BERING SEA 1830
Darkness enveloped the great man-o-war as she climbed up into another mountainous
wave and violently lurched on a roll to port. The timbers, masts and rigging creaked loudly
from bow to stern as they strained under a wind and sea so powerful that it threatened to
break the vessel into a thousand pieces as the waves crashed around and over it.
A mighty lightning bolt turned night into day as it forked its way majestically across
the dark clouded sky; stretching its powerful talons over the sea, and betraying the condition
of the ship below with its ripped and tattered sails that blew like colourless streamers on some
faraway grotesque battlefield.
Midshipman Roberts stared out from the forward hatchway, his eyes widening with
fear, open mouthed as he stared up at the mast head and the scene he was witnessing high
above him. ―Dear Lord, I must tell someone,‖ he cried as the sky lit up again and he scurried
quickly down below.
The gale-force wind was unrelenting as it pushed and pulled at the ship from all
directions, forcing it uncontrollably toward its doom. Another flash and the deserted decks lit
up again, deserted save for the sea and rain that thundered across them, stripping the last
barrel of its tether and flinging it far over the side as the foaming waves forced their way,
unstoppable, across to the other side and beyond.
Below decks there was a great fear among the sailors and marines as they clung to the
bulkheads with whispered prayers, praying for some divine providence to come save them as
sprays of sea came showering in all around, freezing and wet. ―Stay at the pump will you
man?‖ A distant voice raged at someone from the deck below them.
Master‘s mate Collin nodded at the frightened midshipman who had just whispered a
message frantically into his ear. A message that would see him battle his way back toward the
stern, back to the great cabin. Collins shook his head in disbelief at what the midshipman had
just told him, but he would have to inform the captain immediately, and before walking away
he patted Roberts gently on the arm.
―Take it easy lad,‖ he said as he smiled and nodded at the youngster who wasn‘t quite
yet a man.
He held tightly to the rope rail as he stumbled and tripped through the darkness as the
incessant heaving increased.
* * * * *
He moved quickly through the shadows, fighting constantly against the roll and pitch
as the out-of-control vessel lifted into the crest of yet another large wave, only to be forced
back again when she plummeted into the valley below, but he struggled on regardless.
The roaring noise from the clash of thunder overhead was louder than Collins had
ever heard before, and he could not hide his fear as he pounded his fist on the great cabin
door. ―Captain,‖ he shouted, unheard as the storm raged all around him. ―Captain,‖ he
repeated as he jerked open the door and held tightly to the frame, struggling as he did to force
his way inside.
Captain Bingham sat at the large table, facing him with head bowed. His left hand
rested on the log while his right hand held firmly onto the ship‘s Bible. Collins stared at the
mess on the floor between the captain‘s feet where he had thrown up, and even in his own
fear he realised that this war-hardened old seaman was a mere mortal like the rest of them
Captain Bingham had been through the most dangerous and hazardous times of any
seaman during his thirty-five years at sea, fighting with distinction as a young midshipman
with Nelson at Trafalgar, and being badly wounded in the process. The wound still gave him
considerable discomfort, the winter months being especially hard on him and causing him
most concern. It was these months that would see his pains increase tenfold, and which would
seriously hamper him in the running of his ship. No one would ever know this though,
because the captain had always hidden his condition from the men, only allowing the ship‘s
surgeon to share his secret. Now was such a time as he sat and cursed his pain, and he prayed
for the strength that he knew he was going to need. The captain had also weathered the
toughest storms that even the Horn could have thrown at him, but he had endured and had
lived to tell the tale. He had even taken to the boats on occasion, once when one of his ships
had foundered twenty miles off Van Diemen‘s Land. But this, this was something different.
This storm had crept up on them, ambushed them with no prior warning. There had been no
time for any orders to be implemented to secure the ship, and this storm he knew was going
to be the last one they would ever encounter. This storm was death.
―Captain,‖ Collins cried, as he gripped the table with both hands, while the ship
continued to roll and pitch ferociously. The captain slowly lifted his head and stared solemnly
at the master‘s mate without speaking. ―Captain Sir, I‘ve got a message for you sir,‖ Collins
shouted, raising his voice above the thunderous roaring from outside.
―Speak man,‖ the captain answered in his loud, gruff, Cornish voice.
―I‘ve just had a report from young midshipman Roberts. He says there‘s someone
moving about up in the shrouds sir.‖
―Who is it?‖
―The thing is sir, he doesn‘t know.‖
―What do you mean, he doesn‘t know?‖ Captain Bingham bellowed.
―Well sir, the men are all accounted for below decks, and…‖
―Impossible man,‖ the captain interrupted, sounding angry and confused.
―No one could have stowed away on this vessel. Why, we‘ve been at sea for three
months man, without even nearing land,‖ he shouted loudly as the roaring outside became
stronger, almost deafening them.
―Well, you‘d best come see for yourself then sir,‖ Collins said and pointed toward the
* * * * *
Down below old Cyrus was busy pumping frantically as the water levels increased all
―Its bloody useless boys; the pump‘s not holding. Go tell the captain we‘ve lost the
fight. He‘ll have to give the order to abandon ship,‖ he yelled to one of the junior rank.
―You‘re scaring the lad, Cyrus!‖ Someone shouted.
―I‘d rather take my chances here than go out in an open boat in this storm,‖ Martin,
the cook barked to no one in particular.
―Well, there are no boats to go in,‖ someone added. ―They‘ve been blown off the deck
and over the side, down to the dark ocean floor.‖
Back at the cabin the captain had sprung up from his seat, wincing in his pain, but he
disguised the fact and very quickly stormed past Collins, almost knocking him over as he
hastened out into the small corridor and up the steps that led to the quarter deck. Collins
looked back into the cabin and noticed that the ship‘s log still lay on the table, but the Bible
had gone, clutched firmly in the captain‘s grip as he struggled to hold onto the rail.
―Wait, captain sir,‖ the mate implored as he slowly pulled himself up the rail behind
him. Suddenly the ship spun around on its axis and rolled violently to starboard, sending the
two men sprawling together in a heap, down on to the hard wooden deck below. As another
lightning bolt turned night into day, the men stared hard at each other.
Collins could see that the captain had been hurt in the fall; his cheek gashed quite
badly, the blood running down in little rivulets onto his shoulder. The captain though simply
shrugged it off and carried on, pulling himself purposefully back up the steps, the Bible still
held tightly in his powerful grip.
On reaching the quarter deck doors Captain Bingham pushed with all his might, but
the gale-force wind and rain gave no quarter and the doors held fast. Suddenly the arm of the
master‘s mate shot over the captain‘s bloodied shoulder and the two men now pushed
together in unison with all the strength they could muster.
The doors began moving slowly outward, and in an instant they burst open; the wind
and rain blasted at the men‘s faces and bodies as they held firmly to the rail. Collins pointed
up into the darkness and the captain shielded his eyes from the biting rain as he stared hard up
to the rags that had once been used to propel the ship across the vast seas and oceans.
The lightning bolt that lit up the sky, just for a second or two, gave enough time for
him to see the hooded figure climb the rigging. ―How can he move about in this wind? Why,
it‘s impossible,‖ Captain Bingham stated as the rain poured down his face, diluting the blood
from his still bleeding wound. Collins made no reply but simply shook his head. ―Well, we‘re
going to have to get him down,‖ the captain added. ―Send Benson and Martin aloft, they‘re
our best,‖ he ordered.
―Listen sir, no one could climb up there in this storm. Like you just said sir, it‘s
impossible,‖ Collins answered.
―What are you saying man, blast your hide?‖ Captain Bingham thundered, even more
confused now as he stared at the figure aloft. Collins cupped his hands and shouted into the
Captain‘s ear, trying to make himself heard above the constant roar of thunder.
