Monday, July 11, 2011

The Drop

They wanted a short story. They got a short story. They wanted twee and unthreatening. I gave them twee and unthreatening. They proffered ten grand. Another piece won it.

Careful scribe that I am, I dared not publish a word of it before the winner was announced. I allowed myself fanciful thoughts of some monetary idyll, a trip to New York on the proceeds, but it turns out I didn't mention the product enough.

It may as well do something, so here it is. Be kind or be quiet.

= = =

"Come here," he said. "Come here 'til I talk to you for a minute. I've wise words to impart."

There was no shorthand in my grandfather's language.

"Do you see this seat?" he asked me. I saw the seat.

"I've sat here for 56 years, with my father, your father, your grandmother, even your mother from time to time and I haven't been able to reason a better seat in a better pub in Ireland. Your father had his first pint with me here, where you're sitting, and I was with him whenever he fell off it."

I couldn't imagine my father falling from a chair. He wasn’t a man for toppling

"We've set the world to rights over and over again and he's the better man for it. Remember this: Never worry. Worrying never solved a problem. Tough times always come without a warning and as long as you sit and take a drop with the people that love you, you won't go far wrong.

"You’ll lose jobs, you’ll get them again. You’ll think you’ll have fallen in love, maybe eight or nine times, before you find someone who thinks you’re an eejit and stays with you anyway. You’ll have governments try to take the arse from under you and then they’ll do it again for good measure.

"Those who practice jealousy as a hobby will run you down and never think twice about it, but the simple truth of it is this: Be in good company. The only thing in life that matters is other people, good people, surround yourself with them. Those boys up there…"

He pointed to the three lads, hovering over a single pint and two soft drinks, bought as decoy.

"…those are good boys. Stick with them. Hold no truck with those other boughsies up the road. You’ll be here with your lads long after I’m gone, to keep each other straight."

I was waiting for the 'one more thing.'

"One more thing. Tell Jim you’re getting your grandfather a Powers."

I hadn't spoken a single word to him but that was often the way of it. I just got him his drink, sat back down and hid his words away for later.

Later turned into now, later is fifteen years since that night and fourteen since he died, head bowed at his Irish Times in my grandmother’s bed. I sit with my father at his father’s seat, take in the three half supped pints at the bar, and we raise and tip our spirits "to himself."

"Come on," says my da. "Lads!" he calls the three boys. "This day won’t marry itself. She’ll be pulling up soon."


canine letters said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
canine letters said...

another lovely piece by you Radge - looking forward to catching up...

Rosie said...

head and shoulders above the infomercial that won.

'fraid i don't have 10k to give you to back that up, though.

Radge said...

AG - Many thanks. I'll be in touch post-summer holidays.

Rosie - The kind words are a good substitute for the 10k, and will be even more so tomorrow when I'm a Eurogazillionaire. Thanks so much.

Therese Cox said...

One more pint should be raised to yourself for writing this piece. And forget the prize money, come on over to New York anyway. And bring us a bottle of Powers.

Radge said...

Therese - It's a holiday that's already in the formative planning stages, hopefully next year if I can save some shekels. And I'm shunning Powers in favour of Jameson!

Kitty Cat said...

That was lovely. Unlike Powers. Jameson all the way.

Holemaster said...

"and hid his words away for later".

I love that line Radge.

Holemaster said...

I'm guessing this was a competition run by Powers. And I'm guessing it was judged by a couple of marketing whores who wouldn't know subtlety if came to a party dressed as bloody obvious.

Your writing would be lost on them. And that's a good thing. So in essence, you won.

Radge said...

Kitty Cat - I'll have it neat.

Holemaster - Hopefully this isn't a precursor to a life of noble artistic failure! Cheers though.

John Braine said...

I was reading a book on the summer holiday last year and I was reminded of some great line from a book about finding someone who thinks you're an eejit but stays with you anyway. Took me a few minutes to remember it was from this blog post. Always meant to come back and leave a comment. Just remembered now that the competition is open again. Looks like you don't have to do the product placement this year.

Radge said...

Really? I mean REALLY? That's very interesting, John. I'll investigate and send something in.

Thanks so much for the comment. When I saw on my mail that one had appeared on a post called 'The Drop,' I couldn't remember for the life of me which post that was.

I actually find it hard to read now, not sure why...