Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature — Summer Soap. Now in its sixth year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which started on Monday and runs till next Saturday. Called Droid, this story is about a boy who designs a robot, and was written by Margaret Gillies, from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. You can catch up with previous episodes on the link below and also hear a podcast of the story. In the sixth episode, Lucca is intercepted at the press event...
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Loretta is leafing through the newspaper. There’s an opinion piece by outspoken journalist Michael Crowe on the state of the youth of Ireland, accompanied by a large picture of 19-year-old Lucca Grimes from Hollyhill and his robot Grim McNally. Lucca’s lecturer at UCC, Professor Colin Cassidy, has received a mention.
“Oh dear God,” mutters Trinny when he sees what his wife is looking at.
Loretta folds over the paper.
“What’s the matter with you, Trace? Is this not what you wanted?”
“Not what I wanted?” Trinny repeats, enunciating the vowels in an exaggerated way as though his wife is in a vegetative state. “No, Loretta. This is not what I wanted. I wanted to be given proper credit for the role I’ve played, not for it to be shafted off to some Trackie-Bollocks from a hill and a fraudulent excuse for an academic in UCC.”
“But this kid’s robot exists because of you,” says Loretta. “If you hadn’t brought that MA to Trinity, it wouldn’t have made it to UCC and that UCC student wouldn’t have built his robot.”
“I want my credit,” Trinny tells Loretta. “And I want that robot.”
The room of the Hibernian Hotel is bustling with people in suits. The air is thick with the smell of perfume and vacuumed carpet. Lucca Grimes is wearing dark jeans and a navy sweater. He looks almost middle-class. Grim is wearing a black suit. CC makes sweeping gestures with one hand while precariously balancing a large plate of smoked salmon with salted crackers on the other. The salmon and crackers slither around the plate like cyclists on a roundabout.
CC beams manically. “You’re doing great.”
He slaps Grim’s back.
Lucca sidesteps away from a gaggle of reporters. He’s already spent the evening having fuzzy, stale-smelling microphones from Virgin Media, RTÉ and Newstalk shoved into his face. His voice has become strained. He’s exhausted and bored.
CC is unbearably excited. He finds himself spending most of the time breezing around trying to gain the attention of other people. He’s already begun to take some of the credit for Grim’s conception. He found himself telling a reporter from Today FM that he and Lucca Grimes had spent many winter evenings planning Grim’s appearance and characteristics together. When the words were verbalised into a microphone and towards a nodding face, it didn’t matter how true they were. It meant CC’s name was getting airtime. It meant CC —for once in his life — was finally getting the respect he deserved.
Lucca looks at his watch. “How much longer d’you think...”
“One second!” CC bawls as he flitters away to someone else.
Lucca sighs and looks around. He becomes acutely aware of a familiar figure hovering at the far corner of the room. Lucca is aware he should be basking in the glory of UCC but he doesn’t feel too happy about it, especially not with this entity present. It is the imposing, suited figure of Trinity College.
Trinny beetles towards Lucca and Grim. He stands monumental, his meaty head a rising pink sun between his shoulders.
“That’s some creation you have there, fella.”
Lucca shrugs. Grim stands mute.
“I suppose I should introduce myself,” says Trinny, glancing to make sure CC is still busy at the refreshments table, “My name is Professor Tracy Eppinger.”
“I know,” says Lucca.
“I thought you might,” says Trinny triumphantly.
“I’d like to ask you a few questions about this...” He glances at Grim.
“I was wondering if we could come to some kind of arrangement.”
Lucca looks across at CC. He half-expects him to turn around at any moment and see him with Trinny. The results would be cacophonic.
Trinny reads Lucca’s thoughts. “How about we step outside? I have a proposition to make.”
Lucca has an uneasy feeling in his chest as he and Grim follow Trinny out of The Hibernian. He feels like Trinny is a creepy stranger luring him out of a playground. All the same, he’s glad to be out of that room.
They walk up the hill to the car park behind the building. Trinny unlocks the doors of his car and for a fleeting moment, Lucca thinks he’s about to be tied up and bundled into the boot. An image of his dad Estevan, curled up and quivering beneath his hospital bed, briefly flashes before his eyes.
“How about I take that robot out of your hands for a little while,” says Trinny, “for a price?”