―Whatever that thing is up there sir, it‘s not human,‖ he shouted, as he stared at the
captain, the fear etched on his face, and the captain didn‘t notice that he was gripping the
Bible so tightly that his knuckles had turned white.
Suddenly they watched as the figure made its way quickly over the mast head and
along the rigging. Another flash and the figure moved further along, over the yardarms. Its
unnatural jerking movements left the two men below staring in terror, and the captain wiped
the rain from his eyes before he spoke. ―Dear Father in Heaven, what is this thing that has
been sent to us?‖
He knew, as Collins had just stated, that no one could possibly move about like this in
these conditions, yet here before his very eyes someone was, and at a speed that was
impossible for any mortal man.
Another bolt of lightning lit up the ship, followed by six more in succession, and then
to the men‘s horror they watched as the figure floated back across to the mast head, levitating
in mid air as it rotated slowly around, the face hidden deep inside its hood.
And now there was something else the captain was aware of. It was watching them.
This was a demon, the captain knew. He had heard stories about these evil creatures
from other sea captains. He remembered the story of Captain Lang and his stout crew. This
highly thought of captain had reported a demon coming on board his vessel.
Eighteen-fifteen it was, when Lang‘s ship, The Everest, a 150 foot merchant man, was
sailing from Jamaica to England, when some time in the night a fierce storm blew up and a
grotesque, wailing creature somehow came on board.
According to Captain Lang it seemed only interested in one man, an able seaman by
the name of Jeremiah Cotter. The demon didn‘t harm him in any way though, but left the ship
rather quickly. Ten nights later it returned, but not one of the people threatened it. In fact
most of the crew stood cowering in the nearest corner they could find. However, when the
demon tried to take Cotter, five brave seamen attacked it. Three were killed instantly and it
took Cotter with little effort. Captain Lang, an honourable man, refused to return to naval
duties after this and nothing more was heard of him again.
Now Captain Bingham faced one of these unspeakable creatures, and he knew he
would be powerless against it.
The ship shuddered as it moved across the crest of another mountainous wave, but
Captain Bingham‘s eyes held firmly on the figure, as now it was slowly descending down
―God Almighty,‖ the master‘s mate yelled, as he forcefully pulled the captain back
inside. He jerked frantically at the quarter deck doors, slamming them shut behind him.
Slowly the two men backed down the steps, down into the bowels of the ship. Suddenly
Collins grasped the captain tightly by the arm. ―What is this fucking thing?‖ Collins
screamed. All respect for his captain was now gone, and unable to hide the fear and panic in
his voice, he continued to mouth obscenities.
Captain Bingham at first did not answer, but looked at Collins in a most threatening
manner. He had never been spoken to like this before, not from anyone below his station, and
in normal circumstances this sort of disgraceful act would be punished very severely.
However, as they were all about to go under at any moment now, it seemed fruitless to pursue
the matter any further, and he had already decided on his next course of action. ―Calm
yourself down, you damned scoundrel, and behave like a bloody man,‖ he bellowed, as he
began to recite the Lord‘s Prayer.
This seemed to have an immediate effect on Collins and he stared at his brave and
wise captain, now realising just how cowardly he had sounded.
―S-sorry, s-sir,‖ he stuttered nervously.
Blood still slowly rolled freely down Captain Bingham‘s cheek as he spoke, and
Collins, even though he had never quite mastered the words, joined him enthusiastically in
prayer, holding onto the front of the Bible as if it were some sort of magic talisman that
would save them from this hell.
In the darkness Collins thought he saw a shape, just as something brushed sharply
against his side and he jumped with fright, almost forcing the captain down the steps as
another lightning bolt lit up the staircase once again.
The light filled every crevice of the ship as the cold wind and rain blew fiercely
around them, blowing down from the quarter deck, and at once Captain Bingham knew the
reason why. ―The doors,‖ he yelled, and as they both turned around in unison they could see
at once that the quarterdeck doors were gone. Then to their dismay and horror they noticed
that the doors had not been blown open, but had been torn and smashed from their very
latches by a different force. The hinges now strutted out at odd angles as they glistened in the
darkness against the streaks of moonlight that had forged their way down to them between
Collins, by now reduced to a pathetic figure of the man he used to be, muttered loudly
as they retreated farther down the steps. He would go deep into the ship, anywhere away from
this nightmare, and he pushed himself further on, crying and panting as he went. Another
large wave sent the ship on yet another vicious roll, sending the two men tumbling head first
down the remaining steps.
Quickly scrambling to their feet, they forced their way into the large cabin, and
Collins slammed the door shut behind them.
Below decks the crew were unaware of their captain and master‘s mate‘s
predicament, but they held hands tightly in prayer and thought about their families back
home, as they now believed the end was drawing ever nearer.
Emerson the American didn‘t want to die like this. He had loved the seafaring life,
had left America as a small boy and had served in His Majesty‘s navy for over forty years.
He was also one of the oldest men on board, and he had served under this captain for the last
twelve of them. This captain is the bravest of them all, he thought. Why, this captain was a
man whom he would gladly have followed to the ends of the earth and beyond. ―Why is the
captain not with us?‖ Emerson shouted.
―Aye, get the captain,‖ someone yelled.
―God knows we need him,‖ Emerson mumbled. ―I‘m going to bloody find him,‖ he
shouted to no one in particular, and with that he made off toward the stern, stumbling along
the lower deck and almost falling on his face when he tripped over Toby, the ship‘s dog.
Toby had partly wedged itself between a large ammunition chest and a small water keg, its
hind legs protruding out over the deck.
―Damned hound,‖ he shouted as the dog snarled loudly and snapped ferociously at
him, its white teeth bared and showing up in the darkness. Until now Emerson had always
liked this good-natured animal, and he had never known it to be vicious like this before. Now
he felt frightened. He wondered why the dog was behaving in such a way, but he moved on
slowly along the deck as the large ship continued to roll and lurch in all directions. ―You‘re a
damned devil,‖ he shouted at the dog, which was now behind and following him, snarling and
growling fiercely. And all the while saliva dripped from its mouth.
* * * * *
Inside the large cabin Collins stood firmly at the door, determined that nothing would
enter through, as Captain Bingham flung himself into a chair, shaking and panting for breath
as he tried to compose himself over this horror that he had just witnessed. The captain pulled
open a drawer as he groped blindly in the darkness, and removed the fine bottle of wine he
had purchased at Tenerife all those many months ago as a present for his good friend Captain
Price. He uncorked it and quickly swallowed some down.
He would never normally let drink pass his lips, at least not since he was a young
man, and not because he had any moral issue about it. It was simply that as a young officer he
had tried it, the taste then being revolting to him. Now though, he believed that if he was ever
going to drink, then this occasion would now be as fitting a time as any.
Crash, the thunder outside roared and he felt he was on the receiving end of some
hell-ship with a 1000 gunner‘s broadside.
Suddenly the cabin filled with light and the slow movement of the shape before them
caught the captain‘s eye. He let out a loud gasp as the bottle slipped from his sweating palm,
and he was unaware of it smashing down onto the hard deck.
As he stared in horror upon the hooded figure that was hovering less than ten feet in
front of him, arms outstretched, it moved menacingly toward him.
Another lightning bolt filled the cabin with its brightness, sending little shadows
dancing into the furthest corners, and lighting up the master‘s mate who was now armed with
a cutlass and charging at the beast, striking it hard on the side of its head. But it spun around
with astonishing speed, and just before he had a chance to strike again, the creature gripped
his neck with its large, grey spindly hand, as the captain watched in horror. A deep growl
emulated from the creature and it seemed to stare at Collins for a moment, before it squeezed
with a force so powerful that it tore his throat out as easily as squashing a rose petal. When it
released him, his lifeless body crashed down to the floor of the cabin.
