Eamon O’Leary – Taken for a Ride

Eamon O’Leary is a frequent contributor to The Galway Review. He has recently finished a collection of humorous memories from an Irish boyhood in a pre-digital age of comparative innocence.

It paints a vivid portrait of a young boy’s adventures, games, and gangs, his friends and family on his road to growing up and becoming a “Big Boy.”


Taken for a Ride


By Eamon O’Leary


“Fill us two pints when ye get a chance, Christy.”

“On the way, Mick.”

“For Jaysus sake, Tommy, Will ye stop gawking around the place and grab them two stools? I’m knackered after the Christmas.”

“Don’t talk to me about Christmas.”

“Why? What happened?”

Before Tommy got a chance to continue his tale of woe, Christy placed two pints of perfectly filled Guinness, each with a head as broad and stiff as a curate’s collar, in front of the lads.

“These two are on the house. Happy New Year, men and thanks for yer custom.”

They paid due reverence before raising their glasses like a pair of synchronised swimmers and almost demolished the contents in one gulp.

“Jaysus, I needed that.”

“Me too.”

“Go on, what were ye saying about Christmas?”

“Well,” started Tommy, “remember Christmas Eve when I met ye for a quart?”

“Yeah, I’m sure we ended up having a gallon.”

“Yeah, and when I waddled in home, my one went spare.”

“What’d she say?”

Look at the state of you, she says, you’ve to get  the toys outa the attic and put ‘em all together, and where’s the turkey? “I’d forgotten the bleedin’ bird. Remember, I asked Christy to put it in the cold room while we were guzzling pints? Well, I forgot the shaggin’ thing.”

“Did ye have to come back for it? It was pissin’ rain that night.”

“I suggested that to yer one, and she went ballistic.” Don’t you dare move, says she. I’ll walk to Cumiskey’s myself, and when I’m gone, see if you can get down the Santa stuff without breaking yer neck an’ make a start on the Wendy house. My mam is right. She says Christmas is only a time for babies and bigger babies.

“Then what?”

“Hang on a sec… ‘two more pints when you’re ready, Christy.’ Well, first, I’d to drag the kitchen table into the hall and put a chair on top to get into the attic.”

“Have ye no ladder?”

“Nah. Anyway, I got up okay and lowered down the doll’s house we’d got for my princess an’ when I reached in for the young fella’s bike, the chair slipped.”

“Jaysus, did ye fall?”

“Nah. I hung on. Like one of them orangutangs ye’d see in the zoo. Dangling there like a prick I was with the gallon swishing around in me belly. I thought I’d wake the kids with the racket when I let go an’ hit the floor.”

Christy delivered two more pints of porter. They got the same treatment.

“Good health.”

“Cheers.”

“Did ye hurt yerself?”

“Split right open. Blood gushing from me noggin. I went rummaging for plasters, but couldn’t find any, so I got a pair of the young fella’s underpants an’ put ’em on me head.”

“You’re takin’ the mickey, Tommy. Ye never did?”

“Cross me heart. It worked. Soaked up all the blood, so it did.”

“Jaysus, you’d some night.”

Tommy took a break, and with his pinkie sticking out like Lord Muck, gently lifted his glass and polished off the rest. The empty glass held aloft gave Christy the message further nourishment was needed.

“Tell me, did ye ever try an’ assemble one of them toys that comes in a million pieces after you’ve split yer head open an’ swallowed a gallon?”

“Never.”

“Well, take it from me, it’s not a good idea. I took a decko at the first page of the instructions. Jaysus, it was the like the bleedin’ Book of Kells – ‘Insert piece 1 into slot A and secure with No3 sized screw.’ Pages an’ pages of it.”

“Surely ye managed?”

“Well, I probably could’ve, but the little bags of screws all looked the same, so I opened ’em and put ‘em all in a pile.”

“Ye eejit.”

“Yeah, I know, and when herself came back soaked with the turkey, I’d forgotten about me head – Jeez. What’s after happening here? She starts. Look at the state of the place. It’s like a battlefield, and what’s that on yer head?

“I told her there were screws missin’.”

“An’ then?”

Never a truer word spoken, she says, there’re screws missing all right, but not from Santa’s present. Jeez, I think I’ll go back on the fags.

It was Mick’s round, and it being the festive season, he pushed the boat out and bought two packets of peanuts, the posh dry-roasted ones, to accompany pint number four.

“Janey Mackers, sounds like you’d some night all right.”

“Yeah, and the worst part was herself managed to assemble the doll’s house after she’d packed me off to de feathers. And guess what?”

“There were no bits or screws missin’.”

“How’d’you know?”

“Elementary, my dear Watson. Elementary. I don’t suppose ye got the leg over, did ye?”

“Are ye joking, me, or what? She’d the Christmas dinner on the table before we restored diplomatic relations, an’ ye won’t believe what happened then?”

“There’s more? Jaysus, I’m thinking there’s a book in you.”

“So, there I was, the carving knife all sharpened an’ ready to start on the bird when the young Frankie, all excited with the new bike, pipes up with – ‘can we go for a spin later, Da?’ I’d already necked the best part of a bottle of red, but sure what could I say only, ‘Course we can, son. I’ll need to check the tyres on my old bike, but we’ll go down the park for a little ride after the dinner.’”

“Aah. The perfect husband an’ Da.”

“Yer not goin’ to believe what the young fella said next.”

“Try me.”

“Da, what’s a good ride?”

“I don’t believe ya.”

“I nearly stabbed meself with the knife and herself dropped the tray or roasties on the floor. The racket did nothing for the thumping in me skull.”

“What did ye say to him?”

“Well, my one kept her head down picking up the spuds but kept throwing daggers as if it was all my fault.”

“Typical.”

“So anyway, I say to the young fella, ‘wha’d’ya mean, son?’”

“‘My friend, Billy, told me after the parents’ meeting, he heard his da telling his uncle  Miss McCarthy must be a great ride. What does that mean, Da?’”

“I can’t wait to hear how ye got outa that one, Tommy.”

“Christy. Two more of the best, please. Well, I tried to go by the way of logic. ‘Now son, your new bike has five gears an’ it’ll go fierce fast, but I’d say Miss McCarthy must have a fantastic bike, probably has fifteen or maybe even twenty gears, an’ it goes like the clappers.’

“Miss McCarthy has a car, Da. A little red one, he says.”

“That put ye in yer box. You’d no answer to dat.”

“I told him to eat up his dinner or there’d be no spin an’ no more sweets from his Selection Box.”

“Very logical.”

“Don’t you start.”

“I suppose ye’ll be making the New Year’s resolutions now, lads?” said Christy, placing two fresh pints, which passed quality control, and got the usual treatment.

“Never thought about it,” said Tommy.

“Me neither.”

“Maybe I’ll get meself a new bike, an’ do a bit of ridin’.”

“Jaysus, good idea, I’ll do the same.”

“We might even bring Miss McCarthy along.”

“You’re a gas man, Tommy. No doubt about it.”

“Cheers.”

“Slainte.”


                                                            End


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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