‘I haven’t dreamt in years Joe’.
‘What’s that you say Charlie I can’t hear you with the fucking engine noise from that ancient tractor of yours coming in at me lug. What are ya on about?’
Joe didn’t really care about a lot of things. He just sat at his till flicking through an interior design magazine that he wasn’t reading, it was just the one he picked up as another slow mover. It was his very subtle marketing tool. They are all saying that word of mouth is the way to go forward now, having that personal touch. See, he would flick through it in front of everyone till someone bought it’.
Charlie had his usual outfit of torn co-op attire and worn wellies lined with cattle shit that he had no notice of. Joe on the other hand knew that he couldn’t be overly insulting with the customers, but Charlie was different. Their banter had kept Charlie coming into Joe’s shop for going on nearly 35 years now. He stayed committed through the refurbishment of ‘97 when you had to step through the plastic under scaffolding to get a packet of polo mints. And then there was the flooding of 2008 – worst year ever to have a flood. Josie Jones’ daughter came in asking for a job, she was sure that she had stopped the tap or pulled the plug. Turns out she had done neither of these, and poor Joe arrived back from the first weekend away in years to meet his custard creams at the front door.
Charlie was trying to take his committed self out of the freezer with a well-earned ice-cream to cool the jets as he might say. This was an old school freezer and Joe was an old school shop keeper. You would have to reach deep down into yourself at times to have the courage to go for the cornetto. The iceburger, choc ice and brunch were the staples but those cornetto’s, those bad boys were always bottom of the freezer. Even Charlie at times looked like an Olympic synchronised swimmer, legs cocked in the air as he reached for the last one in the box.
Having retrieved his just reward for a morning’s job well done – the shit had been spread on the land, now it was time to stir it here in McAndrews of Gillymore.
‘I was saying that I haven’t dreamt in years, what was your last dream, Joe. I think the last time was of me on a bicycle and I was cycling around Kerry of all the places, don’t ask me. Anyway, I could see all these people, I could see all of them but they couldn’t see me, it was like I was bond you know that double oh seven’.
Joe couldn’t resist ‘more like donkey oh seven, will you get on with it’.
‘I would if you would stop interrupting me smart arse. As I was saying, now this is, must be at least a year ago. I was just going around, I couldn’t keep count of the places I was. And then there was a hearse, I’d say I was sweating at this point Joe I can tell ya. I stopped for the hearse like and watched it past and there were flowers in it. And guess what they spelt Joe, only shitty Christopher. What do you make of that ha?’.
‘And where to Christ did you get the Christopher, you must have been thinking of that fella who was superman, or your brother in law isn’t he called Christopher’. Joe got no response only a look that could smash a thousand ships. He was used to it – it washed over him like the block of ham did on the slicer. ‘Come here did you let the hearse go or did you cycle out in front of it?’.
He had a perplexed look on his face, one Joe noted he had never seen before. ‘What do you mean sure didn’t I let it pass and then floored it on my bike at the next junction I think that I ran a red light’.
‘Always the gent even in your dreams, ha Cha Cha’.
Charlie decided to ignore that ridiculous name. He posed the question ‘what happens to you if you don’t dream Joe do ya think? Does that part of the brain die, like what do dreams do for you I often wonder?’.
Joe thought for a minute, his life flashed in front of him. He felt a wave of sadness, he had dreamt of being a pilot, on those commercial flights carrying dignitaries, and maybe even an Ireland team – he didn’t care of if it was the rugby team or the soccer one. Then her recalled himself sharing this exciting news with his parents. His mother threw her eyebrows so far back her head they weren’t visible anymore. His father just got up and dropped his cup in the sink. ‘You think you could do something like that, ha, not a hope. You’re going to take over the shop and that’s that and I won’t hear another thing about it. Rob is going to go to college, he’s the bright boy. Now I have better things to do than to listen to this. I’ll be back at 6 and I’ll want a dinner, and for Christ’s sake try not serving me hard potatoes the ones from yesterday were like bullets’.
‘You might be better off not dreaming Charlie, sure where does it get ya?’.
‘Maybe your right Joe, sure where does it get ya at all’.
The door was swung open enough for Charlie to make his exit, the full force of the engine now break dancing it’s way around the shop with a deeper intensity.
‘Charlie, hey Charlie, hey come here Charlie’.
He looked back on the third, the loudest yelping of his name from Joe.
‘You forgot to pay for the ice-cream’.
‘Ah sorry Joe I must be in dreamland there’.
Joe snapped the change that Charlie wielded clumsily in his hand.
‘Very fucking funny Cha Cha, very fucking funny, good luck with your shit today’.
‘I will Josephine, oh I will’.
Just one Cornetto