My news of poorly planned travels created laughter at the lunacy my story unraveled. An aspiring harper, singer, and poet walking London alone, my wallet was stolen, as was my phone.
“Then sing us a song!” They yelled through their KFC. “Yea, let’s let see!” curiously phrased and chomping with glee.
“No way.” Said I, “Well, maybe later.” “Ah fuck, a poem then? You said you’re a poet.” Then I considered these men. “Ok, here is ‘birthday wishes
’ for Sean.” And I recited the piece. As I did, the banter silenced, and crunching ceased.
After the poem, they smiled content where they sat. “We should drink,” Joey said, “to something like that.” Frank surprise gifted me 20 quid. I was stunned by his kindness at the poem for his kid.
They might have been joking, but I figured, “Why not?” pulling single malt Scotch from my bag, “who’s up for shots?!” I poured myself a double, and the rest in Frank’s cup. The clerk, Moo Sii, joined in the banter and mirth. Their stories were questionable, but full of worth: Freddie got fingered, The Chief ever frisky… And Frank? Well, he was drunk long before the Whiskey. His Irish tongue impossible to get, I kept asking, “What?” in a bit of a fret. He clasped his fingers to his nose, and spoke like a nasally Texan. And only when he did that, could I understand him.
They were curious about the woman, assuming she was my childhood sweetie, “Our plans failed…” I explained quite weakly. “Is she some hole?” they asked slang I never used nor heard. “No,” I sighed, “Just an old friend who I’d share a drink and a word.” To this they were miffed and surprised me another way, they negotiated with Moo Sii a way I could stay!
Frank enjoyed dealing shit, so I dealt it back proud, “You couldn’t tell the difference between your ass and a hole in the ground.” Laughter was joined by…warning? They were boxers, punchers, 6 total, and maybe drunk. If they wanted, I’d be royally fucked. “A statement like that will get you beaten.” One started to clap, “get you down… then WAP! WAP! WAP!” With each wap he clapped.
Suddenly this sentiment seemed dangerous… and grossly offensive. Frank’s head slowly shaking at my most excellent dis. I switched to the defensive, and said something like this, “I’ve got almost no cash in my pocket, so don’t bash in my head. I can manage pain, but can’t afford a hospital bed.”
Frank regarded my state of affairs. He proceeded in Irish, removing my fears, “Say anything yah like’n, and no physical violence. There’s no need to be frightened.” Now relaxed, I said, “Huh? I don’t get your words.” Then he cupped his nose and mocked in dread, “Hi-ah I-ah um frum Mur’ca. An shees from Mur’ca too. I donno wat to doo” I replied in mock Irish, “Like a leprechaun at the end of a rainbow, ar santa, ar an easter bonny with a basket an bow!” Then maybe it was James who took over to say, “Because he’s a fatty?” Oh shit… I’m dead today. So for a second time that night, I feared for my life. But to his credit and word: there was no strife.
Frank headed to bed, despite Freddie’s pleas to stay. When I offered a song though, his decision was swayed. I sang for this small crowd, in doing so: shook in terror. Moo Sii knew I was afraid, which actually appeased me. Freddie, Joey, and James’ faces quietly eased me. Sean said, “Try out for x-factor!” which certainly pleased me. Frank frankly stated, “Don’t get his hopes up lads. Andrew, that was awful. Terrible. Bad.” Sean made eye contact with me to disagree with his dad. Frank interrupted and berated while nodding “It took major balls to do it, but your singing’s utter shit.” I countered back with some reflexive wit. “You can sing better?” And he bellowed, “Of course I can!” I glared through his specs, “Let’s hear it then.” He looked back, not one to back down, “You got a kar-ee-oke machine.” I smiled like a maniacal clown, “OoOoh, you need music to sing?” I felt evil, derisive, even mad. He arose, erected, powerful, glad. He roared The Eye of The Tiger: strong, energetic, driven, and rad.
Frank finally slept, and I could too. In the morning we had breakfast as a chummy crew. The banter they dished had me heckled: At a whole. New.—Level. By doing so befriended a man lost in his travels. In appreciation of the help provided by them: this poem is for all the good Irish men.