The Green Team
Orlah stood behind the bar, wiping down the last of the glasses as her co-worker Shelagh wiped down the tables on the bar floor. The girls were in the standard bar outfit – black tight fitting t-shirts with the Guinness logo on the left breast, a white apron around the waist, blue jeans and trainers. If you’re going to spend the day behind the bar, the owner reasoned, you might as well wear comfortable clothes. This is fine, unless like today there’s a cold snap in the middle of March.
“It’s going to be busy today, isn’t it?” Orlah said as she placed the last glass on the shelf.
“Of course it is,” Shelagh replied as she put the mop and bucket away. “It’s the 17th of March – St Patrick’s Day – of course it’ll be busy. Now, when’s the delivery due in?”
Orlah glanced at her watch. “About an hour – sounds like some of the revelries have started already…”
Looking out of the window, Shelagh could see the crowds of young people starting to go past the window dressed in green hats and clothing.
“Yeah, it always gets a bit wild around here, but at least we don’t open until later.”
Murphy’s Bar prided itself on tradition – including only opening after 5 pm, unlike most of the other bars in the area. It meant they lost some custom, but that authentic Irish feel kept the customers coming in. It also sat in a prime location in the town centre, with the university a short walk away and a bookkeeper’s right next door for the older clientele.
“How did we manage to draw the short straw anyway?”
Orlah put the cloth down and looked at her workmate.
“Something to do with us meeting the staff meeting last week? You remember – we went shopping instead?”
“Oh yeah, that’s right.”
Their talk was interrupted by a ring that signified a delivery to the rear of the bar.
“I thought you said they would be another hour?”
“Must be early,” Orlah said as she walked to the rear f the bar and through the stockroom. Looking through the video camera, she saw a van drawn up to the rear and a delivery man standing with his peak cap on.
“You’re early,” Orlah called through the intercom.
“I know – extra deliveries today,” he said without lifting his head as he scanned down his clipboard.
Orlah shrugged her shoulders and started to unlock the rear delivery door. Pulling the heavy door open, she turned round and started to say “Let’s get this over with….”
She became aware of three things simultaneously. The first was the spray in her face that made her feel woozy. The second was the sound of feet running past her and a scream from the bar area. The last thing, as she slipped into unconsciousness, was the strange feeling that the man looking at her was dressed from head to foot in green….
Mr. Patrick McGinty, an Irishman of note,
Came into a fortune, so bought himself a goat.
Said he, "Sure, of goat's milk I mean to have my fill!"
But when he got his Nanny home, he found it was a Bill.
And now all the ladies who live in Killaloo
Are all wearing bustles like their mothers used to do.
They each wear a bolster beneath the petticoat,
And leave the rest to Providence and Paddy McGinty's goat!
Missis Burke to her daughter said, "Listen, Mary Jane, .
Now who was the man you were cuddling in the lane?
He'd long wiry whiskers all hanging from his chin."
"Twas only Pat McGinty's goat, " she answer'd with a grin.
Then she went away from the village in disgrace,
She came back with powder and paint upon her face.
She'd rings on her fingers, and she wore a sable coat,
You bet your life they never came from Paddy McGinty's goat.
Little Norah McCarthy the knot was going to tie,
She washed all her trousseau and hung it out to dry.
Then up came the goat and he saw the bits of white:
He chewed up all her falderals, and on her wedding night:
"Oh turn out the gas quick!" she shouted out to Pat,
For though I’m your bride, sure I’m not worth looking at.
I'd got two of ev'rything, I told you when I wrote,
But now I've one of nothing, all thro' Paddy McGinty's goat.'
Mickey Riley he went to the races t'other day.
He won twenty dollars and shouted, "Hip Hooray!!"
He held up the note, shouting "Look what I've got!"
The goat came up and grabbed at it and swallowed all the lot.
"He's eaten my banknote," said Mickey, with the hump.
They ran for the doctor, he brought a stomach pump.
He pumped and he pumped for that twenty dollar note,
But all he got was ninepence out of Paddy McGinty's goat.
“Why the hell am I hearing Val Doonican?” Orlah thought to herself as she slowly came to. “And what the hell is wrong with my hands?”
She slowly opened her eyes, and then closed them again.
“All right – so it’s Val Doonican on the juke box, but why am I looking at a bunch of leprechauns?”
She opened her eyes again. There were four men in the room, dressed as leprechauns – green jacket and short trousers, dark green waistcoats, white shirts with bootlace ties and large green hats. They also seemed to be carrying very large cudgels, and Orlah noted as one of them turned round and looked at her the green scarf that covered the lower half of his face.
Orlah turned her head and realised that Shelagh was sat next to her. As her eyes came more into focus, she also noticed that her wrists seemed to be pinned behind her back, and there was a band of green across her chest.
“Shelagh, did you change your t-shirt?”
“Ah, I see you’re awake. You may need to have a look at your own chest, my dear.”
One of the four men had come over and was now kneeling in front of Orlah. “Have you seen my glasses anywhere,” she asked.
“Ah, those were your glasses? Here.”
The man reached over and placed a pair of wire rimmed glasses on Orlah’s nose, and her sight came sharply back into focus. The four men were indeed dressed as leprechauns, but she now realised it wasn’t a new t-shirt Shelagh had on, and why she couldn’t move her hands from behind her.
