“I’M not able, like.”
They sit outside Dunnes for a break, sipping Tanora. Barra takes out his green-lidded, plastic lunchbox, snapping it open. Sandwiches wrapped in clingfilm stuffed inside, topped off by a Dairy Milk Golden Crisp.
Matt stares at his lunch and groans. Didn’t even grab an apple this morning. Barra unwraps the clingfilm like it’s a delicate Christmas present, gulps, joins his fingers and stretches out. Bits of cheese fall from the sandwich. He bites into it and sighs.
No. He can’t take it. Not after giving out about how he slowed them down by preparing his lunch. But the crust is so brown.
“Go on so. Sound.”
He munches. Holy s**t. So good.
They eat away as shoppers bustle by, hailing taxis and counting out coins, slapping down leap cards on buses, a thumbs up from the driver. It’s roasting out and children grip melting ice-creams.
Matt shakes his head. God, they were so not cool - bunking off school to sit outside Dunnes, eating sandwiches stuffed with Denny’s ham and Kilmeaden cheese. Proper living life on the edge.
He corks his Tanora. “Right, plan is...“
“Ah, f**k,” Barra mutters, shoving his lunch into his bag.
“Me mam; she’s hanging around over there!”
He looks. Barra’s mam paces across Winthrop Street, chatting on her phone. She’s a tall woman with arms like giraffe necks, a short brown bob hugging her cheeks. The lights turn green; she notices and strides over. She’ll have no problem spotting them.
They jump up and Barra runs into Dunnes. Jesus. Now the lad shows some decision-making skills. He rushes after him and they dash down the escalator to the supermarket, nearly tripping over themselves.
“Good idea,” he says to Barra as they head down the sweet aisle. The registers beep constantly, trolleys roll, and the soft squelch of freezers opening. A smell of sausages lingers.
“Forgot she’s shopping today.”
Matt stares at Barra as his hand wanders over multi-packs of Maltesers and Mars bars.
“What sort of shopping?”
“The food shop, obviously. I’m telling you, she’d want to be upping her game a small bit. Haven’t had cream crackers in the house for three days.”
Stay calm. Stay calm.
“And, maybe I’m wrong, but is she be coming in here for that?”
Barra looks at him. “Oh.”
“Oh! You really are a fecking eejit!”
Matt looks back and pushes Barra down the aisle. His mam, shopping bags stuffed in the baby seat of the trolley, checks her phone, moves towards them.
They rush to the end of the aisle, peer around as she turns in, then sneak down the other side and slip into the next one stacked with biscuits.
“Why isn’t she doing the big shop in Ballyvolane?”
“I dunno. I guess she likes mixing it up a bit.”
They hide between the aisles, always staying one ahead of her, like avoiding the ghosts in Pacman. Luckily the place is hopping. Matt’s eyes roll everywhere; some of the staff are watching them and trying to look like they aren’t. Glancing up from clipboards, pausing their unpacking of boxes. He can’t blame them. They must look dodgy out.
They reach the freezer end and round the final aisle as she stops for a break, examining the different pizzas. They race away, round the self-checkouts, and leg it up the escalator.
Barra puffs his cheeks. “Jesus, that was...“
Matt digs him in the ribs and pulls him behind a table displaying some sort of house ornaments.
“Shhh.” He recognises the back of his Mam, turned around and chatting to another woman at the entrance.
Bent over, they scurry as quickly as possible through the shop, all the way to the back exit. They burst through and scare a worker so much she nearly drops her cigarette. They sit down on the steps. The worker is annoyed and stubs out her cigarette.
Barra smiles. “Another close one.”
Matt is so close to killing him.