Denis Lehane: Passing the VIP test: In my dreams

How important are you? Would you contact the gardaí for a lift if your car broke down? 

It’s a well known fact that I drive a right clapped out piece of junk, with a constant stream of black smoke emanating from the exhaust.

Anyhow, my story this week begins as I made my way to the Ploughing. Whilst bypassing the town of Mitchelstown, didn’t my jeep give up completely, leaving me stranded.

And what did I do? Did I wave down a passing motorist? Did I ring a relative or friend who might be able to assist me? Of course not, I called the guards.

“My car has broken down, take me to the Ploughing,” I demanded, as soon as I got any reply.

“Are you an important man and is this an emergency?” the guard asked. “Yes,” says I, “I’m guilty on both counts. Now come out here straight away, I’m perished, take me where I want to go.”

“But are you really important?” the guard asked again. “You know we only do this kind of thing for really important people.”

“Yes of course I’m important,” I told him, “I’m way more important than the next man. Now stop waffling and get moving.”

And sure enough, out came the squad and before long they were whisking me off to Laois.

“This is a great service,” I remarked from my seat in the back. “How long have ye been doing it?”

“Too bloody long,” says the guard behind the wheel. And do you know something, I got the distinct impression that he didn’t like carting me around, he’d rather be fighting crime.

“My dear man,” I said, “it’s very important, that important people are taken to important things. So less of your smartness please.” Damn it, I felt I had to put the blighter in his place.

“Do you know something,” says I after a spell, “but it’s a pity that rural Garda stations are closing. Why don’t ye keep them open?”

“We don’t have the man hours to cover those bases,” the guard responded. “Well that’s absolute balderdash,” I declared. “The Government should do more to free up Garda time. Anyway, tally-ho, my good man,” says I.

Eventually we arrived at the ploughing and, as I got out of the squad, I inquired as to what time I would be picked up in the evening.

And the guard responded with something so crude that I dare not repeat here.

“Now look here,” I said, “I’m an important man on important duty, I’ll expect you here this evening at eight.”

And sure enough, a little after eight, as I staggered to my pick-up point, my chariot was waiting.

I was well sozzled at this stage, after my tough day at the Ploughing, and with my belly full of drink and my head swelled with my own importance, there surely was no happier man than me.

And sure how could I not be content, and I in the back of the squad, and I not on the way to the jailhouse.

In an effort to cheer up the boys in blue as we headed for home, I sang ‘Top of the World’.

“Lads,” says I later in the evening as they dropped me at my front door, “I salute you for the great work that you do for important people.”

That’s when I felt a sweeping brush hit my legs. It was my missus gently waking me from my slumber.

“Wake up,” says she, “you’re snoring away there like an auld pig.”

Alas, it had all been a dream. My trip to the Ploughing in a squad car had only existed in my head. I wasn’t important at all, I was just me.


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