'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, August 30, 2006


It's the end of August, and autumn is near. The garden is getting ready for another spectacular show. The wife's aunt seems to be getting ready for a show too. She's singing Kurt Weill songs again. She says things like, "And he whispered to me, Agnes..." She doesn't know who Agnes is.

My cousin Isobel likes to know how many times she'll have to use her head each day. If it's more than ten she'll have to lie down for a while.

Aunt Joyce called her on the phone one day and said, "This counts as an instance of you using your head."

"I'm just going to lie down for a while," Isobel said.

After her rest, her friends, Joe and Paul, called around to see her. Joe had stolen about fifty satchels of sugar from a restaurant. He hid them in his jacket, but he was worried about getting caught. After leaving the restaurant they met Debbie, who's a fashion designer, and she was wearing her latest style, which was lots of different layers of clothing and hats. She was wearing at least three coats (she couldn't remember exactly how many). This provided plenty of pockets and hiding places to hide the sugar.

He had hidden about twenty of the satchels on Debbie when he saw saw two men approaching. Joe thought they must be from the restaurant. "Let's split up," he said to Debbie. "I'll meet you later at the old stone bridge."

Isobel went with them to meet Debbie, but there was no sign of her at the stone bridge over a stream. She had met a man in a department store, and he was covered in clothes too. This common ground provided the perfect way to start a conversation. His name was Kevin. He said he woke up in the morning wearing all these clothes, and he was afraid to remove them. There were pieces of string hanging from his clothes. "Sweets fell out when I pulled that one," he said, "and the one near my shoulder opened a box, and a white mouse came out, but I stopped pulling them when this one made a bin explode."

While Isobel, Joe and Paul waited at the bridge in the early evening, Debbie and Kevin were on the dance floor of a ballroom. There were very few people there, and the others were all over fifty. Debbie and Kevin couldn't get close to each other because of all the clothes. They just leaned against each other and slowly moved from side to side to a slow waltz.

She remembered the meeting at the bridge, and they both went there. Isobel, Joe and Paul had to leave the bridge when they saw the two men again. They ran away through the fields, and they managed to lose the two men, but they got lost themselves too. They asked a scarecrow for directions, but he didn't seem to know where he was.

Isobel said to Joe, "I think you should hide the rest of the sugar on the scarecrow."

"That's a great idea."

"I'm sorry for the inconvenience," Isobel said, "but I'm afraid I won't be able to use my head from now on."

Joe started putting the sugar inside the scarecrow's coat, but the scarecrow objected. "I really must object to this. This is most unwelcome. Most, most unwelcome, and I really must object."

"Yeah well there's not a whole lot you can do about it," Joe said.

After hidding the sugar they walked back the way they came, and they saw the two men again. This time they didn't run away.

When they met, one of the men said to Joe, "You seem to be running away every time we see you."

"I'm not running away now."

"Where's the glasses case?"

Joe was going to say, "It's not hidden on the scarecrow," because he thought they were going to ask about the sugar, but he was intrigued when they mentioned the glasses case. He was going to say, "It's hidden on the scarecrow," just to get rid of them, but he thought they'd think he was just trying to get rid of them, so he said, "It's not hidden on the scarecrow."

"Right. We're going to look in the scarecrow."

Isobel, Joe and Paul met Debbie and Kevin at the bridge. Joe wanted to find out about the glasses case. Isobel was the smartest person he knew but she couldn't use her head then.

If she'd listened to her aunt earlier she would have known that the glasses case was stolen from Joyce's friend, Kathleen. There's a small lock on the case. Kathleen kept a valuable antique watch in it. She thought that no one would think to look in a glasses case, but the lock gave the game away.

Joe decided to ask the second smartest person he knew: Poirot. He eats ice cream and spends his days spinning around. He spends most of the time spinning very slowly, so he won't get dizzy. This is what he was doing when they arrived, and they weren't sure if he was listening to them. He looked bewildered every time he came around to face them.

"We could ask Sherlock Holmes," Paul said. "He jumps up and down and does a trick with balloons."

When the two men searched the scarecrow, they found the sugar and they thought that Joe was smarter than they gave him credit for. The scarecrow was full of anti-Joe sentiment. "I objected most emphatically, but he completely ignored my feelings. And he doesn't like either of you. He said you smelled of ugly rabbits."

Sherlock Holmes was washing his dog, who was proving to be a bit of a handful, so Holmes was unable to jump up and down or do anything with a balloon, not that that would have been of much help anyway.

They went back to the fields, where they met the two men again. One of them said, "You picked the wrong time not to run away. Give me the glasses case."

"I never even heard about the glasses case until you mentioned it."

"Then why did you send us to the scarecrow?"

"Because I wanted to find out about the glasses case, but I failed. I just stole some sugar."

This made sense to the two men.

Isobel looked up at the sky, and they all looked up too because that was all that was left to do. Debbie couldn't resist pulling a string that hung from Kevin's coat. She'd been looking at it for over half an hour. She pulled it and the glasses case fell out. No one else noticed. She was about to tip-toe away with it, but she couldn't resist pulling another string, and this one made a phone ring somewhere in Kevin's coat. Everyone looked at Debbie.

One of the two men took the glasses case from her, but they needed the key because they were afraid they'd damage the watch if they forced the lock. They wondered which string they'd need to pull to find the key. They were worried that something else would explode. They decided to wait until Isobel could use her head again, and they looked up at the sky in the meantime.

When all the stars were out above, Isobel was ready to use her head again, and she knew exactly which string to pull. "Pull the one by his left elbow," she said. Debbie pulled it, and when nothing happened, Isobel said, "We just have to wait."

They waited for ten minutes until Kathleen arrived with the police. The two men ran away. "Did you know that that string would do that?" Debbie said to Isobel.

"I have to lie down now," Isobel said.

The moose's head over the fireplace can distinguish between the sound a glass clinking off a whiskey bottle and off a wine bottle. His eyes light up when he hears the whiskey. Not that he can drink it any more, but he seems to like the sound of it, and he loves looking at it too. I find it difficult to imagine a situation where he could have developed an appreciation of the taste of whiskey, even when he had a body. But he seems to have developed an appreciation of chamber music somewhere in his life, so anything is possible.