In this third book in the series, Anto Falsoni continues to act as the bookie for the many schemes the gang dreams up-and somehow always comes out on the winning side. After interviews during the school year, most of the gang is recruited to complete a three-month course in Dublin with a company intending to open a factory in Newry. Living together in the big city leads to many hilarious situations both at work and at home. Their adventures, if anything, rival their school days.
It was just a short time ago when the boys would only talk about football; now the conversation has turned to plans of purchasing engagement rings. Even at this stage of their lives, the banter and teasing never stops as they move through life at a breathtaking pace that embraced chaos with what appeared to be a natural ethos.
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Frogs and Snails and Old Dog's TalesShort Stories from Ireland A Children's Book for Adults
By Frank Murney
Trafford PublishingCopyright © 2011 Frank Murney
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Electric Guitar
"Happy Birthday," smiled Red, as he met Po walking along North Street.
Po looked down at his feet.
"Ahhh, sure he's all embarrassed."
"Piss off, you."
"Now Po, ya'll have ta start behavin' better than that, now that you're a big sixteen."
"Piss off, you."
"And, ya'll have ta stop that bad language, too, ya know."
"My God, and here I am trying ta help ya with the growin' up stuff and this is what I get, sure, I'm cut ta the bone."
"Will ya shut your mouth, will ya? Oh listen, I got loads a presents, ya know."
"Ya did? Tell me?"
"I got a jumper from granny. I got a pair a trousers from the other granny.
But the best present I got was from mom and dad."
"Well, what was it?"
"Wow, ya got a real guitar?"
"Not just a guitar, but an electric one. It's called a Broadway."
"Well, lucky you. Have ya tried it out, yet?"
"No, not really, a just strummed it a little. It needs ta be plugged in and everythin' to hear it right, ya know."
"Sure, I knew that. So when are ya goin' ta have it all set up? I want ta hear it."
They arrived at Uncle Luigi's Café and sat down in the first snug. Anto leaned over the counter with a broad grin across his face.
"How's the birthday boy?"
"Don't you start, shithead," snapped Po.
"Jasus, isn't that lovely. Ya wish one of your bestest friends in the whole world a happy birthday and he calls ya names," complained Anto, looking at Red.
"Sure, didn't I get the same my own self when I met him," said Red, holding out his arms pleadingly.
"I know yous bastards, ya know, yous will find some way ta take the piss. I know yis only too well."
"Ah now, de ya hear that, Red? An all the trouble we went ta for him."
"Don't even know if we should tell him, Red, what de ya think?"
"Ah sure, ya better, he'll only whinge in ma ear all day."
Anto disappeared for a moment and returned with a large parcel neatly wrapped in brown paper. He reached across the counter and handed it to Po.
"This is from Red and meself," smiled Anto.
"What's this?" a surprised Po managed to get out.
"Well, if ya open it ya'll see, ya ejit," said Red, smiling.
Po had the paper off in seconds. Inside, he found a dark blue hooded all- weather jacket. Not just any dark blue hooded all-weather jacket, but the very same jacket he stopped to look at every time he passed Kelly's Man's Shop window. He had pointed it out to Red about a dozen times. "Oh, my God! Its ma jacket, the one I was after. This is it, the very one I wanted."
Po was on his feet in seconds and had all the labels off and had the jacket on. He was walking around, admiring himself with a great smile across his face.
"How did yous know this was the one I wanted?"
Red looked at Anto and took a deep breath.
"Just a wild guess," he smiled.
"This is fab! Great! The best present, yet. Thanks very much, lads."
"Anto, see if he kisses me, I'll punch him, I swear," said Red seriously.
Red was too late, Po had his arms around Red's neck and planted a big kiss on his cheek.
"Frig off will ya fruit. I told ya before not ta do that, people will think I'm a fruit like you," said Red, rubbing his cheek.
Po looked up at Anto who was standing behind the counter with a large carving knife in his hand.
"Don't even think about it," he growled at Po.
"Well, ya can take it off now, Po," said Red.
"No way, it's staying where it is. I have been admiring this jacket for yonks. I'm keeping it on."
"Children, they're all the same," said a straight-faced Red to Anto.
