My Co-Worker Christy Brown

By: Michael Fowler

From the private papers of Seamus O’Casey, Revenue Calculator, Department of Fishing, County Dublin, Dublin City, Ireland, 1980.

Dearest Tess,

I’m feeling terrifically inadequate at work. After the mucker Niall Murphy was told to vacate the cubicle beside mine for misappropriation of funds and smarting off to his superiors, who fills the empty cell but his nibs Christy Brown. Aye, the great Dublin author himself, with his know-all, do-all left foot.

Now I do have some sympathy for the man. His first toe-typed book My Left Foot has gone out of print, and his second tap-danced masterpiece Down All the Days limped off the Irish Independent’s bestseller list many months ago. I haven’t seen the poor sod hawking his tomes on TV documentaries for quite some time. I understand there’re other works as well, poems and whatnot, that didn’t catch on despite being his very own “footnotes.” I’m not too clear on this, since I haven’t read a word of any of it.

But that, it seems to me, is the literary biz: fickle as a female leprechaun. One minute, you and your darling tootsie are on everyone’s lips and the royalties are flowing your way like the River Liffey, and the next, you’re forced to take a government job to support your family of 15. And don’t tell me he sired all those brats with his left foot. Foreplay, maybe, but not the main course.

It wouldn’t be so bad, I suppose, if Brown and I shared any camaraderie on the job or went together to the pub for a pint after our labour. But the man ignores everyone, is quiet as a clam and sorely lacks inefficiency. If I lean back in my chair and crane my neck, I can see his bare foot multitasking away in his workspace. The savvy appendage charts fishing grounds on his computer, dials up fleets on his phone, tallies on his calculator the tons of haddock and cod caught, greets sea captains in the office and in general races to win the regatta while the rest of him appears to be in a stupor. Then at five his wife or nurse comes along, pulls a sock over the size 9 breadwinner, and wheels the man home. The lady doesn’t speak either, not so much as good evening. In the morning I don’t see her at all, since the Brown foot, itching to get to work, always arrives ahead of me.

For the better part of a month now, it’s been like this. I’m left in the wake of such productivity that I flounder and drown. A man who can only use his left foot is going to get the top performance evaluation in my area, along with the largest bonus. The foot may even fill the next supervisory opening. And there’s little I can do about it. My entire 20 years in this office, I haven’t seen a day at work like Brown’s left foot sees every day. My only hope is that the writer will think of another best-seller and clear the hell out. Here’s to the bitch of his inspiration! May she soon work wonders on the likes of my co-worker Christy Brown!

Meanwhile, I can’t stand another minute of being upstaged by a hoof, Tess, and that is why I quit my job today. If you require me before sundown, I’ll be at O’Malley’s under a pint or two.

Your loving husband,



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