Page 8 Take The Long Way

                               TAKE THE LONG WAY ROUND, SOR. YOU’LL SEE SOON ENOUGH

                                 THAT THE VIEW IS MUCH GRANDER FROM THAT SIDE, SO ‘TIS.

                                                                       ROY GARDE
I’ve always hated receiving presents because of the built in obligation that comes with them and that’s mainly because I hate shopping
for anything even when it’s as mundane as jeans or a shirt for myself but especially when it’s on a ‘you’ll know it when you see it’
The strain is lessened for me somewhat because I’m clever about getting value for money as I showed with the purchase
of my then fiancé’s engagement ring. I took her, her name was and is Estelle, to the famous store on Fifth and we were first given her
ring size, which I took note of, and then shown a large tray full of rings with diamond stones with different shapes. I can’t remember
now what was the name of the style that she liked but I do know that she settled for a half carat one because when we were told the
prices we both found them horrendous and she knew that she couldn’t hope to get a bigger one than that from me. I thanked the
salesman and I told him that I needed time to save up for it, and that I’d be back soon, and the next day I went across the GWB to a
store in Fort Lee and I bought her a ring that had a one and a half carat stone in it that was cut in the style that she wanted and that
was priced the same as the famous store’s half carat one was. When I gave it to her she was disappointed that the box that it came in
wasn’t pale blue but her disappointment disappeared a second after she’d opened it.
Of course, there’s no way to get out of buying presents regularly for your wife and sure enough when we first got married I did what
every other man does – that is, I sweated out finding one, usually at the last possible minute, on every occasion that demanded one –
but then, after a year or two of conforming, I found what I thought to be a clever way to make it painless. I bought her a thick gold chain
bracelet that had twenty links on it and I told her that I was going to buy her a different charm for it, all in twenty-two carat gold so that
they’d match the chain, for her birthdays and for Christmas and so on until it was full and I sweetened the deal by assuring her that
each one would have relevance to something that had recently happened in our lives. I figured that once it was full up I could then buy
a chain for her ankle and later a necklace and that way my problem with present giving would be pretty much solved for the rest of my
She rebelled after the fifth one and the chain sits in her jewelry box to this day with only the original five charms on it.
Nice try –
right? – but from then on I’ve had to enlist my children and friends and relatives to come up with something that Estelle will probably
 About five years ago she discovered a love for opals – or rather she allowed her long repressed love for them to surface seeing
that we were by then somewhat more affluent – and that solved my problem too for around three years. I bought her several opal
rings and then a large broach and the jeweler in the shop that was most convenient for me noticed what was going on and he kindly
gave me an education in the stones and I bought her better quality ones and I worked up to buying a special black one which – he told
me and I believe him – are the top of the heap.
After being given the black one she declared her collection complete – she is
intrinsically a modest woman – and she keeps them all in a small red-leather box that has a blue velvet lining. I often see her sitting at
her dressing table with her collection loose in front of her – she says that she knows how to use the lights there to get the best effect –
and she makes the fire in each stone dance and she works her way up to the black one which always draws moans of delight from
her as she marvels at the cracks of fire and the myriad colors that appear on its surface and, somehow, deep within too and at the
same time.
She always takes her collection with her if she’s going to be away from home for more than one night.
When our youngest child left home for good – in the same year that our eldest one presented us with our first grandchild – having an
empty house liberated us in that could we stop doing the conventional things and do what we wanted to do.
For instant we then had
three bedrooms to choose from and we decided to have one of them each so as to not have to put up with the other one’s snoring
although to this day I don’t believe that I snore. It doesn’t seem possible.
Because we were sleeping in different rooms we found that it
was best to have permanently designated times to meet up to indulge in sex otherwise a whole week could go by without our having it
and the first time that I realized that that had actually happened – my getting half-hard erections at odd times through the days first
puzzled me and after a while a fully-attention-grabbing one forcefully made me very aware of the lapse – I drew her attention to it, not a
difficult thing to do, and she was as appalled as I was at the missed opportunity and at the waste. After that we picked Sunday
mornings, after breakfast and after reading the newspapers, and Wednesday afternoons on the thick sheepskin mat in front of the
fireplace in the living room when she got back from her bible-reading class.
