The fur-faced dog was there again today, staring at me, it’s slobbering tongue hanging out the side of its mouth. It just stands there, challenging me. Eyeballing me. It looks dangerous. I’ve heard Yorkies can be brutal if they get a hold of your balls, but if I drop-kicked this one the neighbours would be up in arms so I try to ignore it as I carefully walk past. It’s sniffing at me but I washed last night so what the fuck does it smell? Is it my fear? I might get myself a really big cat, or some bear spray. That would do it.
Mary at the shop has a new hairdo. I didn’t really notice it but she told me, so it must be true. She said it cost £48 and her husband is in a huff over the expense. She then asked me if I wanted to shag her. I almost dropped the milk. Mary’s been flirting, none-too-subtly, with me for a while now. She tells me when she buys new undies, lacy, see-through stuff she says, that would cut the arse off you but give a great view of the promised land (her words). She lets me know when she’ll be at the park, alone, near the bushes. She winks at me when no one’s looking and tells me she would gobble up a young fella like me. That’s her word, gobble, as if I’m a tender piece of roast turkey. I’m 33. Mary’s about 72, I reckon, but I’d never ask her. I heard that one man did ask her once why she didn’t use her free pensioner bus pass. His pot noodle and packet of Viscount cost him £12. He was also accused of shoplifting shortly after. Luckily, Father McArdle is well known or he might have been convicted.
Later, at the local library my order for books came in. Three of them, all on Irish history. They had Fifty Shades of Grey sitting on the counter being promoted. The librarian, a ferocious woman of indeterminate age said that I should give it a go. She thought it would help me understand what women want. When I told her what I wanted was my books she almost threw them at me.
There was a fella using the library computer and singing along to some tune on it. He hadn’t a note in his head. It made me think of when I was a child and forced to learn to play the fiddle. The dog, Rex, another fecking terrier, used to wail and moan like someone had jammed a red-hot poker up his hairy ass. The animal cruelty people eventually came out after Mrs Murphy next door called them, and told me to stop.
The library crooner only tossed out a few words here and there so that the song made little sense. “Walking…” and then “over…” followed by “your face…”. Other patrons were looking at him strangely with some of the younger girls laughing quietly in that self-conscious way that teenagers have when they think that everyone’s staring at them. They should meet that dog round my way.
The singing ended when the harpy librarian approached the singer and informed him that if he didn’t quit then she would brain him with a copy of the King James bible. He left soon after.
The library’s great for getting a look at a slice of society but sometimes it’s a scary place, especially when the librarians fall out with one another. I once saw two of them arguing over where to put a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s “All the Pretty Horses”. One said it was a thriller and should go in the general section. The other said that as he had an Irish name he should go in the Irish section. The dispute escalated until books were being thrown across the aisles. It ended when one was knocked out cold by a copy of Stephen King’s “IT” which had somehow found its way into the children’s section. The PSNI refuse to enter our library.
In the local cafe I was sipping a tea as I can’t be bothered with all that coffee nonsense. Everyone wants to drink coffee these days. A Frapula or a crappuloa or an expressula. It all sounds French to me. What’s wrong with a basic, honest-to-goodness mug of tea? Why do people need ice cream or melons or potatoes in their hot beverage? I had just ordered a cheese and tomato toastie when Mary’s husband walked quickly up to me and told me, in front of the entire place, that if I tried to “put a length in Mary” he would cut my balls off. The fact that he’s about 5 feet 1 inch tall and the same wide just made it even worse. I was being threatened by Gimli. Before I could utter a firm denial, he stormed off muttering loudly that no “fancy-man hure with a tiny cock” would be fit for his Mary. It made every bite of my cheese toastie taste funny.
Áine works at that cafe. She’s beautiful, intelligent and friendly and her laugh would brighten up any room. She always stops to make small talk with me no matter how many others are waiting to be served. She once told me about a concert she was going to with some friends and suggested that I come along, but I didn’t bother as I would’ve felt like I was intruding. I sorted out my socks instead. Áine’s very popular.
