Cidona Life –

The fella at the counter was bored. Looking around. Tapping beermats. Eyeing up the barmaid. He picked up his phone and dialled. The other side answered and he said: ‘Hello, yeah, John? Luke here, how’s things, yeah, I’m good, changed my number there lately, sorry, couldn’t pay the bill! …I’m here in the pub. Will you come in for one? Oh, you’re workin? You’re on lunch? Right, sound, how’s the job goin…? Yeah…sound, ok, no bother, talk to ya.’
He hung up. Looked around some more. Dialled again.
“Hello, yeah, Joe, how’s things? Luke here, different number…. you comin into the Skeff for one? You had a kid?! When?! Oh right, with the same burd? Nice. Fair play, man, delighted for ya…you’re not comin for one so, to celebrate…? Oh right, I get ya…yeah, yeah, yeah…sound….am I workin myself? No, ah…things went quiet there lately, so they had to let a few people go, and between that now and missin the odd Monday, you know yourself, they were glad to see the back of me I’d say! Hahaah. I’m lookin into a few things though, there’s a fella supposed to ring me now next week….and I crashed the car, did I tell ya that?! No? No, I’m ok, bit of Whiplash alright so waitin on a few pound for that…oh you’re busy? Go on, go on, go on….see ya Joe, thanks!’
He left the phone on the counter. Took a sip of his cider. Rubbed his knee. Looked over at me. I was reading a book. Hoping he wouldn’t talk. The barmaid came to the rescue, asked him if he wanted another. He had three quarters of a Bulmers left, but went: ‘Go on so, sure.’
He dialled another number. It answered. ‘Hello, Jane, howya, how’s things? Luke here, new number, changed networks there lately, what’re you up ta…? Yeah, yeah, I’m in town alright, yeah, you around? I’m in the Skeff? What am I doin? I’m havin a pint….Oh yeah, I’m back on it. Did you not hear? No, no, I was off it for a while alright, but then, ah…it was July and it was comin up to the races in a August, so I said I’d have a few, then sure the races came and I kept goin til my birthday in October and sure next thing it was Christmas, and ah…you know yourself…how’s life with you? Oh, you’ve to go….? Sound sound sound…talk soon, Oh, Jane? I meant to say to ya… hello? Hello? Jane? Shite…’
He took the phone away from his ear and grimaced like it was all Nokia’s fault. The barmaid came with the pint. He gulped down the one that wasn’t finished and took the fresh one, then handed her a fiver. She went to the till, put it through, came back with a few cents change and left it on the counter. He took it gladly, asked her: ‘What time’re you finished?’
‘Long before you.’ She said. And walked off.
He tried to smile. Looked around for support. I was the only one there. He said: ‘What’s that you’re readin?’
‘Oh, is it any good?’
‘It’s not bad.’
‘What’s it about?’
‘Oh right. Them Russians are daft bastards.’
‘They are, yeah.’
‘Is it about the Mafia, is it?’
‘Who was your man with the big pink mark on his head that time, looked like an egg with glasses?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Mussolini, was it?’
‘That was him, yeah.’
‘He was mental.’ He leaned over, picked up the edge of the book. ‘Is there many pages in it?’
‘A good few.’
‘Did you ever read Roy Keane’s Biography?’
‘Unreal. He was dead right to leave Saipan that time. Where are you from yourself?’
‘Oh MAYO!!! For fuck’s sake…do you want a pint?!’
‘No thanks….’
‘What’s that you’re dirnkin?’
‘Oh…not much a Cidona man myself!! Fell of the wagon there lately!’
‘How’s that goin for ya?’
‘More like Somersaulted off the fuckin thing! It’s grand sure, bitta craic…could be worse. Here I’ll get you one of them, where’s this bitch gone? Face on her would turn milk sour…’
‘You’re alright. I’ve to go anyway…’
He got all offended with: ‘Where are you goin?’
‘What’s it to you?’
‘Aragh, fuck ya so…’
He picked up the phone. Could hear him on the way out with: “Hello…Gerry…yeah, how’s things? Luke here, new number. You’re where? Australia?! What the fuck’re you doin there…?’

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