Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Tolka Romance by Bill Zunmoon

Chapter 5
She looks the part of the grieving widow anyway, thought Lionel, as Karen pushed her way through the turnstiles in a long, flowing black dress and a dark veil that covered the bacterial playground that was her face.
Lionel watched her rotund figure wobble by on her way to the New Stand and grinned. If there’s a smile on my face, he thought, it’s only there to fool the public. Inside his heart was broken, aching for the girl he had loved and lost, a girl who had eyed him nervously ever since his love-rival Nigel had been mysteriously vapourised by an obsolete rogue space satellite.
Don’t go breaking my heart, he whispered, as she ascended the stone steps, the force of her footsteps causing the whole stand to sway precariously. He yearned for her to turn around and tell him that she couldn’t, if she tried, but instead she grabbed a large bearded man by the testicles by way of a friendly greeting.
Lionel dipped another chip into his tomato sauce and rammed it with his ferocity up his nose. Damn this hand-eye coordination thingy, he thought, retrieving it slowly.

Bisto scored twice, one early, one late, to secure a valuable victory over Waterford United, thus catapulting Shels into second place in the table. He had celebrated the goals with the rest of the Section D faithful but he could not help glancing over to the large black-clad figure in the New Stand twirling her red scarf around her head like a demented helicopter.
In the period between the goals he had listened morosely as the oul’ lads kept telling number eight to play it down the wing, young feller, and do you remember Ben Hannigan in that game against Cork Hibs?
Dermot had been his usual erudite self in the dugout, eloquently relaying his tactical reading of the game to his players with a richness of language that would have had Damien Richardson scurrying in dismay for the dictionary.
The three massive points certainly put hope in Lionel’s heart but he still walked alone and it was in this solitary mode that he intercepted Karen as she demurely made her way through the crowd at the end of the match like a battering ram.
She saw him coming through the crowd towards her like a salmon swimming upstream and stopped. He halted too about a yard from her. “Somebody get that bleedin’ crane out of the way!” yelled a voice behind her.
“Karen,” he said. It was more a statement of recognition than anything for her name had burned a swathe across his heart since the pre-season games in Cabra.
“Laurence,” she said simply.
“Lionel,” he corrected her. “Karen, do you think you think we could ever regain what we once had?”
She furrowed her brow. “Sausage and chips?” she guessed.
“No Karen, our love. We had a love that was true and kind and good and ... and ... and true. Do you think we can ever regain that?”
“Oh Laurence,” she whispered, and her stomach trembled like a deep Atlantic swell. “Maybe someday. In a future that’s bright and happy and ... bright. But right now, I need some space.”
“Of course you do darling,” said Lionel, stepping back two yards. “You’re a big fat girl. You take all the space that you want.”

When he awoke in the Mater Hospital, Lionel couldn’t remember a thing. The wire through his jaw and the bandage on the place where his left ear had once been led him to suspect that he had suffered some kind of impact injury. He didn’t know who he was, or where he lived, or indeed the name of the footballing franchise that had recently been created in the artificially created “county” in Dublin’s northern hinterland.
Dr. Lobotomee told him that his memory would probably return slowly and in small chunks, but, when the esteemed surgeon ran away trying to stifle a fit of giggling, Lionel knew that he would have to try and piece his life back together himself. The only starting point he had was a red scarf with the word Shelbourne emblazoned across it.
What was Shelbourne, thought Lionel, as he sipped his dinner through a straw?
What, indeed?

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