I came home straight from work one evening, which in itself was an unusually rare occurrence as I had a constipated car, it couldn’t pass a pub. But in this case my mother was in England visiting my sister for a few days and I was to relieve the ould lad for a couple of hours in the shop.
When I walked in he had the face of someone who had just committed murder and the Guards were on their way with irrefutable evidence ready to cart him off.
“What’s up Da, takings down?” says I
“Feck off we have a problem” says he
FFS the royal ‘we’ again.
“You know the porcelain dolphin in the kitchen” says he, “The Poole Pottery gift to Ma when she left and the most prized possession she has ever owned, the one that if anything happened to it she would tear the offender’s head off and.....”
“Shut the feck up” says he interrupting me
“You didn’t?” says I
“You did, OMG is your passport up to date” says I
“You’re not helping” says he
“Oh I think I am” says I
“We’ll replace it” says he
“What’s with the ‘we’ public enemy number 1, and besides it was a limited edition and would be damn near impossible to replace, is it repairable?” says I
The face said it all.
“What the feck did you do to it” says I
“Well I knocked the shelf” he started
“The one Ma wanted you to fix” I interrupted
“and I went to catch it and it bounced off my foot and across the room and hit the wall” he continued
“Ah the old catch it with the hobnail boot trick” says I
“You’re not helping” he said
FFS this was terminal, at least it wasn’t me and no way was I taking the fall for the ould lad. My Mother’s wrath would be awesome to behold, as long as you weren’t on the receiving end. I did really feel sorry for him because this was more serious than if he had run off with a scarlet woman.
“Let’s see it” says I
He reached under the counter and produced a bag that jingled as he lifted it.
“Don’t bother, I can see it’s fecked” says I
“What are we going to do” says he
“Less of the ‘we’ death row man” says I
“Ger” he pleaded
Well the dilemma was insurmountable, the dolphin was fecked, it was a limited edition and the chance of getting a replacement was about as likely as the ould lad being invited to the Guard’s Christmas Party.
“Just tell her the truth” says I
“You are joking” says he “We would be killed”
FFS the royal “we” again
“You could check to see if they are still doing those £10 emigration packages to Australia” Says I
“You’re not helping” says he
“We could say that an antique collector saw it and gave us a price we couldn’t refuse” says he
“Less of the ‘we’ Da, and anyway how could it be seen unless you had it out on display in the shop with a price tag on it FFS” says I
“Feck” says he and we lapsed into silence.
“We could say we were burgled and the thieves took a few things and the bloody dolphin was one of them” says he
I was about to give a cutting remark until I realised, that as plans go, this might be the lesser of all the evils.
“Go on oh devious one” says I
“Well we could break the back door window, get rid of a few other bits in the kitchen, say we disturbed them and we are away Scott free” says he smugly
“You mean cause damage to the house, lose some more bits of value, lie through our teeth to Mam and be damned for all time” says I
“Yes, good isn’t it” says he brightening up.
“Stop using the fecking ‘we’ word and anyway, as plans go it is probably the worst since the time you said that knocking the shed next to Healy’s would cause no damage” says I
“You got a better idea” says he
“Yep, you tell the truth, take your punishment and I get loads of credit by tut tutting as she tears your head off” says I
“You’re not helping” says he
His mind was made up. He locked the shop and went into the kitchen and got a hammer and went to smash the back door glass.
“Breaking from the outside would be a better idea” says I
“Good boy” says he
“You’re really going through with this aren’t you” says I
“Yes and so are you” says he
Well as he had a hammer in his hand and a mad glint in his eye I had no option did I? He did the deed, gathered up a couple of ornaments and put them in a bin bag along with the remnants of the dolphin.
“What about the travel clock” says I
“That was my going away present from the site in England” says he
“Well, do you not think that it would lend credence to your cunning plan if that was also nicked” says I
“You’re right” says he
The clock went the way of the others.
“Now get rid of the bag” he says to me
OK I knew where it was going and before I headed off turned to the ould lad.
“I am off to the pub and you had better ring Mam first thing in the morning tomorrow and tell her about the burglary, adding that you will move heaven and earth to replace it, following that ring the Guards” says I
“Feck, I hadn’t thought about that, you really are a devious sod” says he
“I had a good teacher” says I
I disposed of the evidence and resigned myself to having to withhold the truth from my mother. I couldn’t bring myself to think it was lying.