About two years ago I began to flag in raising the
necessary apparatus for our get-togethers so I got Estelle to agree to our eliminating the mid week session. That helped for months
but then I found that the problem was progressive and so I had to resort to taking pills. There are three of them on the market and the
pioneering one helped me for nearly a year and then quit on me and the second kind did nothing at all for me and then the third kind
came along just it time but that one also stopped doing its job a few months ago.
As any man who has been there knows very well, Nature is cruel in that She doesn’t arrange for the need in a guy to fade at the same
time that his mechanism fails and, besides that, after having had good to excellent sex for over fifty years, it is not easy to reconcile
yourself to the fact that you’re not going to get any more, ever.
My wife has never refused me because she says that the bible tells all
wives to submit to their husbands – besides that one the only sensible thing that’s ever come out of that book in my opinion is the
admonition about ‘treating thy neighbor as thyself’ which just about sums it all up for us all – and while she would never agree, off the
bat, to having exotic sex with me, for extra pleasure, when I got her to be highly conscience of her sensuality she’d let the boundaries
ease a little. For instance, although she never has learned the significance of the number ‘sixty nine’ when I got her into that position
she would do her part willingly and industriously but only if I’d been clever enough, and diligent enough, to get her into the right frame of
mind before hoisting her up on top and letting her find out for herself that, “Lo and behold! There it is right in front of me! How odd! Well
I might as well as get on with it if only because it will make him keep giving me all of this terrific pleasure down at his end –
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.” Although I guess that her thoughts may well have been more pragmatic like, “I really should steel myself
and get on with the nasty business because doing it for him for a while always increases my pleasure when we get around to doing
the real thing – Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.” Or, maybe, and this is what I figured to be her actual motivation, “Oh man! There it is. Right
in my face. Couldn’t be closer. How marvelous. The epitomization of the brute male animal served right up for me just as I’m feeling so
completely female and receptive. I must remember to not show too much enthusiasm, of course, but here goes –
I’d always made sure that that position got to be the penultimate one because she made me at least five degrees harder when she did
her part and the extra drive in me that it produced always forced me to stop playing around PDQ.
I remembered that last point vividly, of course, when I developed my huge, little problem. I figured that she’d be able to solve it for me
with comparatively little effort on her part by simply going to work on my recalcitrant member.
Was I ever wrong!
One day, well after
we’d dropped our practice of keeping to a schedule and when it was long past time for us to get together, I was feeling the dearth-
produced need deep inside me so at breakfast I proposed that we try again sometime soon and she immediately agreed to
accommodate me the next time that I passed her the signal that we’d always used, back when our fluids were still flowing freely, when
we weren’t already in bed – I guess all married couples have one or two signals and our principle one was my rolling my eyes at her
and then winking while nodding my head in the direction of the bedroom a la Groucho – and when I got her assent, and as I said, she
never refused me, we’d go through our individual preparations prior to meeting up for co-mingling.
On that first experimental session
the preliminaries went well and I was especially careful to get her deeply under the sway of her basic urges before I made a one-
eighty degree turn and then lifted her up onto me.
I got on with my part in the proceedings quickly to try to not break the flow for her
but, when she dreamingly decided that it was time for her to reciprocate, what she found made her legs straighten out and then turn
into marble. I got my face out of there just in time and I remember thinking ‘Whoa! That could have been dangerous.’
She said, in a
distressingly scornful sounding voice, “What’s this? What am I supposed to do with this?”
She got off me and when we both had our
heads next to each others on the pillows I realized that she was waiting for an explanation and when I told her about needing her help
that way to get it up she sat up and reached over to switch a light on and then said, “I’ve never heard the like in all my life. You’ve
surprised me yet again with your lack of insight into the fundamentals of the human condition. You silly, silly man. Don’t you
understand that it’s a signal from Mother Nature that it’s time for you to slow down and look to start putting some tranquility into the final
stages of your life? What more do want Her to do? Make it wither away or make it drop off entirely? No. That’s not going to happen.
Well now, you just listen for a minute, d’you hear me? That is it. Never again. That aspect of our life is over. It’s closed. Are you
hearing me? No more.”
