A Short Story from Smitten
Tommy’s head was spinning with the stories. All the stories he was hearing from his friends about this girl, this girl who came from Kilkenny and was apparently all that. But he just couldn’t figure it out. As he sat, cradling a can of Coke at that party in Loughboy, that one word kept spinning through his head. Beguiling. Beguiling. Beguiling. That’s what they say she is.
And that one name kept spinning through his head. Daffney Molloy.
And poor Tommy, so numb and jaded and without spark for so long now. Sure, isn’t it his own fault? For all the stupid drugs he took for years and the pointless drinking and the job’s dumped and the college drop outs and the depression and the hell he put his body through. There he is, all quarter of a century of him, finally coming out of his early 20’s fugue with his dick that just won’t work, and he meets a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in countless stories and myths and legends.
And he feels something… fizzle. He’s looking for the simple stuff right now. Stuff that will help him get his bearings in life. Maybe a job, maybe go back to college, maybe some shoes? But most of all, he’d like a nice girl to do the simple things with, go to the pictures and maybe a bit of lie down kissing? If it’s not too much hassle of course, I don’t want to cause any hassle, I just want someone to give me a spark. That’s all he’s asking for and it’s not too much to ask for is it?
And as he sits there with his little fried brain trying to work, his friends keep on spinning the yarns about this mystery girl who’s back in town and has them smitten like kittens.
Apparently one time Skeet Keating walked up to her in the Market Cross and just asked her out. She was 16 at the time with black hair tied in pigtails and baggy Hobo jeans and she had her nose pierced but that’s not what matters. What matters is that little Skeet plucked up the courage to ask out Daffney Molloy. And she just looked at him with those piercing blue eyes and asked him why on earth would he want to go out with her and could he give her 3 good reasons why he was asking her out. And he coughed and he spluttered and he couldn’t think of anything. And with a little smile and a wink, she just left him standing there.
Motion. Slow motion. That’s how she moves. Stevey can remember the time he came home from college and went into Dunnes Stores to buy deodorant for his sweaty Bus Eireann afflicted armpits and he saw her shopping with her mother. He saw her move through the fruit and veg section with a grace he’d never seen before in a girl, like she was floating or something. She had messy brown hair with blonde streaks in it and a bright yellow and green top and holding that head of lettuce, he swore she swayed it into her mother’s trolley. That’s how she moves. With the motion of the world in her body.
That’s how she moved the time Kevin saw her that night in Cleere’s. It was rare enough to see her out but she just waltzed through the place without a care in the world. Maybe she was looking for someone but maybe, just maybe, she was waltzing for waltzing’s sake. She had long straight red hair and pink glasses and tattered jeans that hung nicely on her hips and oh how those hips moved. Before he could even get his bearings, she had waltzed away on her own. And even though he kept an eye out for the rest of the night, he never saw her or indeed, any waltzing from the other girls. They just didn’t waltz.
Tommy listened to these stories intently. He was as intrigued as she was beguiling. Well, that’s what they said she was anyway.
And at the exact same time Tommy sat at that party, a girl stood on the Parade in the lashings of rain, sheltering herself in the entrance way of the Left Bank. She was staring out at that pissing rainy Kilkenny night with a smile on her face. People were running for cover into pubs, doorways, taxis, anywhere they could protect their wet bodies from the thumping power of the rain. Cackling hen nights getting their devil horns soaked and checked shirts getting drenched and dolly girls getting their well kept hair doused. Everybody wants to be dry. And why oh why would they want to be dry, thinks the girl.
And with that, she jumps down off the steps into the street and pulls her umbrella up.
‘Doo dee doo doo, doo dee doodle doo doo’ she sings to herself as she puts her hand out to feel the rain drops. And with that she pulls her umbrella back down and skips across the Parade, as if she’s dancing specifically towards the little green man across the road. A big smile spreads across her face as the raindrops spread down her smiling face. People look very confused at the sight of this girl, dancing happily through the lashing rain.
She skips across by the bank and waves her hand at a grumbling sham couple and then skips lightly over one of the flower pots before outstretching her arms to embrace the downpour. She spins her umbrella around and does a little tap dance as she passes the Book Centre, cradling that black brolley as if it were dancing along with her.
With a kick, she sends the umbrella into the air, it spins for an age before landing right in her mitts. And with that, she launches herself onto the road and spins her brolley as if she were a one woman merry go round. Cars beep and honk at her but she’s not doing any harm is she? Oh no, it’s only dancing, isn’t it?
She balances precariously on the footpath outside Goods and kicks all the puddles up into the air. Up they go! Splish splash splish! Kick, kick, stamp, stamp in the puddles and she’s soaked through and through and doesn’t care, not a jot. She’s happy to be home and with all the sadness and sickness and rain everywhere, isn’t it so much better to be dancing?
A guard stops in front of her, a big thick necked country bullock and he folds his arms crossly. The girl stops her splishing and splashing and looks apologetically at him. She shrugs her shoulders and turns and hands her umbrella to a passing elderly man, who takes it bemused. And with that, she saunters off towards the Town Hall.
And who is she?
No one knows.
Picture: Ross Costigan and Suzanne O’Brien as Tommy and Daffney in Smitten.
Tickets for Smitten are on sale NOW in Rollercoaster Records, Kieran Street and they are €10. The show runs August 20 – 23 and starts 8pm nightly. For more information and updates, check out www.devioustheatre.com