Looking down her own body, she now saw the green tape that held her arms to her side, and that was wrapped around her legs and ankles. From the way her wrists were hurting, she reckoned they had been crossed and taped behind her back – a fact that was confirmed as she looked over at her friend.
“Our apologies, Ladies, but we needed somewhere to stay around until we could be about our business. I hope you don’t mind that we had a pint of the black stuff while we waited?”
“Could we have stopped you?”
“Not really, no. Just sit quietly, and we’ll be out of your hair in a few minutes.”
Shelagh started twisting round and spoke to Orlah in a low whisper.
“The three of them just rushed in and grabbed me. Then that one who spoke to us half carried, half dragged you in and sat you down next to me. They spent the next ten minutes wrapping the two of us up like presents, and then they just poured themselves a pint and have sat down ever since.”
Glancing at the clock on the wall, Orlah saw that it was about one in the afternoon.
“What do you think they want?” she whispered back.
“I don’t think the want to hurt us – I think they’re planning to hit the betting shop next door when it opens.”
The juke box had moved on to playing Whiskey In The Jar by The Chieftains.
As I was a-walkin round Kilgary Mountain
I met Colonel Pepper and his money he was countin',
I rattled me pistols and I drew forth me saber,
Sayin' "Stand and deliver, for I am the bold deceiver!"
Musha rig um du rum da, / Whack fol the daddy O,
Whack fol the daddy O, / There's whiskey in the jar.
“I prefer the Thin Lizzy myself – Lynott on the electric guitar adds something.”
The man had come back over, pulled a bar stool over and was sat facing the two women.
“Ladies, we’re ready to move on now, but I’m afraid we can’t have you letting people know where we were for the moment. I hope you understand what that means.”
Shelagh started to breathe heavily, a look of panic spreading over her face.
“She’s asthmatic – can you get her inhaler for her? It’s in her bag behind the bar.”
The man looked at Orlah, then Shelagh before motioning to one of the others. He walked behind the bar, picked up a brown handbag and passed it over.
“Take deep breaths,” the man said as he produced a blue device from the bag and put it to Shelagh’s mouth, pressing down as she breathed in. After a few minutes, she began to relax.
“You’re going to gag us, aren’t you? Please – don’t seal her mouth, or she won’t be able to breathe properly.”
“Well, we may be able to do something, but I’ll need your word that you won’t raise the alarm for at least one hour. Understand?”
“I understand,” Orlah said, and Shelagh nodded her head.
“All right – put your lips together,” the man said as he picked up a roll of green tape that had been sitting on the counter above them. Orlah stared defiantly at him as he pressed the loose end of the tape over her lips, and started to pass the roll around her head, holding her auburn hair out of the way as he did so.
“Now, just sit still,” he said as he tore the end of the tape off the roll and smoothed it against her cheek. “Now, we are going to have to try to stop you calling out, but we will make sure you can breathe freely. All right?”
“All right,” Shelagh said as she looked at her friend.
“Good girl – I want you to open your mouth as aide as you can. It won’t taste very nice, but at least you will be able to breath.”
He reached behind Shelagh’s head, and smoothed the end of the tape at the edge f other close cropped blonde hair. Bring the tape round, he passed it between her open lips and passed it around a few times, before securing the tape behind her head.
“How does that feel?” he asked as Shelagh closed her lips around the tape.
“ll cp,” she mumbled. The tape was keeping her tongue fixed to the floor of her mouth, but at least she was still able to breathe.
“All right Boyos – let’s be on our way,” he called over his shoulder as he stood up. The two women watched as the four gathered their gear, and their leader placed some bank notes on the counter.
“We pay our debts,” he said as they walked out of the rear fo the building, and the music on the juke box switched to another Irish band.
The silicon chip inside her head
Gets switched to overload.
And nobody's gonna go to school today,
She's going to make them stay at home.
And daddy doesn't understand it,
He always said she was as good as gold.
And he can see no reason
'Cause there are no reasons
What reason do you need to be sure?
In the bookmaker’s next door, the four staff were lying face down on the floor as their wrists and ankles were secured with tape. As the safe was emptied out, each was gagged and made to lie with their face on the floor as the gang made their getaway.
John was struggling to get past the Garda line. He watched as the staff was led out to the waiting ambulances, then talked to the officer who was manning the line.
“How much longer will this take – I have a bar to open and it’s St Patrick’s Day!”
“You can go through now John – just don’t go past the front door. I’ll get the line pushed back at your side, and I’ll see you later for a pint.”
“Thanks, Dave,” John called as he quickly walked past and unlocked the front door of Murphy’s Bar.
“Orlah, are we ready to…..”
John stood in the doorway, staring at the two taped women sat on the floor in front of him. Both were sweating, and a line of droll was running down Shelagh’s jaw and making a damp stain on her t-shirt to match the damp patches on the chest and armpits of both women.
“What the hell…… What happened to you two?” he shouted as he ran over, grabbed a pair of scissors and cut the tape away from Shelagh’s mouth.
“Would you believe, little green men?” Shelagh said as John began to unwind the tape around Orlah’s mouth. “What happened outside?”
“The bookmaker was robbed – the staff tied up and gagged by……. They were here first, weren’t they?”
“Yssss,” Orlah mumbled as John continued to unwrap her mouth.
“Odd thing though – they left money to pay for their drinks.”
John looked on the counter and saw the notes sitting there.
“Lucky Leprechauns? On St Patrick’s Day? Someone has a sense of humour,” John mumbled under his breath as Garda officers came into the room.