Later that day Red knocked Po's front door which, was promptly opened by his younger brother, Paul.
"He's in the kitchen," he shouted, and disappeared past Red into the street.
Red entered the hallway and went through to the kitchen, where he found
Po and his mom sitting at the table. Red noticed one of Po's hands heavily bandaged.
"Jasus, Po, what happened ta your hand?"
"Well, ya may ask," snapped Po's mom. "He couldn't wait for his father to get home to set up the guitar for him. He had ta do it himself, didn't he?" she said, getting up from the table and leaving the room, mumbling to herself.
"So, what happened?" asked Red, sitting down.
"What stupid thing?"
"The stupid guitar."
"Right, so what did this stupid guitar do, then?"
"So? Did ya ever tell a short one?"
"You're such a smart arse."
"Will ya tell me, will ya?"
"Well, me dad said he had another part for the guitar he had to pick up, ya see."
"Well, sure I only wanted ta hear it like, ya know?"
"Well, I put a plug on the thing, plugged it in."
"Jasus, I think I see where this is goin'."
"Well, sure it blew me across the kitchen, so it did."
"Ya plugged the guitar directly into the mains?"
"Ya moron! Ya plug the guitar into an amplifier, so ya do. Even I know that."
"Well, I know that too ... now."
Red put his face into his hands.
* * *
Later that day, and perhaps somewhat unfortunately, for Po, Red had arrived at Uncle Luigi's before he did. That evening the story of Po's little accident with the guitar had somehow managed to get around. Po had to walk the gauntlet from the door to the top counter.
"I hear you lit up the street with your new guitar, Po," smiled Jumpy.
"Will ya play us something with a bit of a kick to it, Po?" added the Bishop.
"I heard he was only a flash in the pan," put in Dunno.
"Is it true ya can make sparks come outta your guitar, Po?" asked Jammy.
"I heard that when ya play Po, the whole place lights up," smirked Kitter. Po never turned his head, he just kept walking until he reached the counter and the safety of the first snug, where he found the grinning faces of Red, Anto and Topcoat.
"Total friggin' bastard whore," snarled Po at Red.
"Jasus, what did I do?"
"Ya had to tell all them bastards, didn't ya?"
"Ach, Po, it just sorta slipped out, so it did."
"I'll slip somethin' in, my fist into your big mouth."
"Well, Po," intervened Anto, standing up and raising his hands in the air.
"We wish you a shocking Birthday," sang the well-rehearsed patrons of Uncle Luigi's.
"Bastards, friggin' whores, the lot of ya," muttered Po, playing with his bandaged hand.
"With friends like yous, who needs enemies?"
Chapter TwoOne Tooth Pete
Red and Po were walking along Hill Street in Newry on that Thursday evening chatting about Co. Down's big match in the Ulster Final this coming Sunday. The match would be played in Clones, against Co. Cavan, with the winners to go into the All Ireland Semi Final against Offaly at Dublin's Croke Park.
"We have by far the better forwards so we have," stated Po.
"I'm not arguing with that, what I am sayin' is, that Cavan have one of the strongest defences in the country," said Red.
"I know that, but do ya think they will hold Paddy Docherty, or Breen Morgan or Sean O'Neill? No chance."
The conversation was interrupted by the evening paper man, selling his papers outside the Imperial Hotel.
"Belfast Tele, Belfast Tele, Down in Sundays Ulster Final," came the high pitched voice of 'One Tooth Pete'. He had acquired the name ten years ago when two of his last three teeth were removed. He only had one tooth left now, on the top, right at the front of his mouth and refused to have it removed, however black it had become. Pete was perhaps a little mentally deprived it could be said.
"Hi Pete," smiled Po.
"Hello Po and hello Red. How are ya all doing? Are ya goin' on Sunday are ya?"
"Of course," replied Red. "Wouldn't miss it for the world."
"Yis are lucky buggers, wish I could go."
"You're not goin' Pete?" inquired Po, sitting down on the footpath and looking through the evening paper.
"Jasus, can't make up the friggin' fare so a can't. Would need to sell a hell of a lot more papers ta make the money."
"Ah well, sure ya never know. Somethin' exciting might happen and ya might sell loads of papers before the weekend," smiled Red starting to walk away.
