Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘I push the stick towards him with what resembles a dead rat on the end of it’
What was once the old man’s wig now looks like roadkill
“He presses it down and black water pours out of it and dribbles down his face”
It’s, like, so random seeing my old man without hair. Even though he hasn’t actually had hair since he was in his 20s, I got kind of used to seeing him in that Denis O’Brien wig. But now that he’s agreed not to wear it any more following an out-of-court settlement with The Great Man – Lord Protector of Leinster, Liberator of Sexton – he looks like a shaved coconut from the neck up.
I say it to him as well. I’m like, “You’ve a head like a shaved coconut,” but he doesn’t answer me. He’s just, like, rocking back and forth in his office chair, the sweat pouring out of him, but he’s also shivering, and at the same time he’s going, “Hennessy . . . please, old scout . . . let me put it on . . . just one last time.”
Hennessy goes, “You think it’s easy for me seeing you like this?”
“Please, Hennessy . . . show some humanity . . .”
The withdrawal symptoms hit him about two days after he took it off.
“You signed a piece of paper,” Hennessy goes. “Legally binding. Accepting that only Denis O’Brien is entitled to have Denis O’Brien hair.”
The old man’s like, “Can I remind you . . . you’re supposed to be my friend . . . as well as . . . my solicitor?”
“Well, as your friend, I’m telling you that you don’t need that wig. You never needed it, Charlie.”
“I’m . . . dying, Hennessy.”
“You’re not dying – you’ve got the flu.”
“All of my power . . . came from that wig . . .”
“Let’s just sit tight and wait for the phone to ring.”
They’re waiting for a call from the Deportment of Homeland Security to tell them whether their tender to build a section of the wall between the States and Mexico has been successful.
Hennessy goes, “Try not to think about it, Charlie. Think about six months' time – you and me, sipping margaritas, watching the sun go down over beautiful Ciudad Juarez .”
The Rossmeister Speaks
The Donald is no fan of The Denis because The Denis is a friend of The Clintons
The old man’s like, “You paint . . . a pretty picture, old bean. . . If I could just put it on . . . for a few minutes . . . I think I’d have the strength . . . to fight this thing . . .”
“Charlie, you know why you can’t wear it any more – we’ve been through it. The Donald gets to decide who builds the wall. And The Donald is no fan of The Denis because The Denis is a friend of The Clintons. So if The Donald finds out you’re walking around looking like The Denis, he won’t let us lay one brick on top of another.”
I’m there, “You don’t even know if you’re going to get the gig anyway.”
The old man goes, “Kicker? Is that you, Kicker? Hennessy, I can hear Kicker’s voice!”
Hennessy goes, “He’s here, Charlie. He’s here in the room with us.”
I stand up. I’m there, “I can’t bear to see him suffering like this,” and I tip upstairs to my old man’s room.
I grab a bottle of chorcoal lighter fuel and I pour it all over the wig, totally drenching it
I spot the wig straight away. It’s on the vanity unit – on top of his banker’s lamp. I grab it and I bring it downstairs.
I go outside to the gorden. I take the lid off the borbecue and I drop the wig onto the grill. Then I grab a bottle of chorcoal lighter fuel and I pour it all over the wig, totally drenching it.
I take the old man’s Zippo, strike it up, then I drop it on the borbecue. I end up having to jump backwards, because the thing goes up like you wouldn’t believe.
It’s just like, wooommmppphhh!!!
And then, instantly, I hear the sound of screaming coming from the house. It’s my old man. It’s like he’s in agony or something? He’s going “Nnnooo! Please, nnnoooo! The pain, Hennessy! The pain! Make it stop! Make it stop!”
I quickly grab the gorden hose. I aim it at the borbecue, then I switch it on. After five or 10 seconds, the fire goes out and the screaming from the house suddenly stops.
I’m thinking to myself, What have I done?
I grab a stick off the ground and I use it to pick what was once a very fine toupee in the shade of autumn ochre out of the ashes of the fire. It now looks like roadkill.
I carry it back into the house on the end of the stick, dripping black water all over the good maplewood floor, then I tip back down to the study and I poke my head around the door.
The old man is still in his chair, staring into space, as if in shock or something. Hennessy looks in shock, too. He hands the old man a cigor and the old man takes it without a saying a word.
“What happened?” I go. “As in, what was all that screaming?”
Hennessy’s like, “What happened? What happened was they said no dice. We won’t be building the section of the wall between Ciudad Juarez to Heroica Nogales. ”
“All that time and energy,” the old man goes, still sweating and still rocking. “All the bloody well . . . sacrifices we made.”
“Ciudad Juarez,” Hennessy goes. “It will always be a kind of dream place for me.”
The old man gets to his feet. He’s still shaky. He goes, “That’s it, Hennessy! I’m putting . . . the bloody well thing back on!”
Hennessy’s there, “I can’t let you do that. It would be in breach of the settlement we agreed. And Denis wouldn’t hesitate to –.’
“Damn The Denis! Damn his bloody well eyes! I should never have taken it off in the first place! That was when it all started to go wrong! I’m going upstairs and I’m putting it back on this instant!”
I’m like, “No need – I’ve got it here,” and I push the stick towards him – with what was once a wig but now resembles a dead rat, still smoking, on the end of it.
“What have you done?” he goes, grabbing it off the stick. He tries to put it on his actual head. He presses it down and black water pours out of it and dribbles down his face. “What the hell have you done, Kicker?”
And even though I feel kind of sorry for him, I end up having to laugh. Because it’s a bit like seeing someone fall headfirst down an upward escalator. Even though it’s potentially serious, there’s no denying that it’s also very, very funny to watch.