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I stood patiently at the bus stop, awaiting the arrival of the two tiered metallic steed that would transport my Monday morning corpse, through the depths of inner city Dublin. A flash of luminous green, and the sound of laboured breathing caught my attention. I turned to face our local hero. The Lollipop man.
He wielded his pop with great pride, and crossed the road with majestic valour. This courageous man would pull out all the stops, to ensure these young rapscallions attended their day of schooling. I flashed him the broadest of grins, acknowledging his kind gift to humanity. He turned slowly to face me.
Rain drops ran down his wizened cheeks, as he stared vacantly at me. His face contorted into a waxy grimace, and his eyes burned with black fury. I felt my skin melt under his harsh glare. I turned away, unable to bear the brunt of his bitter anger.
What had I done to receive such condemnation? Upon seeing another gaggle of gawky young boys he beamed, smiling like a cheshire cat in a VAT of cream.
“Mon’ lads, lets get yeh there in one piece”. Like a knight in shining armour he gallantly lead the troop to safety. I clambered upon the bus and reflected pensively upon the predicament.
I would surely see the Lollipop man for the rest of my working days. He was centred in a prime location, directly on my local bus route, and lord knows I wouldn’t be moving out of my Granny’s basement any time soon. Drastic measures would be required to build upon our strained relationship, as my heart could not take another burning moment of social awkwardness and crippling anxiety.
I reflected upon the role of the Lollipop man in our society. He was a custodian of the peace and the gatekeeper of our children’s education. He sacrificed himself for the greater good. I couldn’t help but wonder what inner turmoil he must surely battle with in the face of his sacrifice. What sorrow lay behind those dark dead eyes? Who was the Lollipop man really?
Several weeks passed and our relationship did not improve. I commented upon the weather, traffic patterns, and the regular lateness of the buses. “Its pissing cats and dogs! Fair play to you for braving the bad weather”.
Fair play to him indeed. He merely nodded and grimaced Joker-style once more, never revealing how he had got those scars. I decided I needed answers and I needed them quickly.
The only reliable source I had was my Granny dearest. She knew very little about the wielder of the pop, except that his name was Frank. She confirmed she would find out at bingo in the parish hall. I yearned to attend the session, as Biddy Bingo is fuelled by gossip. The Blue Rinse Brigade would surely know Frank’s innermost thoughts and secrets.
I was correct in my assertions. I discovered from a reliable source (who wished to remain anonymous, cough, cough, Brideen) that Frank was in fact a disgraced Solicitor who had fraudulently misappropriated client funds and married “a protestant whore”. I subsequently also found out from another beanie clad friend, that he was demanding a pay rise from the County Council.
That night I tossed and turned in my bed with turmoil. Frank was clearly filled with bitter resentment. The kind that encouraged school shoot ups. Then another potential scenario filtered into my stream of consciousness. Frank was closer to the children than any other adult in the area. What if he lured them, pied piper style, with a magic flute, into his secret lair?! He was as my source put it “influenced by protestant darkness”.
Anything was possible!! Furthermore the crushing loss of his once prominent career would surely have left him in a state of utmost dejection. He would hanker for that power rush, and take it, whenever he had the chance. He was a force to be reckoned with.
Now I no longer endeavour to shoot the breeze with Frank, or flash him a silly grin.
I simply nod with solemn resignation, acknowledging the sheer power of his presence.
The man behind the pop.