Summer Soap (Episode 4): That pesky dog leads boys on merry dance

Welcome to The Echo’s annual feature - Summer Soap. Now in its seventh year, Summer Soap is a daily fictional serial run over 12 parts, which started on Monday and runs till Saturday week. Called The Search For Dodger, this story is about two teenagers in Mayfield and their search for a lost dog, and was written by Luke Jeffers (right), from the MA in Creative Writing Programme at UCC. Catch up with previous episodes at echolive.ie. In the fourth episode, the boys’ pursuit takes them to a garage
Summer Soap (Episode 4): That pesky dog leads boys on merry dance

“The River Lee glimmers like a white sheet, and he imagines the rowers down at the Lee Rowing Club slicing through it with their oars like a knife cutting cream”

THEY cross over Brian Boru bridge to St Patrick’s Quay. The River Lee glimmers like a white sheet, and he imagines the rowers down at the Lee Rowing Club slicing through it with their oars like a knife cutting cream. The buildings are a mismatched rainbow of colours: brick reds, slate greys, pale yellows. Smokers gaze over the Lee, wisps drifting around them like a protective veil.

Matt looks everywhere and spots the buses. God no. Surely Dodger hasn’t hopped on a Cobh Connect bus. At this rate they’ll find him in Fota, feeding off scraps with the peacocks.

“Might’ve gone in there,” Barra says, pointing to a mechanics and looking all pleased with himself.

“He better have.”

They stroll inside and scoot around a truck. A couple of men in overalls roll tyres which are scattered all over the gaff. There’s a stench of oil and rubber, the creaks of knobs turning and the walloping of bonnets echoes from the back. Matt sniffs and scratches. Bloody hell.

One of the mechanics glances up and continues to roll tyres from one side of the garage to the other. His overalls are oil stained. He has big hairy hands and his thigh muscles bulge like watermelons. “Lads, ye’ll have to feck off. Don’t have time for messing.”

“No bothers. Just wondering if a dog followed anyone in? A Labrador. A happy fella.”

“Yeah, a dog pottered in after Damo earlier. Damo, he’s in the office, yeah?”

Damo, thinner than a wrench, and red-faced from all the tyre moving, nods. “Ah yeah, he’s sleeping.”

Thank God. Matt jogs over to the office, an area sectioned off by glass that belongs to a car dealership rather than a garage. A desk with a tablet, a black chair and two black leather couches.

“Gotta be messing with me,” he mutters, looking around again. No flaming Dodger. Not even a hamster spinning in a wheel.

“Here, he’s not in there, like.”

The first mechanic shrugs. “He’s messing around somewhere. I’ll have a look once this lot is shifted.”

Matt puts his hand on the glass and shakes his head. “Jesus. Alright, sound out. Hey! Crunchie, what are you doing?”

Barra takes off his jumper and is helping out the mechanics. He looks up, eyebrows furrowed. “Be quicker if we give them a hand, like.”

“F**k me.”

As thick as Crunchie is, he may have a point. Matt rolls his sleeves up. “For the PS5. The PS5. Caoimhe Mulcahy.”

It takes a while, and he has no idea why they’re doing this or what the story is with the tyre storage system. They hang on all the walls, stacked up in the corners. All look the same really. And by God, they’re heavy enough. The rivets press into his fingers; so black it’s like he’s held a HB pencil for days. Not a bother to Barra though, rolling the tyres like a child spinning a hoop down a footpath. The whole no disadvantages of being small is BS. He’s sweating, even with his jumper around his waist. Whole thing is like a horrible circus act.

When they finish, he slumps against Barra.

“You OK, Matt?”

“Jesus, Crunchie, do I look it?”

“Not really.”

“There you go.”

Matt rubs his legs. If only they’d come in wearing detective coats. Anything to make them look older. Not school jumpers stamped with the Mayfield Community School crest. Their uniforms should’ve been substituted for Roy Keane jerseys ages ago.

The mechanics wipe their hands with cloths. “Here, Kev,” the first one shouts. “That dog with you?”

Kev, a big bald lad, comes out from the back. “Nah, he hopped into the builder’s van. He was theirs, wasn’t he?”

Matt throws his arms in the air. “That’s it. I give up.”

“We tried anyway,” Barra says, patting his shoulder.

“Ye’ll still catch up with him. Said they were heading to a job on College Road.”

“Really?” Matt says. He’ll have no money left on his leap card after all this.

Barry laughs. “Come on, we’ve got him now.”

He lets Barra drag him along as they run over Patrick’s Bridge, down Patrick Street, and hop onto a 205.

Here they go again.

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