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A Strange Story To Tell

Hi my friends, this is my story for January, hope you like it.

The strange tale of Patrick Murphy.

My name is Jim Dawson and I am a show-business impresario based in Dublin.

I travel a lot and I don’t have much time for leisure, but I like to enjoy a coffee with a friend or two and that has a lot to do with my story and what a strange and disturbing tale it is.

Since it’s occurrence I’ve had little or no sleep and my home life and work have suffered greatly.

But spare a moment and let me tell you my troublesome tale.

It all started on a Wednesday evening when I got a phone call from an old school friend, Patrick Murphy.

I was surprised to hear his voice, as we had not met or indeed spoken in over forty years.

In school we were inseparable, where one went the other was sure to follow, laughing and joking and never taking life too seriously, taking no great notice of our studies, thinking they were all a waste of our time and we were better off without them.

In our teens we would spend Saturday nights rocking and rolling (In our minds) to the latest music at the Mount Pleasant record hop, although we spent most of the time just watching the girls and waiting nervously to be asked up for a lady’s choice, but still half hoping we wouldn’t.

There was a French au-pair girl staying in Patrick’s house and we both fell in love with her.

We worshiped her all through the lovely summer of sixty-one, but neither one of us had the courage to ask her out’

We were sixteen and she was also sixteen but light years ahead of us.

So, we agreed to stand together and for both of us ask her to the pictures in Rathmines.

Too our horror she agreed, now what do we do?

So, I slicked back my hair and polished my shoes and with Patrick one side of her and me on the other we headed off walking to the Stella Cinema full of the joys of that lovely summer.

We had about enough money between us for the cinema tickets and to buy her a box of Irish Roses chocolates.

During the movie she proceeded to eat all the chocolates and never gave us one and that was the end of that romance.

Then one night I met a girl at the record hop fell in love and started to go steady with her as we used to say.

Then as time passed, Patrick and I saw less and less of each other, Patrick went his way and I went mine and we said goodbye to the golden days of our youth.

Later I heard he married well and had his own very successful business and was very happy in his family.

I was delighted he had gotten in touch with me and we agreed to meet for a coffee the next day.

We met in the Burnaby pub in Greystones and greeted each other as if we had never parted all those years ago.

He had aged well but there was a sad aura around him and he was very serious and seemed to have lost that wonderful sense of humour he used to possess and his jokes were not as funny as they used to be.

I asked was there anything wrong and could I help in any way.

“You see” he said “I lost my lovely wife earlier this year after a long and painful illness. “You see she was not only my wife but she was my soulmate and we went everywhere together.

We used to go out in my boat on summer evenings and sail around Dublin Bay, up around by Dalkey island and sometimes as far as Howth and back.

They were the happiest days of my life and now they are all gone”

He spoke about how lonely he was and how he nearly went crazy when she died.

He thanked me for listening to his woes and said he was sorry for burdening me with his troubles.

“Don’t let it worry you” I said, “After all, what are old friends for?”

We talked on for a while longer but the joy of meeting my old friend had gone and a gloom hung over the table.

Gone was the laughing boy of my youth.

He made a move to go and I realised it was time to end this sad reunion.

We stood and hugged and parted with the promise to keep in touch, but I knew we never would.

Then he was gone. Time went by.

Then one day I found myself back in the Burnaby with my wife. We settled in for a quiet lunch together and a relaxing afternoon.

As we sat drinking our coffee, I became aware of a young man watching us from across the room. He sat staring at us and I became uncomfortable and wondered what this was all about.

After a while, just as I was about to get up from our table and admonish him for his bad manners he got up and sheepishly approached us. He introduced himself as Patrick Murphy and said “I believe you went to school with my father.

“I did” I replied. “We were great friends for many years and what a coincidence, we had the pleasure of meeting again last week and sharing a chat about old times”

At these words he suddenly went pale and started to shake and had to sit down “But that can’t be” he said, “My father is dead, he died six months ago.”

I replied “But we sat at this very table last week, I talked to him face to face, I can’t believe this, it must be some sort of sick joke and I don’t appreciate it.”

“No, it’s no joke” he said, “He was never himself after my mother died. He went into decline with grief and became deeply depressed.

Then one day six months ago, he took his boat out of Greystones harbour, sailed out to sea and never came back.

Some days later his empty boat was found drifting off the coast of Arklow.

His body has never been found. So, you see you could never have met.

In silence he stood up and sadly walked away.

I’ve never been the same since.

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