Once Lionel got the hang of it and didn’t need to consult the diagrams, he found that trying for a baby with Karen was actually quite enjoyable. These were the halcyon days of the summer of 2008 when gales ripped the country apart and flash floods brought back memories of the great Tolka inundation of October 2002, particularly to those who witnessed it and remembered the occasion.
Shels meanwhile found their scoring touch too, banging in six goals in two games against Athlone and Wexford to claw their way back up to third spot in the table. Even the perennial grumblers in Section D were heard to grudgingly admit that there was a touch of optimism in the air, even though “yer man’s no Val Harris,” which was true enough in its own unique way.
Far away in Beijing, a load of drug-fuelled sporty types competed in something called the Olympics, somebody in the news invented a place called South Ossetia to help start up a new cold war and a young man in Santry lost a pencil.
Lionel and Karen were blissfully in love. They snogged in the queue for the butchers and they snogged in the queue for the ATM machine. He put his hand on her backside in the queue for the bus and she, gigglingly, pushed it away, causing a slight dislocation of his elbow. Public Health officials were called in to deal with an epidemic of vomiting as they snogged in the queue at the Social Security office and the lovebirds even found themselves singing along to Boyzone songs whenever a DJ on the radio accidentally played one.
Of course such bliss could not last and from their apartment window, Lionel and Karen lay in bed watching the storm clouds gathering over Tolka. Someone called Dave Rogers was issuing a severe weather warning on behalf of Met Eireann and Lionel’s mind instantly flicked back to the volley against Hajduk Split.
“Ow!!” yelled Karen, nursing her hip gingerly.
“Sorry darling,” said Lionel, retrieving his foot from the rolls of flesh. “I was just remembering those golden days of 2004 when we were heroes.”
“Before you met me, you mean?” bristled Karen and Lionel knew instantly that he had put his foot in it, an image that is best left to the reader’s imagination. A drop of rain hit the window pane.
“It doesn’t mean to say there’s a thunderstorm coming,” advised Lionel, who had experience in such matters. A second drop hit the window. Then a third. Then there was a pause before another drop. Then a fifth and a sixth, though not necessarily in that order.
“There’s a thunderstorm coming,” said Karen matter-of-factly and sat up in bed, fumbling in among the sheets for her bra.
“Where are you going, love?” asked Lionel, idly counting the pimples on her back and suppressing an urge to squeeze a few of them.
“We,” corrected Karen.
“You don’t need to get dressed to go for a wee,” said Lionel, puzzled. Karen fished out what appeared to be a parachute from the bedding and put it on.
“No, darling,” said Karen, “We are going down to Tolka to see if they need a hand. The bar is below road level and subject to flooding, you know.”
As they stepped through the door, the rain bucketed down like buckets of rain. It hit the ground, bounced up six feet and came down a second time. Several ducks floated down the middle of the road, yippee-ing and giving each other high fives. Above, on the main road, a large black dog strapped a triangle on his back and swam around humming the theme tune from “Jaws,” until he was eaten by a shark.
“Come on!” yelled Karen, grabbing Lionel tenderly by the nose and ploughing gamely into the eye of the storm. They sloshed through the flooded streets, the water at times coming above the height of their flip-flops and soaking their feet. Lightning flashed and thunder crashed and Noah’s carpentry stores on the corner appeared to be a hive of activity.
Wading along in Karen’s wake, Lionel wished he was at home in bed again, flag in hand, preparing for another assault on Karen’s unclimbed south side. So deep was his reverie that he failed to see Karen stumble against the kerb and plunge headlong into the River Tolka.
“Karen!” he yelled, but if she answered, it was lost in the drumming of the rain on his head.