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