Tom looked at his watch. Finally, he thought, another half hour and I’m outta this place. It was the last day in work before the Christmas holidays and he was looking forward to getting out of work early that day. He’d had enough all year what with everyone rushing around the factory like the world was going to end tomorrow. Declan, pompous little brat was his new eager young manager had been on their back all year pontificating at them about his cost productive stats and work enhancing performances. He just wanted to get home, have a rest, sit back with a hot whiskey and watch the TV.
“Tom c’mon, the boss man has called us for this stupid ‘let’s get together team meeting’,” Mick, Tom’s colleague called out.
“I’m not in the mood of listening to that little upstart who’s barely out of school and never did a hard days graft in his life. Can you tell him I went home sick and you can get my bonus for me?”
“No, Tom,” laughed Mick. “Unfortunately we all have to go to listen to his shite one more time this year.”
“Right, c’mon so,” Tom said as him and Mick went into Declan’s office.
When Tom and Mick went to the office, Declan was already there with a few others. “And I must say, you have all been darling workers this year,” he was saying as he held up a glass of mulled wine. “It’s amazing what a little team work and a listening can do for us. Next year I have more plans for you all. I know none of you are afraid of a little extra work. I think we should all give a little round of applause to each other.”
Declan put his glass down and began to clap. Mick whispered into Tom’s ear, “He’s a right little feck that still should be getting slapped on the arse over mammy’s lap. It’d do the world of good for him.”
Tom started laughing and Declan turned around. “Ah, Tom. You decided to show up. We will have to work on that a little bit more. That’s not the first time you were late to a meeting this year, but even though it’s Christmas I will still have to dock your wages,” he said as he threw head back and gave the loudest snorting laugh. When he finally stopped laughing he looked at Tom and said, “Oh, you should see your face Tom. You thought I was serious. Oh I do crack myself up at times.”
“Yes Declan, you certainly do crack me up too,” Tom said dryly.
“Right everyone, now it’s time you’ve all been waiting for,” Declan called out.
“Our bonus!” someone shouted.
“Yes, we will come to that. They can be collected on the way out, but first we will have the raffle. We have some great prizes this year,” Declan laughed. He picked out a few tickets from a bowl and called out five names, each receiving a bottle of supermarket labelled brand of wine and a box of chocolates that looked like they were lying on a shelf for last three years. Each one also had to listen to a little piece of advice on how they can go a little step further in their work performance next year. Finally there was one more winner to be called out
“And this year’s first prize winner goes to Tom O’Shea,” announced Declan as he held up a raffle ticket.
“Nice one, about feckin’ time,” cheered Tom. “Hope it’s an all-inclusive week in the Caribbean?”
“No Tom,” Declan said. “Even better. You get to feed the whole family for a month. You’ve won Paddy the 50lb turkey straight from Johnny Lyons farm. This fine one has been fattening up all year waiting for Christmas.”
“What the feck am I supposed to do with that!?” Tom complained.
“Well, before you place it into the oven, either yourself of the wife has to first hold it up by its legs, then the other holds the knife up to its throat and begins to slowly sli-“
“You sick bastard, I’m not going back tonight and telling Mary she’s in for a slaughter fest as I know whose neck she’ll be cutting! I’m out of here!”
“Tom, my good man, don’t be bothering yourself. I’m sure Rays butchers will sort ya out. They are a barbaric lot who would have no qualms getting paid for performing such a task. Wait one moment,” said Declan as he went towards the door.
“Hey, Tom, Meself and Sheila will be around for dinner tomorrow. I’ll even bring the little grand kiddies with me. Nice bit of fresh turkey for us all. The Mrs will be delighted!” yelled out Mick.
Some banging and clattering and voices could be heard in the hallway and strange gobbling cackling noises. “You disgusting fowl, will you calm down, and keep those filthy feathers away from me. It’ll all be over for you soon!”
Tom and the others looked at the door as a dishevelled Declan fell in holding a cage in his hand with the largest turkey they ever saw. It was flapping its wings in distress eager to get out.
“Here you go Tom,” said Declan as he tried to compose himself and get his breathing back to normal. “He’s all yours. I…I have to go.”
“Wait, I told you I di-“
“Enjoy. I’m off home now. Happy Christmas lads,” said Declan as he ran out and slammed the door.
“He wasn’t lying when he said it was a big turkey,” said Mick. “I’m off now myself. I’m getting the train with Johnny. I’ll see you and Mary for dinner.”
Tom was left in the office on his own staring down at Paddy, the biggest turkey he’d ever seen.
“Mary will have my guts when I come home with this,” he said out loud as he turned to grab his jacket.
