excuse wouldn't have sounded like much after the long pause in the middle of what Hugh said.

The menacing stare became even more menacing. Hugh and Mark turned around and walked away as quickly as they could without looking as if they were running away, which they were.

Their pace slowed as they walked down the hill, on a narrow, winding road. No cars passed by. It was a beautiful summer day. They listened to the sound of the birds and tried to remember Imelda's face. And forget Trevor's.

As they were walking past an old house they saw a friend of theirs, Quinny, in the garden. He told them it was his Aunt Flo's house, and he was supposed to be working on the garden, but he was spending most of his time looking for his blue suede shoes. He took them off so they wouldn't get dirty, but they kept going missing.

His uncle had a fear of lead pipes. He kept finding them in unexpected places, like birthday presents or in his shoes, so he put them in expected places, like the shed or on the area of ground where he spent a lot of time staring at.

He associated the pipes with blue things because one of the pipes was painted blue, and he developed a habit of putting blue things in expected places too. Quinny often found his shoes in the hedge, or in other places his uncle liked to look at.

To make sure he didn't lose them again, he tied them to a nineteenth century card table, but he lost the table.

He had been looking outdoors, in the places he found the shoes before, but Hugh pointed out that he should be looking indoors, in the places the table would be.

They found the table in his aunt's study. "I'm going to tie these to the gate," Quinny said as he left with the shoes. Hugh and Mark were alone in the room.

They heard the voice of Quinny's aunt, Flo, and wondered how they'd explain their presence in the room. They never wondered who she was talking to until they heard Trevor's voice. They didn't bother wondering how to explain the situation to him because when they last met, running away had proven to be much more effective than explaining things.

But it sounded as if Flo and Trevor were just outside the door, so the only other option was to hide. They hid behind a sofa just as Trevor and the aunt came into the room.

Trevor was there to install new lights, and Flo was showing him where to put them.

It seemed to take forever for her to explain this to Trevor. When she finished, he said, "I'll start in the room upstairs."

"Wherever you want," she said.

Hugh and Mark could hear Trevor leaving the room, and Mark breathed a sigh of relief, which was loud enough for Flo to hear.

She looked behind the sofa and said, "What are ye doing down there?"

"We're from a carpet magazine," Mark said. "We're international experts on carpets. We're just admiring your... carpet."

Mark didn't remember much of the carpet lecture, but it was enough to fool Flo. She showed them carpets all around the house, and they completely forgot about Trevor until they were just about to go into the room where he was working, and they heard him swearing at his pliers.

They were saved by the phone. Flo had to go downstairs to answer it. They hid in a cupboard on the landing when Trevor came out of the room.

They remained there in silence for a few minutes, until Mark said there was something furry on his hand.

They heard footsteps approaching the cupboard. They wondered how they'd explain this to Trevor, or to Flo. It seemed unlikely that there'd be any carpet in the cupboard.

But it was Imelda who opened the cupboard. Hugh whispered, "We're hiding."

"Why are ye hiding?" she whispered as she joined them inside, closing the doors behind her.

Hugh didn't know how to answer that one, but with Imelda he wasn't faced with the prospect of imminent violence if he failed to come up with a satisfactory explanation for his actions, so he just said, "Because we are."

The three of them remained completely silent for a few minutes, until Imelda started laughing. They tried to keep her quiet, but she only laughed louder.

Trevor opened the doors of the cupboard. "I knew ye were up to something," he said.

Hugh could see why it must look as if they were up to something, and whatever it was it had something to do with Imelda. There was no satisfactory explanation for being in a cupboard with her, and to avoid the imminent violence, Hugh decided to run.

Mark got the same idea at the same time. They ran out of the cupboard at either side of Trevor and he missed them both.

They ran down a small stairs at the back of the house, and down a dark corridor. They didn't know where they were going, but wherever it was, they decided they needed to get there even quicker when they heard Flo shout, "They're thieves! They stole my card table!"

They managed to find their way into the back garden. There were plenty of places to hide there. It was a huge garden with lots of trees and hedges, even a maze. They stopped running when they were sure they weren't being followed.

They stopped walking when they saw a woman who was moving in slow motion.

"Why are you moving in slow motion?" Mark said to her.

"It's just to make fun of the man chasing me," she said.

"What man?"

She stopped and looked around. "Well there was someone chasing me a few minutes ago."

Mark said, "If there was someone chasing you, he'd have caught you while you were moving in slow motion."

"Are you saying I imagined the whole thing?"

"No, I'm saying if there was someone chasing you, he'd have caught you while you were moving in slow motion."

"I bet he's hiding behind that hedge," she said.

She tip-toed towards the end of the hedge, with Hugh and Mark just behind her. When she got to the corner, she jumped out and said, "Aha!" But he wasn't there. "I bet he's hiding behind those trees."

She tip-toed to the trees, jumped and said 'aha!', but again there was no one there. Hugh asked why he was chasing her, and she said, "Because I have his dark glasses." She held up the glasses. "He couldn't hear anything on the phone when he wore these. They're really dark. He eventually figured out it was because he couldn't find the phone. But he liked not being able to hear people because he could choose who he wanted to listen to. Although it didn't really work when he couldn't find the phone because he couldn't hear anyone, but after he figured out what was going on, he'd just pick up the phone and say hello, and if it was someone he didn't want to talk to he'd keep saying 'hello?' over and over again, and they'd say 'take off your glasses' but he'd pretend he couldn't hear. He's expecting a call from the people he sold a ladder to. There's no way I'm giving the glasses back until he apologises for saying my cat looked like a hole in his garden."

"Well shouldn't you be trying to hide from him," Hugh said, "rather than trying to find him?"

"I hadn't thought of that."

"And he'll just pretend he's wearing the glasses on the phone anyway. He doesn't actually need the glasses."

"I hadn't thought of that either."

They heard footsteps on a stone path that emerged from the trees. She didn't have time to run, but she didn't need to because it wasn't the man who was chasing her, assuming she didn't imagine him. And if she did imagine him it wouldn't have been him anyway.

"Damn!" she said. "I mean, phew, it's not him."

She started to wonder if she'd imagined Hugh and Mark when she looked around. They were gone, and so was the man who appeared on the path, Trevor.

Flo and Trevor had formed a plan. He'd chase them around the shed, and Flo would be there to stop them with a shovel. But on the way to the shed, Hugh and Mark ran into the maze, and Trevor ran past the entrance.

Flo was waiting behing the shed. She was ready with the shovel when she heard the footsteps, and she swung as soon as she saw a figure appear from around the side. She hit Trevor on the head, and he fell to the ground.

He looked dazed, and he didn't move. Hugh, Mark, Imelda and Quinny all gathered around him. They looked down at him in silence. That lasted for about thirty seconds, until Imelda started laughing. The others joined in. Trevor managed a faint laugh too, but he didn't know what he was laughing at. Even at the best of times, there were many things he didn't know.

The moose's head over the fireplace loves reading sheet music. He's fascinated by the dots. He prefers reading the music to hearing it, and not just when I play the piano. He must be reading something else into the dots. I tried reading the music myself, and it can be very exciting if you read something else into the black dots. But you could say that about lots of things. There's more action in the carpet's pattern than in anything on TV, apart from all the moving coloured dots in the snooker.