Martin Moone is eleven and completely fed up with being the only boy in a family of girls. He's desperate for a decent wingman to help him navigate his idiotic life. So when best mate Padraic suggests Martin get an imaginary friend—or "IF" for short—he decides to give it a go.
His first attempt is Loopy Lou, a hyperactive goofball who loves writing rubbish rap songs. But Martin soon gets fed up with Lou's loopiness and decides to trade in his IF for someone a little less wacky. Enter Sean "Caution" Murphy, an imaginary office clerk in a bad suit with a passion for laziness and a head full of dodgy jokes. Sean is full of tips and tricks to guide Martin through the perils of the playground, from dealing with his sisters' pranks to besting the bullying Bonner boys. But getting rid of Lou is not that easy, and having TWO imaginary friends is a recipe for trouble!
About the Author
Chris O'Dowd is best known for his roles in Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd, and the HBO show Family Tree. He recently starred in the Broadway play Of Mice and Men, for which he received a Tony nomination for Best Leading Actor. He is the creator and star of the Hulu show Moone Boy, which was inspired by his own childhood in a small town in Ireland.
Nick V. Murphy is a writer and producer, best known for his work co-writing Moone Boy with Chris. He lives in Los Angeles with his family.
Chris O'Dowd is an award-winning actor and writer from the barmy town of Boyle in Ireland. Chris did some good acting in Bridesmaids, The IT Crowd, Gulliver's Travels and Of Mice and Men. We won't mention the films where he did bad acting. He has a dog called Potato and a cat who shouts at him for no reason. He studied at University College Dublin and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He graduated from neither. Chris created Moone Boy to get revenge on his sisters for putting make-up on him as a child. He co-wrote the Sky TV series and this book with his good friend Nick Murphy, who is a lot older than Chris.
Nick V. Murphy is a writer from Kilkenny, Ireland. (The V. in his name stands for Very.) He went to Trinity College Dublin to study English and History, but spent most of his time doing theater and running away from girls. This was where he bumped into Chris O'Dowd, who was out looking for pizza. After college, Nick focused on writing, which was the laziest career he could think of, as it could even be done while wearing pajamas. He wrote a few things for TV, then a movie called Hideaways, before co-writing a short film with Chris called Capturing Santa. The pajama-wearing pair developed this into the comedy series Moone Boy, which won an International Emmy for Best Comedy.
Read an Excerpt
The Blunder Years
By Chris O'Dowd, Nick V. Murphy, Walter Giampaglia
Feiwel and FriendsCopyright © 2014 Chris O'Dowd and Nick V. Murphy
All rights reserved.
THE SCRUNCHIE INQUEST
Boyle, the third nipple of Ireland, on a wet Wednesday in the middle of the last month of the summer holidays.
Weather forecast: drizzle, with a chance of crizzle in the afternoon.
It was the summer holidays, and it was raining. Again. Martin Moone might have been free from the shackles of the classroom, but now he was forced to do even more hard time at home, with the fierce females of his flippin' family. And he was fast finding out that women are a tricky bunch. Sisters are even trickier. And older sisters have the ability to bewilder the finest magicians in the world with their tricksiness.
Martin Moone had three older sisters. And a very older mother, who was someone else's sister. This made the eleven-year-old simpleton feel like he was drowning in women. Or slowly submerging in female quicksand. Either way, not ideal.
If only his useless mother had given him a brother.
Just a single tall, lanky companion to help him do battle with this legion of ladies.
But she hadn't. Probably just to spite him.
No, Martin Moone was alone in this fight. An army of one. And, on this wet Wednesday morning, as on every other morning, he found himself under siege.
"This was the best house in the world before you were born!" explained Sinead, jabbing a jammy finger at Martin's face. She then picked up her buttery toast and wrapped her snack-happy jaws around her sixth slice of the morning.
"Now, let's not go mad," reasoned Martin. "Sure, how could it have been the best house if I wasn't even in it?"
"That's why it was the best house in the world, ya plonk!" repeated Sinead, spraying him with a mouthful of toast crumbs.
His other sisters, Fidelma and Trisha, murmured in agreement. They were eating breakfast while gawping at the television – clearly too busy to actually voice their dislike of their brother.
Martin had been accused of ruining his closest sister's scrunchie by using it as a catapult. When I say "closest," I mean in age. As siblings, they were as close to each other as a badger is to a trap.