“Rather your guts than mine. You’re not going home without buying me a pint first surely?”
Tom turned around and said, “Mick I thought you had gone?”
“He did,” a voice said. “Now will you hurry up? I’ve been stuck in this cage in Johnny Lyons farm listening to him whining on all year about how he’s looking forward to Christmas and getting rid of me.”
Tom looked around the room and the only thing living and breathing was the turkey.
I’ve had too much to drink, he thought. I’m hearing things.
“And a round of applause goes to Tom. Yes, of course you are hearing things. It’s me, Paddy, the greatest size turkey. Jaysus, you humans are a little slow at times!”
“What the….Hey who are you calling slow?” Tom yelled as looked down to an empty cage. He could feel a breeze beside his legs and hear a flapping noise. He looked to his right and saw Paddy the turkey all of 2 ½ feet standing beside him.
“Now, are you buying that pint or what? I’m gasping. You’re beginning to sound like the hens. They sure do know how to go on!”
Tom, in a dazed and delirious state as one could only be when a 2 ½ foot Turkey is not only talking, but is also demanding you are its paid drinking buddy for the night.
“The feck I am,” Tom finally said. “Do you really think I’m going for a pint with a turkey who insults me and clearly doesn’t have his own entrance fee into a pub?”
Paddy looked at Tom, eyes glaring, “Do you think if I could fly I’d be stuck here with a half-wit like yourself. I’d be out seeing the world with my own species and not stuck in some feckin’ farm when my owners decide to abandon me all the time.” Paddy began flapping his wings wildly and his wattle under his chin was flopping and becoming redder as he began pecking into Tom’s leg.
“Ouch, that hurts. Get off me!” shouted Tom as he tried to kick him away.
“No! Next it’ll be your eyes I’ll start poking if you don’t change your attitude.”
“Fine. Have it your way then,” said Tom. “But we’re going for one and then it’s back to the farm with you. We’re not walking in together though. Get into my rucksack and behave yourself.”
“As you wish boss,” snickered Paddy.
“What’s Mary going to say about this,” Tom cried out as he walked out to the bike shed with rucksack on his back and Paddy’s head on his shoulder gleaming.
“Mary will be more surprised that you have a friend to go for a pint with,” Paddy smirked.
They finally made it to O’Mahony’s Pub. Tom dismounted from his bike. Paddy popped his head up.
“Are we here, are we here?” he asked as his head bobbled up and down.
“Keep that head of yours in,” said Tom. “I don’t want to be seen walking into a pub a with a talking turkey.”
“Oooh, like that is it?” Not good enough company for you? You’re just like the rest of them,” said Paddy. “I’ll have you know, on the farm, the others were begging for my company.”
“Good, you’ll be back there soon,” said Tom. “And yes, it is your company I don’t want right now. You’ve insulted me more than once today and frankly I can’t wait to get rid of you. You’re the first and last turkey I ever want to have a pint with. Now quit moaning and keep your head in.”
Tom went into O’Mahony’s pub and went towards the bar. He could feel Paddy’s beak flapping against his ear. “Oh I like this place,” he was saying. “Not too swanky, not too rough around the edges. Just right.”
“Quiet,” Tom whispered as the barman came over to him.
“What’ll it be,” he asked.
Tom opened his mouth to say something but Paddy shouted out, “I’ll have meself one of those fast twister vodka cocktails with a hint of vanilla followed by a shot of tequila.”
“I beg your pardon,” said the barman.
“I’ll have a pint of Guinness,” said Tom.
“Do you want me to start flapping my wings and get angry,” he could hear. “That tall barman looks like the serious type that has issues. I betcha his face would crack if he tried to smile. Do you want me to say it to him? He also looks like he’d come out the right end of a fight.”
“Actually, can you make it two pints? I’m waiting on a friend to come,” said Tom to the barman.
The barman said nothing and began to pull the pints.
“The staff here are a bit grumpy,” Paddy called out.
“What did you say?” the barman asked.
“The ride here was a bit bumpy,” Tom said.
“Yeah whatever,” the barman replied.
“Mr Miserable Grinch is still alive I see,” Paddy continued.
“Shut it,” Tom said.
“Just making an observation is all,” Paddy whispered.
“This place seems alive tonight I see,” Tom said to the barman as he handed the pints to him and grunted. Tom took the pints and went over to a table in a quiet corner of the pub and took the rucksack off.
“One pint,” he said.
Paddy peeped his head out from the bag and lowered his neck down and put his head into the pint of Guinness. Within 30 seconds he had drank the whole lot. He looked into Toms face and said “More.”
“No, we’re going,” said Tom.
