Friday, July 29, 2016

From the cutting-room floor, episode 3: The Phone Book

I promise, the print version of the book will be available REALLY SOON. In the meantime, here's another excerpt that sadly had to be left out of the finished book when things changed in the story. Lilac was trying to find someone's address, so she wanted to look it up in the phone book. Her dad was helping. Or maybe he was just "helping".

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‘Now don’t interrupt, I’m coming to it … would you run in and put on the kettle for a second, I’d kill for a cuppa; where’s your mother anyway?’
‘Dad-dy! She’s upstairs. Go on.’
Lilac knew this was what she got for interrupting. If she’d just kept quiet he’d have finished the story by now. She moved towards the door to the kitchen to show willing, but didn’t actually leave the room.
‘So then they went through some other papers in case the form she’d filled in right at the start was still there. And they didn’t find it in his file and they decided that it must have gone out with the bins already.’
He stopped.
‘I know there’s more, you’re trying not to smile. Come on, Dad.’
‘Where’s that tea?’
Lilac went to the kitchen and plugged in the kettle without even looking to see if there was any water in it, and ran back through the door in about three seconds flat.
‘Now!’ she demanded.
‘So then they happened to look in the file right beside Guzzler’s, because of course you have to keep all your paperwork, and sometimes things do get pushed into the wrong place, and there it was, and there was the name we were looking for.’
‘And her address?’
‘Well, no, but we should be able to find it in the phone book. Her name’s O’Connor. Eileen O’Connor, though of course it’ll be under the husband’s name in the book.’
‘But Dad! There are probably a million O’Connors in the phone book. It’s a really common name.’
‘You can look at the addresses. We know she lives nearby. That should narrow it down.’

Half an hour later, Gerry had made his own cup of tea and Lilac was sitting on the floor with her index finger halfway down a very long list of O’Connors, trying to slow down her eyes so she wouldn’t miss what she was looking for. She’d started at Abel O’Connor who lived in Swords, Co. Dublin, and now she was at Jeremy M. O’Connor, B. Arch., of Eglinton Road, Donnybrook. There were five pages of O’Connors in the 01 area code, at three columns to a page.
‘Here’s one!’ she shouted.
Gerry leaned over to see the address she was pointing at.
‘No, that’s not going to be it. Too far outside the town. She definitely told me she lived right around here. One of those little roads off the main street further down, you know?’
‘Oh.’
‘You could stop for a while, take a break. It’s hard on the eyes looking at all that tiny print. Have you finished your homework?’
‘Yes. Practically. No, I’m going to keep going. I want to find it.’

The silence resumed, broken only by the wet slobbery noise of Guzzler chomping on his toy. There were more John O’Connors than you would think possible, but finally she was on to the Leonards, Liams, Lorcans, and one Lorenzo. (No Lilacs.)
Lilac started to wonder what Lorenzo O’Connor did in his spare time, and whether he had the soulful brown eyes and sweeping mane of hair his name demanded. What a disappointment it must have been for his mother if he had turned out shrimpy and pale. She hoped he was of foreign extraction, so that he’d fit his name, and that he was an actor or a concert pianist and not just an electrician. Though it would be fun to have an electrician called Lorenzo, too. ‘I have to ring Lorenzo’, you would say, ‘because the extractor fan in the bathroom is on the blink. He’ll have to come right over.’
Her eyes were starting to glaze over a bit and she was wondering if she’d have to go back and do this column again all the way from Matthew O’Connor (SC) at the top, when another address seemed to spring off the page at her.
‘Dad! Was it Elm Terrace?’
‘Yes, I’d say it probably was.’
Gerry fumbled in his pocket for a piece of paper and held it a certain distance from his eyes to focus on it. ‘Read out the number in the book there.’
‘What? OK…’ She read it out.
‘That’s the one.’
‘Dad. You had the phone number the whole time?’
‘Yes, it was on the page with her name. She couldn’t just run off without leaving them any contact information at all.’
‘But we could have just rung her and asked her where she lives!’
‘And have you miss all this fun looking it up? Not at all.’ Her dad grinned at her.
‘I can’t believe you did that to me.’
She was so annoyed with him that she went back upstairs and wrote her essay all about how fathers shouldn’t play mean tricks on their daughters just because they didn’t like making phone calls to strangers.


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