Cow Pat Part II

‘Michael O’Hanratty drove an old green Mini Metro. When in drink he claimed it was the last Mini Metro still on the road in County Cork “and if it wasn’t then it was the last feckin’ green one!”’

‘The green was indistinct and murky and had about it a shade of goose shit but the colour was difficult to find under the rust stains, mud and silver gaffer tape he used to hold odd parts of the bodywork together. He kept a pile of old newspapers and magazines on the back seats for when it stopped and it needed a time of rest before starting again.’

‘He liked to take his lunch over pints in the pub which meant spending time waiting for it to open. He spent that time with the car parked and stopped on the concrete skirt at the top of the pier looking out over the boats and the water. He preferred it when it was quiet and there no people and he could wait watching and counting the seagulls move from the lampposts.’

‘He lost the car one year somewhere in the hills behind Durrus. Because of its colour it took him 6 weeks to find so well disguised it was against the rocks and the heather and the course grass.’

‘“Started first feckin’ time,’’ he said. “And if I lose it again I will have a radio fitted and keep it playing so I can find it again.”’

‘Before he bought the car he was a stockman and he had worked with cows for most of his life. He had even spent time working with Curly Fitzpatrick and he knew his cows and the fields that they lived in. He had never worked with Foxtrot but it was no secret that she was the cow chosen for that year’s competition and so Michael O’Hanratty had time to study the form. He took time to observe her in a field and watched as she went about her business.’

‘He took careful notes and with all that preparation he thought he had a pretty good idea where Foxtrot would pause to lay her first pat.’

‘He had been putting the work in because he needed new tyres for his car. With its scarcity value he saw the car as an investment and if it needed new tyres he would have to invest further and the Cow Pat Competition seemed the perfect vehicle for him to do so. Provided he studied the form and made good and proper use of the knowledge he had built up over the years as to where Curly Fitzpatrick’s cows laid their pats.’

‘So with the help of Dennis O’Driscoll and Tom Hayes, who fronted some of the buying for him, he bought up a total of fifteen squares, as no man was allowed to buy more than five, all picked on the basis of his carful observation.’

‘So having invested  his forty-five euro plus the pints that he had promised to Dennis O’Driscoll and Tom Hayes he settled himself with a pint at the start of the competition confident that when Foxtrot came to lay her pat it would be on one of his squares and the winnings would be his. His nerves were rattled a few times as the cow passed over one of his squares but he remained sure that she would stop for her business on one of his.’

‘He was cheered as he took his second pint and passed out two more to Dennis O’Driscoll and Tom Hayes. Time, he thought, was on his side and the more that Foxtrot delayed the more confident he became that one of his squares would be the winner.’

‘When at last she deposited her pat he was not able to place, from where he was standing, the exact spot that it had landed. He studied the scribbled notes he had in his hand and for moment was sure that the pat had landed right. But doubt started to creep in as Curly Fitzpatrick walked out to the spot and a cold fury rose in his chest when the name of the winner was announced, “Brendan Daly has it this year.”’

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