“More!” shouted Paddy. “More Guinness for me.”
People were beginning to turn around to see where the noise was coming from.
“Alright, keep your feathers on,” Tom said with his hands raised. “And after that I don’t care how much you throw a turkey fit. We’re going.”
Tom brought another couple of pints back to the table and Paddy did the same thing again and stuck his head in and drank it back within a few seconds. “Ah, there we go. That’s’ better,” he said looking up at Tom eyes glazing. “Now, this makes your company a little bit more manageable.”
“Do you know what Paddy,” Tom said. “Even though you are a turkey, it is still customary to be polite every once in a while. Now I can see why your owners abandoned you back at the farm. I’ve better things to be doing than sitting here wasting my time with a turkey who clearly has no concept of social interaction.”
“I am truly hurt Tom. I thought we were friends.”
“Why on earth would you think that?” Tom asked.
“You were the first human to not want to slaughter me. Humans only think of the turkey at Christmas as another part of the commercial riot act. That’s all people want. They invite family over once a year that they don’t talk to from one end of year to next. They exchange overpriced gifts with each other that they spent moaning about as everything is so costly. They then they present the turkey showing off with a carving knife of how manly it is to slice us up. 500 hundred years ago, no one gave us a second glance at Christmas. Do you know my family were said to be from North America. But then the import business came in and we all got separated and then the high kings of Europe decided that the pheasants and geese weren’t good enough for them and now we, this charade of killing turkey was their feast so therefore we are made tradition at Christmas, along with the drinks that are exchanged, bit of shite talking and even more shite promises of what they’ll do through the year and don’t see each other again. It’s all shite. I once had a family you know Tom. I didn’t always live on Johnny’s farm. I’ve family all over the world you know.
“I’m going up to the bar to get myself a few shots of whiskey,” Tom said. “Whatever is happening to me right now in my head at this present time, I’m sure a few shots of whiskey will solve it as I’m talking to a turkey!”
Tom went to the bar and ordered a two shots of whiskey and two fast twister vodka cocktails with a hint of vanilla with a straw and a shot of tequila.
“And another thing, Tom,” Paddy said when Tom arrived back with the drinks, “I’m not technically called a turkey. As I said, I have family all over the world and we are originally from a family of birds called Galliformes. It was you Europeans again that decided to call us that, as we were imported here from Turkey. Humans again, not respecting us and not being original with your names together you all came up with a ‘clever’ name ‘Turkey’. Wow, I wonder how many of you it took to come up with that!”
Despite himself Tom began to laugh. “Here Paddy, have one on me,” he said as he passed the drink over to Paddy.
“Are they not all on you? It’s the least you could do for a turkey who is about to become another statistic at Christmas like the rest,” Paddy sighed as he began sipping the drink.
“A turkey with emotions. I’ve heard it all,” said Tom.
“I’ll have you know, I’m very emotional at times. Back when I was living on the farm before that gobshite Johnny took it over after his dear mother Grace Lyons passed away, it wasn’t always a farm. She kept us as her little pets. Lovely woman she was. Every morning she’d come out to us and greet us good morning and chat to us for hours. Think she was a bit lonely to be honest. I was her favourite though. In the evening time, she would bring me into the cottage and we’d sit down and have a chat and a sing song over a few shots of whiskey. She was like myself, that lost her family, some due to war, others just left her and went on. Johnny was always hanging around near the end just waiting on her to take her last breath. Do you know the song Grace? Some say it was written for Joseph Mary Plunketts fiancé Grace. He was one of the leaders of the 1916 rising and a poet and scholar. You remember the ….erection…secretions of-“
“The Insurrection,” Tom corrected.
“Yes, that week. Well, he was one leaders of the some 1,600 rebels that fought for a week and seized prominent buildings in Dublin. Do you know we didn’t actually get our independence from the British that week like it was led to believe? It wasn’t in fact until 1922 that a treaty of independence was signed, but it did start of a large chain of events. Also it was not a good day for Grace as they had the shortest marriage sadly.”
“Why was that,” said Tom as he took a long sip if his whiskey. “Enlighten me please.”
“Well, he was executed one hour after it, but it was a happy marriage. But that song is in my heart for my Gracey.”
“I’m not sure I’ve heard that song,” said Tom.
“Well, seen as you asked,” Paddy said, “But I’m getting out of this rucksack once and for all,”
Paddy got out of the rucksack and stood up on the seat, wings spanned out fully, neck up straight and began to sing,
“Oh Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger, they’ll take me out at dawn and I will die. With all my love I place this wedding ring upon your finger. There won’t be time to share our love for we must say goodbye…”
Tom looked around the pub and saw that people had stopped their conversations and were beginning to draw their attention to Paddy
“Sit the feck down,” Tom was saying through gritted teeth. “How am I supposed to explain this?”
