CHAPTER THIRTEEN: A REQUEST FOR ASSISTANCE, THE TROUT OF FIERCE INTELLIGENCE AND OTHER ADVENTURES (PART ONE)
An Early Childhood by Paddy Flanagan is a mock, surreal autobiography by a fictional Irish literary figurehead, champion bodhrán player and broadcaster.
Continued from Chapter 12 Part 5.
Little Billy Boy Cullen wheeled his own pram into the park, brimming to the top with apples. He set up his desk quickly – which comprised a bench and a plastic seat under it, small enough as he was to sit at the bench and use it as his desk – and his nameplate and Little Jackie in her Baby Gro beside him on the one side and flanking him on the other side was Wiggle Beeyian, not older than two months of age if he was a year, except only a tadpole at this stage, what was known in those days as a jizzler, with a whisper of hairgrowth atop his head and the big rugby player’s head already fully formed on him, and his body comprising the tail a-flippin’ and a-flappin’.
Little Billy Boy Cullen had the stern look of a far older gentleman on his face as soon as he had his tie put on by his Maaaa, and he pushed her away as she tried to dab a bit of talc on his botty.
“Get away out of it you,” he burst out of him, with a grimace.
Then he called his board meeting to order in the park.
Fourteen hopefuls aspiring to become his right hand man or woman trailed through the park gates. One of them, 26 year old Peter Carmody, who has operated his own insurance company for mobile phones made of beans cans and string since the age of 15, was dressed in a chicken suit. Another candidate, Amanda, 22, owns her own beautician’s business. She was dressed as an American Express credit card – one of the earliest of financial inventions to hit Ireland at the time. The rest of the hopefuls were dressed in their short trousers and skirts, nervously standing before him waiting to be judged.
Bill reached under his bench and took out his papers. Even though they contained nothing but doodles of motorcars, he shuffled them on the bench and looked at them as if they were very important. Then he put them back in his Darth Vader lunchbox and he stroked Beeyian’s head. Beeyian purred impishly.
“Now…” he said, glaring at the candidates. “Peter…yiz finished your task early yesterday. So what I want to know is…why are you…still dressed…as a chicken?”
Peter looked nervously at the ground.
“The washing machine in the house is broken, Bill,” he said plaintively.
“So you’ve no clean clothes, do you not?” Bill asked, his flaring eyeballs of rage not leaving Peter’s face.
“So why are you wearing the chicken suit?” Bill asked. “Were you…sellin’ chickens?”
“What were you sellin’?”
“We held an events party on a Liffey barge for children.”
“You were wha’? Speak up, please.”
“There was a party for kids on the barge.”
“On which barge?”
“Just on a – on a barge on the Liffey, Bill.”
“So you were dressed as a chicken for – for the kids, was it?”
“You left the chicken suit at home, didn’t you?” Bill was getting more and more incensed.
“Yes, Bill,” Peter whimpered.
“And you went on your little barge trip without your chicken suit, and then you got your own clothes dirty, and then you came home, back to your stupid house with all the other little stupid apprentices, and the only clothes you had left was the chicken suit you should have worn to the children’s party in the first place?”
“Is that an accurate rendering of the whole picture?”
Bill’s eyes moved away from Peter in a dismissive fashion and Peter let out a cry of despair.
“Amanda, what are you doing…in a big oversized credit card thing?”
“I approve of banking and credit and that, Bill,” Amanda insisted.
“Are you sure?” Bill asked.
“Are you sure that’s why?” Bill asked.
“It has nothing to do with the task?”
“No, Bill. Our task was to cut the hedges in Merrion Square. And from the proceeds from that we were to set up a hair salon and cut people’s hair.”
“You’re just dressed as a credit card…for the effect?” Bill asked, his milk teeth grinding and his jawbones flexing in murderous rage.
Peter interrupted, panic in his tone: “Yes, for the effect!”
Bill roared at him: “Quiet you, you little bollix!” He then turned back to Amanda. “Here’s what I think. I think you and Peter are having a little cavort. And I think you wore that credit card in here today to take the heat off your fella. Mr Chicken Suit here. That’s the only reason I can think of. That, and the cameras in the house, where you were recorded planning the whole stupid plan. And let me tell yiz what’s gonna happen with all those hours of pornography we’ve captured of youse two up to your fucking high jinks and backroom shenanigans in the bedroom that I’ve paid for. It’s going on the market. As an early twentieth century top shelf piece of newsreel!”
Amanda burst into tears: “No, Bill!” she shrieked. “I’ll be sent off to the Magdalene Dry Cleaners!”
“Well maybe you can dry clean Peter’s jacket and trousers! D’jah think about tha’?”
“Me Ma will hopefully send me packin’ to Kabul to become a dancing boy of Afghanistan!” Peter wailed. “Not hopefully! I don’t mean hopefully, Bill! I said hopefully by an accident! That’d be the worst thing that could happen! Coz I’m already too old to start dancing now!”
“But that’s where you belong! In Afghanistan, doin’ the dances! As a mature student! Immature more like it! Yiz are both fired!” Bill roared. “Amanda, you’re fired! Peter, you’re fired! Get out of this park – all of yiz!”
Billy turned to Little Jackie and Beeyian and whispered, as they nodded along aggressively:
“Make sure he doesn’t get to Afghanistan. That’s what he actually wants, that Peter fella. That’s what he wants to do. Coz that’s what he’s like. That’s how he operates.”
He turned back and hurled his nameplate at Peter’s head.
Peter made a clucking noise and jumped before fleeing.