'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Nose Spitters

The hedges need trimming, but I can't find the hedge clippers. I hope it hasn't been stolen. These things were always being stolen from the garden during my grandfather's days. A dancing thief would often pass through the garden on summer nights. He'd try to open the shed, and if he couldn't he'd just dance away again. If any garden tools were left out, he'd take them. My grandfather would deliberately leave things out for him. He'd invite some friends around and they'd watch the dancing thief from an upstairs window.

My cousin Gary once turned down the opportunity to join a band called The Nose Spitters because he didn't have any talent. He still had more talent than the people who did join the band. His friend Martin became the lead singer. At first they sounded as if they were trying to play while rolling down a hill, but they improved as time went by. After a few months they started playing gigs, and they built up a fan base. They even found themselves a manager, a man who called himself Peach.

This was the beginning of the end for Martin. Their new manager didn't like him. Peach was in love with a woman called Jackie, so he fired Martin and hired Jackie as the new lead singer.

Martin was furious. "He's an idiot," he said to Gary. "He told me I didn't have the charisma to be a lead singer. He doesn't understand our fan base. He thinks it's uncharismatic to take your shoes off and use them to hit your head, but the audience loved that. He wouldn't recognise one of our fans if they took their shoes off and hit his head. This new singer is completely inappropriate. She's a woman. None of our fans want a woman."

"I'd have said every single one of them wants a woman but they can't get one."

"They don't want a woman singing songs they can mosh to. It's a total sell-out. He hired her purely because of her looks. He's only interested in the band's media profile and he doesn't give a damn about the real fans. She wouldn't recognise one of the real fans either. She'd have trouble recognising anyone. She's fine when she's singing, but the rest of the time her head isn't really there at all. I've heard that she once spent four hours laughing at her own reflection in a pond. I don't know if it's drugs or if she's always been that way."

"What are you going to do about it?"

"What can I do?"

"You'll be complaining about it for years unless you actually do something. Remember the time that woman told you to stop swearing in the supermarket? You only stopped complaining about her when you put a pig's head in her roses."

"They're shooting a music video next week. Maybe we could sabotage that."

Martin got all of the details about the video from Jeff, the drummer in the band. They'd be shooting it near the ruins of a castle, and they only had one day to complete it. Peach hired a woman to keep an eye on Jackie, to make sure she didn't wander off.

Gary and Martin came up with a plan to make sure she did wander off. They distracted the woman who was looking after Jackie by getting an ice cream van to park near the castle. Gary knew the driver of the van, who used to travel around the country with his brother. Whenever they stopped they started fighting, which was a great way to attract customers.

It was also a great way to distract people. While Jackie's minder was watching the van shake from side to side as the brothers fought, Gary and Martin led Jackie away with a plastic butterfly on the end of a fishing line. She never took her eyes off the butterfly as she walked away over a hill. When they were well out of sight of the castle Martin coughed to attract her attention. She noticed him for the first time. She smiled and said, "Hi Martin."

"Yeah. This is all part of the video shoot. We have to hide from the rest of the band. They'll find us eventually. In a few hours."

"Are you still in the band?"

"I am. And so is Gary here. You probably haven't noticed him before because he's been playing bass."

"No, I'm fairly sure I have noticed him before."

When the director of the video realised that Jackie had gone missing he suspected that she'd been led away while they'd been distracted by the ice cream van. It was an unlikely place for an ice cream van to park. They had to get her back soon if they were going to get the video finished.

Frank, the guitarist, hadn't said a word all day. In fact, he hadn't said much for nearly a week. He'd been watching a documentary about sharks with his girlfriend one evening. He said, "I'd love to punch that shark in the eye."

His girlfriend said, "I've been meaning to talk to you about this. I think you should try to control your anger. You'll be so much happier if you think nice thoughts instead of nasty ones, like punching sharks. Don't say anything if it's inspired by hate of anger."

Frank didn't say anything at all. He tried his best to think nice thoughts, but these only made him more angry. He was able to suppress his rage until he realised that someone was trying to sabotage the video. He'd be perfectly justified in getting revenge. If the shark had bitten his leg off he'd be perfectly entitled to punch it in the eye.

He found an iron bar he could use as a weapon and he set off in pursuit of the kidnappers. The rest of the band and the film crew followed.

Gary, Martin and Jackie came to a lake. They met a man who was looking out over the water. Gary asked him if he knew of any good places to hide and he said, "I used to be known as Moby Dick because of a sea captain who was trying to kill me. He thought I was having an affair with his wife. I had to look for a lot of hiding places when he was trying to catch me, but I found that the best way to hide was to wear a disguise. I have a vast selection of disguises ye could use."

He lived in a cottage nearby. He took them there to show them his disguises. "I recommend wearing fishing outfits," he said. "It's the perfect disguise at the lake."

He gave them fishing hats and jackets. He had a boat on the lake. They all went out on that and they did their best to pretend they were fishing. When Gary asked him if he often used the boat he said, "Almost every day. Fishing is a good excuse to sit on a boat in a lake for hours. I rarely catch anything. The last fish I caught was eaten by a mouse."

"I used to be a fish," Jackie said. "In one of my past lives. I went to see a woman who told me that, and she said that in another one of my past lives I was a time traveller who came from the future. That made so much sense to me. Because sometimes when things happen I think, 'I knew that was going to happen.' Like when Martin told me to hide."

"What's going to happen next?" Martin said.

"Ahm... I think it's sort of like... we sit in the boat for a bit."

Frank was asking people if they'd seen a woman dressed in white. A man told them he'd seen a woman in white on the banks of the lake, but when they got there she was nowhere to be seen. All they saw was some people fishing on a boat. They were just about to leave when they heard Jackie sing a song that a robot from the future had sung to her in a dream. The sound was coming from the boat on the lake.

There were two boats moored to a wooden pier. The band got into one of them and the film crew got into the other. Frank started rowing furiously towards Jackie and her kidnappers.

Gary and Martin started to row, but Martin was more desperate to get away than Gary and they ended up going around in circles. Frank and the rest of the band caught up with them. "Hi Frank," Jackie said.

Frank said hello and then he reached out to catch the side of the boat, but he missed and he fell into the water. "Bye Frank," Jackie said.

The rest of the band tried to pull Frank back onboard, but the boat turned over as they leaned over the side. Martin and Gary started rowing towards dry land, and they were able to get away this time.

When Peach saw the video he fired everyone in the band apart from Jackie and he hired Gary, Martin and the man known as Moby Dick. It looked as if they were Jackie's band, and he only cared about her. But they split up a few weeks later when Jackie wandered into another band called 'Dave and the Bully Ants'. She became the new Dave.

Frank and the other former members of The Nose Spitters formed a band of their own. They used footage of their boat trip to make a video for a song about punching a shark. The video showed Frank punching the up-turned boat. The song became a surprise hit.

The moose's head over the fireplace used to be a Shakespearean actor in a past life, if you believe the wife's aunt. She says she can tell these things by looking deep into people's eyes. She looked into my eyes and it didn't take her long to see that I used to be sawdust. I doubt this very much, although it would explain why I talk to trees.