It was a beautiful early spring day in the Republic of Ireland where I was born forty-two years ago. My name is Connor Liam Sheehan and I live in a small town in County Cork not far from where I grew up. I am a truck driver and a member of the Teamsters Local affiliation. Work has been steady and I make enough for my family to get by.
I would say that I have had more than my share of good luck but it always seems to be followed by some sort of calamity. Two months ago I won a case of my favorite beer in a darts tournament and was able to leave the pub without my friends drinking it up. It was a dark evening and I set the beer on the back of the car parked next to me. As I turned to open my trunk the car pulled away and my beer hit the ground. I went home with five broken bottles.
Friday finally arrived and a long work week ended. As my wife would say I am a man of habit and true to that I cashed my paycheck and went over to the Shamrock Pub for a beer with me friends.
As soon as I walked in I heard someone call out “Connor Sheehan, how’s it going boy?”
I looked over and quickly recognized a friend I haven’t seen in a long time and responded “surviving. Timothy O’Rourke himself standing right in front of me. I haven’t seen you in months."
“I’m just back from a vacation in the south of France.”
“Yeah and talking shite as usual.”
Timmy gave me a big hug and after he stopped laughing said “Our main terminal was short of drivers and the company had me driving all over the UK. I just got back; let me buy you a beer.”
“You penny pinching bastard I would never refuse a beer from you.” I yelled out to the bartender, “Paddy, two pints of plane quick before he realizes what he just did and changes his mind.” Paddy gave us the beers and I looked at mine and asked him, you going to charge extra for the fly in my beer?”
“What’s that you’re saying Connor? Look at that……let me get you another. It must have been in the glass when I poured it.”
“No, I’ll be drinking this one.” I picked up the fly with two fingers, gave it a bit of a shake and tossed him aside.
Paddy and Timmy looked at me and Paddy asked “and what was that all about?”
I gave them a serious look and responded “I don’t how much of my beer he swallowed before I noticed but I made him spit out what he had in his mouth.” They both started laughing and Timmy said “spoken like a true Irishman.”
Timothy and I were catching up on all the recent happenings and he said, “Look at the time, I’ll be a horses arse if I am late meeting the wife for dinner. I’ll be around for a while see you then.”
“Good enough and next time I’m buying.” I was standing next to a guy looking at the daily newspaper and asked him “can you have a look at the weekly pick four lottery numbers for me?”
“That I can, are you feeling lucky today?”
“No less than usual” I said and smiled.
The fellow said, “would you believe this one, the numbers are 3 3 3 3.”
I couldn’t believe what I just heard and asked “say that again.”
“Gone deaf have you? The numbers are…..3….3….3….3” I must have given him a fright because he quickly asked “oh no, are you telling me you really played those numbers?”
“As sure as I am standing here next to you, as sure as I am the queen has wrinkles on her arse! I been playing those numbers for years”
He laughed and said, “That’s sure enough for me and let me shake your hand.” I shook his hand and he asked me “how much did you play it for?”
I had a hard time talking, “five pounds.”
“You just won 1,776 pounds, minus the taxes.”
“To hell with the taxes, I have never gotten that much money all at once in my life.” I had to go outside and get some fresh air. As I was walking back and forth I said to myself, alright man get a grip now. What’s the first thing I have to do? Go fetch the ticket…….I stopped as my mind began racing…….the ticket, what did I do with it?
All of a sudden it hit me like a bolt of lightening, I borrowed by brother-in-law Sean’s suit for a wedding last weekend and the ticket was in the watch pocket of the suit. It wasn’t going to be as simple as asking him for the ticket, no that much I was sure of. He would put a five pound note in the collection plate at church and take out six pounds in change.
The ticket has all the legal requirements and restrictions on the back. The one everybody is aware of says………the Lottery Authority will pay in full the barer of this ticket. That means if my no good dirty son-of-bitch of a brother-in-law finds that ticket he can and will go cash it as is own. The upside is I don’t believe he can tell time off of a watch with hands and thereby not going to put his fat dirty fingers in the small watch pocket and discover my prize.
The downside is no matter how I approach him about the suit he will become suspicious that something is going on. I need a plan and fast but more important I needed an accomplice I could trust and one that would do what ever needed doing. Just like the dark comedy it was becoming the perfect person for the job entered the pub stage right.
My cousin Patrick Ryan Gallagher, affectionately known to all as ‘Packy’ walked over to me and said “Connor you look like you just farted out loud in church.”
“It’s worse than that Packy,” and I explained my current situation.
“Go on you say. What are you going to do?”
“I don’t know yet but I am going to need your help sure enough.”
“And have it you will.”
“What? I know that look, come on Packy.”
“I was just wondering is all Connor.”
“Why did you need to borrow Sean’s suit, you have your own.”
“What difference does that make?”
“I know you well Connor and you would rather go to the dentist than ask Sean for anything.”
“My suit was soiled and he is the only person I know that is as tall as me and would let me use their suit. Besides I asked me sister for the suit.”
Packy was snickering in a very obvious way, “Your suit was soiled you say? And when did you start using that word?”
“I read it off the label of detergent when I threw the clothes in the washer for the wife.”
“Soiled how? I know there has to be a story and a good one too because you are always more than willing to tell a good story…..unless…….unless you come out of it looking foolish. Now you want my help I need all the facts.”
“You would do that Packy? You would blackmail your own?”
“I would and I am. It can’t be because you spilled beer on it. You don’t spill beer my friend and it wouldn’t matter to you if you did smell of beer. So I have asked the question and waiting for an answer, let’s have the blarney.”
“You’re a no good dirty bugger is what you are Patrick Ryan Gallagher.”
“That I am and that I will remain, so what happened? How did you soil your suit sir?”