A couple of drunken girls came over and squealed, “Wow, listen to this.”
“Hang on,” her friend said “Is that a turkey?”
Tom was beginning to panic. He put his arm around Paddy and said “Thanks for the compliment girls and I hope you like the show. I’m a ventriloquist and this is my new friend Paddy.”
“Wow, that’s so real like,” one of them said as she waved over to the rest of her friends at the table to come over.
Before he knew it, Tom was surrounded by a bunch of eager people waiting in anticipation for more. One of the men had brought over another round of drinks to them. Tom grabbed both of them up, and him and held one up to Paddy and both of them swallowed fast. “Just play along,” he said under his teeth to Paddy.
Paddy winked at him and together Tom with his new found ventriloquist act they sang,
“Now I know it’s hard for you my love to ever understand, The love I bear for these brave men, my love for this dear land ,But when the Padhraic called me to his side down in the GPO ,I had to leave my own sick bed, to him I had to go”
Tom was shocked looking at the growing crowd that was clapping and cheering along with them. Tom looked at Paddy and could see the happiness in his eyes as the crowd stared in awe.
“Oh Grace just hold me in your arms and let this moment linger, they’ll take me out at dawn and” he continued. “I miss my Gracey.”
“Shh, carry on with the song,” Tom tried to say to him.
“No, I miss her,” he sobbed. “Don’t send me back there tonight, please.”
The crowd was now looking to Tom. Tom was looking at Paddy who was sobbing into his drink.
“Sorry lads, bit too much to drink tonight,” he said as he tried to laugh it off. “ This is a part of the scene we will be both performing in the Gaiety Theatre tomorrow evening ‘Gobblers Love Stories’ Please do come along, you are all welcome.”
“No Tom, we’re not going yet. I want to sing another,” Paddy slurred as he began to get up on the table. Tom was beginning to panic at this stage. The crowd were staring at Tom waiting on his next move. “Ha ha,” he laughed nervously. “I’m still in acting mode I think but the show is definitely over now. Isn’t that right Paddy?”
Paddy was on the table, “This one goes to my lovely Gracey again,” he yelled out. “Does anyone know the song Molly Malone?”
“Oh sweet Jesus,” Tom gasped as he rubbed his temples trying to think of what his next move could be. He knew however it was not going to be good as there apparently seems to be no stopping a drunken turkey once they start. He went over and stood beside Paddy at the table and mouthed at him ‘you are for dinner tomorrow’. Paddy didn’t acknowledge anything and kept on singing, while Tom had to play along “In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on my sweet Gracey Lyons, As she wheeled her wheel-barrow, Through streets broad and narr…….”
“Why did he stop?” a girl from crowd called out. Tom looked at Paddy who was swaying at this stage.
“Ughh I feel a little whoosy,” was all he could hear from him. Just then Paddy slumped down from the table causing it to topple over and smashing all the glasses onto the floor. He lay there covered in Guinness and groaning. When the barman looked over and saw what the commotion was about he stormed over in a rage.
Uh no, Tom thought. “Quick, get up,” he hissed at Paddy. “We’re in for it now.”
“That’s it,” shouted into Toms face , the side of his temples bulging. “Get you and your filthy fowl out of here!”
“I do apologise,” Tom said. “We’ll be on our way.”
“Hey bullet head, don’t you talk to my friend like that,” Paddy called out. “Oh and by the way who are you calling filthy?”
“What did you say to me?” the barman roared while clenching his fists.
Tom said nothing.
“I said you have a bullet head and also where is the service with a smile we all hear about these days. Are you afraid you’ll look more like a ponce than you already do? Fecks sake, I thought at first I’d walked into meeting of ‘Characterless People Anonymous’ at first.”
The barman looked at Tom and raised his fist, “Think you’re a smart arse with your ventriloquism, do you? How about I knock your teeth out and see how that’ll work for you!”
“I don’t think so,” Paddy shouted as he ran over and jumped on the barman’s head and began slapping his wings wildly across his face.
“Quick Tom, run!”
“Get that animal off me!” the barman cried as he tried to free the wings from his face. Paddy continued to slap him and the barman was losing his balance.
Tom, in a panic grabbed his jacket. “Right Paddy, we have to go now!”
“Hang on, just one more thing to do,” he said as he winked at Tom. “Ah, that’s better.”
“My eyes,” the barman screamed as he realised what was dripping down from his head.