Her family own the cafe and a few more besides in other towns, so she knows a lot of people and is always being invited here and there for social occasions. I’ve never noticed her with a particular man, right enough, but that’s likely because she hasn’t much time. The local paper likes to feature her almost every week as she’s that attractive and used to model for some international agency when she was at college abroad. Then something happened over there and she came back to Ireland. Thankfully, she’s not stuck-up and I enjoy chatting with her, especially when she sits down with me for a while. Other men get that jealous look on their faces, then, the one where they transmit that they would like to kill your car and mess up your CD collection.
Right now she’s glaring at me in a disapproving way. It’s the same look that Jessica Fletcher gives to the people she discovers are guilty of murder; the look that says “I thought you were better than that, what were you thinking? I’m so disappointed in you”. Séan, jolly owner of the cafe chain, and Áine’s father, comes over with his usual big smile on his face.
He asks, “So you’ve been trying to get a ride on Mary then?”
“No”, I reply, “I’ve been trying to get Mary to leave me alone”.
“Ah, I see”, he says, with that big grin still plastered to his face. “Then how do you explain why my daughter is so angry? She just threw a plate of pasta at the bin. Not in the bin, mind you, at the bin. It’s like a thee-year-old’s birthday party in there.”
“I don’t know”, I replied weakly, unsure if Áine’s anger was good or bad for me. “But I do know that I wouldn’t have sex with Mary if survival of the human species depended on it.” I was getting fairly riled at the thought of Áine believing that I would make the two-backed monster with a pensioner so I added, “I’d rather hump a dog”, and then I immediately regretted saying that as the Yorkie popped into my head and I felt dirty.
“Not to worry”, says Séan. “I expect Áine will calm down before long, maybe in about a year or two. Mary once told the town, many years ago, that I rode her all over the woods and back again. I didn’t. I didn’t even ride her as far as the woods because I didn’t ride her at all. But Mary does love her stories. Áine’s mother went ballistic on me, of course, wouldn’t listen to reason. She cut all my boxers and socks to pieces and threw my clothes into the backyard, where the neighbours couldn’t see them. She has a fierce temper and her daughter’s the same. Do you have a good lock on your underwear drawer?”
I began to blush at the implication but then wondered if I could use this to my advantage. However, I decided I was in over my head and let it go. I was in enough trouble with Áine’s family and decided that discussions about my keks could only go badly. As I was formulating some sort of safe response, Séan dandered over to one of his other customers.
Michael McFlynn, known as MickyMac, was complaining about how hard the bread was as his dentures came out when he bit into a piece of French loaf. Séan, in his usual nonchalant style, advised him to soak it in the soup before attempting to eat it. Problem solved as the customer fished his teeth out of the Scotch Broth. MickyMac is a town Councillor who locals claim has less brains than a badly bruised banana with learning difficulties. He campaigned on a platform of promising free bleach for everyone as he believed that such a measure would solve the health crisis. He also advocated (not his word) the wearing of Star Trek uniforms in council chambers (he’s a Trekkie) in an effort to become more progressive (not his word) in reaching out to younger members of society. He was voted in for the laugh, and is still fighting furiously on both fronts with only moderate success with the space-suits.
I left the cafe fairly dispirited as Áine never came back out of the kitchen. As I made my way home, I noticed a crowd gathered on the local green. They were cheering and cajoling so I went for a closer look. It was Mary’s husband and Father McArdle rolling about on the grass in a clinch. Father McArdle had Mary’s husband in what looked like a poorly constructed Vulcan death grip. He was known to have been spending time with MickyMac. The deadly move wasn’t taking any effect as Mary’s husband was roaring, between puffs and pants and wheezes, about priests “putting a tail on his Mary”. The fight ended when both fell onto their backs exhausted, and the crowd melted away.
As I was writing this, the dog was outside my window again staring in. It looked completely zen in its approach, like a little white ninja canine, patently waiting to tear its opponent apart. It reminded me of Chewbacca from the Star Wars movies. I wondered if that’s what one of Chewy’s turds would look like. As I was considering throwing a bucket of water over it, it darted nimbly across the street and began yapping furiously at a scantily clothed figure approaching my house. Mary turned and fled with the Yorkie nipping at her tottering heels. Maybe having a stalker dog isn’t such a bad thing after all.
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