It continued moving slowly toward the captain again, its hooded head quickly turning
from side to side as it neared him, and the captain groped blindly for the Bible that was no
longer in his hand, then realised to his dismay that he had dropped it outside the door of the
cabin, somewhere out in the dark hallway, beyond his reach.
―What is your business here sir?‖ he bravely spat at the creature as it caressed his
cheek with its long fingers, and pushed its face closer to his. The creature continued slowly
moving its head from side to side and the captain felt as though it was somehow studying
him. He also felt numb with horror and fear when he stared back into the beast‘s twisted,
grotesque face. The taste of its foul breath on his lips nauseated him as he fought to stand up,
but he found himself unable to move.
―Damn your blood, you hound from hell,‖ he bravely bellowed at the creature, before
it shrieked at him so loudly that the storm could no longer be heard, and he felt that his
eardrums were about to burst open. Just then the cabin door swung open and Emerson came
stumbling in, tripping over the lifeless body of Collins, but he managed to hold on to the edge
of the table to stop his fall.
―What in God‘s name is happening here?‖ he muttered, as he witnessed the scenario
unfolding before him, and he quickly lifted the cutlass from the floor as the creature moved
slowly away from the captain, toward the door. ―No, leave it man,‖ Captain Bingham shouted
loudly, as Emerson lifted the cutlass to strike the beast. But the captain‘s command came too
late as the faithful old sailor swung the blade hard, hitting the creature firmly in its back with
a blow that would have killed most men instantly, but didn‘t even make this beast flinch.
The captain watched again in terror as the creature turned around and gripped
Emerson‘s head in one large powerful hand, as it held his shoulder with the other. Another
flash and the cabin turned to daylight once more. The captain wretched as he witnessed
Emerson‘s head being quickly torn from his body. The creature threw Emerson‘s head
unceremoniously over its shoulder and it bounced across the cabin floor as the thunder
outside boomed on loudly.
Something else was in the room now, and in the darkness the captain could just make
out the shape as it lunged onto the creature. The cabin lit up again and he could see it. It was
Toby, hanging on to the creature‘s arm, biting and snarling, twisting its body violently as it
ripped and tore at the beast. The creature then seized the dog with its other powerful, gnarled
hand, pulling the snarling animal away to arm‘s length. The creature sneered before throwing
the dog down onto the hard deck, its pointed black teeth showing as the howling yelping dog
struggled out through the cabin door, into the hallway, and disappeared down the dark
The beast continued to move slowly on through the doorway, and the captain, on his
feet now, ran to a side cabinet and withdrew the loaded pistol he had always kept there in
case of mutinous behaviour with the crew. He quickly chased out after the beast and took
careful aim as he hung on to the rail to steady himself. He didn‘t fear it now though, not after
it had violated him, violated these dead seamen, leaving its evil testament in blood all over
his cabin floor, and if he were to die attempting to kill it, then so be it.
The creature had just reached the point where the quarterdeck doors used to be,
moving backward out through the doorway and into the wind and rain as it mouthed words at
him, though none could be heard. Suddenly Captain Bingham fired at it, hitting the creature
directly in the chest. It proceeded on though, seemingly unhurt, to move on out, up over the
side of the ship, and high into the storm filled sky.
* * * * *
All at once the lightning and the crashing thunder stopped, and below his feet the
captain could feel the ship steadying as the sea became quite calm, the storm ending as
quickly as it had begun.
―It‘s a bloody miracle captain;‖ the sailors and marines shouted as they ran up onto
the deck. ―The Lord has answered our prayers;‖ one of the men said softly to the captain as
he fell to his knees in thanks.
The captain thought back to the story of Captain Lang, and how the demon had sought
out only one man, seaman Cotter. It had returned for this fellow some days later though and
had taken him away. Now he was quite sure that this demon had sought him out, and only
him. And now he was convinced this creature would be returning for him also.
―No;‖ the captain answered loudly to the men, who stood almost cheering in their
He looked up into the moonlight and pointed, hand trembling, to the now barely
visible figure disappearing high into the clouds.
―The Lord has had no hand in this day‘s work lads. No! This is something else,
something very evil, and I don‘t believe we‘ve seen or heard the last of it, God help us all,‖
As he hurried back down the steps, the men looked about to each other with fear in
their eyes. Their brief stay of death short lived.
Because if the captain thought this about their situation, then they were sure it would
happen to them. This captain was seldom wrong about things, they felt. This fearless captain
had led them through many engagements with the enemy and had always been right.
Captain Bingham retrieved the Bible from the passageway floor, gripped it tightly
under his arm and slammed the cabin door as he wiped a tear from his eye.
As the Boeing 707 approached Ireland, Otis clenched his huge fists around the end of
the arm rests until his knuckles turned white. The pilot had just announced that they would be
landing at Shannon Airport in about fifteen minute‘s time, approaching from the west, and he
wondered why they volunteered this useless piece of information. Because as far as Otis was
concerned, he would rather they said nothing until the goddamn plane was on the ground.
He hated flying, and not just because of the dangers involved. But now well into his
forties, and after many years of Sarah‘s cooking, he had increased in girth so much that
before take-off, in his embarrassment, the seat belt, even on full adjustment had taken him
three attempts to lock in. Sarah jokingly remarked that she would ask the hostess for an
extension strap. But Otis simply responded by flashing his teeth in a broad grin as he gave her
one of his looks. A look and smile he had perfected over the years which made him resemble
a black Burt Lancaster. ―Sure thing honey,‖ he said, mimicking and sounding just like Burt
Lancaster himself, as he moved his head in the Burt way, which caused her to laugh loudly.
His medical discharge from the force had been tough, but Sarah was there for him,
Wife, lover, cook, and above all best friend. He loved her flowing red hair and her special
smile. A smile that could send his pulse racing, and her Irish accent that he never tired of
hearing. At least on that score life had been kind to him.
* * * * *
Sarah had recently inherited a house in Ireland after her favourite uncle, Patrick, had
suddenly passed away, and the couple had decided to leave racist sixties America, move to
Ireland and live at the house. Patrick, her father‘s brother, had never married, and therefore
had no children of his own, but he had loved Sarah like a father. And because Sarah was an
only child, Patrick had spoiled her since she was a baby. Then, when her mother had taken
her to America, he was heartbroken, but could do little about it as her mother and he were
barely on speaking terms. Sarah never did find out the reason why though. In any event, he
had never forgotten Sarah, and had remembered her in his will. The house he had bequeathed
to her was only about a mile from where she had spent her youth, deep in the south of
Ireland, in a little village named Cappawhite. As Sarah stared out of the window of the
aircraft, she thought about Otis, and her mind wandered back to the time when it had all
began for them.
* * * * *
She had just reached her teens when her father had been killed in a freak accident on
the farm where he worked, and her mother had then taken her to America. There they would
stay with Sarah‘s Aunt Polly in Boston, and Sarah, who was only thirteen years of age when
the accident happened, was heartbroken. Sarah cried almost every night for weeks, finding it
hard at first to adapt to the American way of life.
Then after a couple of years, and just as Sarah was starting to settle down, her mother
announced that she was going to be married again, to Don Parker. Parker was a guy Sarah
disliked immensely. Parker, she felt, was a sleaze of a man, who would leer at her, try to
touch her, and say rude things to her when her mother wasn‘t about. Not that Sarah thought
her mother would have cared too much about it anyway. Like the time he smashed his glass
deliberately against the wall one night while in one of his many mood swings, blaming it on
Sarah, and her mother had sided with him, not caring to listen to anything she would say.
