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Brown-Eyed Boy by Roddy Doyle Chapter III

Last update - Saturday, March 1, 2014, 03:04 By Roddy Doyle

They were a remarkable couple, Conor and Deirdre. A real couple – a team. They could get through a long working day, spend quality time with their four children, feed the family without opening a can, get the kids to bed with 20 minutes good reading per child. They’d emptied the washing machine, filled the dishwasher, put a chicken in the microwave to defrost – thinking ahead, thinking ahead. Yet here they were, after all that, still making vigorous, cheerful love on the kitchen table.

–What time is Sherlock on? Deirdre asked.
–Loads of time, baby, loads of time, said Conor.
–Good man, Watson, said Deirdre, and she bit his ear.
–What was that? the woman in the Hyundai Accent asked her colleague.
–It was a grunt, like.
–Not that, said the woman. –They’re full of grunts tonight. The other thing, I mean.
–What other thing? said her colleague.
He stared at the monitor, as if it might give him the answer. The woman had decided some time ago: her colleague was as thick as shite. The monitor, though, was clever – and her idea. She’d rigged the couple’s baby monitor, and it was in the kitchen, the sitting room, all over the house; wherever they went, they took it with them and she could listen to them while they listened to their babies.
–I know what it was, she said.
The sound she’d just heard, just once and briefly, had become something she knew.
–What was it? her colleague asked, although he wasn’t all that curious.
–Their microwave, she said. –And.
–It proves it.
–Proves what?
She sighed happily.
–It proves they’re shagging in the kitchen, she told him. –The dirty yokes.
She jotted something into her notebook.
–Why? said her colleague.
–Why what?
–Why would they be doing it in the kitchen, on the fuckin’ table, like, when they’ve got a fuckin’ bed up in the bedroom?
–I’ve no idea.
–And why is it important?
He nodded at her notebook.
–Don’t know, she said.
–Does it make you a bit frisky? he asked. –Listening to them at it, like.
–No, she lied. –It doesn’t. Start the car there – enough is enough. Let’s go.

–What was that? said Deirdre.
–A car outside, said Conor. –That twit across the road, I’d say.
–Big Red Car Man, who still lives with his mammy?
–That’s the one.
–Dashing down to the Spar for Pringles.
–And back in time for Sherlock.
–We’re cruel.
–We are.
They were off the table and getting back into their loungewear, all set for Sherlock themselves.
–Look at the state of you, she said.
She slapped the sugar off his back and arse.
–You’re a disgrace, she said, –so you are.
He laughed, and dived under the table.
–Lay off, he said.
He laughed again and came back out, and followed her into the sitting room. He took the baby monitor with him. They sat crossed-legged on the leather couch and watched Sherlock, like the two kids they used to be. They were in their own kind of heaven, happy, tired, entertained, in love. They had no idea of what they were in for.

–Interesting, said Mary.
She flicked through the dossier, as if for the first time.
–Are they our bad, bad blue-eyed couple? the Junior Minister asked.
–Well, said Mary. –They can be, like, with a bit of tweaking and twerking here and there.
–It’s urgent now, Mary, said the Junior Minister.
She closed the dossier, and patted it: her baby.
–I know, she said. –I know that, like. It some ways they’re already perfect.
–Called Murphy.
–How lucky is that, like? The perfect Paddy name. And the blue eyes. And –
She opened the dossier again, and found the page she wanted.
–This one, she said. –Shagging, like, in close proximity to the children’s food –
–And on the feeding surface.
–Exactly, like, said Mary. –It’s reprehensible. And there’s a few other good ones. But some of the other stuff. Odd socks on the little brown fella – it’s hardly neglect. It’s just kind of shite, like. Lazy.
–But, said the Junior Minister. –What do you think? Can we act on this?
He nodded at the dossier.
–Yes, said the Junior Minister.
–Give me an hour, said Mary. –To tidy it up, like. Then I can get on to some key people. We’ll be able to move in by tonight. Or in the morning. Which do you think is better?
–Night time’s good.
–Yeah, Mary agreed. –But maybe morning? Like, when they’re both going to work? She’ll be doing her makeup in the car mirror – neglecting the baby. Too busy making herself look successful and, like, unmotherly.
–Good, said the Junior Minister. –Great. That all makes sense.
Mary smiled.
–Time for a coffee? said the Junior Minister.
–No, said Mary.

© Roddy Doyle 2014

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