Tom stood there frozen “Did you just….on his head…you actually sha-“
“Yes. I did what I saw fit under the circumstances,” smirked Paddy. “Now let’s go.”
Tom grabbed his jacket and lifted Paddy down from the barman’s head and held him up against his chest. Paddy rested his head on Tom’s shoulder.
“My best friend,” he dribbled into his ear. As they walked out of the bar Paddy looked down at the barman who was now on his knees still rubbing his eyes and said, “Night night Mr Barman, I do hope you sort your issues out soon. A smile never goes astray. Oh and a little bit of soap and water and your eyes will be back to normal in no time.”
The barman raised his head and groaned.
Tom made his way through the onlookers and outside to where his bike was parked. “Hurry, we better go. Feck, I forgot the rucksack,” he said.
“Don’t murder me and make me for dinner …please…..” Paddy mumbled.
“Sshh, no one is getting murdered tonight except me, when Mary sees me bringing home a 50lb live drunken turkey,” Tom said. “I can’t bring you back to the farm in this state. Although, I might add, you’re not a bad singer and you did stop me from getting a beating from the barman, even though you caused the fight.”
“That’s what friends do for each other,” Paddy said.
“Yes, but next time let me do the talking,” Tom said as he winked and got onto his bike and placed Paddy over the cross bar. “Hold on,” he said as this might be a bumpy ride.”
Paddy placed his head on the handlebars and looked up.”Weee, this is fun,” he squealed as they went down the hill. “Do you want to hear another song? Oh, what are they?” he said as he looked down at the mudguards.
“Stop moving, I’m losing my balance,” Tom cried, but Paddy didn’t listen and leaned his head and neck over more. His beak got caught in the spokes of the wheel and Tom could feel himself quickly swaying and losing his balance off the bike. Next thing, they both came tumbling down.
Paddy looked up at Tom, “Are we here already?”
“No, told you to keep your head down. I have an idea,” Tom said when he got back on the bike. He put Paddy across on the handlebars and pulled his head and neck up through his jumper. “Now, that’ll keep you steady.”
Tom continued on the rocky cycle home. Paddy being as drunk as any turkey can be after having too much consumption of cocktails was beginning to lose control of his head. As they cycled over the speed ramps his head was hitting Toms face, causing him to lose control of his vision.
“Ya little feck, will you keep your head down or you’ll kill us both,” Tom shouted.
Just then he heard a police car siren beside him. He looked at the policeman in the car who was waving Tom to pull over to the kerb.
“Now you’ve done it,” he whispered. “Are we not in enough trouble tonight as is?”
“Not my fault. I’m only a mere turkey. We can’t receive a DUI. You’re the one cycling the bike.”
Tom put the brake on the bike and tried to compose himself.
“Are you alright sir?” the policeman asked, “and how is your friend?”
“Ah, I’m grand,” Tom said, “but my friend may not say the same. Just coming back from a work party. You know yourself at this time of year. Amn’t I a lucky fella to win this fine turkey but I admit I’m struggling a little with the weight of him on the bike is all. He’ll go down well with the wife when I get home though.”
“That he will,” said the policeman looking at Paddy.
“I’m not for dinner tomorrow,” Paddy sobbed.
“Excuse me?” said the policeman
“I’m hot for me dinner tomorrow,” Tom said quickly.
“Well, mind how you go,” the policeman said as he got back into the car.
Paddy looked into Toms eyes and began to sob uncontrollably.
“Quit that whining or I will be carving you at the table tomorrow,” shouted Tom.
“Yes boss. Ooh Tom loves me….he’s my new Gracey. I’m not going back to the farm. What will Mary say? Will Mary be my new friend too?”
“Shut it and let me think about that,” said Tom.
They eventually arrived at Tom’s house almost in one piece. When they got to the door Tom turned to Paddy and said, “Let me handle this first.”
Paddy tried to stand up and walk but he fell into the hallway and knocked into the table causing the Victorian porcelain figure lamp to fall and smash.
“Ooops,” Paddy said as he began to sob, “I’m…I’m…-“
“Don’t start whining. It was hideous anyway,” said Tom.
“Tom, is that you? What’s that racket?”
“Sorry Mary. Just me. I may have had a little bit to drink but I brought a good friend home for dinner you will like. He may be staying with us for a while too,” he shouted up to Mary and winked at Paddy who was now leaning up against the wall preparing for another chorus of ‘Grace’
Denise McCabe is a children’s book author and blogger. She resides in Dublin with her two children. Her favourite pastime is writing, and reading with a cup of tea at hand.
You can discover more about Denise on the Mom’s Favorite Reads website here:
Read Free Mom’s Favorite Reads eMagazine December 2018