Her mother had then informed her that they would be moving to the suburbs of Los
Angeles, his city, and Sarah felt betrayed. She had only started to make new friends here, and
was actually getting to like the place. Protest as she might though, her mother would not
listen and her objections fell on deaf ears. However, Sarah later enrolled in drama class.
Anything to get out of a house where her mother still behaved like a love struck teenager,
showing absolutely no respect to the memory of her dead and loving father.
* * * * *
It had almost been six years since Sarah left Ireland, and the years had passed by
quickly for her. Now her thoughts were completely immersed in her guest list, which she had
been meticulously planning for her eighteenth birthday which would be in around four
week‘s time. She was looking forward to the event, sighing joyously at the prospect of it, but
fate however was to intervene.
The three youths had been casing out JJ‘s diner for the past fortnight, deciding it
would be an easy hit, with only an old man, and one or maybe two waitresses. Now there
would be no more watching the place, tonight they would put their plan into action. They
were three brothers, the oldest being only nineteen, but they were streetwise, each having
served juvenile detention, and they were ready.
The shift had began like any other at the restaurant with the usual complaints,
customers coming and going, some tipping well, some not so well, and Sarah would be glad
when her shift was over, as she had some more finishing touches to add to her guest list of
friends for the party. Johnston Jerome was very decent with her on that score, and she had
been allowed to be very flexible with her hours.
Sarah would normally finish at nine-thirty, but if things weren‘t so busy, like tonight,
Mr Jerome would let her go home early. A tall gangling man with a hooked nose, he had
never quite gotten over the tragic death of his daughter at two years of age. He was so proud
back then to have become a father as he approached his fiftieth birthday, although sadly, fate
had also dealt him a deadly hand. This was when his little daughter drowned in the pond at
the back of the house, which had left him with a burden of guilt that he would always carry
with him for the rest of his life.
Little Aimee would have been about Sarah‘s age, had she lived, and sometimes when
Sarah wasn‘t looking he would stare at her, thinking of how his little Aimee would have
looked now, had she lived.
His wife Martha couldn‘t cope with the loss though, and had to be institutionalised six
months after Aimee‘s death. Johnston had regularly visited her, even though she would never
speak one word to him. That is until his last visit, when she screamed murderer at him, over
and over again, and almost gouged his eyes out.
He stopped visiting after that, and Martha died four months later. Since then he had
put his work and time into his restaurant, but there wasn‘t a day passed that he didn‘t think of
the two of them.
―You go on ahead Sarah, place is empty anyhow,‖ he moaned, ―I‘ll finish here and
―Why thank you, Mr Jerome,‖ she answered.
―It‘s Johnston,‖ he said smiling, ―Johnston,‖ he repeated, and Sarah couldn‘t stifle a
giggle as she thought about his name, which seemed to her to be back to front. It was nine
o‘clock and Sarah was just starting to leave when the three hooded men entered. Her body
jerked rigid as she looked at the guns in the men‘s hands. ―W-what do you want?‖ she
stuttered as the tall one raised his automatic.
―Get the fucking money,‖ he barked. ―Move it bitch.‖ Sarah found herself unable to
move and felt glued to the spot, as a fear she had never known before engulfed her body.
* * * * *
Three miles away a young Otis Tweedy and his partner, veteran cop Lewis Sanko
were nearing the end of their three-to-eleven shift. A light rain shower covered the patrol
car‘s windscreen, and a cold breeze outside made them glad they had been assigned to mobile
duty instead of the beat. The Second World War had ended over four years previously, and
Otis, too young to join the fighting men then, had now made it into the Los Angeles Police
department as part of a new recruitment drive. A new government policy that now allowed
coloured men to be integrated into the police force, and he was proud to be a first.
This was his second week on the job since he had finished his basic training, and he
was enjoying every minute of it. Lewis, an old veteran, liked the kid, regardless of his colour,
and had not hesitated when the chief partnered the young rookie off with him. He
remembered the feelings he had; way back forty years, when he had first joined the force. A
young, naive Texas kid, who would soon learn things the hard way. Lewis had known it
would only be a matter of time before blacks would be allowed into the force, and he
personally welcomed the move, even though most of his colleagues objected strongly,
including the chief. The President had decided though, and that was good enough for him, he
felt. Lewis wasn‘t afraid to air his views on the matter either, and to hell with what the others
Lewis though was mostly well liked among most of his colleagues, a tall, balding
heavy set man, he had been married to Beverly for the last thirty years, and he had been
looking forward to his retirement in eight months, when he and Bev, (as he had always called
her,) would be going on the fishing holiday of a lifetime, to Canada. It had been a long time
since they had been on vacation outside the States, what with the war and all, and Lewis was
counting the days.
―Hit the gas son,‖ Lewis ordered, ―and take us in.‖
―Speed limit,‖ Otis jokingly answered, as Lewis stared back at him.
―What the hell are you talking about? You‘re a cop now. Speed limit my ass, you
goddamn rookie,‖ Lewis replied with a laugh in his voice, his Texas drawl still prominent.
Lewis, still smiling shook his head as he stared at Otis.
―It seems kind of peaceful and quiet tonight,‖ Otis remarked.
―Peaceful and quiet,‖ bellowed Lewis. ―Peaceful and quiet,‖ he repeated. ―Why, don‘t
push it son, tonight‘s a one off. You know this time next month you may just have notched up
a half dozen crazies on your belt, then maybe you can call yourself a cop, and then you can
tell me it‘s goddamn peaceful,‖ Lewis mumbled.
―You ever had to shoot anyone Lewis?‖
―Sure have son,‖ Lewis boasted. ―Shot so many goddamn crazy people they want to
name a cemetery in my honour.‖
Otis sat quiet for a moment before he questioned Lewis further. ―It must make you
feel bad later though, having to shoot someone, I mean, knowing that you‘re responsible for
their death. How do you manage to cope with something like that?‖
Lewis stared at Otis for a moment and laughed.
―Listen son,‖ Lewis said, ―don‘t be so goddamn serious, I‘m only kidding you, I ain‘t
ever shot anyone, and I ain‘t ever been shot. I was stabbed once though; by a lady of the night
when I tried to arrest her. Why the bitch almost severed my little finger,‖ he moaned as he
held his open hand up to the rear view mirror and turned it from side to side, slowly
inspecting it. ―But if some asshole is threatening to shoot me or anyone else,‖ he went on,
―then I‘ll blow his sorry fucking ass back to where it came from, and no mistake, wouldn‘t
even give it a goddamn second thought. Then I‘ll go to bed and sleep like a damn baby.‖
Lewis made his hand into the shape of a gun and waved it about. ―C‘mon you crazy
bastards,‖ he yelled.
Otis shook his head from side to side, unable to figure this guy out. ―Five minutes to
the precinct,‖ Otis said. ―Oh and by the way, you‘re a fruitcake,‖ he offered as an
afterthought, and laughed.
Lewis didn‘t answer immediately, but sat with a grin on his face that reminded Otis of
Oliver Hardy, as he played with his tie in the same Oliver Hardy way. A full minute later
Lewis broke the silence, ―Fishing,‖ he said, as he put his hands behind his neck and leaned
back in the seat scratching his head. ―Huh?‖ Otis mumbled.
―Fishing,‖ repeated Lewis. ―That‘s what I plan to do when I retire next year. Ever do
any fishing son?‖ Lewis asked.
Otis was about to answer but Lewis pressed on, ignoring him. ―Why, I plan to go
down to the lake every single day, big damn catfish in there the size of a goddamn shark, and
I‘m going to whip his big sorry ass, yesireebob, you see if I don‘t,‖ he said loudly, as he
pointed at Otis.
