Continued from Chapter 11 Part 4.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: THE ESCAPE FROM THE SAFEHOUSE, THE MURDER OF THE LOCAL CONSTABLE AND THE BEGINNINGS OF A FAIR FOLK CONSPIRACY (PART FIVE)
I shuffled into the local slightly left field, more progressive and liberal pub – not the main pub of the town – while a native man of no more than thirty years sat nursing a mug of ale at the bar in a state of shock. The local man, Fletch Curtis, was a cattle and vegetable farmer and he also owned a Fertiliser Creatory. He had just been told by a member of the Auxiliary forces that his sister, Angela Combover, had been murdered the night before by a horde of angry Republicans.
Not to be one to be putting thoughts into another character’s head - but perhaps, becoming a little bit third person here - Fletch hoped silently that the Auxiliary soldier had been mistaken, perhaps he had gotten the facts wrong, perhaps there was no truth in the story.
It was then that I approached him. Fletch recognised me through the fake beard, glasses and false buck teeth as Paddy Flanagan, and I recognised Fletch as the West Brit that he was, colluding with his brother in law when it came to associating with Brithishers.
“You’re Paddy Flanagan the patriot, aren’t you?” Fletch asked, “What’s all this about Constable Combover and my sister being–”
“Shhhhhhh,” I implored him to keep quiet before he ruined my disguise with his overt banter, “It’s all true, I’m afraid, Fletch. Except the part about them being killed by Irish rebels.” I ordered a pint of stout.
The colour drained from Fletch’s face.
“Oh…” he slumped against the bar and broke out in a heavy sweat with the shock.
The pub owner, Jarlath O’Halloran, rushed over to Fletch, one of his regular customers, to see what the problem was. He took his hand in his own and rubbed it, looking into his eyes with a love that dare not speak its name. A kind of – I suppose if you wanted to define it – a kind of barmanly love.
“She was my only sister,” Fletch said, and he burst a tear or three out of him and put his head in his hands.
Jarlath went pale himself.
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, before bustling down the bar to serve a waiting customer. I monitored Jarlath O’Halloran’s strange reaction and I put an arm on Fletch’s back as the fellow stared vacantly into space.
I rubbed his back in a brotherly manor.
The Brotherly Manor was an exclusive pub for liberals, so I felt safe enough insofar as it was unlikely to be populated by too many British sympathisers, other than Fletch Curtis.
“A few home truths now, Fletch,” I said to him, “The Republicans didn’t kill Constable Combover or his wife. I want you to know that I’m going to do the best that I can in ensuring that the reprobates who did this are gonna be locked up.”
“You and whose army?” Fletch said.
“Me and the late great James Connolly’s army,” I shot back.
Now, if the truth be known, after Michael Collins took over the Citizen Army, it was organised in such a way that if you were a member, you knew no more than ten members yourself. That way, if you were caught by the Brits twas only you and ten other men who could possibly be taken into custody.
So my riposte had no real weight behind it, but there was no doubt about the fact that I’d have the support of my own men and a few companions – rather than companies – if it came to the crunch.
Anyway, next thing you know, in walks a young one in a lovely tight top on her and what came to be known in much later years as a mini skirt. She sat down beside me at the bar with plenty of men with the roving eye watching her as she sat down, giving out gasps of ooh and ahh and “That is gutter chic!”
I stared at the young one. She could have been anything between eighteen and thirty, and I suppose that was one of the attractive things about her, because years later, you would have wanted to go on holidays with her, I thought to myself quietly.
“What’ll you have, love?” I asked her, and she said in an accent that could cut glass:
“I’ll have a double brandy.”
She appeared to be somewhat upset.
“Is there something wrong, love?” I asked her.
“It’s my blooming father!” she decried, “He’s after executing my Irish boyfriend.”
“Ah Jaysus!” I said, and everyone in the bar tsked and tutted and said “That cheeky scamp of a man!” And then I whispered in her ear, thinking on my feet, “Do you know what might make your father really angry?”
“No. What?” says she, searching my fakely bearded face for an answer.
“If you were to have a bit of fun with an Irish tramp, that would send him round the twist.” I winked at her breasts, and then I remembered that I should direct the facial gesture to her eyes, so I looked into her eyes and winked at her again, this time with a smile that could cut glass. Her double brandy arrived and she threw it down her throat in two gulps, took my hand in hers and said:
“Get your coat. You’ve pulled.”
“I’m already wearing my coat,” I said.
“It’s just a figure of speech,” she said.
“What’s your name?” I demanded to know.
“Melanie,” was her response, “Melanie Melodie Jemimahhhh Tiptoft.”
I reckoned, of course that it was Colonel Tiptoft’s daughter I was attempting to seduce, and indeed it was, as I later discovered.
Continued in Chapter 11 Part 6, so it is.