'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, August 09, 2006


I removed the weeds from the stone steps at the back of the garden. The steps lead nowhere, and they're hidden amongst the trees. My grandfather built them to get away. I don't know what he was getting away from. He probably knew what he was getting away from, but he didn't seem to know where he was going to. Wherever it was, he spent a lot of time there.

My cousin Craig fell in love with a woman called Denise. She was an enigma to him, mainly because she once asked him if he'd ever seen to video to 'Vogue' by Madonna. He answered by pausing for a few seconds, then pointing at a very large bell and saying, "Look at that," which was probably more enigmatic than what she said.

He was going to buy her chocolates, but he thought he should get her something more enigmatic. He came across a small statue of a goat in a second-hand shop, and he bought that for her, but his friends said it wasn't enigmatic at all -- it was just ugly. He gave it to a friend of his, Bobby, because Bobby had once thrown his shoe at a goat. The goat wouldn't give it back.

Craig tried to think of the most enigmatic thing he could give her, and he came up with the idea of buying her a Chihuahua, but again his friends made him see sense. They said it was the least enigmatic thing he could possibly get her.

He was still trying to think of what to buy one day when he had lunch with Denise and her friend, Eileen. Denise said, "There was a storm the other night, and I said the word 'peas' just as lightning struck. I emphasised the word 'peas' too. And the thunder and lightning emphasised it more than I ever possibly could."

After they left the cafe, they listened to a traditional band who were playing on the street outside. When they walked on again they didn't notice they were being followed. As they were walking down a quiet alley they heard a voice behind them: "Turn around slowly."

They turned around quickly and saw a man pointing a gun at them. They stared at the gun. He looked at them without saying a word. Denise said, "Peeeeeeas," and she started laughing.

"Where's the goat?" the man with the gun said.

"I gave it away," Craig said.

"I'm not in the mood for jokes."

"No really, I gave it away. It's just a goat."

"A goat with diamonds inside him. Who did you give it to?"

"A friend of mine."

"Lead the way."

The thief walked behind them, with the gun in the pocket of his jacket. Denise was still laughing when they got to Bobby's place. In the front garden, a Saint Bernard was eating a hub cap. "Now that's an enigmatic dog," Craig said.

They found Bobby around the back. He was hammering an old window frame. Craig asked about the statue of the goat, and Bobby said he gave it to a magician. "There's no way he'll give it back. I threw it at him."

The thief took out his gun and said, "I won't be throwing this at him."

They went to see the magician, but he looked more like a wizard. He was icing a wedding cake, which wasn't something you'd expect to see a magician or a wizard doing. The small plastic couple on top of the cake looked surprised.

The thief asked him where the statue of the goat was and he said, "I gave it to a woman. I found her hiding behind my curtains."

"You'd better find her again," the thief said.

They looked behind all of the curtains, but she wasn't there. They nearly got lost amongst the curtains in his study. They could hear the sound of a stream, and there was moss on the ground.

They eventually found her in the shed. She was wearing a tennis outfit. "What are you doing in my shed?" the magician said.

"I'm playing tennis with Annabel. She's hiding in a van."

"Where's the statue of the goat?" the thief said.

"I gave it back to Craig."

"Oh yeah," Craig said. "I forgot about that."

"Well where is it?"

"I gave it to Ray."

Ray was standing near the pond with his girlfriend, Maeve. She looked into his eyes and said, "Surely you... surely..." She loves the way she says 'surely' so she says it a lot. He loves the way she doesn't finish sentences, not like his last girlfriend. Most of her sentences finished with 'off' and started with a word that started with F. There was rarely anything in between.

When the thief arrived with his growing band of hostages he took out the gun, and he asked Ray where the goat was. Ray took a long drag from his cigarette and said, "I gave it to Olivia."

They went to Olivia's house, but there was no one there. Eileen said, "She normally walks her dog at about this time."

"We'll just have to wait," the thief said. "Just stay calm and don't do anything stupid."

Eileen said to the thief, "I just swallowed a fly. Can I go home?"


"I have a doctor's note for it." She showed him the note.

"Okay, you can go," the thief said. Eileen left.

"I'm getting tired of waiting," Ray said.

The thief pointed the gun at him and said, "Are you feeling lucky?"

"I'm feeling stupid."

"Go on then. Go away and see what your doctor has to say about it."

"Maybe I will."

"Go on then."

Maeve said, "But surely..."

For a few seconds the only sound was of Denise laughing. Then Craig said, "She's got a point there."

No one said anything until Eileen arrived with the police, who arrested the thief. "I really did swallow a fly," she said.

Denise finally stopped laughing and said, "Peas." Craig thought he'd need to buy her something even more enigmatic than a Saint Bernard eating a hub cap.

The moose's head over the fireplace appeared in a painting of a bowl full of apples. The wife's aunt painted it, and even though the moose's head is in the background, he's far more interesting than any of the apples. There's a glint in his eye, and the viewer's eyes are immediately drawn to him. He was wearing his favourite scarf when she painted him. The apples do nothing. She could paint them wearing hats and scarves and fake beards and they'd still be doing nothing.