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

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Buy a Greyhound

It's time to get out the winter clothes again. One of our neighbours decided to make his own clothes this year, just to save money. He's free to make the clothes he can never find in the shops. He believes that the pockets in trousers should be big enough to fit boxing gloves into. He looks strange when the boxing gloves are in his pockets. Most people assume it's a medical condition.

My cousin Hector made a long list of New Year's resolutions one year. The third one on the list was this: do something about the magnetic bees. He'd forgotten about this by the time he started writing the fifty-third resolution, which was: Give the magnetic bees another chance.

When he was reading through the list in November he couldn't remember what 'something' he had in mind for the magnetic bees, but he was fairly sure it wasn't giving them another chance. He used this contradiction as an excuse to abandon the list. The list was inherently flawed, he told himself. He'd just have to wait until the end of December to come up with a new set of resolutions.

But he felt bad about abandoning the list because he abandoned his resolutions every year. He always made too many aims and he never achieved any of them. So he decided to randomly choose one resolution from the list and do his utmost to achieve it. He closed his eyes and used a pen to point out the resolution he'd work on. This is how he chose number forty-one: Buy a greyhound.

He couldn't remember writing this one. It must have been one of those ideas he came up with after a night in the pub. It would seem like a great idea at the time. He'd wonder why he'd never thought of this great idea before, and very often he'd never think of it again.

When he was in the pub later that evening he told his friends, Steve and Sean, about his resolution. Sean said he had always wanted to buy a greyhound. A friend of his breeds them. Steve was interested in greyhounds as well, and the three of them agreed to join together to buy a dog.

The greyhound they bought was called 'Jimbelsterry'. He was quick, but he wasn't very well-behaved. He'd run like lightning to an open door if he thought he could get inside and ruin new furniture. They hired a trainer, but they didn't like the way he kept scratching himself, so they fired him. He didn't like the way Steve said 'You're fired', and he used his scratching finger to express his feelings in a gesture, but it didn't have the desired effect because Steve found it less offensive than the scratching.

They considered training the dog themselves, but they didn't know where to start. As they were considering the problem in the pub, the bar man told them about his aunt Evelyn, who can communicate telepathically with dogs.

They took the dog to see her. She spent an hour looking into his eyes, and after this his behaviour was greatly improved.

They were very confident going into his first race, but on the morning of the race he was lifeless, and he didn't show much interest in his food. He looked depressed. They took him to see Evelyn, but she was depressed as well. They realised that her telepathic relationship with the dog was stronger than they had thought. The dog was depressed because she was depressed.

When they asked her what was wrong she told them about how herself and her friend, Agnes, had written and directed a sketch for a variety show in the village hall that evening. But the organiser of the show, Mrs. Thrombelays, had decided to axe the sketch at the last minute. She said they needed more time for the school kids' song and dance routine. According to Evelyn, they only needed more time because they were moving so slowly.

Hector, Steve and Sean knew that they had to get the sketch reinstated to restore the spirits of Evelyn and of Jimbelsterry. If they failed, their dog wouldn't stand a chance in the race that evening. So they went to see Mrs. Thrombelays and they asked her if she'd consider putting it back. "Absolutely not," she said. "I'm delighted to be rid of the thing. It's set in a knitting club. All of the jokes are about knitting, and only people who are into knitting would get them."

If Mrs. Thrombelays wouldn't willingly reinstate the sketch they needed some other way to twist her arm. They could try paying her, but they were hoping to find a cheaper way of doing it. Sean suggested getting dirt on her.

"What exactly do you mean by dirt?" Hector said.

"Some stain on her supposedly blemish-free reputation. A stain she's tried to cover."

"Where would you find something like that?"

"Her bin would be the best place to start. Where better to find dirt?"

She'd be busy at the village hall all day, so they had a chance to look in her bin without being noticed. The bin was behind the shed behind her house. They got into her garden over a wall at the back. Hector opened the bin and they looked into it. They were very surprised by what they found there. "This is even tidier than your house," Steve said to Sean. "Some of the rubbish is folded."

"There isn't much likelihood of finding any sort of dirt in here," Hector said.

A man looked over the hedge. He was a neighbour of Mrs. Thrombelays. "I couldn't help overhearing a mention of dirt," he said.

"Yes," Hector said. "That's what we're looking for. But not the sort of dirt you'd normally find in a bin. You wouldn't even find that sort of dirt in this bin."

"I think I might be able to help ye out. When I was playing soccer in the back garden with my nephews one evening the ball went into Mrs. Thrombelays' garden. I went through a gap in the hedge to get it back. While I was in there I couldn't help noticing something strange going on in her house. She was performing a puppet show. 'That's strange,' I said to myself. I moved a bit closer to the window to get a closer look, and the closer I got the stranger it seemed, until it wasn't strange any more. It was something else. The puppets weren't wearing any clothes. If this show had been filmed, you'd have to be over eighteen to see it. Is that the sort of dirt ye're looking for?"

"I think that should do the job," Hector said.

They went to see Mrs. Thrombelays and they told her their idea for a puppet show. They wanted her to include it in the variety show. She could drop the kids' song and dance routine to make room for the puppets. The kids would have to be dropped because they'd be too young to see the puppets. Mrs. Thrombelays said she didn't think that would be a very good idea. They said that they might have to put on the show outside the hall instead, unless she agreed to reinstate the comedy sketch. If she had developed a telepathic connection with a dog, that dog would have been hiding in its kennel at that time.

Evelyn was delighted when she heard that Mrs. Thrombelays had changed her mind about the sketch, and the dog seemed as happy as he had ever been. He won his first race that evening. He seemed very excited after he crossed the finishing line. This was partly due to the fact that at the same time, the people in the audience at the village hall were giving a standing ovation to the sketch written by Evelyn and Agnes.

The dog won his next three races, but they sold him because they were spending too much time making sure that Evelyn was happy on the day of the race. Blackmailing people lost its appeal after the novelty wore off, and not all bins were as pleasant as Mrs. Thrombelays'. They preferred spending time doing nothing, and with the profit they made from the sale of the dog they had plenty money to spend on this activity, or lack of activity.

The moose's head over the fireplace is reading the travel book written by my grandfather. It describes his journey all around Europe. I was surprised to find that he'd ever left the locality. In the book he wrote about the strong men in Norway who'd squeeze glue out of a whale before throwing the whale back into the sea. Of course, there's no guarantee that he was ever actually in Norway. He spent a lot of time in the shed, gluing spoons together.