In Martin's defence, it must be said that a catapult is a device that requires a reasonable amount of upper-body strength. The amount of strength in Martin's upper body was very unreasonable. Pig-headed, even. Point being, there's no way this accusation could be true. His sisters' daily dead arms had surely made his insignificant little limbs far too weak to commit the crime. Pulling back the elasticated hairband and propelling a pebble skyward was clearly beyond his physical abilities. Case closed. An innocent man. Almost definitely.
But in the Moone kitchen, which this morning resembled a clan court, Martin was being subjected to quite the grilling.
"Better than the Taj Mahal?" asked Martin. It had only taken him three full minutes to think of this smart-arse retort to Sinead's comment about their house.
"What are you talking about?" grunted Sinead, now horsing down a chocolate yogurt.
"You're saying that, before I was born, this ... Irish igloo" – he pointed at various low points of the Moone kitchen to emphasize his point – "this breezy bungalow, this mountain of mould, was better than say ... the White House in America?"
He smirked, pleased with his joke and certain his quick wit would snip their sniping off at the knees.
"Are you being a clever-hole, Martin?" asked Trisha from the couch.
Martin glared at her. Trisha was the middle sister and so had been blessed with all the attributes saved for the average middle sister – a fear of being forgotten, which caused her to lash out, the ability to burn everything she cooked (even water) and, of course, a dislike or mistrust of all living things.
"He is and all," hissed Sinead spitefully, as she sliced herself a wedge of old cheese that she'd found in the fridge. "He's being a smart-hole."
Fidelma looked up from her bowl of soggy Readybix. "Martin, just apologize and give Sinead your pocket money to buy a new scrunchie. Then we won't have to murder you and throw your body in the lake."
"Who's goin' to the lake? I'll go to the lake if people are goin' to the lake."
The children turned to find their father, Liam, standing in the kitchen doorway with a big happy head on him.
"I haven't been to the lake for ages," he declared cheerfully.
Sinead and Martin began shouting again, each putting across their own case for their dad's judgement.
"Martin used my scrunchie as a catapult," Sinead snorted, holding up the red sagging scrunchie like a murder weapon, "and now it's too baggy!"
"What?! As if I could even use a catapult after all the dead arms you've given me!" Martin retorted. "It's a miracle I can even feed myself!"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" groaned their clueless father. "All right, calm down, speak one at a time or nobody's goin' to the lake."
"Nobody is going to the lake, Dad!" they both blurted back at him.
"Well, not now they're not," Liam insisted, putting his silly old foot down.
Fidelma and Trisha rolled their eyes and turned back to the flickering television screen.
"He's always using my stuff, Dad," Sinead persevered. "Last week he used my tights to catch worms."
"They were attracted to your scent!" Martin explained.
"He broke a leg off my Sindy doll—"
"My Action Man prefers his damsels to be really distressed."
"And he's always hogging my Fashion Wheel."
They all looked to Martin for an explanation. Martin cleared his throat as he searched for a reason why he had been using this oh-so-feminine crafting device. But all that came to him was:
"That's just an excellent toy."
"Martin, did you use your sister's scrunchie as a catapult?"
"It hurts me that you even have to ask, Dad," replied the mini-Moone.
Just then, Liam's inquisition of Martin was interrupted by the arrival of Mammy Moone.
"Has anyone seen my leather belt?" she asked, as she rushed through the kitchen looking like a turbaned Margaret Thatcher, her recently washed hair wrapped high in a towel. Debra Moone had a habit of rushing into and out of rooms, as mothers often do, which made Martin suspect that she had a secret identity far beyond the simple, lazy life she led as their mother.
"The green one?" asked Fidelma, the most likely belt-borrower in Boyle.
"No, no, my new one, the black leather one. Flippin' heck, can't keep a hold of anything in this house," Debra complained as she exited the kitchen at speed, off to her war-room meeting or whatever.
"Dad, it's just not fair," Sinead whined, still on the hunt for scrunchie retribution.
"Life isn't fair, love," mused Liam, trying to be poetic.
"Wise words, old man, I think we can all learn from that," nodded Martin, tapping his father on the elbow appreciatively.
Sinead rolled her eyes as their mam rushed back in, her damp, limp hair now straddling her shoulders like the legs of a sick horse.
"What are they fighting about this time?" she asked her husband, patting her wet hair dry with an even wetter towel.