“You know the Bull & Bear as well as I do.”
“I do, I do.”
“I went to William Ahern’s retirement party with the lads from the garage at work. We went over to the Bull & Bear after the party and we already had more than our share to drink. You know the farmer O’Hare?”
“That I do, everybody knows Billy O’Hare, especially those that need wood or sod to burn when winter is here. Those two draft horses pulling him and that wagon full of fire wood and sod.”
“When we got there Billy had his wagon tied up in front of the Bull & Bear and was inside getting stinking drunk. The horses had been out there for hours and as horses are fond of doing they shite in the road directly in front of the establishment in question.”
“And what does that have to do with your suit?”
“It was shite that soiled me pants.”
Packy was now laughing and pointing at me. “You shite your pants did you? I’ve seen you so drunk you couldn’t walk but you never shite yourself.”
“This is why I don’t like telling you a story because you don’t listen. I didn’t say I shite in me pants I said I had shite on me pants…..and coat….and a wee bit in me hair.”
By now Packy was laughing so hard he was bent over holding his sides. “Saints be praised how did you manage to get the shite all over yourself like that?”
“If you would stop interrupting me I’ll tell you.”
“Please…..I can’t catch me breath…..please do finish.”
“Like I was about to say, me and the lads came out the front door plastered, every last one of us. I was having a hard time keeping me legs underneath me as it was and I was trying to step careful but being as it was darker than a well digger’s ass at I stepped in a rather generous pile of horse shite and fell down. By the time I recover me footing I was covered in it.”
“Please Connor, don’t tell me any more……..no more, me sides are splitting……..I’ve heard enough….have mercy on me.”
“Ok, now that you had your fun are you going to help me?”
“Yes…..yes….for a story like that it will be worth it.”
I met Packy at the Shamrock the next day after work and told him my plan. “Here’s what we are going to do, Colleen goes to bingo at the church every Saturday night from to . I’ll invite Sean out for a beer and bring him here.”
“What if he doesn’t want to go?”
“That tight fisted bastard would run into a pub on fire for a couple of free beers. You hang around out back and when you see Colleen’s car leave you go in through the back, they leave the key up over the door. His suit will be hanging in their bed room closet right where I left it. You get the lottery ticket and meet me at the Bull & Bear. I’ll find some excuse to leave the Shamrock”
“It sounds like a simple enough plan Connor, when I get the ticket I’ll be there quicker than Paddy can pull a draft.”
I met Packy at the Shamrock about and told him “Sean is meeting me here at , park your car over at the grocery store and walk down to their house. Hide in the bushes out back and as soon as Colleen leaves get in and get out.”
“I’ll be like James Bond; she won’t know I was there.”
“Sean walked through the front door of the Shamrock at and said, “Conner don’t have a beer poured for me yet?”
“Sean, I was waiting so it would be cold.” I was thinking I’d rather be pissing down your back you no good bugger.
Packy saw Colleen leave and walked up to the back door. He went in to the bedroom, opened the closet door and the suit was hanging right where I said it would be. Packy carefully slid two fingers in to the watch pocket of the pants and pulled out the winning lottery ticket!
He put it in his wallet and as he turned around to go Colleen walked in to the bed room, “Oh my god! Patrick Gallagher what are you doing in my house……in my bedroom? You’re robbing us? I forgot my bingo markers and came back and caught you.”
“Packy was now the one who was about to shite in his pants. “No, No colleen it’s not like that…..I can explain.” He was sweating like a cat at a Chinese buffet. It’s ah, well ah, I’ll tell you but you have to promise not to tell anyone.”
Colleen had known Packy as long as I have and considered him a very close friend so she listened. “Ah, well….it was the army…..yeah you know I was in the army.”
“Yes Packy, I use to write you letters but you didn’t see any combat. For god’s sake you were posted to Germany.”
“Right you are Colleen and I was only four hours from Paris. I was lonely, away from home and would go in to Paris for some female companionship. You know how those French women are with the sexy, fancy underwear?”
Colleen just shook her head and said “yes, I mean I have heard things.”
“They are evil, walking around with the tiny silk underwear up their small tight arses. It got so bad that I had to see the underwear, touch them and god help me…..sniff them Colleen!”
“Oh my god Packy, are you saying you developed an obsession?”
“Yes! That’s what it is, an obsession. I came back home to Ireland but it’s not the same. I have been chasing that thrill since then…..and….and”
“What is it Packy? You can tell me.”
“I’ve been stealing women’s underwear. I hang around the laundry center, back yard clothes lines. I am so ashamed Colleen.”
“Oh my god Packy you came in to the house to steal me knickers?”
“I did and I am ashamed that it’s got to this point.”
“I can give you a pair of my old ones to take if you want?”
“You’re so sweet Colleen; I don’t know what to say.”
“Here Packy take these pink ones with the hearts on them and I’ll keep your secret but you better get help before you end up in jail.”
“I will Colleen and god bless you.”
I got Sean drunk and made up an excuse to leave the Shamrock. Packy was already at the Bull & Bear when I got there and tossing down a double shot of whiskey as I walked in. He proceeded to tell me his story and I laughed, not believing a word of it until he pulled out Colleen’s underwear from his pocket.
“I’m still shaking Connor, if your sister tells anyone and my wife finds out I’m going have to go back in to the army to get away from her.”
Now I was the one laughing so hard I had to bend over and hold my sides. I told Packy, “I’ll talk to Colleen to make sure she doesn’t say anything and maybe 250 pounds will calm you down.”
“That’s a lot of money Connor.”
“I wouldn’t have anything if it wasn’t for you.” I was happy, Packy calmed down and we both went home with a big smile on our faces.