A little while later, reacting to my shocked silence perhaps, she tried to ease the severity of her harsh
statement by saying, “Anyway dear, you know as well as I do that even if you never get anymore you’ve already had far more than
your fair share!”
A month or so ago we were invited to a family reunion in London and because we’d never been to Ireland we decided to stop off at
Shannon on the way over there and then go up to Galway and then on to Dublin and then fly to London.
When we went to pick up our
reserved rental car at the airport in Shannon the guy behind the counter told me that he couldn’t give it to me because there was a
nation-wide proscription, recently re-enforced, against renting them to anybody over the age of seventy. “ ‘Tis an insurance regulation,
so ‘tis, sor, I’m very sorry sor, so I am, but there it is.”
Estelle, who is not yet seventy, won’t drive a stick shift in the States no matter about in a country where they drive on the wrong side
of the road so we asked how to get to Galway and he told us where the bus stop was and when the next bus was scheduled to leave.
It was a pleasant ride of about two hours and the only remarkable thing about the trip was seeing all the four to five feet high
stonewalls at completely surround all the ridiculously small fields. Clearly they had to have been taken from the dirt in each field so I
couldn’t look at them without thinking of the amount of work that had been needed to dig them up and then carry them over to build up
the wall to get them out of the way of the plough. From the amount of them it looked to me that the stones had to be, heart-and-back-
breakingly, their best crop.
When we got to the bus station in the center of Galway we found that our hotel, although the travel agent had assured us that it was in
town, was on the outskirts and so we had to phone for a cab.
When the taxi arrived the driver got out and put our two bags in the trunk
and then tried to take the leather handbag that Estelle was carrying. He was startled at the vehemence with which she refused to give
it up to him and he said, “Just as you wish, Missus.” and I heard him murmur, as he turned away, something like, “Be Jaysus! ‘Tis the
crown jewels that she has there, so ‘tis.”
He was a garrulous man, no surprise there, and as we drove through the town he told us several stories about places that we passed
that, I guessed, were just a little too colorful to be authentic. His banter – I don’t think that I’d ever actually thought to use that word
before that day but it came to mind as the most appropriate one to use over and over throughout our visit to his country – was almost
certainly kept up to boost his chances of getting a bigger tip from us but I remember thinking that surely it’s the quality of the ‘banter’
that gets rewarded not the amount of lilt in it and that he should therefore work on his material.
When we were waiting for a break in the traffic so that we could turn right and into the driveway of our hotel he pointed up the hill in the
direction that we’d been heading and said that that was the best way to get to the Promenade and that we had to simply turn left at the
top of the hill and then walk on down – earlier he’d told us that we positively had to walk along the Promenade that runs parallel to the
seafront of Galway Bay, “Be Jaysus. You’ve got to see that if you see nothing else in your entire stay. That’s the whole truth of it, so
t’is.” – and that, “Although ‘tis the long way around, so ‘tis, you should take it,” because that approach would let us get to see it from
the far side which was the best side, “Taking into account of where the sun will be setting itself every blessed evening, so t’will.”
When he’d taken our bags out of the trunk and had put them on the sidewalk I asked him how much did we owe him and he said that
eight euros and sixty pence would cover it. I opened my wallet and I took out a ten and it wasn’t until the last second that I saw that it
was a ten pound note which is worth half as much again as a ten euro bill. I had to practically wrestle the note back out of his hand and
he looked disappointed and then when I gave him a twenty euro bill he tried to avoid giving me any change by plastering me with a
stream of pure blarney as he walked to the door of his cab and I had to go and physically block him to get him to give me ten euros in
‘Grasping,’ was the word that came instantly to mind followed shortly by four more, ‘What a nasty bastard.’
Our room wasn’t ready for us so we had to wait in the lounge for an hour or so and I picked up two local papers that were lying around
and was disappointed to see that they were both exactly like one of the seedier London tabloids but with different names. They came
complete with lots of skin on page three which doesn’t bother me at all except for the fact that it’s surely out of place.
It was well after eleven before we closed the door of our room on the world and then we both slept for nearly four hours, in our
separate beds, to try to meet jet lag half way and thus defeat it.
