'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Yogi Wormplodder

The garden gnomes could have sailed around the garden in their boat during the heavy rain. The boat must have capsized in the fish pond because they were wearing their life jackets.

My cousin Craig used to live in an apartment with some friends of his from college. He spent a lot of time with Beverly, who lived across the hall. They often went to a cafe in the evening, or they'd go for a walk in the park. One evening they went to see Bruce, who lived downstairs. He had a sense of his presence in the world. This sense wasn't constant. Sometimes he'd feel as if it had been erased. He wrote about himself to fill himself in again. He wrote about a spider too, but the spider wanted him to erase most of what he'd written. This spider felt that the text didn't match its self-perception. Bruce refused to accede to the spider's demand. One morning when Bruce woke up he found that the spider had covered his favourite spoon in a web. He was horrified. Craig and Beverly tried to convince him to erase what he'd written about the spider, but he refused to give in. He said, "I'd sooner erase what I've written about the two of ye."

"You've written about us?" Craig said.

He let them read what he'd written. Beverly read it out loud. In the first extract he wrote about her pretending to be a nun and Craig was posing as a wealthy businessman. They were in a crowded ballroom in an old hotel. Bruce's writings conflicted with their self-perceptions, but they both believed that the fictional versions were clear improvements.

They decided to try wearing these disguises. She bought a nun costume on the following day and he bought a fake beard. He wore it with his suit. That evening they went out for a walk in their disguises. The world seemed very different then. They started to notice all the other people in disguise. Some were disguised as priests and nuns. Priests and nuns were disguised as marathon runners.

One of their friends recognised them straightaway, but they didn't recognise him. It was Fergus, and he had shaved his beard. Just after he got rid of it he smiled at the beardless man in the mirror. But then he felt sad that his facial forest was gone. He remembered the good old days with his beard. They had been through many adventures together.

He went out for a walk, hoping to come across another adventure, but things seemed different without his beard, as if his life had entered a lull, or as if he'd lost a companion who was like a magnet for trouble. He never realised how much he liked trouble until then. He needed to get another beard as soon as possible, but it would take months to grow one as thick has the one he just shaved off. When he saw Craig with the fake beard he offered to buy it. Craig was reluctant to sell because he was having so much fun with the beard, but Fergus offered him a hundred euros for it, so he agreed. Fergus walked away with a smile on his face, but you couldn't see that because of the beard.

Craig and Beverly walked to the suburbs, where they saw a herd of wild pantomime horses running down the street. When the horses stopped to drink water from a puddle, Craig and Beverly went to have a closer look at them. They realised that there were real horses inside most of the costumes. One costume was occupied by two men. The man at the front told Craig and Beverly that they were a horse called Yogi Wormplodder. Yogi was running with the herd for safety. He used to have a jockey, but they had an argument and the jockey left to find another horse. Yogi would love to be re-united with the jockey, but he was probably at the races in the park, and Yogi couldn't go there on his own because he wouldn't feel safe. Craig and Beverly agreed to take Yogi to the park.

They had never noticed the races in the park before. There were over forty pantomime horses and each one had a jockey. All of the spectators were wearing disguises. A race was just about to begin. Yogi told them that their jockey was on a horse with the number three on its side. Craig went to a bookie and put the hundred euros on number three.

When the race began, number three went into an early lead, but the jockey seemed to be trying his best to slow the horse down. He swore at the horse and started kicking it, but it wouldn't slow down. It won the race by four lengths.

As Craig was collecting his winnings he noticed that the jockey had dismounted and was running away. Two men disguised as gangsters ran after him. Beverly, Craig and Yogi followed the gangsters.

The jockey ran from the park and tried to make his getaway down narrow city streets. When Beverly, Craig and Yogi turned a corner they saw the two gangsters at the other end of the street, and they did their best to catch up. As they were running past a bin they heard a man say, "I'm in here."

They waited until the gangsters turned the corner before opening the bin. They found the jockey inside. "You can't hide in bins forever," Beverly said.

"Why not?"

"Because eventually you'll wake up in a rubbish dump. Do you want to wake up in a rubbish dump?"


"Well then you can't hide in bins forever. You can't hide from those two men forever."

"I can't face them either. They told me to lose the race or else. They didn't say what they meant by 'or else', but judging from the way they said it, I wouldn't enjoy it. I did my best to lose the race but that bloody horse didn't care about what happened to me. I'll never leave Yogi again."

"That's a very good idea," Craig said. "You need to become an integral part of Yogi. I was thinking of the rear end."

"There isn't enough room," they heard Yogi's rear end say.

"What I had in mind was that ye'd switch places. The jockey would become the rear end and the rear end would become the jockey."

The jockey looked shocked at the idea and they could tell that Yogi's posterior was shocked just by looking at the tail.

"It's the only way," Beverly said. "They'd start looking in the bins before they'd even think about looking in the rear ends of horses."

"I suppose we don't have any choice," the jockey said, and Yogi agreed.

They insisted that Beverly and Craig turn around while they made the switch. Within a minute the jockey was in the horse and the rear end was sitting on Yogi's back, wearing the jockey's uniform. The rear end was a man with a long brown beard.

A few minutes later the gangsters came back down the street. They walked past Yogi and the jockey without so much as a glance, but they looked in the bin. The horse's tail spun around after they'd gone.

The moose's head over the fireplace has been listening to a song called 'Warm Swans' a lot over the past few days. The wife's uncle wrote it. It's part of a musical he wrote for an Amateur Dramatics Society. The show has been surprisingly successful. It's set in a hospital that has red velvet walls and swans who patrol the corridors to make sure the patients don't escape. He says it's based on personal experience.