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The Short Form

“That's My Bike!”

Paul Murray

Excerpt

It seemed that he had neglected to buy Christmas presents for the missus and Gerard Jr.

“I was going to go up to the shopping center,” says he. “I lost track of time.”

It's easy to see how that might happen. Chips didn't have a watch and generally marked the passage of time by the number of pints he'd drunk. This “internal clock” so to speak usually served him very well, but on a night like tonight, when there were pints flying around the place, flaws appeared in the system. The Polish lads from the tire place had sent over a round, then the bookies came in and bought another–I'm not complaining, mind, I'm just saying it was very disorienting to a body's internal-clock system. It was the type of thing that could happen a bishop, but at the same time I knew his missus might not see it that way and his nibs was in a right lather. What made matters worse was that last year hadn't he done do the very same thing. He'd had to sneak off to the petrol station on Christmas morning while herself was cooking the turkey, and all they had left by way of presents was a rake of low-sugar chocolate for diabetics. For the young lad he just went to the ATM and took out sixty quid.

Well there were ructions that Christmas Day, you may be sure. Mrs. Chips was no fool, and furthermore quite a highly strung individual as very beautiful women often are. His nibs had had more than a few low-sugar diabetic chocolates thrown at him and that was getting off lightly. This year he mightn't fare so well, particularly as the house was already up in arms after the dog went missing.

We read it in The Paris Review No. 199.