Suddenly a man ran into the middle of the road, arms waving, and Otis had to brake
hard to avoid hitting him as the car side swept to a stop. ―What the hell?‖ Lewis yelled.
―Cover me boy,‖ he ordered, and then he was out of the car. The light rain had made the road
shine like a mirror, reflecting the bright lights of the numerous bars and restaurants that lined
the avenue, giving it an almost picture postcard effect, the brightly lit sign of JJ‘s eclipsing
them all. Almost at once the man was level with Lewis. ―Hold it,‖ Lewis ordered, aiming his
weapon at him as the breathless man broke in.
―There‘s something up at JJ‘s,‖ the frightened man wheezed, as he struggled hard for
breath, ―three fellows ran inside, carrying guns and,‖ he coughed ―they‘re wearing hoods
with, you know, holes in the, um and th…‖
―Call for backup right away,‖ Lewis interrupted.
Otis shouted down the mike, ―possible two-eleven in progress, JJ‘s diner, Garfield
Control answered immediately and the sound of, ―all units, all units,‖ echoed from the
radio as Otis sprang from the car, pulled his weapon from his holster, and started to run
―Come back here Tweedy, you stupid asshole,‖ Lewis barked, and Otis stopped in his
tracks. ―What are you trying to do here? Get yourself goddamn killed? Well, not on my
retirement plan you‘re not. If you‘re going to die at least try and wait until you‘re an old man.
Now get back in the damn car,‖ Lewis ordered.
Otis walked slowly back to the car, feeling like a schoolboy who had just been
scolded by the head teacher. Tweedy, Lewis had called him, not Otis, and he felt offended by
his older partner‘s unfriendly reaction toward him. ―We‘ll wait for the cavalry,‖ Lewis
* * * * *
Inside JJ‘s the tall one spoke again, ―I said get me the fucking money bitch. Now
move your ass or you‘re gonna get it,‖ he snarled.
Sarah could tell they were Hispanic, even with their makeshift hoods covering their
faces. ―Please don‘t hurt us,‖ she cried.
The smallest of the trio lashed out and hit her across the face with his automatic,
cutting her cheek and lips, and sending a small spray of blood across the counter. ―Just do it,
bitch,‖ he scowled. Johnston looked at Sarah, who was now reeling from the blow, and he felt
a sudden rush of anger rise inside him.
He could remember his wife‘s last words to him on his final visit to her, ―murderer,‖
she had called him, ―murderer.‖ And the damn thing about it was that it was true. It was as
true as if he had drowned their little daughter himself. Wasn‘t he the one who had wanted the
pond out the back garden, and wasn‘t he the one who was left to baby-sit their child while his
wife worked part time in the laundry? Wasn‘t he also the one who was so engrossed in the
ball game that he didn‘t notice little Aimee sneak out back and fall into the pond, drowning in
ten inches of water?
His gaze shifted to the man who now had Sarah firmly gripped by her hair, all the
while screaming obscenities into her ear, and striking her again and again as he dragged her
across the floor. Johnston quickly stretched over, unseen, across the counter beside the
vegetable rack, and picked up a large knife he had placed there earlier.
Johnston pushed his body away toward the centre of the room, grabbing the man
holding Sarah. Without warning, he quickly tore the mask away from the robber‘s face, only
to discover that this was no man. Why, this was only a boy, a boy of about eighteen years of
age, he felt, and Johnston paused for a moment.
The other robber who until now had done and said nothing, aimed his sawn off
shotgun at Johnston and fired both barrels, striking Johnston in the back and side, and hitting
Sarah full in the pelvis, sending the blood spraying in every direction. Johnston was still on
his feet though, but he already knew he was beyond hope. He looked down in terror and
disbelief at Sarah, who was writhing on the floor, and his anger reached new heights.
Johnston had been top pitcher at his school, and was master at arm wrestling against
all the other boys, once beating four boys in succession. That however, was a long time ago,
and it had been many years since he had indulged in that sort of activity. But he was still
strong for a man of his age, and although losing blood rapidly, he pushed his dying body for
its last reserves of strength. Now he didn‘t think of them as boys, they had come here to rob
and kill, and that‘s what they were, cold-blooded heartless killers who deserved no mercy.
Johnston held the robber tightly with his free hand, and swung the knife around in an
arc. The struggling youth sensed what was coming next and his eyes widened with fear,
widened so much they looked as though they were about to pop out of his head.
―No!‖ The tall one yelled as the knife entered his brother‘s neck, and ripped clean
through to the other side, sending blood spiralling out in all directions.
The youth staggered backward, his lips tried to speak, begging for help, but the blood
filled his mouth now, and the only sound he could make was the gurgling in his throat, as the
warm blood cascaded down over his chest, streaking his white jacket red. His hand
desperately but fruitlessly tried to dislodge the knife as his shocked body started to convulse.
The tall one fired his automatic now, sending at least another four rounds into
Johnston‘s back, but still he did not fall, and the robber drew back, frightened by the man‘s
strength. Then Johnston looked up, and there they stood. The two figures at the end of the
counter were smiling and beckoning him to come to them, motioning him through the haze of
the room, and arms outstretched, he stumbled toward them, smiling. It was his wife and
daughter, together again, he could see them clearly, waving at him, urging him, and he forced
himself closer to them. They had returned for him, forgiven him, arms raised to him, and now
at last they would be together again, forever.
He tried to force himself to speak to them, but the blood pumping up through his nose
and mouth, gagged him, and he gave up and simply smiled at them. He was still smiling
when he closed his eyes for the last time, and he raised his hand as he crashed heavily down
onto the floor.
* * * * *
On hearing the first shots Otis leapt from the police car and ran toward the entrance of
―Come back,‖ Lewis screamed, but this time Otis wasn‘t for listening. ―Crazy fucking
kid,‖ Lewis grumbled, but he followed Otis anyway. Otis ran into the hallway and slammed
up against the wall for cover. Hearing the girl scream, he knew he would have to go in, but
just then Lewis‘s voice rang out again, ―Jesus H. Christ, Tweedy,‖ he yelled. ―Who told you
to leave the damn car?‖ Otis ignored Lewis‘s latest outburst and was surprised at how he
could still think so rationally, as he found himself wondering what his favourite actor John
Wayne would do if he were here in this situation.
He had gone to the movies just the previous week to see his new movie, She wore a
yellow ribbon, and he had enjoyed it so much that it was still fresh in his mind. Why big John
would just dive in, guns blazing, he thought, and then there would be three less robbers to
worry about. But this was real life, not some stage play or film set where they only shoot
blanks, and this wasn‘t acting. Maybe he should have listened to Lewis, he felt. But now it
was too late anyway, he was here. Suddenly another scream filled his ears and he knew he
had to make his move. He was afraid, but his adrenaline kicked in and he went for it, kicking
open the door and bravely diving into the main room.
The robber with the sawn-off had now reloaded, and he swung the barrels menacingly
around toward Otis. Otis levelled his gun, aimed it at the man, then hesitated. He had never
shot anyone before, not so much as a possum, and his finger felt numb as it froze on the
trigger. An explosion beside his head, followed quickly by five more, almost blew his
eardrum out. It was Lewis, gun blazing, blasting away at the robbers. Move over John Wayne,
Here was a real hero, Lewis Sanko, his partner, wasting the bad guys.
Suddenly one of the robbers started firing back and Otis returned the compliment.
Squeezing the trigger time and time again, feeling the gun kicking in his hand, until, when
empty, the kicking stopped. Everything was silent now and all that remained was a room full
of smoke, upturned tables, and the stench of cordite that hung in the air. As the smoke cleared
Otis could see the bodies on the floor, five in all. Someone on the floor was moving, a girl.
―Help me,‖ she pleaded to the handsome young black cop approaching her.
