Tuscany Downs 5: The Mysterious Mr. Jones

It’s been a fractious week here in Tuscany Downs, this little nondescript dump in Cork City, where I wait in exile until the mass amnesia of the country will eventually dissipate in the heat of fiscal reality.

Not that there’s any sign of it, with the infestation of sanctimonious politicians that has suddenly beset us and everybody else in Ireland like a biblical plague of locusts. As if the mess we’re in had nothing whatsoever at all to do with them. As if they hadn’t jumped aboard the gravy train along with everybody else – ha, they laid the bloody tracks for it. Hypocrites the lot of them, with their ridiculously young photos on posters polluting every pillar and post in the state. Promising us a fiscal space where we can park our practical 1.2 litre cars and continue the ‘recovery’ with measured and focused spending and investment. As if they could tell a soft landing from an offshore account.

I’m now in the seventh year of my whistle-blower witness protection scheme, with my new identity and anonymity, granted by the AG and DPP when I agreed to spill the not insignificant hill of beans on my own and other nameless financial institutions in the decade leading up to the so-called crash. I prefer the term Fiscal Rectitude. I thought my Napoleonic exile would be well and truly over by now and normal business would have been resumed, as it has been in other, more mature economies.

But no. The bloody politicians had to drag out their inept witch-hunt, aka The Banking Enquiry, which was never going to achieve anything in the first place. And now with David on his way back from Boston, the whole thing will go mental again. Jesus, Mary and Joseph there wasn’t a body safe with the political scramble to the high moral ground when the shit hit the fan, almost eight long years ago now. I’d love to answer the door to them and give them what not – just like my two beloved neighbours Messrs. Cronin and Sullivan.

But of course I can’t. If one of them recognised me, they would be well on their way to election with the populist furore they’d cause. I’m already in enough trouble with that little vixen Holly Crowley having discovered my identity and blackmailing me for a thousand Euro. And of course that’s only for starters, and we we both know it.

It appears she has whatever the opposite of prosopagnosia is – whereby she never forgets a face, and she has known for some time that I was ‘somebody’. And she also has some kind of super-technical-intelligence whereby she could hack into high security facial recognition software, with which she was able to discover my identity from some old Irish Independent stock photo – beard or no beard. She hides it well, I’ll give her that, behind her six-inch Jimmy Choo heels, four-inch mini skirts and two-inch layer of make-up. She’d have made a great banker – in fact when the train gets back on track, I might just have a use for her.

Three times already this week the widow Cullinane from Sunville called to the door and I had to answer her eventually or she would have phoned the emergency services. I made the mistake of telling her that I had a bad flu, which kick started her over-developed maternal instincts and down she comes with a chicken casserole, which, I suspect, she wanted to share with me over Rioja, candles and Barry Manilow CDs. Christ, if she mentioned that ridiculous Hallmark institution of Valentine’s Day once, she did it a dozen times.

I guess it’s nice that I haven’t lost my touch and, of course, a mysterious solitary man with a dog is attractive to a certain type of widow. And, to be fair, she’s a good looking woman but I know deep down that Holly is more my kind of cookie, even if I’m twenty five years her senior. We’re far better matched, in instincts, morals and talents.

Well, two can play at that game. The private detective I have hired will, I’m sure, get some nice dirt on Ms Crowley and then the Manolo Blahniks will be on the other foot. That hacking alone would merit an extradition warrant from the FBI and I do wonder how she has been funding her designer shoe addiction before she got her claws into me.

Christ there’s the doorbell again. Either a politician or a randy widow – or both. I should have gotten a Rottweiler that time when I went to the dog rescue centre, and not that crazy pug who thinks he’s Lassie. Still, I love the little mutt, I really do.

And that’s all the news from Tuscany Downs, my little Elba here in Cork, where a young techie has discovered my secret and is no doubt spending my money right now in Brown Thomas, an amorous mature woman is making my life hell, and a bunch of buffoon politicians are about to regain power and continue to mess up the economy.

Image: http://www.irishexaminer.com


Novelist, short story writer, essayist, sports writer. Crime novel: Whatever it Takes due out June 2020. The First Sunday in September, debut novel, published in 2018. Mercier Press, Stinging Fly, Irish Examiner, Holly Bough, Honest Ulsterman, Quarryman, Silver Apples.

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