‘Sometimes I have to tell you what you want to hear . . . I’m tempted to say that’s marriage’


Sorcha was angry. She was, like, Tiger’s wife angry. That’s why I’m staying with my old man for a few days – just until it all blows over. Or maybe a few weeks. I’d definitely expect to be home by Christmas.

Oisinn nods. He’s always been a good listener. “Do you want me to beer you?” he goes. I’m like, “Yeah, no, definitely beer me.”

We’re in, like, Kielys – er, where else! – and I’m filling him in on the events of the past week. An employee suing me for supposed sexual harassment, the old man deciding to sell the company to pay her off, then my wife overreacting to the news by trying to wrap a nine-iron around my head.

“You just can’t catch a break,” Oisinn goes. “It’s like you’re cursed or something.”

I’m like, “Keep saying stuff like that to me, Dude. This has rocked my confidence in a big-time way.”

I’m in bad form tonight and people have picked up on it. In this place, I usually have five or six girls gathered around me like seagulls waiting for chum to be tossed. But not tonight. No, they’re keeping their distance. Leaving me to stew in my misery.

“Could you not just let the case go to court,” Oisinn goes, “then tell the jury a pack of lies?”

It’s true what Father Fehily used to say – a Castlerock College education is a winning ticket in the lottery of life.

“Yeah,” I go, “that was obviously what I was going to do. Except the girl has got recordings.”

He goes, “Recordings?”

“Yeah, recordings of me – you know – telling her, for example, that she smelled great and that she was the kind of woman I’d be prepared to risk my marriage for.”

“Those are good lines.”

“Like I said, keep saying stuff like that to me. You’ve no idea how much it helps.”

“Hang on, isn’t it illegal to record someone without their permission?”

“I don’t know.”

“Dude, I’m pretty sure it is. So that would make that stuff inadmissible as evidence.”

“Would it?”

“I think so. Either way, I can’t believe your old man is just, like, caving? I’d have thought Hennessy would love to get – what’s her name?”


“Phaedra . . . in the witness box.”

“Well, apparently not.”

Beside me there’s a dude – he’s one of Oisinn’s friends from Riverview – and he’s doing this thing that’s irritating me almost to the point of violence. Every time someone says something that he’s, like, Scooby Dubious about, he goes, “Citation needed!” at the top of his voice. And he’s drinking a gin and tonic as well. The whole thing is ridiculous.

“Sorry,” I suddenly go, “can you stop saying citation needed? If that becomes a thing, I’m going to end up possibly hurting someone. And the first person I’m going to hurt is you.”

Oisinn puts his hand on my shoulder. “Dude,” he goes, “you’ve maybe had enough to drink.”

I’m like, “Well, it just so happens that I want more than enough.”

“Ross, go home.”

“I’m not going home.”

“Ross,” he goes, squeezing my shoulder, “you really should go home.”

Oisinn is a good friend. I’m lucky to have him. I call him every bad name under the sun and he stands there and just takes it, then he tells me that he’ll ring me tomorrow and I stagger out onto Donnybrook Road and stort making my way back to the old man’s gaff on Ailesbury Road – in other words, my temporary home?

Of course, crossing Donnybrook Bridge, I end up having the bright idea of drunk-calling my wife. One day someone is going to come up with an app that detects alcohol on your breath and automatically shuts down your phone when you try to ring certain pre-assigned numbers. It’s going to be called iMpissed and whichever one of us invents it first is going to be a billionaire.

She answers on the third ring. She hasn’t calmed down yet. “Don’t even think about coming here,” is her opening line.

“Babes,” I go, “I just wanted to possibly put my side of the story to you.”

“You can barely put two words together. Do not come out to this house.”

“I mean, yeah, I complimented the girl on how she looked once or twice. And I said I’d love to go for a drink with her – obviously, as a friend. But that’s me, Sorcha. I’m a sweet-talker. Can I just remind you that it’s one of the many things that first attracted you to me.”

“I told you to get rid of her. Oh my God, I could see something like this happening.”

“You’re the brains of the operation, Sorcha. I’ve never denied that.”

“You told me you fired her months ago.”

“Sometimes I have to tell you what you want to hear just to stop you reacting in a certain way. I’m tempted to say that’s marriage.”

“Don’t come anywhere near this house.”

“Until when? Are we setting a date for my return?”

“I haven’t decided if you’re coming back, Ross. Ever. Goodbye.”

She hangs up, leaving me standing there in total shock. But the real shock of the night has yet to come.

I put my phone in my pocket and I stort making my way up Ailesbury Road, thinking that this is definitely the most upset I’ve ever known Sorcha. Even my best one-liners were useless on her. And that’s when I hear the sudden sound of laughter.

I’m, like, 30 yords away from my old man’s gaff and I can hear him and obviously Hennessy sharing a joke in the front gorden. At first I’m thinking that they must be as mullered as I am. Then I notice them step out onto the road and there’s someone with them. A woman. She’s getting into her car and the old man is going, “A job well done!” and “We’re very much indebted to you.”

And I realise, with a fright that almost causes my bowels to give out, that the woman getting into the cor is Phaedra.

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