The sun was in its zenith as Sharkey and his sometime-workmate Brian stood outside basking in this rarity.
They were at Sharkeyâs house, a little cottage just off the main road, smoking rolled cigarettes.
By most peopleâs estimates this âCottageâ was a euphemism for âhovelâ. From the half-boarded windows, the rubbish-strewn backyard and the chipped paintwork on its walls, the place had a smell of neglect emanating from it.
Theyâd shared a cup of tea and were sitting with their backs to the front wall for a few minutes, enjoying this respite from their bleak existence.
Brian was glad not to have to be at work today, dockyard work was horrible on days like this and Sharkey wouldâve been glad also if he hadnât been let off two days ago for accidently pissing on his boss.
In fairness, they shouldnât have let him drive the lorry for deliveries after the birth of his first daughter, sure that was asking for trouble.
As drunk as a priest at Christmas mass, heâd miraculously made the deliveries on record time but was in desperate need of a slash when his boss found him pissing on the van outside work.
Shouting at him only caused Sharkey to turn in his direction and an impressive stream of the yellow stuff flew on Christopherâs, said bossâs, trousers.
He was stuck for money now, and heâd been wanting to stop by The Cat and Pigeon pub tonight for a few. His missus had given birth to their first daughter a couple of weeks ago and she and the baby were needing this and that, so money was needed…and a drink or two if he could swing it.
Getting it was the problem; the only money-lender he could think of was Mark Hansard and he already owed him some money. He didnât want to go to the bank, believing them to be a bunch of parasites that bled life from the hard-worker with usurious interest rates. The wife still told him to go there after his little âbreakâ with Brian was finished.
There was only one thing for it.
Glancing across at his friend, who looked like he was trying to divide twenty by four in his head, Brian wondered what could be bothering him on such a day like this.
“Whatâs wrong Sharkey, ye look out of sorts” he asked.
âAh Brian, me aul horse, he replied, Iâm after getting into a proper fix and only the good Lord above can get me out of itâ
âAh god no, whatâs after happening? Is it the bĂĄbĂn, is she teething and keeping ye up at nights? Me own mammy used to say whiskey was the cure. After a few bottles of it she didnât mind the sound of me crying so much. Put some in me milk as well, come to think of it. Wasnât much she couldnât solve without a dram of the water of life around the house!â
âAh if only the drink could solve me problems now, Iâm afraid aul Sharkeyâs as fucked as a Catholic maiden in a Proddie barracks.
Ya see, I got a lend off Mark Hansard for a few pints to celebrate me daughterâs birth a couple weeks ago. Now he wants the money back, but wants the interest as well.â
âAh for fuck sake like, whyâd you be talking to that gobshite? Sure ye know heâs only a sleeveen. Money-lender me bollocks, heâs nothinâ but a durty teef.â
âI know that, but doesnât exactly help me now does itâ replied Sharkey, his eyes now downcast, stubbing out his cigarette with unnecessary force. “Iâm bollocked unless I come up with money by today. He said Iâd lose a finger for every day without his money. I like me fingers Brian!â
Brian said nothing but swelled with sympathy for his friend. Most people thought Sharkey a shiftless, no-good bastard who made up stories to get one over of anyone. But they didnât know him like Brian did, he wasnât shiftless, he was a daydreamer and sure arenât we all.
Heâd known him since theyâd been childers, letting Sharkey borrow his hurling sticks and footballs. So what if heâd not always returned them or if the footballs were sometimes burst or covered in dog shite, at least heâd the decency to return them himself.
That was a true friend as far as Brian was concerned, and now even more misfortune was being heaped on his honest mateâs shoulders.
Not if he could help it, or his name wasnât Brian OâToole Ăg.
âHere now me aul mate, how much is it that heâs askin for?â he enquired and instantly Sharkeyâs face rose up and his eyes seemed brighter.
âHeâs asking for 5 shillings, tuppence haâpennyâ
âAh sure thatâs nothing, only the price of a couple loaves of bread or somethingâ
âOr a few pintsâ muttered Sharkey under his breath.
âIâll spot ye the money me aul mate, and Iâll not charge one penny of interest.â
Sharkey beamed and hugged him, calling him âA tribute to the clan of OâTooleâ.
âYouâre a proper OâToole so ya are Brian me aul mate, Iâll never forget this and make no mistake!â
Brian got up, dusted his trousers and told Sharkey heâd be back with the money in an hour. With that he set off down the road.
Sharkey picked up his cigarette again, re-lit it and puffed away merrily.
âSince youâve had time to lounge around all day, Iâd say you got that loan off the bank already thenâ she asked tersely.
âAh here now Mo Chuisle, before you go on berating this poor fella again, get your facts straight.
Firstly Brian owes me some money anyways so thereâs no need to go to the bank. Secondly heâs coming back with it now, heâs just legging it to his house to collect it.â