‘I’m there, “Well, thank God it’s only treason. I’ll get a round in. Is it too early to switch to shorts?” ’


Chad says he owes me an explanation, except I tell him that he owes me, like, nothing?

“An explanation,” he goes. “is the least I owe you. I owe you an apology too. A big one. I told you we were old friends. I told you we went way back. I abused your trust and I abused your hospitality.”

“That’s what bros do,” I go, looking at Christian, Fionn, Oisínn and JP for back-up.

“Ask these dudes. I’ve slept with most of their girlfriends slash wives, past and present. I’ve slept with at least one of their mothers. But we’re still all mates. And the reason for that is that mates, like, forgive each other shit?”

I’m babbling, possibly frightened of what he’s going to say here. Fionn tells me to shut the fock up and just listen.

“You’re right,” Chad goes. “I wasn’t in Ocean City in the summer in 2001. Until, what, four, five weeks ago, I’d never even heard of you guys. The truth is, well, there’s no easy way to say this, so I’m going to just say it out. I’m on the run.”

JP’s there, “You’re saying you’re, like, a fugitive?”

Chad’s like, “Kind of? I mean, they’re not looking for me yet. But they’re going to be. Very soon. And if I go back to the States, I’ll be arrested.”

We all just look at each other in literally stunned silence. It’s definitely the weirdest conversation any of us has ever had in Kielys and that’s saying something.

It’s Fionn who ends up asking the question. See, he’s got that kind of mind. “Arrested for what?” he goes.

Chad’s like, “Treason.”

I finally breathe out again. I’m pretty sure I even laugh. I’m there, “I thought you were going to say, like, murder or something. Well, thank God it’s only treason. I’ll get a round in. Is it too early to switch to shorts?”

Christian goes, “Ross, treason is a serious crime.”

I’m like, “Treason? Is treason not something from, like, the olden days?”

Fionn’s there, “Ross, have you read
a newspaper in the last, oh, three

“No,” I go, “but I’ve read magazines. So I know that R-Patz is back texting K-Stew and that garish scarf prints shouldn’t be tamed this year, especially if they’re being worn with on-trend molten metallics.”

I hang my hand in the air, except Chad doesn’t high-five it. The mood is deadly serious.

“My name isn’t even Chad,” he goes, which – like the whole treason thing – isn’t that big a deal to me. He’s brought on
my golf game, fixed the Lambo and
helped me stand up to my daughter’s bullying.

He’s also sat down and watched the video of the 1999 Leinster Schools Senior Cup final with me and said some incredibly nice things about my rugby, even though baseball is his actual sport and he wouldn’t know a rugby ball if one passed through his intestine.

“My real name is Aron,” he goes. “It’s Aron Ginnifer and I’m originally from Raleigh in North Carolina. I worked as a systems analyst for the, er, well, for the CIA. It was in that role that I had access to certain privileged information – information relating to national security – which I chose to put into the public domain.”

Fionn, JP, Christian and Oisínn all stare at me. There’s a definite I-told-you-so vibe.

He goes, “An internal review was ordered into the source of the leak. I could see the net was closing, so I decided I should maybe go overseas.”

I nod. “Hey,” I go, “I’ve had my own problems with the Feds here,” just letting him know that we’ve all done stuff that’s not one hundred per cent legal?

“Treason wouldn’t be on my list. With me, it’s mostly driving offences, criminal damage, blahdy blah. The first thing I do when I’m trouble, though, is I ring my old man and he puts Hennessy Coghlan-O’Hara on the case.”

Chad goes, “Well, as it happens, that’s what I did, too.”

All the goys look at each other and nod, like the penny has suddenly dropped. I still don’t cop it, though. I’m slower than Lincoln.

Chad picks up on it immediately. Were you ever friends with someone who just, like, gets you?

“My dad and Hennessy go way, way back,” he goes. “In fact, Hennessy is my godfather. When I realised I was in trouble, he said, hey, let’s get you out of there and over to Ireland until we decide on our next move.

“He got me a passport in the name of Chad Brickner. Credit cards, everything. Hennessy has some pretty good connections, you probably already know.”

He means he’s as bent as a bag of snakes.

“He told me he knew someone I could stay with, a born sucker who didn’t have the brains he entered the world with – no offence, Ross – who wouldn’t ask too many questions once I kept reminiscing about the summer of 2001 and complimenting him on his rugby.”

I’m there, “So that stuff you said about it being one of the greatest injustices in the history of sport that I was never offered an IRFU
contract . . . ”

He goes, “I’m sorry, Ross. Hennessy filled me in on a lot of your J1 stories. He still had all your old rap sheets on file. The rest I put together from old photographs you guys put on your Facebook pages. I
everything I could about you on the flight over here.”

JP’s like, “So what would happen if you went back?”

Chad – because I’m refusing to call him Aron Ginnifer – goes, “Worst case? I’d be executed.”

I’m there, “Chad, I am not going to let that happen.”

And I love the way my voice sounds when I say it.

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