Cow Pat part III

‘Brendan Daly was a mild man. If there was time to drink two pints he would be able to fill it just drinking the one. So far as anyone knew he had never spent time with cows and he worked behind the till in one of the shops in Bantry. But he had form in the Competition and was one of the four who had shared out the winnings the previous year. There was also talk that he’d done well on a side bet on the timing and had made more on that than he had on the main Competition.’

‘He walked to the centre of the field to take the envelope with his winnings from Curly, shaking his hand, as Foxtrot was encouraged to lay down another deposit for the benefit of a photographer from the Southern Star.’

‘Michael O’Hanratty was on his fifth pint now and the cold fury that had shaken him at first had now been replaced with a conviction that Brendan Daly had cheated and had been able to get at Foxtrot so as to be able to buy an ironed on certainty as to where she would lay her pat.’

‘That night as he lay in his bed and the pints lay heavy on his stomach he determined to prove that Brendan Daly had managed to get at the cow and so force a rerun of the competition.’

‘The next day he set his mind on a course of inquiry and he started the process by settling himself down on a seat in the pub and listening to the talk so as to pick up on the consensus. ‘

‘The consensus was that there was more than luck involved in Brendan Daly achieving an outright win in the competition that year. He wasn’t a cow man and had no means of studying the form but then if a cow is going to deposit a pat there is no telling of where and when it is going to do it. So the initial talk subsided. Any further suspicions in the pub were erased when Brendan Daly bought a bottle of Power’s and the men were invited to have themselves a small glass. ‘

‘But the suspicion continued to gnaw at Michael O’Hanratty and two days later he called on Curly Fitzpatrick and asked to be able to check on Foxtrot “for after the exertions with the pats I’d like see she’s right.” She was still being kept in a stall and Curly walked him there and left him alone with the cow.’

‘Michael O’Hanratty ran his hands all over the animal and whispered in her ear for some clue. But she kept her peace, chewing quietly on her cud. He cast his eyes over the stall looking for anything out of place. He was about to give up when saw something red and blue stuck behind a bale in the corner. It was an empty packet of Tayto’s Cheese and Onions Crips. As he held the packet the cow paused in her chewing, stamped her back foot and as if on cue laid a pat.’

‘Michael O’Hanratty felt exultant. He had his first clue. Curly Fitzpatrick was a Salt and Vinegar man. There could be no other explanation. Brendan Daly had nobbled the cow with the crisps.’

He put the empty packet in his pocket and left the cow and went to say good bye to Curly determined to pursue his line of inquiry.’

‘His next stop was the pub. There he had a pint to give time for his thoughts to settle. To help with the process he had two packets of the crisps and he pondered on the taste of them for some way how the wretched Daly had been able to execute his scheme.’

‘Daly had only bought three squares. That was too few. He had to have bought himself some further certainty. He had cheated the feck! And he had to prove it! He had the piece of evidence with the empty packet of crisps and in his mind that gave him the certainty he needed. But the certainty he now knew in his heart fought against his inability to find the final piece of the jigsaw that would enable him to show how the man Daly had got the cow to position its backside and deliver its pat on square B4 so he could collect all the winnings.’

‘As he finished the pint and chewed the last crisp it came to him and he rushed out of the pub without nodding a good bye to any of the men that sat there.’

‘He made his way to the field where the competition had been held. It was raining and the field was flat with wet but the white lines of the of the squares were still clear and the winning pat still stood proud in square B4. Ignoring the wet he got down on his knees and starting to inch his way round pushing away at the grass with his fingers and then at last he found it. A small pile of crushed soggy crisps. He put his nose to them and caught the unmistakable taint of cheese and onion.’

‘He was triumphant and there in the wet field let out a quiet shout of victory. Here was the final piece of proof that he needed. The coincidence was too much. Daly had somehow got access to the cow and had been feeding it the crisps until it had developed a good taste for them. Then he must have slipped into the field on the night before the competition and after the squares were marked out and set up a small pile of the crisps.’

‘He’d then be secure in the knowledge that once Foxtrot was in the field she would make her way round it until such time as she picked up the whiff of the crisps.  She would then have been bound to show her appreciation by lifting her tail and depositing her pat. O’Hanratty had his man!’

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