The Fountain of Knowledge

The Irish Times & Powers Whiskey recently ran a short story competition. This is one of my two entries. Neither won but I like them anyway. The subject was to write 450 words on ‘What Really Matters.’

McCool, man-big-boy, arrives by the Pool. Surrounded by nine hazel bushes, leanto under overhangy rock, little fire wisps smoke thonder.

From the undergrowth emerges a dishevelled figure. Old, craggy, birdsnest of a beard home to flora and fauna galore, and more. Torn britches, baggy woollen jerkin. Behind trails a shaggy dog.

McCool, by the pool, observes the scene unfold. The oul boy calls the dog, sounds like Endamine, sits down by the pool and flicks a spinner off the end of a rod into the blue water.

Eyes gleaming, he fixes his gaze on McCool.  “I saw you arrive with yer iPhone, yer sneakers and yer shades. If ye wanna stay, ye can help.’

“That’s cool.” replies McCool. “Help what?”

“Catch fish. Salmon. I catch, you cook, we eat.”

McCool the fool, says “As a rule, don’t eat fish, only dolphin-friendly tuna.”

Whatever. Beady eyed, the oul fella glares, ignores, continues:

“Been after it this years. Gold with a red triangle. What a fish, some dish.’

Suddenly the line yanks, yaws and pullies – huge, the golden Salmon arcs out of the water. Golden, beautiful, knowledgeable. Gleams in the evening sun.

“Holy Mackerel’ says McCool, falling off his stool, “Can we catch it.”

“Yes we can” replies the oul fella, knee deep in the drink. “we will fight and we’ll be alright.”

Struggle continues, line-pulls and calms. “Hasn’t gone away you know” says the  oul boy. Authoritatively.

McCool, no longer cool, reaches for the net, salmon-leaps again.

“It’s got magic Powers.”

“Something like that” mutters the oul boy, salmon-steering to the net.

Ashore. Despatched. Fishgutted. Washed.

Spit speared searing sitting above smoking fire. McCool receives his barked instructions:

“Cook, don’t taste. Understand, the fish is mine. Whomsoever tastes firsts sees the light.”

McCool intrigued: “You what?”

“I’m first, you’re second. That’s the way it is. Now, I’m for the yard”

Spit-turning, McCool, still a fool, drops shades in the flames. Reaching firewards, dripping Salmon sauce scalds his hand.

McCool, definitely not cool leaps himself. Salmon-like, handsucks, yowling in pain.

Old fella bolts from the bogs alarmed, distraught, crestfallen, severely peeved.

“You taste the fish?”

McCool, mouth-a-drool: “Just a soupcon…” Eyes a-bright, no more the fool.

“You may have the rest, now you’ve a taste for it.” And, with that he roaded McCool.

Sad perhaps, seat-settled by the fire, beside the pool. A single salmon soars from the water.

Dogwards says he: “Well Endamine, canine friendamine…”

Cap-snaps the golden bottletop, laughs aloud.

“Plenty more fish in the uisce eh….? It’s not what you know that really matters. But how you use it.”

Jug dips a little poolwater diluting slightly his Powers Gold Label. The real Fountain of Knowledge.

The Founding Fathers

The Irish Times & Powers Whiskey recently ran a short story competition. This is one of my two entries. Neither won but I like them. The subject was to write 450 words on ‘What Really Matters.’

Waiting for the others, Davin and O’Ryan leisurely potted a few billiard balls across the plush baize. It was unexpectedly cold for the first day of November. But clear blue skies gave an unexpected brightness and air of hope to the day.

Next arriving was John Wyse Power, a pessimist by nature, his opening gambit reflected his propensity for the half-empty glass. “Is this all that’s here?” he declared under furrowed brow, and made as if to leave.

Davin laid down his cue, diverting the new arrival’s attention to a platter of Mrs Hayes best ham sandwiches and a generous glass of Power’s finest namesake.

Bracken and the Ulsterman McKay entered in jovial mood, discussing an on-pitch disagreement the previous evening. The scrap concerned more the honour of a desirable young lady from Templemore than the vagaries of the rulebook. Inspector McCarthy expressed relief the constabulary had not been required on this occasion.

The room quietened when Cusack appeared. Hawthorn stick in hand, leather booted, suited in fustian, voluminous beard obscured his collar and tie.

The Clareman was a persuasive character, a bon vivant, and infectiously enthusiastic about the plans they were about to discuss. Seriously dogmatic, he had made several specific requests to Mrs Hayes the hotel proprietor.

Firstly, that the room be discreet but comfortable. Secondly that she provide a generous repast for attendees, some of whom like Power and Davin had travelled some distance. He asked for a generous supply of pipe tobacco. Finally, he insisted on a particular brand of whiskey to ‘lubricate’ their discussions.

“We want our fellow gaels to tell us what is really important,” he advised Davin. “In my experience” he said, toking on his pipe, “that is best achieved in the presence of the golden liquid of which we are both so fond.”

As the participants began deliberations, chaired by Davin, Mrs Hayes busied herself about the room, dispensing platters heaped with bread and ham. She  generously refilled each exquisite cut crystal glass from a gold-labelled bottle. Through the warmth and the unmistakable fugue of pipe and peat smoke, discussion continued apace with much agreement.

Several hours later, Cusack settled back in his seat. The others had retired for a nap before dinner. All had gone to plan. The creation of an association Gaelic and Athletic that would sweep the land like none other before.

He snapped the cap, glancing at the familiar bottle, and allowed himself a further glass. Relaxed, he sipped and smiled. Powers’ Gold Label.

As he expected, twas easier to find out what really mattered, when his friend John Power was in attendance.

Truly, one of the founding fathers and Powers of the Association.