When we woke up Estelle unpacked her bag completely as if we were staying there for a month rather than two nights and in the
course of opening the closets she saw that there was a safe in one of them that was built into the wall, chest high. It had a clever way
of letting guests set up their own code of four numbers which, when punched in later, showed up on an electronic display which then
changed to display the word, ‘OPEN’ as the door did just that. Estelle asked me to set it up and then she checked it a few times to see
if it worked and when it did so, flawlessly, she entrusted it with our passports and the bulk of our money and the red box that contained
her beloved opal collection.
We both wanted to explore Galway and, later on, to see the sun go down on Galway Bay – try to say, or
even read, that last bit from ‘the sun’ on without bursting into song – and so we got dressed in casual clothes and long proven-out
walking shoes and we went down to the lobby where I handed our key in.
When we got to the end of the hotel’s driveway we turned to go up the hill as the cab driver had urged us to. The road repeatedly
twisted, mostly to the left, and it went on and on and up and up and what looked to be cross streets ahead of us, that we hoped we
could turn left on and go down to the vaunted Promenade, always turned out to be big driveways of huge mansions. I remember that
one of them had a sign in bronze on the gate that said, ‘Dr. —- ——-, Psychiatrist. Private Consulting Rooms at the Rere.’ and we
couldn’t decide whether the spelling mistake was indeed a mistake or if it was a statement.
Ten minutes after reading the good doctor’s sign we were still walking up the hill and we were getting tired, and were already tired of
the lack of scenery, when we saw a white haired man with a walking stick and a gray haired women, who was holding his arm, coming
slowly and carefully down towards us. Normally I wouldn’t have bothered strangers for directions but when they got to be ten feet in
front of us the woman gave us a lovely big smile and said, what was it? “Top of the afternoon,” or some such and that gave me the
opening to say, “So ‘tis, so ‘tis.” – that kind of stuff is highly contagious – and then to go on and ask, “Could you be telling us now if the
road down to the Promenade is much further on up this hill?”
“It is indeed,” she answered, “if you keep going up for about a quarter of
a mile more you’ll come to it but why would you want to go that way, now? The best way is the way that you just came from. You go on
down until you’re past the Hotel and then you take the first right and that takes you nearly directly to the Promenade. So it does.”
I thanked her nicely and they walked on.
I was telling Estelle that it was weird that the cabby seemed to have set enormous store on our seeing the Promenade from the far
approach when the awful, probable truth dawned on me.
I stopped my observation in mid-sentence and I told her, “We’ve been set up!
I’m going to hurry back to the hotel. Follow me on down at your own pace.”
With that I headed back down the hill and I took up my jogging pace, so as to not get too winded, and I moved out into the road
so as to not startle the aged couple too much.
Anxiety, and the disgust at myself for being such a sap, made me keep breaking into a
run and so when I got to the hotel’s driveway I changed to a walking pace so as to have enough air in my lungs to be able to speak
cogently when I got inside.
Once there I asked the receptionist for my key and then if she could get the Manager for me.
A tall, thin guy whose hair was cut so
short that he looked to be bald – I guess that he had his own good reasons for doing it but being hirsutely challenged myself that kind of
thing really annoys me – came out of a back office and he had a name tag that was made of black plastic with engravings that showed
the letters, ‘Asst. Mgr.’ in white. He smiled a question at me and I asked him to come up to my room with me because something
‘untoward’ had happened. There was no way he could refuse to do as I asked because that is what he’s paid to do but anyway that
‘untoward’ of mine had thrown him – I could see that he didn’t know what to make of it – so he led me to the elevators.
When we got to my room I handed him the key and stood aside.
As soon as he’d opened it I knew that my fears had been justified
because we were hit by the stench of cigarette smoke.
I followed the guy in and then around the corner into the main part of the room
and when he got there he exclaimed, “So! ‘Tis you, Kevin, be jeeeze. ‘Tis you is it? What do you think you’re at man?”
When I caught up with him I saw that the question was rhetorical because it was obvious what Kevin was at. So it was. (Sorry, I can’t
seem to stop.)
Kevin was of below medium height and he had unruly hair and his face was cadaver white and it got even whiter as his
predicament became obvious to him. He was wearing bib overalls over a plaid shirt and he had one of those tool belts around his waist
whose leather pouch held a dozen, or so, tools and there was a roll of black plastic tape hanging from a little chain which proclaims to
the world that the owner is an electrician.
Because there was nothing to say he said nothing but I really would have liked to hear a
‘Begorrah’ or two come from him. He slipped off the table that he had put in front of the safe because sitting on it gave him a
comfortable height to work from and he walked, on shaky legs, over to where he could sit down in one of the easy chairs. From then
on he kept his eyes directed down at the carpet and he uttered not a word.
Asst. Mgr. used his cell phone to call up the security guy on duty who came up post haste and he took Kevin away after being
instructed to, “Take him to my office, why don’t you, and be sure to stay with the craven creature until I’ve come to join you.”
Asst. Mgr. was still apologizing to me, and offering free meals and free tickets to all kinds of things in town for as long as we stayed,
when Estelle came into the room.
Asst. Mgr. then started to apologize to her too but she didn’t listen to a word he was saying as she
went straight to the safe and then punched our four-number code in.
When it opened for her she checked our passports and riffled
through the stack of tens and twenties and one hundred dollar bills and then she dropped them onto the table and then reached for her
red case.
Her relief was palpable when she found that her collection was safe and she closed the box and held it to her breast and
then allowed her attention to focus on what the guy was trying to say to her. She perked up considerably when she heard the part
about our having free meals for the rest of our stay.
Asst. Mgr. then called the Garda and when he got through to them he asked for ‘Frank’ and then went out into the passageway to talk
and when he came back in he said that the police were on their way and had told him that they’d like to see us later on when they’d
sorted it all out. Then he took himself away. So he di – well, all right, I think I’ve got it under control now.
Estelle took a private minute to be with her collection and when she’d put them down, in a place where they could been seen from
anywhere in the room, she looked over to me and I saw respect and love and gratitude on her face and also an expression that I
hadn’t seen for some time and then only after I’d worked hard to put it there. It wasn’t quite lust but it was close to it. It was healthy
awareness of the proximity of a male and of what that could lead to. At least.
She sat down on the bed and as she bent over to take her shoes off she told me to go and hang the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign outside on
the door handle and then come back in and put the chain on the door.
When I got back she was unbuttoning her blouse and she told
me to get undressed and then lie down on my bed.
I hurried to obey and when she was naked too she came over and climbed up on
to the bed and she put her head down by my feet and then passed one leg and one arm over my body and then moved to straddle me.
She then crawled slowly backwards and watching her approach was delightful and when she’d nearly arrived I said, “Oh man! What a
marvelous sight that is,” and I was astonished, and pleased, to hear her answer me with, “Yes, I knew you’d like – – – ” and she
couldn’t finish the sentence because it’s rude to talk with one’s mouth full.
The wonder of her was hovering over my face and I set to
with enthusiasm and tried to eat it all up and my drive and need to keep going at it increased instead of lessening and after a while that
made me realize that that was because the only real motivator was not only more than half-hard already but was clearly on course to
making us both aware, from past experience, that her teeth would shortly become a hazard to its welfare.
Only another guy of my age who hasn’t got it up for months can appreciate the marvelous feeling that the return of the big guy gave
me. If nothing else his presence very definitely put me back in charge of the proceedings.
When I’d had a more than generous helping,
and needed air, I disengaged and said, “Wow! Let me tell you something little darling, if Mother Nature has ever made anything better
than this she’s kept it to herself.”
