Unexpected red card leaves Vinny reeling in shock
Old habits prove costly as Angie calls a sudden halt to her husband’s gallop
Whistling The Cuckoo Waltz, for he was an ardent Laurel and Hardy fan, Vinny Fitzpatrick’s step was light as he arrived home in Mount Prospect Avenue on Sunday evening. As he had stopped off in Foley’s for two swift pints, he was a little tardy, which was nothing new, but Angie would understand. She always did.
As a peace offering, he’d popped into the Spar, where’d he bought a bunch of slightly withered flowers and a box of After Eight, which it was now, by some half an hour. Vinny carefully turned the key in the squeaky lock, nudged the door open and called out gently, “Hi love, it’s only me”.
Overhead, there was a scurry of feet which prompted a smile on his lugubrious features as it meant the twins were not asleep yet and he could pop up and wish them good night. But first, it was time to report in to his darling beloved.
Angie was in the kitchen, which was not unusual of a Sunday evening, but instead of keeping an eye on her cooking chores, she was sitting at the kitchen table, armed with a stern expression and a glass of water.
As soon as Vinny caught Angie’s eye, he felt a shiver run up his spine. There was trouble ahead, he was certain.
“Sit down, please,” commanded Angie, beckoning to the chair opposite. Vinny did as instructed, taking care to slide the flowers and choccies under the table out of view. He had a feeling they were no longer relevant. He was right.
What followed was a bolt from the blue for the middle-aged bus driver, a succession of bolts in fact, as Angie let rip. She began matter-of-factly, pointing out that he was late yet again, which was no surprise, as it was “a long time since I could depend on you to come home in time”.
Vinny was about to interject and apologise, when the next fusillade was launched, at a slightly higher pitch. “I’m fed up arranging cover in the shop to come home and prepare your dinner, only for you to swan in at all hours, thinking your shabby presents will make amends.”
After a pause, Angie hit top gear. “You know, I thought there was a glimmer of hope for us when you applied for redundancy but you managed to screw that up.
“Since then, you’ve carried on like the Vinny Fitzpatrick of old, drinking merrily away, with more time for your mates, and your precious passengers, than you have for your wife and children.
“Your betting is out of hand, and yet you dared to dip into your precious reserves in that biscuit tin of yours just so you could swan into Foley’s and brag about being a member of a bloody golf club!” she thundered.
As Vinny felt himself shake, Angie continued the barrage.
“Have you any idea how far €1,200 in cash could go in this house? How much breathing space it would give us in the crèche for Oisín and Aoife? No, you haven’t a clue. Instead, it has been burnt on the bonfire of Vinny’s vanities,” she wailed.
The onslaught continued as Angie pointed out how she hadn’t managed to play a single game of tennis all summer due to Vinny’s late hours and the increasing demands on her time.
And now she had had to quit the Lexicon Ladies Club, with whom she had spent every second Thursday evening in Raheny Hall for the past 20 years playing Scrabble from October to April.
With her brown eyes awash with tears, she slated Vinny for his selfish ways. “I thought I could change you but I was wrong. Like that damned golf society you’re always going on about, you are soiled and ancient,” she added before bursting into tears.
It was several minutes before the sobbing stopped and the echoes of the vocal assault fell silent. Vinny was as white as a sheet, and felt as low as a serpent’s belly. His mind was in a spin and he didn’t know where to start.
Panic-stricken, he tried to forge a rescue plan. He would cash in the leave due to him from work, give Foley’s a break for a week or two, hold fire on betting, at least until the Paddy Power weekend at Cheltenham, and devote time to rebuilding the cracks in his marriage. He would take Angie away on a weekend break, just the two of them, to Edinburgh or maybe London.
“Angie love, I’m so, so sorry,” he began but his attempted apology was cut short by her raised hand.
“I’ve been thinking hard about this over the past couple of months, and I’ve made a decision, Vincent,” she said. When Vinny heard his full name, he knew he was in dire trouble. Things couldn’t get any worse, could they? They could.
“Right now I need space. For that to happen I need you out of my sight. You can sleep in the spare room tonight but I want you to pack your things tomorrow and go,” she said. “You can take a room in your old house on Causeway Avenue. You and your bachelor pal will be perfect company for each other.”
By now, Angie’s voice had softened. Her tone was back under control. “I’m sorry too,” she said. “After Ron and I broke up, I thought you were my knight in shining armour, my big cuddly teddy bear who’d keep me warm at night, protect me and put a smile on my face And for a while, you were exactly that. Everything was perfect. But the Vinny I dreamed you could become retreated into the shadows, and the old Vinny, who loves a pint, a punt and his pals, in that order, has re-emerged.
“I’ve tried to keep things together but between the kids, work and your complete indifference to what’s going on, something has to give, and it has – our marriage. I’ll be in touch in a couple of days to arrange for you to see the twins. Until then, please don’t try and call me or come into Boru Betting.”
By now, Vinny’s jaw had dropped open. He couldn’t think clearly and he certainly couldn’t speak. His head was spinning and he thought he was going to throw up.
He pushed back the chair, scattering the cheap flowers underfoot and stumbled blindly from the kitchen. Grabbing his coat, he slammed the hall door, leaving his wife, his life, and his kids, behind him.