‘I’ll say in court I was a model boss, family man, never strayed once in my married life – blah, blah, blah’
I have the gaff to myself tonight. Honor is off terrorising some other kid on a play date, while Sorcha is at her Advanced Hip Hop Yogalates class, where women give their core a good workout while calling each other “mofo”, demanding respect and threatening to pop a cap in each other’s asses.
I’m watching my DVD of the 2011 Ken Cup final, with three or four cans of the wonder stuff, when the doorbell suddenly rings. At first, I’m wondering did Sorcha forget her beanie and her imitation Glock. But it turns out to be the old man, who’s standing there with a look of what would have to be described as agitation on his face and a cigar like King Kong’s index finger wedged between his teeth.
He’s like, “Ross, we need to talk.”
“Yeah, no,” I go, “I’m kind of, like, busy at the moment?”
It’s approaching half-time and The Ster are obviously 22-6 down. It’s at that point that I like to pause the action and deliver an imaginary team talk that sends the players out to obliterate Northampton in the second half.
I genuinely love my evenings in.
“Ross,” he goes, “this is rather important,” and then I notice Hennessy, his solicitor, coming up the path behind him, also sucking on a Cohiba like the thing contains vital oxygen.
I have no choice but to invite them in.
The old man sits down in my chair while Hennessy paces back and forth across the living room. The old man doesn’t even comment on what’s on the screen. Usually, it’d be, “That match would never have been in doubt had a certain Ross O’Carroll-Kelly Esquire started at number 10!” except this time there’s nothing like that.
Instead, he goes, “How’s that intern of yours working out?”
I’m like, “Phaedra? Like a dream. She’s actually a great worker on top of, you know, her other chorms.”
“You added her to the payroll, I see.”
“Dude, I’m entitled to hire and fire as I please. I’m the managing director of this company, bear in mind.”
I hear a snort from Hennessy. He’s picked up my famous rugby tactics book and he’s reading all the things I would have said to each individual player at half time in Cardiff. Hennessy thinks I’m a complete waste of space.
“And how has she been this week?” the old man goes. “Have you noticed anything different about her behaviour?”
I’m like, “No, because she’s been sick all week. Well, I’m presuming she’s been sick. I usually pick her up on the old Upper Glenageary Road. Except she hasn’t been there any morning this week. Sorry, what the fock is all this about and how is it more important than what I was doing when you knocked on the door?”
Hennessy slams my tactics book shut with a loud bang. I actually jump with the fright I end up getting.
The old man goes, “She’s suing us, Ross. She’s suing Shred Focking Everything.”
I laugh. That’s how ridiculous it seems to me. I’m like, “Why? On what basis?”
“She’s alleging sexual harassment.”
“Now, I want you to think very, very hard, Ross. Is there anything you might have said or done in the course of your time working together that she might have misconstrued as an unwelcome advance?”
“God, I’m racking my brains here and there’s very little happening.”
That’s when Hennessy decides to enter the conversation. He pulls a wad of A4 pages from his inside pocket. It’s obviously a letter of some sort. He opens it out. Like I said, he hates my guts.
He goes, “Did you address her as Babes?”
I’m there, “I address every girl as Babes. Certainly the lookers.”
“Did you comment on her appearance?”
“I comment on every girl’s appearance.”
“Did you tell her that she was the kind of woman you’d leave your wife for?”
“I’m a gift of the gab merchant. What, they’ve made that illegal now as well?”
He folds the letter and puts it back in his pocket. He’s like, “Tell him the good news, Charlie.”
The old man goes, “She’s suing the company for €100,000.”
I’m like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa – I’m still struggling to get my head around this. I told her most mornings that she looked well. I called her Babes in a friendly way. I asked her out on a date once or twice, maybe more. And that’s worth a hundred grand?”
“She says she told you she wasn’t comfortable with you always hitting on her,” Hennessy goes.
I’m there, “Yeah, no, that is true. But the agreement we came to was that I’d try to find a happy medium between being myself and being, I suppose, a lecherous boss. I’m proud to say that I found that happy medium.”
“Well,” Hennessy goes, “not according to this €100,000 lawsuit.”
“We were getting on really well. I can’t believe she’d stab me in the back like this. We’re going to fight this, I presume.”
The old man goes, “And how do you propose we fight it, Ross?”
I’m there, “I’ll stand up in court and deny everything. Say I was a model boss, family man, never strayed once in my married life – blah, blah, blah.”
“You mean commit perjury?”
“It’s not a big deal. You said it yourself, it’s a victimless crime – like not paying your road tax or dumping waste into the sea.”
“Yeah,” Hennessy goes, “except she’s got recordings.”
I’m like, “Recordings?”
“Of you. Presumably doing your Workplace Warren Beatty routine. Which means – in legalese – we don’t got a leg to stand on.”
I’m there, “You’re saying you’re actually going to pay her?”
“No,” the old man goes. “I’m saying you’re going to pay her. I’m sorry, Ross, we’re going to have to liquidate the company.”
I’m like, “What? But that’s, like, my livelihood.”
I hear the front door suddenly slam. “Oh, no,” I go. “That’s Sorcha. I told her I got rid of Phaedra at the stort of the summer.”
My wife suddenly pops her head around the door of the living room, still wearing her diamanté-encrusted shades and her large dollar-sign pendant.
“Yo,” she goes. “What’s going on?”