Evidently Estelle judged that her efforts had succeeded admirably by then because she disengaged too, carefully, and she moved
around to bring her head up onto the pillow and as I was getting into position she said, “I’ll bet that you’re wondering what happened to
get me to change my mind about not doing that for you, right? Well, I’ll tell you . . . Ooooh! No, wait a minute, let me help you. Lift up a
bit . . . Oh, I’m getting way too old for this . . . There. Yes. Now go slowly please . . . Ooooomph! Didn’t I say ‘go slowly? Well, it’s in
now so I guess you can go ahead. Slowly. Ah, yes! Like that. That’s it, that’s nice . . . . . . Oh, uh, please stop moving for a minute dear
because I want to tell you something before you get carried away and make me forget . . . there, thank you dear, It won’t take long to
say it. Well now, what was I saying? . . Oh, yes. Why did I change my mind about doing – uh – that for you? Yes. Well, it was the same
Mother Nature that you just mentioned who was responsible for my change of mind. It came to me, when that Asst. Mgr. was going on
and on about how sorry he was, that She has made a grave mistake in your case because any man who can think that quickly and
react that successfully is nowhere nearly ready to be made obsolete yet and . . .”
She’d had to stop talking then because I couldn’t
wait any longer and soon my shouts of, “Yes! Oh yes, baby. Oh, yes!” filled the room and excluded further comments from her that
weren’t equally appropriate and equally spontaneous.
However, long experience has given me enough sense to know that it was highly unlikely there’d be a second miracle for me in the
immediate future so I only used my baton until I’d established my dominance beyond all question and then I withdrew it to as to be able
to conduct the orchestra with it in the ongoing love-play.
As I’ve said, and as every man who is still alive knows well, when we get an
erection animal drive comes with it and it was animal overdrive that came with mine in that hotel room. It was like having a long-lost
friend come back and I wanted to, and did, introduce him all over. What made that possible for me was that Estelle thought that I could
do no wrong and so she patiently let me position her body any which way and she even cooperated with me so that I could experiment
with a fun position that I’d never dared even suggest to her before in more than forty years of sharing the same bed.
Also, I insisted on using my baton as a dipstick every so often, because I could, and – after my long hiatus – being able to offer it up
for burial felt wonderful every time.
I also insisted on having her firm it up from time to time, because I could, and also because I’d never before been in a position to see
her, oh! so familiar face, going at it like a pro down there – all on her own and with no covering help from me needed.
A bit later – we
were by no means finished, due to my retention expertise, and we were still all tangled up and still murmuring with pleasure – the
phone rang and that infuriated both of us because the shock of it made me lose my overly-sensitive and shy – you’re-very-welcome-
and-mind-you-come-back-often – appendage. After a little choice cussing, on reflection neither of us much minded about that part of it
because we both knew where it had gone and how to find it and bring it back but, even so, losing the moment was, to say the least,
It was Asst. Mgr. calling and he asked if he could bring the Garda officers – a ‘Leftenant’, as they say, and a detective – up to our
room, “To the scene of the crime, Ha Ha.”
I said sure and I asked him if he could give us ten minutes although I really wanted to ask,
“Uh, how about tomorrow? Would that be OK with you?”
I knew that we needed a ten minute delay to calm down and to slow our
breathing back to near normal – and also because I thought it would be best if we were dressed when we were having our talk with the
cops – but the way that I explained the reason for it over the phone was, “We need a little time to be able to close and lock the safe
before you get up here.” There came a shocked intake of breath in my ear and then prolonged silence and I realized that he was a bit
over-sensitive, no doubt because what happened had been on his watch, and that consequently my little playful kidding around was a
faux pas so I hurried to fill the silence with words, “Hey, man! That was a joke. You know?”
He was obviously relieved to hear it but
didn’t sound mollified.
When they came up we sat around the little round table – Asst. Mgr. had to sit on the bed – and the Leftenant told us what Kevin ‘the
craven creature’ had confessed to.
He’d admitted that he was in cahoots – that just has to be an Irish word – with our taxi driver who
was already in custody too – Galway is a small town after all – and he’d also admitted that they’d successfully pulled off the scam
together several times before but with long intervals between each one. Their MO was that when the taxi driver sensed that there was
something valuable in the offing – in our case he had seen that Estelle was carrying something that was important to her in her leather
bag – he’d take pains to impress on his passengers the value of going up the hill to get to the Promenade knowing that the full circle
would take them at least two hours to complete and that Kevin needed only one and a half hours to be sure that he could get the safe
open. The cabby would call Kevin on his cell phone and describe the pigeons and Kevin would keep an eye out and when he saw
them leave the hotel and go up the hill he’d go to work.
