Wednesday, April 23, 2008

A Tolka romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 4
“Let’s nuke it!” suggested Earl, as he watched the little blip that was known as Omega XJ12 drift slowly across the radar screen.
Lazenby shook his head. “It’s one of the oldies,” he said. “It’s been up there since 1963 and it’ll never survive the descent through the ionosphere. I think we should let it die with dignity.”
“Perhaps you’re right,” said Earl. “Besides, we may need that nuke when we’re attacking some country with different political ideals to ours. Pow! Kaboom!”
At 114,000 feet, Omega XJ12 accelerated slightly on its long spiral back into the earth’s atmosphere.

Travelling back on Tosh Travel from Wexford, Lionel knew he had lost her. Not literally, of course, for she was sitting two seats behind him with her tongue halfway down Nigel’s throat. He felt the tears welling up in his eyes and tried to kid himself that it was the aftershock of the luminous pink strip that Wexford had worn. But it was no good. If love was a battlefield, as Pat Benataur maintained, then he had been shot to pieces trying to mount Heartbreak Ridge.
He had suspected things weren’t quite right when, while waiting for the coach at Tolka, Karen had told him to “get lost, dog-breath,” when he approached her. Frustratingly, he found himself separated from her on the coach by 51 seats and she had seemed much taken by one particular Neanderthal, judging by the way she had wrapped herself around him like the red flag the fans habitually sang about.
The word formed like a gargantuan ball of phlegm in his throat. What on earth did Karen see in Nigel? What did Nigel have that he, Lionel didn’t? Apart from good looks, of course. And wads of cash. And style. And a knowledge of the Eircom League that was second to none. And a great sense of humour. And a villa on the Amalfi coast.
The journey back home seemed to go on for miles, which in fact it did. Nigel tried to think about Bisto’s amazing goalscoring feats this season (though surely he couldn’t claim the own goal?) but his mind was constantly distracted by the lurid squelching noises emanating from two seats behind him. He couldn’t wrest his mind from Karen and her lily white skin covered in faint downy hairs, the beauty mole on her nose, the luscious mass of ripe pimples arranged in perfect symmetry all over her face like an intricate dot-to-dot puzzle.
Lionel knew that a faint heart had never won a fair lady, for it was the type of thing his father had often told him before he launched into the obligatory Al Jolson impersonation and the nurses cajoled him back to bed. He knew that sometimes you gotta fight when you’re a man and that Karen was Becky and Nigel was the Gatlin Boys. Deep in the pit of his stomach, just to the left of his pancreas, a knot of fear tightened and he felt like he was going to be sick. But he knew that if he wanted to win back the fair Karen, radical measures were called for.
When the bus finally turned down Richmond Road, Lionel stood up and walked to the front. He knew from past experience that this was the best thing to do when you wanted to get off. He strolled down the steps into the clear night. Somewhere a harmonica was playing a sad, wailing tune of unrequited love, but it was in Bratislava, so he couldn’t hear it. He swung his poncho over his shoulder, strode into the middle of the road and waited.
After what seemed an eternity, but was in fact only a quarter of an eternity, Nigel and Karen got off the bus, still wrapped together like sticky tape. The others had disappeared and the coach set off towards Ballybough, fortunately with the driver at the wheel.
Lionel waited. The air felt cold and...airy. Nigel and Karen didn’t see him till they were almost on top of him.
“That’s my girl, punk,” Lionel said menacingly. He removed the cigarette from his mouth and ground it under his foot, wondering if he should have lit it first for better effect.
There was silence for a moment and then Nigel and Karen collapsed in hoots of laughter. Lionel pushed Nigel’s shoulder and assumed the classic pugilist’s pose, ignoring Karen’s sarcastic “Oh run, Nigel, he’s going to hit you.”
Nigel stopped laughing and approached Lionel. His face was so close that Lionel could smell the strong odour of Karen’s armpit on his breath. This was it, thought Lionel. He drew back his puny arm and ... whooooshhh!!

Lazenby had been wrong. Omega XJ12 survived re-entry relatively intact and slammed into the Richmond Road at 140,000 miles per hour, vapourising both itself and Nigel instantly. All that remained of the two of them was a large crater, some three feet in diameter.
Lionel looked from his fist to the crater and back to his fist again in wonderment, oblivious of the screams from Karen that shook the sleeping neighbourhood.

No comments: