'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Friday, May 11, 2007

The Teddy Bear and the Fascist

I've been looking at the leaves in the wind and thinking about monks. The monks in my thoughts have just been staring back at me. I suppose I could make them do more than that, seeing as they're in my thoughts, but they feel like guests. It'd be rude to make them dance or to tell them when they've out-stayed their welcome. So they could be there for a while. I suppose I should offer them a drink, and it'd be rude not to have one myself as well.

My cousin Albert nearly made a fortune in the art market with his friends, George and Neil. The artist was Neil. He once tried to draw a cartoon, but it didn't come out right. It was meant to be a teddy bear kicking a fascist on the shins, but if you didn't know that, all you could glean from the drawing was that Neil hasn't been too well lately.

He drew a speech bubble coming from the teddy bear's mouth. It said 'I'm kicking you on the shins'. He wrote 'teddy bear' over the teddy bear, and 'fascist' over the fascist. Then he added a speech bubble for the fascist. It said 'I already know that'. Laura, a friend of his, saw the cartoon and said, "Is there something you want to talk about?"

He drew a red X over the cartoon. She thought this was his way of holding up a thought bubble with the words 'yes, I want to talk about something, but I can't put it into words'.

She showed the drawing to her friend Diane, who worked in a gallery. Diane thought it was brilliant in the light of the artist's troubled mind. When she spoke to him about it he said, "I don't like fascists. I don't like teddy bears either. I was going to do one of a penguin electrocuting a teddy bear. I don't like penguins either."

He did some more cartoons and they appeared in an exhibition, along with a photo of him with a lemon in his mouth, just to put his drawings in context.

He became the latest sensation on the art scene, but Diane started to question his artistic intentions because of the dance he did every time he got paid. When he started singing as well, she said, "You're not really this 'troubled soul' they're making you out to be, are you?"

"Not as in... No."

"You just wanted to draw a teddy bear kicking a fascist."

"It was meant to be a statement against fascists, because someone called me a fascist. I'm not pro-teddy-bears. I should probably do one of an ostrich pecking a teddy bear to death just to show that I'm not pro-teddy-bears."

"Who called you a fascist?"

"Keith. He's a total bastard. He called me a fascist just because I said he's a tree hugger."

"And why did you feel a need to defend yourself by drawing a teddy bear kicking a fascist?"

"I don't know. Maybe I am troubled."

"You're not."

"No, I'm not. I didn't really think about it at all. I was just doodling while I was talking to someone on the phone."

Diane was prepared to overlook the fact that he wasn't really troubled, as long as people were willing to buy his art, and many people were willing to buy his art. The one thing they all had in common was that they could spend a fortune on art without having to mortgage any of their houses.

Neil was making a lot of money. Albert and George wondered if there was any way of cashing in on his success, and that's when they thought of Dempsey.

Dempsey once needed money and he tried to kidnap a country singer, but he kidnapped one of his neighbours by mistake. He held him in a caravan and sent a ransom note to the man's wife, but she wouldn't pay. The man himself was delighted with his week in the caravan, and he ended up paying Dempsey for the service. Many other men paid him to kidnap them so they could spend a week or two away from home.

Albert and George suggested to Neil that they could make a fortune if he was kidnapped. His rich fans would pay any ransom, no matter how big it is. Neil agreed to go along with this, so he went to the caravan and Dempsey sent a ransom note to Diane. He demanded a hundred-thousand euros.

Albert and George went to see Diane in the gallery on the following day, and they told her they were worried about Neil because they couldn't find him anywhere. She told them about the kidnapping, but she didn't sound too concerned about it. Albert asked her if she'd asked any of Neil's fans to help pay the ransom. She said, "They won't pay anything. They're delighted with this. Neil's work will be worth a fortune if he dies, especially if he dies violently. They're sitting on a goldmine."

"Weren't they already sitting on a goldmine?"

"You can't have too many goldmines."

Albert and George didn't like the way it was so easy to generate more goldmines if you already had one. It wasn't fair that those who were without a goldmine found it so difficult to acquire one.

They explained their difficulty to Neil, and they managed to get him to agree to a plan where they'd fake his death and then get him to produce more of his drawings, which they'd sell for a fortune.

But Neil's career as an artist came to an end before his fake death when people found out why he had the lemon in his mouth. A woman had told him she'd kick him in the balls if he put a lemon in his mouth. He thought he might enjoy it (partly because she was beautiful and partly because she made it sound like an offer rather than a threat), but it turned out to be as much fun as putting the lemon in his mouth.

People's perception of him completely changed. They made the same realisation that Diane made: that he wasn't really a troubled soul. He was just someone who'd drawn a teddy bear kicking a fascist.

The moose's head over the fireplace enjoyed the final of the snooker. At one stage it looked as if it was going to finish in the afternoon, and then a few hours later it looked as if it was going to go on until after three o' clock in the morning, but in the end it finished at one o' clock, after twelve hours of play. Snooker would be the perfect spectator sport for a moose's head who spends his days on the same spot over the fireplace. But he loves hurling too, another great sport played with sticks. It's one of the quickest of all sports. The general election has its moments of entertainment too, but it would be a much more enjoyable sport if it was played with sticks. Although that's the sort of sport Sinn Fein would excel at, so the sticks are probably better off decommissioned.