They told us that he was the hotel’s day-shift maintenance electrician and so he
always had access to the master key that opened nearly every lock in the place and he could therefore easily get into any of the
guest rooms. However, the master-code-over-ride sequence of numbers that can open all of the room safes was known only by the
Manager and his four assistants – it seems that they have to have it at hand because guests forget the code that they’d put in, or can’t
master the techniques involved in getting it open, at an average rate of two to three times every day – and Kevin had told them that he
liked the idea of not being given access to the master code because that way he wouldn’t be a suspect if and when one of the safes
got robbed.
He’d explained that he needed plenty of time in case the code started with a high number. If it started with a ‘zero’ he’d need five
minutes or less and if with a ‘one’ he’d need five more minutes or less and so on up to ‘nine’ which would take more than an hour.
did it the hard way. He’d punch in – 0000 and then – 0001 and then – 0002 and so on up to – 0999 and then he’d punch in – 1000 and
then – 1001 and then – 1002 and so on.
I didn’t tell them – I was trying to maintain an ‘innocent abroad’ image – that I could easily
believe his MO because in high school I’d won countless challenges to open any of the three digit tumbler locks that we used on our
lockers in ten minutes or less. In fact I’d done it legitimately for the custodian once – he usually simply cut the hasp with bolt-cutters
but maybe that time he wanted to save spending money on a new lock or maybe to watch me and learn the secret for himself – and
for no less a personage than the Headmaster a second time. One of the numbers had begun with a one and the other with a three so
it took me around two and four minutes, respectively, to open them. The first one had been on the locker of a jerk who had moved
away somewhere and had closed it and locked it out of bloody-mindedness and the other one was on the locker of a kid who was in
hospital with a broken hip and something was beginning to stink in there. It turned out to be his football gear which had been washed
maybe once at the beginning of the season and that had been months earlier.
It’s a tedious way of opening them but it’s inevitably
successful. Has to be.
“Well, sor,” said the Leftenant, “it’s thanks to you that we’ve caught them at last. This would have been the fifth case of guests’ being
robbed here over the years and ‘twas a real puzzle, so ‘twas . . . So. If you’ll be kind enough to come to the station tomorrow we’ll be
able to finish the paperwork and when that’s done with they’ll stay in jail for a couple of years at least. So they will.”
I knew that the
three of them had been disconcerted with seeing the permanent smile that was on my face, and that had been there ever since they’d
come into the room, and with the semi-stifled smile that was on Estelle’s face but they all got to be flabbergasted on top of that with
what I said next.
“Why don’t we let it go?”
“But, sor.”
“Why, sor?”
“How’s that again, sor?”
“Well,” I said, “the way I see it is that Kevin – he of the sore index finger – will certainly get fired from here and will have a police record
for life and probably won’t get a job in another hotel, nor in any other organization, ever. He’ll have to become a jobbing electrician and
that in itself is a nasty punishment. It’ll be – Knock, knock – ‘Ah, excuse me for bothering you, ma’am, but would you be having any
broken appliances that need fixing, now?’ And the taxi driver will also be fired and will have a record for life and won’t find employment
with any other taxi company in the whole country. Also for ever, and he’ll be forced to get a real job like driving a truck back and fore to
Europe maybe. Can you imagine having to do that for a living?”
“That’s true enough, so it is, but, sor, why? Why are you doing this?”
“Well, apart from the fact that we don’t want to be bothered anymore by this affair – we’re on vacation remember? – we don’t want to
waste a half of tomorrow in your Police Station and we certainly don’t want to have come back here months from now for the court
case. Now do we? I’m sure you can understand that. We’re sorry to let you down, really, but we don’t want to press charges.
Everybody deserves a second chance and – my wife will agree with me on this – even Mother Nature turns out to be wrong
sometimes. Right, dear?”
They let the last part of that go by them and when they eventually saw that I wasn’t going to change my mind they reluctantly got up to
go and the Leftenant said to Asst. Mgr., as if I wasn’t there, “Your man here thinks he’s still in the States but don’t trouble yourself at
all, this is Ireland and it’ll be a real long while before either of those miserable thieving creatures get wetted by the rain or feel the
warmth of the sun on their backs again, so it will.”
