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

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Take Note

Some people stand in fields and sigh. I walk around the garden and point. It's becoming a hobby of mine. When I was just a beginner I used to point at the shed, but I've moved on to more advanced things. Yesterday I pointed at where the dog buried the garden gnome, whose feet are above ground, sticking up in the air.

My cousin Albert spent a lot of time with two friends of his, Michelle and George. He'd have preferred to spend time with Michelle, but she seemed to prefer George. Michelle and George kept taking note of things together, and Albert always felt left out.

Little mice ran around in circles. They took note of this. For them, taking noting of things involved suddenly crouching on the ground and saying 'shh'. If they were on a soft carpet they'd stay on the ground, but they never stayed long on the cold ground outside. They loved taking note of the mice on the rug in front of the fire. They were unable to take note of things when they were already on the ground because there was nowhere else to crouch, and it allowed them to devote all their attention to each other.

The three of them were in a field by the lake one Saturday afternoon. They saw a man with a long nose, a grey shirt and a pigeon on his shoulder.

Michelle and George both crouched in the long grass and said 'shh'. Michelle whispered to George, "I think we should take note of his grey shirt."

They seemed quite happy on the grass. Albert left them and went home. He felt that this day was dark grey and heading for black. He sat at his kitchen table. He felt like painting a white line right across the day, and then another one if he felt like it. It'd be a way of saying 'up yours' to the day. He tried to think of how he'd do this in practise, and the only idea he could come up with was painting a white line across the side of his shed, which was blue. So he did it. And then he painted another one. His shed looked stupid with two white lines on one side of it, so he painted the whole thing. He ended up with a white shed and the day was blacker than ever because he preferred his shed when it was blue. The only idea he could come up with to rectify the problem was to paint his shed black, but he didn't have any black paint. He went inside when it started to rain.

Lucy was in a park. She stood in the rain with her hood up, waiting for someone to address the small crowd who had gathered there. The speaker was supposed to talk about squirrels. She hoped it would be someone with a big moustache, so he'd seem more unreal. The bigger the moustache, the better. And if he's wearing a top hat, that'd be even better again. From there she could easily imagine people chasing a pig, and convince herself that this was much more exciting than it actually was.

She had discovered an affinity for unreal things. Real things were normally so much more disappointing, especially when they involved standing in the rain and listening to someone talk about squirrels. When the speaker finally made it to the small platform, he was wearing a rain coat, and he looked no different to the rest of them. There was no moustache, and no way of inferring a pig chase. There wasn't even a squirrel.

She called to see Albert on her way home. The rain stopped and the sun came out. She looked in awe at the shed through the kitchen window. The rain had washed some of the white paint away. The shed was a luminous light-blue, glowing in the sun.

She asked what happened and he said, "There was a man with a pigeon on his shoulder. His shirt was grey. And then I came home and I painted the shed. I wanted to paint it black, but this is what the rain did."

It was magical to her. It seemed more unreal than anything involving a pig, but this really was real. "It feels like snow on Christmas Eve," she said.

On the following day she came around in her white rain coat. She had a colour chart to choose the colour of rain she'd like to go with her white coat. She'd chosen a light blue.

He said, "That's the shade of blue I want to paint my shed."

"We have so much in common."

He realised that he was much better off spending time with Lucy than with Michelle. They went to the cinema and walked in the park. She made up a story about a sleeping pig instead of telling him about the speech in the rain.

When Michelle and George came to see the shed they went out into the back garden. George crouched and said 'shh' to take note of it, but Michelle just stood there, staring at it with her mouth slightly open. It took a few minutes before she was able to speak, and when she did she only asked Albert questions about the shed. George said, "I think there's something we should take note of in the car." But she ignored him.

She kept spending time with Albert after this, and she stopped taking note of things with George. He did something to his own shed, but it didn't work.

Albert wanted to get rid of her because he preferred the company of Lucy. He thought that the only way of accomplishing this was to get Michelle to take note of something with George, preferrably on a soft surface that would encourage them to stay there.

George and Lucy were both very keen on this idea. Lucy suggested that the surface should be a picnic rug by the lake. A picnic could keep them there all afternoon. A pig chase would be something that Michelle would want to take note of, but the pig would be too unpredictable. He might head straight for the picnic.

But Lucy came up with a better idea. She knew a man who was very thin, and people started calling him Stick. Then they started calling him 'Stick of the Antarctic' when he wore a heavy coat. He liked this name, and he grew into the role of an Antarctic explorer. He wore fur-lined clothes and dark glasses. Stick decided to form a band, because he already had the look. He was the lead singer, and his backing band wore dark suits and top hats. They were known as 'Stick of the Antarctic and his Financial Backers'.

Lucy's plan was to take Michelle to the picnic by the lake, and then Stick would run by, chased by the Financial Backers, who'd be demanding their money back. She'd take note of this by crouching on the picnic rug, and George would do likewise.

They never made it to the picnic rug. They were just inside the field when Michelle crouched on the ground and said 'shh'. George followed her down and whispered, "What is it?"

"It's a mouse. He's running in circles."

Albert and Lucy left them alone to take note of the mouse. They went to the rug and had the picnic themselves. They didn't bother telling Stick and his band that there was no need for the chase, and they spent a pleasant afternoon taking note of the Financial Backers chase Stick around the lake.

The moose's head over the fireplace isn't entirely happy with his new look, and I can't say I blame him. The wife's aunt is painting his portrait and she decided he should wear a beret, but rather than placing it on his head, she hung it off one of his antlers. You can see in his eyes that he's not happy with this, and it's very disconcerting to see what's effectively a discontented hat stand.