The deed was done the scheme up and running and seemed to be relatively fool proof.
I awoke the next morning in bad need of a lucozade and wandered into the kitchen. Well as crime scenes go it was a farce. The ould lad was setting himself up for an academy award with his “how could they do this to me” face. Sergeant Nolan was doing his Poirot impression and was failing miserably. It was all I could do not to fall about the place laughing.
The Guard’s left and the ould lad reverted to type.
“Feckers wouldn’t find clues if they tripped over them”
“Did he say he thought it was an inside job” says I
“Feck off” was the time honoured response.
“Did you talk to Ma” says I
The ould lad brightened up significantly and said that he had and that she was all concern about us and couldn’t wait until she was home. She was due back on the Tuesday and I was supposed to pick her up from Shannon airport. Now that was going to be a problem because I didn’t fancy spending 40 minutes in a car being quizzed by my Mother.
“Da can’t make the airport on Tuesday I have to work late” says I
“You little Shite, you just don’t want to be the first under questioning” says he
“No honest, and anyway my conscience is clear” says I
“Fecker, I’ll get someone to pick her up then” says he
“Not going yourself then?” says I
“Feck off” says he
Tuesday arrived and I decided that even though I didn’t have to I was going to work late and let the dust settle at home. I arrived home just as the ould lad was locking up the shop with the widest smile on his face. I wondered through to the kitchen and there was no sign of my Mother. The ould lad came in and whispered.
“She’s gone to bed, she was tired after the trip” says he
“And?” says I
“Oh she is fine about it” says he
I had a bad feeling about this and decided the less time I spent alone in the company of my Mother, over the next couple of days, the better.
The next day I woke up to some loud voices in the kitchen. The Mother was letting rip.
“You evil ******, what were you ****** thinking, You *******” she screamed
“Now Brigid, look at it from my point of view” says the ould lad
“Your ******** point of view, Yours, you break my prize pottery, then you dream up a ******* scam to cover your sorry ******* ass” she continued
I decided that entering the kitchen at this stage would be hazardous to my health and was about to sneak out the front door when I heard a funny sound. It was like a hollow clang of a bell being hit by a large piece of rubber. I assumed that some large object had connected with the ould lad’s head.
“Brigid please let me explain” I heard the ould lad plead
“EXPLAIN THIS” she cried as another “thunk” sounded in the kitchen. The door from the kitchen flew open and the ould lad closed it behind him and held on as numerous objects thudded against the other side.
Amidst incoherent ranting form the other side and breaking noises (one that sounded suspiciously like a window shattering) the ould lad hung on for dear life to the door.
“How did she find out” says I
“Well you know the bag with the pieces in” says he
“Aye” says I as another foreign object hit the door
“I picked up the wrong fecking bag when you were leaving and I put the bag of change into the bin bag instead of the broken pottery. Your mother went to get change this morning for the till and all hell broke loose” says he
“Looks like it” says I
“What are we going to do” says he
“I don’t know about you, but I’m off” says I
“Ger, you can’t” says he
“Watch me” says I, as I literally ran out of the door hearing a particularly loud rending crash from the kitchen.
I felt a wee bit bad after a while, after all I was party to the deception. I rang work from the phone box and took a day’s holiday and went back to face the music.
The kitchen was a sight, there wasn’t an intact plate in the place, the back window was broken and the cooker was at an angle. The door to the hall was pitted with holes where numerous sharp objects had hit it and my Mother was at the table drinking a cup of tea from what looked like the only cup in one piece.
“Did you know about this” says she
“Yes” whispered I
“And you went along with it” says she
“Not much choice” says I
“I wouldn’t have minded if he told the truth” says she
“Where is he?” says I
“Off to Limerick to get a complete new set of crockery and a new cooker. While he is there he is also going to get me all the things I have been asking for lately” says she
For the ould lad having to spend all that money was worse than a bad beating.
“I am going to milk this for days to come” says she “I will now have all the things I have wanted that he would always have an excuse not to get. Not anymore. and do you know what?” “What?” says I
“I never liked that fecking dolphin anyway”