Otis removed a gent‘s coat that was hanging from a rail and placed it under Sarah‘s
head. ―Hang in there missy, ambulance is on the way,‖ he said softly, while in the distance he
could hear the sirens. ―Cavalry‘s coming,‖ he shouted behind him in Lewis‘s direction, but
Lewis didn‘t hear him. Lewis would never hear him again, because Lewis was dead. Even
before Otis got to him he knew his partner was beyond help. Lewis had been shot in the head,
and half of it was gone. Then the ambulance crews arrived, and a sobbing Otis, now on his
knees, ushered them toward the girl with one hand as he rocked Lewis‘s head with the other.
Against all of his experience and self preservation, Lewis had stormed in, stormed
into a bloodbath to save his young charge, caution to the wind and had paid the ultimate
penalty. Otis felt overwhelmed with guilt and grief as he gently lowered Lewis to the floor.
Why, this crazy white guy had saved him.
Then he stood up, hands dripping Lewis‘s blood, and slowly made his way through
the crowds of police, medics and detectives who were rapidly filling the place. He found the
girl being rushed out on a stretcher and he gripped her hand. ―You‘re gonna be alright,‖ he
sobbed, and as she squeezed his bloodied hand he was aware and amazed at her strength.
―Will you come visit me,‖ Sarah asked.
―Yeah, if you wish, I‘ll come visit with you,‖ he promised, his head still spinning as
they closed the ambulance doors.
Sarah later spent five hours on the operating table before the surgeons announced that
the operation had been successful; she would pull through.
Otis kept his word, visiting Sarah regularly at the hospital after this, and a bond
formed between them, so much so that when she was released from hospital they started
dating. And even though Sarah‘s mother was totally against the relationship, telling Sarah
that she would ruin her life by getting involved with a coloured man, Sarah totally dismissed
her advice. After all, it wasn‘t long after Sarah‘s injury when Don Parker finally dropped her
mother for a younger woman. The distraught woman hit the bottle hard after this and no one
could give her advice or even reason with her, and so Sarah had let things take their own
It wasn‘t long before the couple fell in love, and it wasn‘t too long either before Otis
proposed, and Sarah had no hesitation in accepting.
As the years rolled along it was clear to everyone just how much the couple were
devoted to each other, as they spent all their free time together. Otis loved his job though. He
had gained much experience in his almost twenty years now of policing and felt he was
accomplishing something good in the force, especially when he could help some of the kids
to learn to have some respect for themselves and everyone else.
* * * * *
The last call Otis was ever to make on the force had been a domestic. A drunken guy
had been threatening his wife with a loaded flare gun, and Otis and his partner, Eric Little
Feather, a full blood Lakota Sioux Indian, had been assigned to the call. Eric had managed to
persuade the guy to put the weapon down on the floor and was just about to cuff the verbally
abusive man who continued to shout racial remarks. These insults were not addressed toward
Eric, but at the handsome black cop who was talking to his irrational drunken wife. Suddenly
and without warning he took a swipe at Eric, knocking him off balance before kicking him
violently. With lightning speed the man pulled out a knife and stabbed Eric in the back as
Eric tried hard to keep his balance. The deranged man was about to stab Eric again when Otis
responded with even greater speed, shooting him twice, and sending him sprawling across the
floor. Although badly hurt, Eric noticed the woman quickly pick up the flare gun, and Otis
didn‘t hear Eric shout a warning as the woman aimed it at Otis and pulled the trigger. Eric
watched helpless as one side of Otis‘s head and shoulder exploded in a white ball of flame,
and Otis fell unconscious to the floor. Eric, although losing blood and badly wounded,
instinctively ran to help his badly injured partner, beating out the flames with his cap, and
burning his hands badly in the process.
When back up arrived, Eric, who had collapsed bleeding onto a chair, revolver in
hand, was cursing and threatening to shoot the woman, who was sitting silently weeping on
the floor. Otis was still unconscious when they took him away, and at the hospital they had
revealed that he had suffered second degree burns to one side of his face. The doctors had
worked on him for hours, but apart from the burns, Otis also lost an eye and spent a long time
To be commissioned out of the force, especially in the American sixties, with the
racism and unemployment so high was a dire prospect for a black man. This was exactly
what was to happen to him though. Otis managed to struggle by on his payout, but the next
few years became a problem for him as he tried to deal with his deformity, as well as the loss
of the job he loved. However, with Sarah‘s care and devotion he gradually began to accept
the situation, although Sarah assured him that it didn‘t make one bit of difference to her how
badly he was scarred, because she still loved him as much as she ever had.
The captain‘s voice interrupted their thoughts again, welcoming them to Ireland, and
Otis squeezed Sarah‘s hand and smiled. He would try to be happy with her here. He was just
sorry he couldn‘t give her the children she had desired, but this could never be, as the injury
she had received all those years ago had cruelly ended any hope of this. Still, she was home
As they stepped through the doorway of the aircraft, a fierce cold October wind blew
at their faces and Otis pulled up his coat collar and shrugged. ―Damn,‖ he remarked to Sarah,
as she huddled tightly into him. ―So this is Ireland,‖ he groaned. ―Damn place feels more like
Siberia.‖ They collected their cases and then proceeded to collect the Ford Consul which they
had pre-rented with great difficulty before they left the States; they would buy one later.
Sarah had already explained to Otis that Ireland was way behind America in
technology, and everything else for that matter, the pace of life being a lot slower, but that in
time he would get used to it. ―Roads are damn small,‖ exclaimed Otis, feeling happy that he
had let Sarah drive, and especially with his limited vision. Sarah ignored him and continued
driving the car through the narrow winding countryside. ―My first impression is that the Irish
people seem very friendly though. Those airport guys were real hospitable,‖ he said as if in
―Yes, Irish people are like that,‖ Sarah agreed.
―When do you think the Irish will realise that they drive on the wrong side of the
road?‖ Otis asked jokingly, but Sarah simply gave him a stern side glance. Better keep quiet,
―Not far now to our new home,‖ Sarah announced, as they passed through the little
village of Doon and sped on down the road toward Cappawhite. Even though it was starting
to rain and there was a strong wind blowing outside the car, Otis was amazed at the beautiful
surroundings of emerald green fields and hills that swept into the distance, forming little
valleys of their own as they moulded into one another.
The land of myths and legends, he thought. ―I think we‘ll be fine here honey,‖ he said,
―just fine.‖ He put his arm around her shoulder and smiled.
―Did you know that from Cappawhite we‘re only about eight miles from Tipperary?‖
Sarah informed him.
―Yes honey, I believe you have mentioned that to me before,‖ Otis laughed.
―I have?‖ Sarah answered, unable to remember saying anything to Otis about it.
―Just about a hundred times,‖ Otis replied, and Sarah looked disbelievingly at him,
her eyes squinting.
―Do you know what the name Cappawhite, or An Cheapach as it‘s known in the Irish
language means?‖ Sarah asked him.
―No, I don‘t think you mentioned that one.‖ he said as Sarah sped on.
―It means, the plot of land,‖ she answered smiling, and somehow she felt as though
she had gotten one up on him.
―Well I‘ll be, you just learn something new every damn day,‖ Otis answered
sarcastically, as he mimicked to her in a southern drawl accent and Sarah slapped him hard
on the hand and laughed.
As they drove into the village, Sarah was amazed at how little it had changed from the
last time she had been here and she stopped the car at the side of the road and got out. A little
man riding on a very large cart, being pulled by a very small tired horse, trotted passed them,
and the little man stared inquisitively at them. ―Hi,‖ Sarah shouted at the man, throwing him
a friendly wave, but the man ignored her, cracking his whip at the small horse which
struggled to break into a gallop. Well, maybe they‟re not all friendly, she thought.