At the door he turned and said to me, “Can I ask you something that’s maybe a little small tiny bit personal, sor? Well, this is it. Are you
both some of those born again Christians, now? Like that old president of yours – uh, what was his name, now? I forget, so I do.”
Asst. Mgr. said, “Jimmy Carter. It was President Jimmy Carter, so it was.”
“Ha! That’s your man. That’s the real truth of it, so ‘tis. Well,
sor, the reason I ask is that I felt a kind of, what you might call, an aura in this room when we first entered and I also saw then and see
now what my old Priest, may he rest in peace in the presence of the blessed Holy Father, might have called a ‘beatific smile’ on both of
your faces. I’m very interested to know and I’d be very grateful if you’d tell me why ‘tis so, so I would.”
“Well now,” says I, “My wife is a born again Christian it’s true and I myself have very recently, very recently indeed, become a born
again Humanist. We Humanists don’t have churches or chapels nor do we do any praying because we think that God should be
allowed to get on with his work up there while we’re getting on with ours down here on Earth. However, we have similar
commandments like Christians although we call ours ‘tenets’. The most important ones are the ‘Love thy neighbor’ and the ‘Do unto
others – – ’ ones.”
I’d made it up as I went along – I really don’t know where that word ‘tenet’ came from – but I could hardly tell him the truth now could I?
We shook hands all around and Estelle held on to the hand of Asst. Mgr. and locked her eyes onto his name tag and she said, “That’s
a strange name that you have, sir – is it short for something like, ‘Assituous Magwire?’ – I suppose that it’s an old Irish name and I’m
surprised that it doesn’t have ‘1V’ or ‘V’ or even ‘V1’ after it. But listen, Mr. Magwire, if that’s what it is, you won’t forget about your offer
of free meals for as long as we stay here will you? Good. Well we’d like full Irish breakfasts with coffee and orange juice brought up
here every morning when we call room service and, of course, we’ll need menus in advance of lunch and dinner each day.
got that straight have you, Mr. Magwire? I mean, you’ll be sure to pass it all on to the appropriate departments in your lovely hotel,
won’t you now?”
Listening to her frivolous banter I thought to myself, ‘There’s just got to be something in the water or the air in this country.’
When I’d escorted the three of them out, and had once more shaken hands with them all, I went back into the room and Estelle was
sitting on the bed undoing the buttons on her blouse again.
“Put the chain on the door and unplug the phone,” she ordered, “and then
get back here and get undressed.”
When I’d done that she asked, “What were you thinking by keeping them here all that time? You got me to be all aroused and then
made me stay in this small room with four men. I’m so far gone that I thought that their nasty tobacco breath and body odor smelt like
cologne. So, come and lie down, Mr. Humanist, and let me make you huge again by using one of those ‘Tenets’ of yours. The one that
says, ‘love your neighbor.’ “
She had to stop talking then to use her mouth for a more immediate task and when I was sure that the treatment was working for me
again I arranged two pillows so as to be able to watch her face as she mouthed away and when the awe that I was getting from the
sight eased off a bit I swiveled my body slowly around my central axis – or pole – with a great deal of care so as to not make her
pause at what she was at, or get raked by her teeth, until her smooth bottom was in range of one of my hands and I was careful to not
let even my little finger get close to Happy Valley which would have broken her rhythm.
I thought, ‘Thank God for family reunions and for travel across the Atlantic and for opals and for inept thieves and for whatever is in
the air, or the water, in Ireland.’
As I said, except for a little caressing I lay still for her and I was experiencing true bliss and so every time that she asked something
that sounded like, “Ankerwopaet?” I’d say, “A little more I think, dear.” Or, “We’re nearly there, dear. Keep going.” Or, “We’re really,
really close. Don’t stop.” But when her query seemed stronger and contained fewer vowels and more consonants, something like,
‘Qankkkakkkikkkatat!’ I accepted the inevitable and I lovingly slapped her bottom and then I told her that she’d succeeded
brilliantly and that she’d done a wonderful job and that, “You can disengage down there and then come up here and let me engage in
one of your Christian commandments. The one that says, ‘T’is true that thou shalt cleve unto thy wife, so you shall.’ ”