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An Hibernian tale.

I guess I would've been about 16 at the time - the summer of 1994. My cousin Eoin had been staying with my family in Dublin, and I was going to spend a week in his place in Mayo. Well, let's start with the day we caught the train. We called over to an acquaintance of mine, Rory, to see if he could help us out. We were looking for a score of hash. That is, £20 worth. This being back in the days when we still used pounds in Ireland, instead of Euros. But my mother was coming to pick us up quite soon... we got the stuff, and concocted some cock and bull story about Eoin losing his watch. She bought it. Although I think we got ripped off. Anyway.

So we took the train to Ballyhaunis, with our little foil-wrapped burden, making us feel like outlaws. When we got there, Eoin's mother gave us a lift to the house, where I left my luggage; then myself and Eoin went downtown to meet some of his friends. We met Dennis first. The three of us snuck into a derelict house and attempted to roll a joint. Now, none of us had much experience at skinning up. The result was atrocious. When we smoked it, it was more paper than anything else, and we had to stick more Rizlas on as we smoked, to stop it from falling apart. Eoin thought it smelled like chicken soup.

That evening, we ventured up to a football pitch across the road from Eoin's house. For whatever reason, there was a builders' hut beside the pitch. Three of us - myself, Eoin, and Dennis, who had smoked hand rolled cigarettes before, entered the hut to skin up. We smoked about five single-skin reefers before realising that 1.: it was having little or no effect on us, and 2. we had basically wasted £20. But things like that didn't matter when we were young. We went to the pub and played pool and drank until our meager resources ran out.

The next day, we all - that is, myself, Eoin, Brian, Dennis, and Paddy - called down to McGarry's place. James McGarry, I think his name was. Not that it really matters to the story, but I just thought I'd mention it. Anyway, as a way of proving how cool he was, my cousin Eoin lifted the titular tomato from a small grocers near McGarry's place. We now had a conundrum - a challenge for our combined intellects - what should we do with this illicit fruit? It was Eoin who came up with the plan - he would climb up onto the railway bridge and drop the tomato onto a car, while we stood on the corner and watched the fun.

Hey, there's very little for teenage ne'er-do-wells to do in the wilds of county Mayo. We got our kicks where we could find them.

Trust Eoin to pick a nutter's car. Eoin dropped the tomato on a white hatchback, and retreated to a grassy knoll to watch the ensuing chaos. The guy - a short, stocky fella called Pat - pulled in and ran towards us. He hit McGarry a smack in the face, convinced that we had thrown a rock at his car. He then realised we were just a bunch of kids - McGarry was the oldest-looking of us, having a fine coat of manly stubble on his face, which the rest of us lacked. McGarry and Pat went up to his house, while the rest of us went looking for Eoin.

Eoin was quite worried when we found him. We met McGarry later, and it turned out that his parents knew Pat, and that he used to be in the Foreign Legion. Apparently, about ten years previously, Ballyhaunis had been over-run by members of the Irish travelling community - a group who live in caravans, and who have their own laws and traditions, which include marrying their own cousins, having fights in pubs, and stealing anything that isn't nailed down. They were causing chaos in the town, with shop-windows being broken, bins knocked over, and burned-out cars lining many streets. One night, Pat and his brother had ventured out and beaten the living hell out of any traveller they set eyes on. The next day, the travellers had all gone. From this day on, Pat was viewed with a lot of respect around town, despite his slight madness.

By this stage, anyway, McGarry was sporting a fine black eye, and had been to the doctor - luckily, he was alright, although there was some worry that his cheek-bone might have been fractured. McGarry told Eoin that everything was ok, but that he had had to tell his parents the story; and that the local constabulary wanted to talk to him (that is, to Eoin). McGarry later told us in secret that he had lied to Eoin, who spent the rest of the week I was there shitting bricks. In the end, after I had gone home, Eoin finally decided to turn himself in. He walked the long road to the Garda station, all alone. He went in and gave himself up - the Garda on duty looked nonplussed. Eventually, the penny dropped, and Eoin left, relieved, but understandably quite annoyed at McGarry. And so, life went on.

It was only a couple of weeks ago, reliving the events over a few pints, that I told Eoin that I had known all along, that McGarry had told us all that he was only winding him up. He was slightly disgusted with me.

A submission for iceowl's excellent quest.