* * * * *
The old grocery shop and Armshaw‘s pub, five doors down, were still there, although
they looked different from what she could remember. New windows perhaps, or maybe
painted differently, she thought. Then there was the old school, her school, which hadn‘t
changed one bit since she last stepped through the wrought iron gates all those years ago, and
she wondered if Mrs McGill, her teacher, was still alive, although she would be an old
woman now if she were. Beautiful Elspeth McGill, she thought, with her flowing black hair,
and who had looked more like a movie star than a school teacher. This lady would teach the
girls to dance, that is until her drunken husband turned up at class one day and called her
filthy names, before beating her in front of the entire school, with some of the girls screaming
and crying. It had taken three policemen and a lot of violence to subdue and arrest him, and
Mrs McGill had never returned after that. Sarah later heard rumours that Mrs McGill had
been having an affair with the headmaster, Mr Blain, but she dismissed these rumours
immediately from her mind as being nonsense, considering Mrs McGill‘s beauty and the age
difference between her and old Mr Blain.
Sarah entered through the half open school gate and walked about fifteen feet along
the inside wall, knelt down, and pulled out a little loose brick from the wall and smiled. The
initials, S M and M T were still written inside the recess in black crayon, and had hardly
faded after all these years. Her own name, Sarah Maguire and her friend Maureen Thorne,
and she remembered the two of them writing this just before she had left for America. It
would be their secret, a friendship thing, and Sarah laughed aloud as she thought of Maureen.
Funny little Maureen, who could make her laugh more than anyone else. She was still
laughing as she walked back through the gates.
Otis cocked his head smiling as he wondered what his wife was so happy about, and
he thought about how homesick she must have been all those years they were married, but
said nothing. Next door to the school, at the corner, was the old Garda police station, just as
she remembered it. The police never had very much to do there when she was young, she felt,
except for the Mrs McGill episode, and she wondered if this had changed any over the years.
Sarah didn‘t hear Otis leave the car and sneak up behind her, and when he put his
arms around her waist she jumped. ―So this is your past,‖ he said softly, as he gently kissed
her neck, and Sarah in response held his arms tightly.
* * * * *
The house was about a half mile outside the village, and when they arrived they were
greeted by old Thomas McCabe and his wife Kathleen.
Thomas removed his cap and bowed, while Kathleen curtsied. ―Welcome sir,
madam,‖ they said in unison.
―Please hurry in out of the cold,‖ Kathleen added.
The house looked smaller than Sarah had remembered it. Perhaps this is the price of
growing up, she thought, and she was annoyed that she had over exaggerated the size of the
house to Otis long before they had left America, which now made her feel slightly
embarrassed. Otis seemed happy with it though and said nothing, so she wouldn‘t bring up
the subject again unless he did.
At the front of the house there was a small garden, which would need some tidying,
and at the rear there was an even larger one that was as big as a field, with at least a dozen
trees of different varieties.
A narrow road with just room enough for one car ran up the side of the house and
disappeared into the distant woods, and Otis, wondering where the road ended was just about
to ask when Thomas ushered the pair into the living room area of the house. The warmth
from the large turf fire that was glowing in the heavy stone fireplace greeted them. Sarah also
noticed that a small fire was also burning in the kitchen, which was a pleasant surprise on a
cold day like this, and she smiled at Tom, who pointed into the dining room, which was filled
with boxes of all sizes.
―Your belongings madam, arrived from America a few days ago,‖ he stated.
―Great,‖ Sarah replied with a grin.
―My wife will just make you both some tea,‖ Thomas proudly announced, as
Kathleen made for the stove.
―It was very kind of you to have the place ready for us,‖ Sarah remarked.
―Yeah, really appreciate it,‖ Otis said.
―Oh don‘t thank us sir,‖ Thomas replied, ―that‘s why the agency pays us. Anyway,
forecast says a storm‘s a coming, not that we pay much heed to those people, but just in case
the buggers are right this time, then we didn‘t want you catching your death from the cold.‖
Sarah stared out of the window for a moment and pondered at the narrow road
running up the side of the house before speaking. ―The old guest house up there in the
woods,‖ she said as she pointed toward the trees, ―do you know if it‘s still in use nowadays?‖
Kathleen had her back to Sarah, and so Sarah could not see the surprised look of horror on
Kathleen‘s face at the inquisitive question. Kathleen dropped a cup on the tiled floor,
smashing it to pieces, making old Thomas jump.
―Stupid bloody woman,‖ Thomas quipped, but Otis stepped over and helped Kathleen
clean up the mess. ―Thank you sir,‖ she said, embarrassed as Otis smiled at her.
―Well sir, madam, if we are no longer required then we will bid you both good night,‖
Otis removed a ten Irish punt note from his wallet and handed it to Thomas.
―Thanks for everything,‖ Otis said with a smile, and before Thomas had a chance to
pull up his jaw that had almost dropped down to his chest, Kathleen snatched the note from
him and forced it into her purse, clasping it shut and pushing the purse deep inside her apron
pocket. ―Thank you sir, but it‘s safer here, sure wouldn‘t he only drink it,‖ she declared.
As they were about to leave, Sarah repeated her question about the guest house to
Kathleen, and was amazed at her stern response. ―Look ma‘am,‖ Kathleen answered, her
cheeks turning bright red. ―The house that you are talking about has not been a guest house
for many years now. Old Mary Doyle lives up there though, has done for a long time, but if
you take my advice you will stay away from that house. There have been frightening rumours
about strange goings on up there, things you shouldn‘t meddle in. Take fair warning mind,
and stay away from that place.‖
As they left the house they began to argue and Otis wondered if they were arguing
over the tip, or the question of the old house up the road, which seemed to annoy them. As
Otis wandered around inspecting their new home he noticed an old horseshoe surrounded
with shamrocks nailed to the back door. Some words were written underneath, but they were
in Irish. ―What‘s this all about honey?‖ He asked.
―Oh it‘s for good luck, an Irish thing. It‘s also supposed to keep evil spirits away,‖ she
―Evil spirits huh? Well I‘ll be,‖ Otis whispered as he rubbed the horseshoe and
muttered something that Sarah couldn‘t make out.
―We‘ll need some more supplies,‖ Sarah informed him as she checked out the
cupboards. ―Nothing that can‘t wait until tomorrow though,‖ she muttered to herself. Later
that night, as the couple lay in bed Otis pulled his funny Burt Lancaster face and threw the
voice that was just like the real thing as he tickled her neck.
―Wanna make out some, Mrs Tweedy? Huh?‖ Otis‘s grin almost lit up the room and
―Um, not tonight Burt, but I‘ll get back to you on that one. I‘ll contact your agent,‖
* * * * *
Next day Otis drove the couple down into the village and they stopped at the corner
shop. Sarah entered the little shop that she hadn‘t stepped foot inside for almost thirty years
and was immediately stunned. She felt as if she had just passed back through the years and
came out of some sort of time machine. The inside of the shop hadn‘t changed a bit from
what she could remember, with the shelves bulging out to capacity, just as they were back
then. The unopened boxes of different products stacked against the walls and covering most
of the floor space was the same as before, and Sarah had to dodge around a few of them.
Then, as she stared at the old woman behind the counter, a thousand memories came
flooding back to her. Even though the woman had aged a lot since then, Sarah instantly
recognised her. It was Constantine Murphy, the friendliest woman in the village, she
reckoned. This woman, Sarah remembered, was always so kind to everyone when Sarah was
a child. Constantine had just taken over the shop then. She would often give extra measures
out to people, and sometimes for free to the needy, and even then Sarah wondered how she
had managed to stay in business. Here she was though, still going strong after all this time.