Po decided he would buy the paper for the football section. Pete refused the money and told him to have it.
When Po caught up with Red he remarked, "Poor One Tooth, he is a nice guy."
"That he is, if a had the money a would give it ta him ma own self." Suddenly Po stopped. He was reading something inside the paper.
"Jasus, sure don't I only have an idea."
"Oh no, here comes trouble."
"Come on back to One Tooth."
"What are ya up ta now ya wee bugger?"
Po just smiled. When they reached One Tooth, Po approached him and asked ...
"How many more papers would ya need ta sell ta go ta the match?"
"Shit, at least fifty or more, why?"
"I have an idea, but ya will have ta do exactly as I say, right?"
"Ok ... what is it?"
Po folded up the paper and pointed to a report near the bottom of page four.
"De ya see that?" he asked One Tooth.
"Ahhh, naked woman arrested running on Birmingham's Hill Street."
"Good, now leave out the Birmingham."
"Are ya deef, leave out the Birmingham will ya?"
"What the hell are ya on about Po?" asked Red moving closer.
"Will yis listen will yis? Instead of you shouting 'Belfast Tele,' shout,
'Naked woman arrested on Hill Street', get it?"
Red roared laughing.
"I friggin' get it, I get it. A love it."
As Red and Po walked away they could hear the loud voice of One Tooth.
"Naked woman arrested on Hill Street."
They could also hear the voices of passers by.
"A paper please."
"One for me too."
That Sunday on the train to the match in Clones, Red and Po got a cigarette each as a thank you from One Tooth who sold his extra papers and managed the fare.
"Another good deed to add to my growing list," smiled Po.
"A have ta admit, it was a good one for sure. What put it into your head anyway?" smiled Red.
"Sure I was just thinkin', ya see, people love ta see other people in trouble, and if they know them, it's ten times better. All them ones that bought the extra papers were hopin' it was someone they knew ya see."
"I see, so like, when we are doing a composition in school, and I write about someone I know gettin' his wee willie caught in his zipper, a might get extra marks?"
"Don't even think about it bastard face."
Down won the match and were now Ulster Champions.
Chapter ThreeA Dog's Life
Red was lying on his bed reading his favourite comic, The Topper. He looked up as the door to his bedroom opened. His best friend Po was standing there with a sombre look on his face.
Po looked down at his feet.
"Rascal's dead," he mumbled.
"Jasus! What happened Po?"
"I found him on the street near our house. I think he was hit by a car." Red was looking at Po's face. He could see his eyes filling up. He got up and walked over to him, putting his arm around Po's shoulder he tried to find some words to comfort his friend.
"Ya know, he most likely didn't feel a thing. He probably died instantly ya know, so at least he had no pain."
"I was hopin' that's what happened my own self. Did ya know he was almost ten years old our Rascal?"
"Was he really, I didn't think he was that old."
"We had some great times together so we did. Do ya remember that time he got his head stuck in the railings? The auld ejit was after a cat."
"I remember that so a do," laughed Red.
"An what about that time he jumped at auld Mrs. Hogan and she dropped her groceries all over the street."
Po was smiling now, remembering the good times he had with his friend, Rascal.
"Red, will ya give me a hand to bury him?"
"Jasus Po, sure ya know a will, that goes without sayin'. Anto and the lads will come along too so they will, they all liked Rascal."
"Do ya think I should get a box made for him, a mean, it wouldn't be like, too much, would it?"
"I think that's a great idea. Leave it with me and I will get our Pajoe ta start on it right away. When are ya plannin' ta bury him and where?"
"I was thinkin', up the 'Rocks' on High Street. He loved going up there."
"Ok, I will call for ya at three o'clock. I'll have the box an all by then. I'll get all the lads to meet us on the 'Rocks'. Anto will get his Uncle Roberto to drive us up there."
"That would be great, thanks Red."
"Not a problem."
Red did indeed get the little box made for Rascal and Pajoe even printed his name on the top. All the gang had been informed and promised to turn up for Rascal's funeral. Red, Anto and Po placed the body of Rascal in the box and laid it gently, with great decorum, into the boot of Roberto's car, who then drove to the High Street Rocks. They took the box out of the car and started the climb up the steep grassy gradient until they reached the top. There they found the whole gang waiting quietly. The entire ceremony was very dignified. Red said a few words as did Anto and Jumpy. Po was the last to speak and had a hard job holding back the tears. He recalled Rascal's life from when he was a tiny pup and some of the funny things he did and how he loved playing with the children on the street. He knew all their names too Po pointed out.
