Doleful Vinny goes walkabout as the news sinks in
Visiting times smack bang in the middle of the Saturday racing
Stepping over a pool of vomit in Frenchman’s Lane, Vinny Fitzpatrick pulled his hoodie over his baldy bonce, dug his flabby paws deep inside his jean pockets, and sniffed the mild morning air.
He had allowed himself the entire Sunday morning for a ramble. After all, he was not obliged to be anywhere, for anyone. In a city of more than a million souls he was a man without ties, without responsibilities, and almost without hope.
At Butt Bridge, he took a right hammer, and shuffled off unhurriedly in the direction of Heuston Station, for he was no Rob Heffernan.
From Kingsbridge, he might wander into the Park, or wait for Ryan’s to open, depending on his mood, which had been mostly dark since Angie’s damning verdict on their marriage a week earlier.
If seven days was regarded as a long time in politics, it had been an age for Vinny, who was still scrambling for a foothold of reason after taking a week’s holidays from Dublin Bus to gather himself.
Initially, he thought Angie’s anger would subside and peace talks would open with a text, followed by a pot of tea and a chocolate éclair or two in Bunter’s Café.
But his wife, a bit like Maggie Thatcher, was not for turning, as the post to Causeway Avenue had confirmed. In neat handwriting, Angie had laid down her terms.
Vinny was to be allowed access to the twins on Saturdays between 2.0pm and 6.0pm – smack, bang in the middle of the racing, he noted – and he could drop in on Wednesdays between 6.30 and 8.30 to “give them a bath and put them to bed.”
Any other arrangement outside of these hours “would not be permitted,” warned Angie.
That missive had arrived on Thursday morning and it was a straw which broke Vinny’s hairy back, particularly when Ollie, his gay tenant, put a hand tenderly on his shoulder and asked if there was anything he could do “to ease his pain.” Vinny had enough of Ollie’s openly oily ways; he also felt hemmed in by the four walls of his old family home.
He couldn’t bear to look at the photos of his late parents anymore without feeling how he’d let them down. “Not so much top of the world Ma, as bottom of the barrel,” he said to himself. Shielding tears, Vinny had shoved a few clothes and toiletries into his battered Gola holdall.
First, he thought about heading for the Rosslare Ferry – Vinny had a long-standing invitation to visit his cousin, Billy, in Swansea – but within a few hours, that plan had been scrapped as Vinny was holed up in Cleary’s pub in Amiens Street.
It explained his slightly dishevelled appearance in Isaacs Hostel nearby later that evening where he’d negotiated a private room for €200 cash, up front, for a week.
The first night, he hadn’t slept. He’d just lain there, looking at the ceiling, thinking of decisions and revisions which in a minute might reverse.
Friday had been a ’mare. He punted blindly at Cheltenham, blowing over a ton in Paddy Power in Talbot Street in jig time, before tootling up to Dalymount Park for a pick-me-up, only to see his beloved Bohemians lose to Bray Wanderers, of all teams.