Liam, still pretending to focus on the conflict, whispered back, "Who cares? I just use 'life isn't fair' as my position on everything now."
The slightest hint of an impressed smile from her mam was all that Sinead needed to go back on the attack.
"Martin used my scrunchie as a catapult and now it's ruined," she squawked.
"I swear on my grave that's not true," Martin offered, hand on heart.
"You don't have a grave, pal," said Liam, sipping his tea.
"Then I swear on your grave, Dad."
"We're all alive, Martin," his mother reminded him.
"For now we are ..." whispered Sinead, staring daggers at Martin. "I'm gonna end you, ya flute."
"But I've only just begun!" Martin protested.
"Martin, did you or did you not use Sinead's scrunchie as a catapult?" Debra asked calmly and ominously.
"Absolutely not. And I'm growing tired of all these baseless accusations."
"Did you use it for anything else?" added Mammy Moone, with a knowing look.
The room fell silent as all eyes turned to Martin.
"Did I see you practising karate in the garden this morning, Martin?" probed his mother, clearly ahead of the game.
"I may have been honing some of my moves, yes," the boy offered sheepishly.
"And were you pretending to be the Karate Kid by wearing Sinead's scrunchie as a headband, by any chance?" Debra quizzed, promptly wrapping up the case.
As Sinead and the girls gawped, Martin cleared his throat to make his final plea.
"It's the headband that makes it macho, Mam."
As his sisters lobbed abuse at him, Martin's punishment came quickly.
"Buy Sinead a new scrunchie and stop stealing our flippin' stuff," Debra ordered as she rushed off to meet some astronauts or whatever.
"Wait," piped up Trisha, sensing blood. "Wasn't the Karate Kid a black belt?"
Martin's head drooped as Debra spun on her heels and looked from her sagging belt loops to her flagging fruit loop of a son. She waited for an explanation. And waited.
Martin simply shrugged. "A basic grasp of self-defence is very important in this house."
A vicious dead arm from Sinead provided a fitting full stop to his point.
Martin was sick and tired of being terrorized by these turbulent teens. I can't fly this boy jet alone any more, he thought to himself. I need a co-pilot.CHAPTER 2
WHAT IF WHAT?
The next day, Martin explained his problem to his best friend, Padraic, who scrunched up his face, confused by it all. Padraic had a perfectly round face, like a pleasant dinner plate, or a tractor tyre, so it took a lot of confusion to scrunch it up.
"So you're saying you need a male companion?"
"I am." Martin nodded. "It's the one thing I really need. Well, that, and maybe some kind of protective arm armour," he added, rubbing the bruise where Sinead had thumped him.
"But don't you already have a male companion?"
"Who's that?" asked Martin blankly.
"Well – me." Padraic wiped a splash of milk from the tip of his pudgy nose. "Aren't I your male companion?"
The boys were standing in the cowshed of a large farm where Padraic was milking the cattle. A few of the big beasts were already hooked up to the noisy milking machine, having their daily dairy donation sucked out of them, and Padraic was busy attaching the others' udders.
"Riiight!" agreed Martin, after a brief pause. "Of course you are, P! You're my wingman! My sidekick! My trusty steed!"
Padraic gave a delighted but slightly confused smile, and returned to his work.
"It's just ..." Martin continued hesitantly, "I was kinda thinking that, as well as your top-notch wingman-ship, I could also do with another wingman. A spare wingman. I mean ... what's a plane with just one wing?"
"In trouble?" suggested Padraic, poking his head out from behind a big bovine's bottom.
"Exactamundo, P-Dog – BIG trouble," agreed Martin. "The good ship Moone will crash-land pretty quickly if it has only one wing, especially when that wing has to milk cows all day long."
Padraic stood up, looking a little hurt. "Ah, Martin, you know Daddy needs help on the farm. And since I can't help during school-time, it's only fair that every summer he gets to work me like a dog."
"He sure does. You're like a big, cow-milking dog."
"That's exactly what I am." Padraic nodded glumly.
"Hey, maybe that's the solution!" exclaimed Martin, brightening. "Could you get a cow-milking dog?"
"Believe me, I've tried," stated Padraic, turning to a sheepish-looking sheepdog sitting in the corner of the milking shed. "Ya useless yoke*!" he yelled, and the dog hung its head in shame.
