Vinny Fitzpatrick bumps into Mel the magnificent
But a shock lies in store as he clocks into Clontarf garage for work
Vinny Fitzpatrick didn’t usually wear sunglasses but on this Monday morning, a part of him was glad he did. They were a decent pair too, wraparound jet black Ray Bans, behind which no one could see what his observing, slightly piggy, eyes were up to.
Which was just as well, for the 55-year-old bus driver was having a quick gander at the fine string of brood mares milling about the cobble-lock paddock of ‘Ankle-Biters’ Montessori in Clontarf’s Kincora Gardens.
Amid the chatter, charm and low-cut blouses, carnal thoughts briefly crossed Vinny’s mind – for it was one of those post-drink mornings where he felt perky – and he had to check himself to remind himself of his age, and his responsibilities.
He harrumphed aloud to no one in particular, flushed, and shuffled uneasily on his trotters. ‘I’m like a wizened thorn among a bunch of roses,’ he thought to himself.
Vinny held hands with the twins, who were assessing their unfamiliar surroundings with curiosity. Not far off their fourth birthday, Oisin was the spit of his old man, short, fair and plump, while Aoife was the cut of her mother, dark, slender and already tall for her age. Both were ready for the off.
Suddenly, there was a hubbub as the front door opened, and the runners and riders trotted forward.
Vinny thought there might be a problem loading up the twins but they slipped into the stalls like proven handicappers and he blew them a kiss with paternal pride.
Just then, Vinny felt a light tap on his shoulder. He turned to see an attractive, silver-haired lady of mature years, towering over him.
“The great Vinny Fitzpatrick, if I’m not mistaken. It’s been a long time,” said the stranger in a husky, almost masculine, voice, which reminded Vinny of Lauren Bacall.
Vinny did a double-take. And then, it hit him. Only a week after recalling the grope-a-dope evenings of his teenage years in the Parochial Hall, there was the Ice Maiden herself, Imelda Downing, in front of him.
“Howya Mel,” he muttered. “Jaypurs, it’s been a long time. How did you know it was me?” he asked, aware his cheeks were turning damson.
Mel Downing looked down at Vinny from her immense height, for she was almost six foot tall. “Let me see,” she said, tapping a long finger against her cheek.
“Over-sized head, bulging waistline, tent-like shorts, little has changed. The sun glasses were a distraction but I knew it was you.”
Vinny felt chuffed that Mel Downing, of all people, should recall him. Instinctively, he patted down the few strands of hair left on his pink scalp, and sucked his protruding belly in as far as he could. How he wished he’d changed his shirt from the night before, for it was flecked with curry sauce.
“Well, well, Mel, Mel,” he said as casually as possible. “What brings you back to the green grass of home all the way from Toronto?”
Mel explained how she’d gone through a messy separation – “my fault, not his” – and was staying with her daughter, Donna, in Castle Avenue, until something turned up.