In the Beginning Time of the Great Continent Pangaea, a great warrior chieftain, Mickey O’ Ogg ruled over all. Until the continental plates began to shift and separate. O’ Ogg tried to convince his tribe to jump to the larger section of land as it drifted but most were too afraid. And henceforth the mighty nation of Ireland dwindled to a tiny island.
Harley sat at her desk, typing rhythmically on the computer keyboard. The specially designed keyboard with its large, rounded keys allowed her to type comfortably and quickly with her soft furry paws. Feeling a sudden chill, she stopped typing and glanced over at the fire simmering in the fireplace. “Needs more wood,” she muttered to herself.
She rose from the desk and padded to the neat stack of logs next to the hearth. Choosing one, she dropped it gently into the flames and stood warming herself for a moment before returning to her desk.
Seated once more in the plush upholstered rolling desk chair, she sipped her tea and gazed at the plasma screens placed like windows around the room. A live feed of the weather ATD (above The Under Dome) was displayed on all of them, making it seem as if the room itself was above ground. Harley saw that a thick layer of fluffy snow blanketed the earth and fat, white flakes continued to fall in a dizzying pattern. She made a mental note to go up later in the afternoon and enjoy a romp in the snowy landscape, then turned back to her keyboard and began clicking away.
A few minutes later, the telephone next to her computer rang. Annoyed with the interruption, she decided not to answer, but caught sight of the caller identification. Her brother, Roper, was calling. “No doubt calling to see if I think we should move the city down another level because of the snow,” she said aloud to the empty room. Sighing, she donned her paws-free earpiece and pressed the answer button. “Hello.”
“Hi, Harley. It’s me, Roper Lee.” Roper’s cheerful voice greeted her. “What are you doing?”
“I’m working on my book, Roper. What do you want?” was Harley’s churlish response.
Undimmed, Roper continued, “Oh, really? What’s your book about? Can I read it? Am I in it? What are you doing for lunch today?”
Rolling her eyes, Harley knew it was useless to try to get off the phone with Roper when he was feeling chatty, as he obviously was at the moment. “My book is about a lovable glossy dachshund who becomes an angel and then guides little children through life teaching them how to do things and stuff. No, you aren’t in it and no, you can’t read it until it’s finished. And I don’t know what I’m doing for lunch today. Gordy and Prescott aren’t home right now.” She added, “It’s really flowing right now Roper, I don’t have time to chit chat.”
Roper chattered on, undeterred. “Well, I called to tell you that I have scheduled an emergency The Under Dome Council meeting for this afternoon at 3:42. Does that work for you? ‘Cause if it doesn’t, I can have Harry try to juggle some things around, but my day is pretty full.”
“Well,” Harley said, reaching for her planner, “let me see what my day looks like.” She leafed through pages. “I have a gravy spa appointment at 1:13 and then I have a spirit guide consultation at 4:23. Will this meeting take very long?”
“It shouldn’t,” Roper said. “We’re basically going over some of the plans I want to implement for the new year. You know, the new Thunder Dome University library, a job placement program for the Vole Tech, carpet on the streets, that sort of thing. Though you really should try to be there so you don’t end up with a job you don’t want …” he finished.
“Yeah, I can make it,” Harley slipped the special writing tool over her paw and penciled the meeting time under her spa appointment. Designed by Roper’s right hand vole, Harry, the ‘paw pencil’ was the one tool Harley didn’t think she could live without. It featured a small harness that slid over her paw. At the center of the harness, in her ‘palm’, was a sturdy clamp where a pencil or pen could be inserted and held secure, allowing the wearer to write without need of a thumb or a finger. Harley loved it and had several throughout the house. “If the meeting runs late, I can shuffle my spirit guide consultation to this evening, I guess.”
“Who’s your spirit guide?” Roper asked, interestedly. “I didn’t think you’d go in for that sort of thing.
“I’m not seeing a spirit guide,” Harley said, “I am the spirit guide.”
“Well, Mother and Father have that new dog – the bearded weirdo. And she needs a lot of help. I mean a lot a lot a lot. So I visit her when she’s outside and you know, try to let her know what she’s doing wrong, what she should be doing – that kind of stuff.” Harley felt like she was performing an important service by offering her considerable wisdom and experience to those less fortunate.
“Oh,” Roper said. “That sounds interesting. Maybe I should start a mentoring program here in The Under Dome. We could pair the more experienced, older voles with the young ones and they could train them and teach them how do things the way I like them done. Hmmm, what do you think Harley?”
“Yeah, that’s great. Listen, I need to get back to work, now. I’ll see you this afternoon and if I don’t have lunch plans I may drop by your office, okay?” Harley was already reaching for the disconnect button on the telephone.
“Oh, I won’t be in my office for lunch,” Roper answered quickly, sensing he’d lost Harley’s interest. “I’ll be at the Southside Café with Harry. It’s grub pot pie day.”
“Mm, yeah, okay then. Bye bye.” Harley ended the call and turned back to her computer.