"But hey," he said, turning back to Martin, "it's not that bad really. They may not look it, but these big beauties are a lot of craic." He slapped a heifer's bum and she gave a loud fart in return.
Padraic laughed, delighted. "Ha ha! See what I mean? Good old Windy Wendy!"
Martin was hit by a powerful stench and took a step back.
"And sure, whenever I need something more," Padraic went on, "I just turn to my good old IF."
Martin gave a confused look as Padraic resumed his work.
"If?" he asked.
"What if what?"
"What's a 'good old if'?"
"Oh, that's just what I call them."
"Call who?" asked Martin.
"Imaginary friends," explained Padraic, with a shrug.
He made this comment as casually as could be, but until this moment Martin had been completely unaware that his best friend possessed an imaginary pal. Sure, he'd noticed Padraic murmur to himself on occasion, or giggle at an unheard joke, or even give a celebratory high five to no one in particular. But he'd never suspected that Padraic had the creative smarts to actually conjure up a fully formed friend.
Martin couldn't help feeling a slight pang of jealousy. It was like he'd just discovered that Padraic was in a gang that Martin wasn't part of. Although, in truth, Padraic was in several gangs that Martin wasn't part of:
The Just Outside Boylers – a group of rural lads who got together once a month to wrestle in a field, trade jumpers with each other and complain about the Boyle "townies."
The Motley Maritimers – a barbershop quintet who specialized in sad sea shanties.
The Knicker Knitters. For lovers of itchy undies.
The Fast and Furious Farmers – a gang of late-night drag-racing tractor drivers.
And of course His Mother's Book Club – a gang that was so rife with division that they hadn't even agreed on a name, let alone a book to read.
"You've got an imaginary friend?" asked Martin.
"Well, yeah," said Padraic. "Did I never mention that?"
"No, you didn't!"
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure I would have remembered a detail like that."
"Well, I've had him for a good while now. And I must say he's working out very well so far."
Behind Padraic there was a splash, and the head of a burly English wrestler peeked out from the top of a large vat of milk, wearing a swimming cap that said "DANGER."
"Aw, thanks, Padraic," the wrestler sniffled, flattered. "Always good to hear positive feedback."
Padraic turned to smile at him. "My pleasure, Crunchie. Credit where credit's due."
Martin peered blankly towards the vat. He could neither see nor hear any sign of Crunchie. But that was probably to be expected.
"Is he in the milk?" asked Martin.
Padraic nodded. "He is indeed. Allow me to present Crunchie Haystacks. Middle name: Danger."
"Danger!" yelled Crunchie, splashing around in the milk. "Mmm, it's all warm and milky in here."
"Well, that's cos it's warm milk," Padraic explained. "You're wearing a bathing suit though – right?" he asked, suddenly concerned.
Crunchie paused. "Er ... I'm wearing my birthday suit?"
"Aw, Crunchie, I told ya not to skinny-dip in the milk! It's unsanitary!"
"What's unsanitary about it? I'm wearing a swimming cap!" the wrestler yelled, and dived down into the milk, rearing his ruddy rear end into the air.
Padraic shook his head, chuckling. "Ah, he's a gas fella."
"Is he in the nip*?" asked Martin.
"He is, yeah." Padraic nodded. "To be honest, he's probably a little drunk, since it's after lunchtime. He's not exactly the most professional of IFs, but he is great craic. You should really think about getting one yourself."
"An imaginary friend?"
"Why not? They're very cheap to feed. All I have to do is imagine Crunchie a bowl of Readybix every now and then and he's happy as a clam."
"Right," said Martin, then frowned. "But you know the way you're talking away to him, and other people can't see him – don't you find that people think you're a little bit mental?"
"Ah yeah, that does come up every now and then. But it's a small price to pay. Right, Crunchie?" said Padraic, looking across the room.
"I thought he was in the vat," said Martin.
"No, he's towelling off now."
"My fingers were starting to curdle," confessed Crunchie, as he draped a towel over his head like a soggy sultan. "Ya know, I could refer your pal to a few colleagues if he wants," he suggested to Padraic. "Hamish the Headbutter is looking for work these days. And Pile-Driver Pete's been unemployed since he knocked his realsie out by mistake."
Excerpted from Moone Boy by Chris O'Dowd, Nick V. Murphy, Walter Giampaglia. Copyright © 2014 Chris O'Dowd and Nick V. Murphy. Excerpted by permission of Feiwel and Friends.
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