So Rascal was laid to rest. His grave was on the highest point of the 'Rocks', overlooking the town. The mourners then began the long trek back down the hill.
"The wee brother will crack up when he hears about Rascal ya know. He's away fishing at the County River and he doesn't know yet," Po said to Red.
"Wow, he will take it hard for sure," said Red.
They had just reached the bottom of the grassy slope when Jumpy spoke to Po.
"Did a hear ya say that your wee brother was away fishing?"
"Isn't that him over there playing football?"
Po and Red both looked in the direction of a group of lads playing football and Jumpy was indeed correct, Po's little brother was there.
"I suppose a better go and tell him, will ya come with me Red?"
"Sure, come on."
Po called his young brother who arrived breathlessly.
"I'm afraid I have ta talk ta ya about Rascal," said Po in a soft voice.
"Jasus, did mom find out, did she? Shit, I'm in trouble now so a am."
"What are ya talkin' about?"
"Rascal, isn't that what you are talkin' about? I took him with me earlier when a went fishin'. Mom won't let me take him cause she's afraid he will run out on the road and get knocked down."
"Hold on a minute, ya took Rascal fishin' with ya?"
"Isn't that what I'm sayin'. There he is over there playin' with Rooney's dog."
Red and Po looked in the direction of the barking and there was Rascal indeed having a great time with Rooney's dog.
"Can't be, he's dead," Po managed to get out.
"Who's dead?" Po's brother asked.
"Rascal's dead, he was knocked down on North Street this morning, we just buried him."
"I see what happened, ya thought that dog on North Street was Rascal?
Jasus, you're nuts our fella. That was Docherty's dog, Jip. He was killed early this morning. Come ta think of it, he does look very like our Rascal, doesn't he? I'm away back ta play football, see ya later."
Red looked at Po and started to giggle. The giggle grew, and grew, into uncontrollable fits of laughter. He had to sit down.
"Frig me ... I don't believe it ... I just don't believe ... we buried Docherty's dog ... ," Red managed to get out.
"It's not that funny Morgan ya bastard," Po snapped.
"You ... will ... never ... ever ... live this down, ya know that, don't ya?" Red got out.
Later Red, Anto and Po were sitting in Uncle Luigi's drinking coffee.
"Ya know Po, you are a right ejit, do ya know that?" said Anto laughing.
"All right, all right, for Christ sake, don't you start. I got enough from dickhead here," snapped Po nodding towards a broadly smiling Red.
"But Po, think about it, ya buried Docherty's dog thinking it was yours, a mean, ya'r definitely off your trolley," pointed out Anto.
"Look, anyone could have made that mistake so they could. The two dogs could have been twins," complained Po.
"Ah well, sure it's all over now, at least Docherty's dog got a fine send off with Po crying over his coffin," smirked Red.
Excerpted from Frogs and Snails and Old Dog's Tales by Frank Murney Copyright © 2011 by Frank Murney. Excerpted by permission of Trafford Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsThe Electric Guitar....................1
One Tooth Pete....................6
A Dog's Life....................9
Jumpy's Big Day....................13
The Talking Fish....................22
Visit to the Doctor....................27
The Great Sheep Caper....................33
The Coke Bottle Race....................37
Anto the Hero....................41
The Kiss of Life....................45
The Christmas Present....................48
The Class Project....................55
Excuse Me Sir....................64
The Glar Crossing....................68
My Ball Rules....................74
The Message Boy....................80
First Day at Work....................91
Red's Big Date....................95
Newry V Dublin....................99
The Ghost That Was Scared....................102
The Easter Egg....................110
Do You Know Where You Are?....................116
The Surprise Party....................122
The Border House Inn....................129
The Driving Test....................135
The Football Programmes....................148
Anything to Declare....................170
The Drunken Driver....................179
Goodbye to Caples....................182
Anto's Big Question....................186
The Engagement Party....................193