'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Roll the Dice

The theme of wind and rain is still prominent in this production of December. I suppose Nature has to alter the staging to keep us interested when we know where the plot is going. It's the most dramatic ending to any month, with Christmas and then New Year's Eve, and you never know if it's all going to be white. A white Christmas would be a clever twist after the wind and rain. We can always look forward to the ending even though we know that the only certainty is the hangover.

My cousin Albert was staying in a hotel once, and he often met a maid called Ruth. One day he told her she was too pretty to be working in a hotel and she said, "Yeah well I'm too thick to be a rocket scientist."

He started to fall in love with her, but he didn't know what to do about it. He tried stepping outside the door of his hotel room. At home things always started when he stepped outside the front door of his house. It was like rolling the dice. They'd come to a rest after a beautiful roll, little red plastic cubes with bright white dots drawing lines through the air before coming to their conclusion: two or four or seven or ten or whatever. Separate lines that come together at the end to make something beautiful. A four and a two is more beautiful than a two and a three, but that's not to say that three is ugly. Ruth would be two fours, which Albert believed to be more beautiful than a four and a two.

So standing outside the door was his throw of the dice and he hoped that the result would be dinner with Ruth, but he got two ones and nothing happened.

He remembered winning a TV in a competition he saw in the newspaper, so his second role of the dice was to read the paper. There was a rack full of newspapers in the hotel's lobby. He looked through one of them, but he saw no sign of a competition. He realised he needed to put more thought into this. Entering competitions wouldn't necessarily bring him any closer to Ruth anyway. He sat on a sofa in the lobby and read the paper, hoping that she'd pass by, but she didn't.

He needed to roll the dice again. Amongst the ideas he came up with were building some sort of a machine and buying her flowers. He decided to go for the latter idea first.

The numbers that came up in this roll left him standing in a boxing ring, facing an opponent who was a professional boxer, and he was much bigger than Albert too. The boxer was Ruth's boyfriend.

Albert wasn't worried at all about the fight until the ref said, "And no punching beneath the belt." Albert looked as if he'd just lost his plan.

He needed to roll the dice again. He could build a machine or run away. The latter was the only feasible option given the time constraints, but if he ran he could forget about taking Ruth out to dinner.

He was rescued by Ruth. She got into the ring with a spoon in her hand. The look in her eyes suggested she intended to use the spoon as a weapon. The boxer backed away. She chased him all around the ring. "I know about your affair with my tap dance teacher," she said.

Her friend, who was also a maid in the hotel, had told her about this. The friend was supposed to meet her boyfriend at the beach, but she was late. While he was waiting for her he saw a crab, and he couldn't help wondering what it would be like to touch a crab. He could never avoid acting on these thoughts if he was left alone for long enough, so he touched the crab and the crab bit him. A woman came over and helped remove the crab from his hand. It would only have been a matter of time before he started wondering what it would be like to touch her, but they never stopped touching while she examined his hand. They touched for longer than was necessary, and when she looked in his eyes he saw that she was thinking the same thing he was thinking. She couldn't avoid acting on those thoughts either.

They went to a quiet spot behind some rocks, and that's where he saw the boxer with the tap dance teacher. He felt guilty when he saw them. He remembered his own girlfriend. He left the woman who had helped him with the crab, but the real reason he left was that if his girlfriend found out, she could be more painful than anything guilt or a crab could do.

When he met her later she told him she was late because she missed the bus, and she missed the bus because as she was leaving the hotel she saw a newspaper on a sofa in the lobby. She put it back in the newspaper rack, and then she met a friend of hers. They started talking and she lost track of time.

The boxer was close to learning how painful his girlfriend could be with a spoon in her hand. He ran from the ring and left the building. "I never want to see you again," she shouted after him. Then she turned to Albert and smiled.

He said, "Your intervention is the luckiest thing that ever happened to him. It probably saved his life."

The look in her eyes suggested that love had erased all thoughts of hurting someone with a spoon.

The moose's head over the fireplace is looking forward to his role as Santa in the Christmas pageant. He's very believable in the role. I think it's because you'd expect the Santas in these things to look as if they'd just stumbled out of a pub, which would completely ruin the illusion, but the moose's head doesn't look like that at all. The people playing the submariners have been doing a lot of stumbling in the vicinity of various pubs. They say that's what submariners do on dry land, and they're just getting into character.