She was absorbed in her work a while later, when she heard the clatter of buffalo hooves on the floor of the upstairs mudroom. Gordy and Prescott had obviously returned from their morning walk. Hoping to catch them before they removed all their outdoor gear, she rushed to the intercom and pressed the ‘mudroom’ button. “Gordy, Prescott? Is that you?” No response came.
Harley left her desk and ventured upstairs to the entry where she found Gordy and Prescott removing their buffalo mittens, hats and the plaid scarves Cookie had knitted for them last Christmas. They glanced up at her when she said, “Oh, darn, I hoped to catch you before you dis-robed.” They rolled their eyes at her choice of words.
“I have a little job for you, if you have time.” Harley said. “I’d really like it taken care of this morning, but it can wait if you’re busy.”
Gordy and Prescott looked at her expectantly.
Harley began to herd them into the hearth room. “Why don’t you have a snack and I’ll tell you what I need,” she said.
While Gordy and Prescott busied themselves with snack preparation, Harley perched on one of the padded stools at the raised counter and explained her project.
“The night vision attachment for the periscope came this morning. I’d like to get it hooked up before the snow stops.”
She added, “I’ll be out of the house for most of the day so I won’t be under-hoof while you’re working. And I think I’ll meet Roper and Harry for lunch down town. Maybe I can have Veryl hook me up with a meat pot pie instead of grub …”
Prescott set a plate of barley crackers and soy cheese slices in front of her, along with a glass of rice milk. “Oh, my, doesn’t this look delicious …” Harley began, trying to conceal her disappointment at the healthy snack. “You know, I’m just sure I saw some little meat pockets in the freezer,” she began, pushing the plate away and starting to get down from the stool. Gordy dropped a gentle hoof on her back, nudging her back onto the stool and Prescott pushed the plate back in front of her. “Meat pockets?” she asked hopefully, lifting her eyes to the buffaloes.
Gordy and Prescott fixed reproving stares on her and she ducked her snout into the plate of whole grain crackers and fat free cheese. “Well, this is much better for me, anyway,” she said, resignedly, and began to nibble at the snack.
“Now,” she began, with her mouth full of cracker. Prescott glanced at her sharply. Harley swallowed the bite before continuing. “I’ll need to combine my monkey romp with a buffalo walk – I just won’t have time to do them separately since I have a gravy spa appointment today. Also,” she started to say, after another bite of soy cheese. But the dry cheese got stuck in her throat and she grabbed the glass of rice milk, gulping it down quickly, trying to wince openly at the thin, watery flavor. “Also,” she began again, “I have a spirit guide consultation this afternoon. I guess I’ll have to take care of that while we’re walking and romping. Boy, I can’t wait to get out in that snow!” She rubbed her paws together and grinned in anticipation.
Gordy cleared away the snack-time dishes, putting them into the dishwasher and adding soap. He turned to Prescott and they exchanged a look. Prescott turned to Harley expectantly.
“Oh, yes,” Harley said, remembering, “Just text me at the Café when you are done with the periscope. I’ll drop by on my way to the spa. I won’t be needing a ride,” she said. “I think I had better walk,” she added. “I plan to take on a lot of gravy and I want to be prepared.”
Irish warrior-turned-farmer Aodh Dunne was a legendary sportsman. He held the honor of being the only Irishman ever to swim the River Swilley fully-clothed and while drinking a stout. Each summer, when he held what he called A Tournament of Physical Prowess, his property was overrun with participants from all over the island, eager to prove themselves worthy of the top prize, the Golden Potato. Dunne chose the finest examples from his annual potato crop and gave them as awards to the winners of each event at the Tournament. Along with the lovely potato, the winners would also win the right to call themselves “Master of the Tournament” until the next year’s competition. Events such as the pike toss, heavy-booted foot race, jumping over the sheep and downhill bark sliding proved to be crowd favorites and the winners of these events became instant celebrities.
As word of his Tournament spread to England and then throughout mainland Europe, Dunne began to receive inquiries from foreigners, wishing to pit their strength and ability against the native Irishmen. For several years, Englishmen, Scots, Welshmen, Frenchmen and Italians participated in the Tournament and its popularity continued to grow. Until one year, Greek pike tosser Cleon Toppappatous came to compete. After losing the preliminary round of pike tossing to Scotsman Donlevy MacTavish, Toppappatous returned to Greece bitter and bent on revenge. Rather than train harder to compete again the following year, Cleon went to Greek nobleman and financier Eutychos Grappelotomous and hatched a plan to create a Greek version of the Irish Tournament.
Their scheme involved stealing all of Dunne’s competitors by prohibiting them from participating in both tournaments on the grounds that Dunne was hiring professionals to compete and therefore his competition was unfair. Since the potato, at that time, was a form of Irish currency, they felt it was a just point of order. The Greeks would promise a fair and accurate measure of physical prowess in their tournament by offering simple crowns of laurel to the victors rather than payment. They decided to call their tournament the Olympic Games, after the famous Mt. Olympus – one of the most recognizable landmarks in Greece.
As is evidenced by history’s credit for the creation of the first Olympic Games to Greece, the diabolical plan of two petty Greeks clearly succeeded. And thus passes yet another missed opportunity of historical importance and glory for Ireland.