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2004-01-20 Gun to my neck delays My Fair Lady rehearsal

In the last century I had a normal job. One afternoon I was driving from RTE back to school, when I decided to call into a well-known fast-food restaurant. No burger, no fries, no going large, just a black coffee - hold the sugar. The drive-through restaurant was quite empty.

 

I perched myself around the back, near a side-door to the car-park. After a couple of minutes, my coffee break was interrupted by a man who approached me , ordering me to Get on the ground, his right hand partly-concealed down the front of his trousers.

 

Thinking the gentleman to be a few sandwiches short of a picnic, I laughed nervously. Get on the gound, he repeated, revealing the butt of a hand-gun. Before I could say Is that a gun in your pocket or are you pleased to see me? a shrill scream came from behind me. One of my fellow diners had been pushed against a wall by a second gunman, while a third had already made his way through a back door towards the loot. God, youre serious!, I blurted brainlessly. Weve a trouble-maker here shouted the edgy gunman.

Now anyone who knows me knows I do not cause trouble, unless I am patronised, or I lose at Scrabble, and so down I went onto the floor. Ugh, its wet!, I exclaimed, ever the trouble-maker. The floor had just been mopped and bleached, but he didnt care. If anyone moves, this guy goes he shouted, as I felt his hand-gun brush against the nape of my neck. As I lay face-down on the damp floor, I thought Gosh, Im going to be so late for my kids, and my coffee is going cold.

Maybe if I ask him nicely, he might pass it down to me. On the verge of telling the man that I really had to go as I had a rehearsal for My Fair Lady, he got up, ran through the car-park with his accomplices and down to the main road, with what we learned later was a meagre amount of cash. Staff and customers ran to my side, helping me to my feet. I havent wet myself, its the floor  its wet I explained. They asked if I was ok, and if I wanted a meal on the house. I clearly remember milking the situation for all it was worth. I tottered as I stood, an Oscar performance, explaining that I wasnt very hungry, just a little faint - I should be ok. If the truth be known, I was absolutely fine.

When the Gardaí arrived I gave a statement, describing my gunman in precise detail. Another customer, who may have had a better view, swore the baddies were wearing masks and using toy guns. To this day, I do not think they were masks, and I certainly wasnt about to ask him if his gun was real. I didnt see the customer who made these claims rush to examine the gun at the time either! I left my phone number and drove back to school, by now late for my rehearsal. After my story had been recounted to my pupils, Mr Nelsons level of coolness had shot through the roof, no pun intended. Behind ya sir, Ha, Ha!

Afterwards, I drove back to my cottage at the foot of the Dublin mountains with my faithful little Jack Russell Crotchet. I turned on the 2FM News. The final item mentioned the robbery  &&.and one man was held at gunpoint. Agh, Crotchet, do you hear that? That was me, wow! By now it was dark, and when I went into my house, I was alone for the first time since my ordeal. I drew the curtains, turned on the TV, radio and all the lights, and sat in my armchair, shivering.

After an hour or more of exaggerated delayed shock, someone knocked at my window, then again, then the letterbox. Theyve come to get me, Im a gonner. Crotchet barked protectively. I turned down the volume of the TV and radio to hear the familiar comforting voice of a friend  James, I know youre there, is everything ok?. I opened the door, tears streaming down my face and let her in.

The phrase If anyone moves, this guy goes had suddenly seemed a lot more real. This guy didnt go, but this guy thinks that if it happens again, this guy will not be such a trouble-maker!