Constantine would have been about forty years old way back then, Sarah thought, but she
supposed Constantine really hadn‘t changed that much since.
―Hi,‖ Sarah said, as she checked the little list of goods she would need to purchase.
―Hello to yourself,‖ the old woman answered as she eyed Sarah with interest. It had
been a while since a stranger had entered her shop, especially with winter coming in fast, and
normally with no tourists at this time of year. It seemed odd to her. Just as Sarah looked up,
their eyes met, and Sarah spoke first.
―Constantine, am I right?‖ Sarah probed.
―I don‘t think I‘m familiar with you, do I know you darlin?‖ the old woman asked
with a puzzled expression on her face.
―Well, maybe, I mean, I hope, I think so,‖ Sarah mumbled. ―I was born here in the
village, but my mother and I left to live in America when I was a child, after my dad was
killed in the farming accident. I still remember you though, um, Sarah‘s my name, Sarah
―Sarah Tweedy, Sarah Tweedy,‖ the old woman whispered as she tried to recall the
As the old woman studied her face for recognition, Sarah spoke again. ―Sorry, it was
Sarah Maguire back then, before I was married.‖
―Sweet mother of Jesus,‖ the old woman replied as she ran around the counter and
embraced Sarah. ―Now how could I have ever forgotten a pretty face like yours my dear?‖
―What brings you back to Ireland my dear?‖
―I, we‘re living here now,‖ Sarah corrected, ―Otis, my husband and I, at Uncle Pat‘s
house,‖ she added.
―Well, he was a fine man, your Uncle Patrick, as was your father,‖ the old woman
said smiling, ―I still remember them as though it were yesterday,‖ she added.
Constantine remembered the family only too well. The scandal that rocked the town
back then still reverberated around the countryside. She was sure the lady standing in front of
her was unaware of the situation though. Because had this fine featured woman have known
about the situation, Constantine was certain she would not have come within a thousand
miles of Cappawhite.
And as far as the story of Sarah‘s father being killed in an accident went, well,
everyone back then knew that the hard working man had blown his own head off with his
shotgun. He just couldn‘t live with the fact that Sarah had been the product of an illicit affair
with his wife and his brother Patrick.
He hadn‘t spoken to Patrick for some years after he had found out, but they all agreed
later that Sarah was never to know. Sarah was unaware that he was more than an uncle to her
and could never understand why he was so overly kind to her when she visited him.
Patrick had never spoken to Sarah‘s mother again though, even though the woman
wrote constantly to him, expressing her love.
When she knew it was hopeless, Sarah‘s mother took the only course she knew and
wanted, revenge. She fled with their daughter to America, leaving Patrick broken hearted for
the daughter he would never see again. This scorned woman would make this man pay for
Constantine would not reveal what she knew though. Some things were better kept
* * * * *
Twenty minutes later Otis was getting impatient. He left the car and entered the shop
very slowly. The two women were reminiscing so much that they didn‘t notice him come in.
―Hi,‖ Otis said as the old woman went quiet and walked quickly behind the counter. ―My
husband Otis,‖ Sarah stated proudly.
―Oh!‖ Constantine mumbled, in a cold and unfriendly manner. Sarah could instantly
sense Constantine‘s disapproval of her being married to a black man and this made her feel
Otis could feel the old woman‘s resentment as well, but he held out his hand and gave
her a friendly smile anyway. As she reluctantly and loosely shook his hand, she forced a half
Sarah felt embarrassed, but Otis simply shrugged it off.
Why can‟t people see Otis for the man he is? Sarah angrily thought.
As they left the little shop, Otis was just about to drive away when old Constantine
appeared at the passenger window of the car and tapped loudly on it. Sarah quickly rolled the
window down and the old woman leaned inside the car. ―There is a house up in the woods,
beside you,‖ she said.
―Yes, we know about it,‖ Otis replied, ―the Doyle house.‖
―Yes, Mrs Doyle‘s house,‖ the old woman corrected.
―What about it?‖ Sarah questioned, pretending she knew nothing about the place.
Constantine didn‘t even notice Sarah‘s dry reaction toward her.
―Stay away from there,‖ Constantine said, and was about to say more when an old
man turned the corner and hobbled into her shop. Constantine had changed over the years.
There would be no free-loaders in her shop these days. Those days of free handouts had long
gone. And even old men like this one could steal from her, she believed. Now Constantine
trusted no one.
The old woman turned quickly away to follow the old man into the shop, but paused
to look back over her shoulder. ―There‘s nothing for you up there. Stay away‖ she said
loudly. ―Nothing for you,‖ she repeated and walked abruptly on.
As they drove away Otis noticed that Sarah had gone very quiet. ―Superstition honey,
that‘s all it is,‖ he said, and as Sarah quickly glanced around at him, he somehow got the
feeling that the situation unnerved her. But it was Constantine‘s reaction towards Otis that
had made Sarah behave like this, and she found it hard to control her emotions. She loved
Otis, and no one was going to damn well change that. It was the man she loved, not the
As they pulled up at the house Otis remarked that the weather was getting worse, but
they had so much work to do inside the place that they didn‘t care anyway. It would take
weeks to get the house fixed up properly. Everything would sort itself out in the end though,
Later that night down in the village, Armshaw‘s pub was in full swing; the locals
uncaring about the worsening weather outside were drinking and pouring their hearts out to
each other. Old Mick O‘Neil was guzzling down a whiskey at the bar, as Matt the barman
and owner eyed him intently. Everyone in the place knew old Mick, who as far back as
anyone could remember had always been there. Even so, no one could have guessed at his
age, which he would never talk about anyway, and although anyone could have been excused
for thinking him over eighty years old, in reality he was no more than sixty-five.
Mick had been the only son in the family, although his seven sisters made growing up
very eventful, and even though the regulars knew him to be a drunk, this was not always the
case. Many years before this, and after his father‘s early death, which Mick believed was the
result of a broken heart, when his mother had succumbed to the cancer, Mick had inherited
At age twenty-two, and with four sisters unmarried and still living at the farm, home
life was pretty hard, and the working hours long. Still, Mick made the best of it, and when he
met Mary Donnelly, the prettiest girl for a thousand miles in any direction, he reckoned, well,
somehow it made all the hard work worthwhile. It was the happiest day of his life when he
proposed to Mary and she accepted whole heartedly. Mary found life at the farm dull and
boring though, and longed for her husband to sell up and move to America. This was a land
she had heard and read so much about, a land where everyone was going, and a land where
their dreams could come true.
Mary had pleaded with Mick to consider this on many occasions, but Mick however
had other ideas. With four sisters, a wife and a farm to look after, he couldn‘t even
contemplate such a notion. In any event, the farm had been handed down from generation to
generation, and he was not going to be the one to end the cycle now.
No! When he had children, as he planned to, then they could carry on where he left
off. The couple seemed happy enough though, and whenever they would visit town, which
was often, heads would turn, some in envy at the handsome pair.
The next few years went past pretty much the same, with Mary constantly going on
about America, and Mick putting her off with his unrelenting attitude, and then it happened.
* * * * *
It was a bright sunny day and Mick was working hard in the fields when the sickness
started. Mick ignored the cramps in his stomach at first, but as they worsened over the next
few days he had to take to his bed, letting the women tend to the farming duties. Then the
pain would ease up and disappear, and Mick would go back to running the place again, only
to have the cramps and pain return tenfold.
This went on over the next few months; Mick would fall sick, only to get well again.
The doctor, old doc Adams, said he was run down, probably due to all the worry of trying to
run the farm, and Mick‘s married sister Meg, decided that he was to come and stay with her
for a few weeks, away from the place and the stress that it was causing him. Mick reluctantly
agreed to this, but felt it would do him no good.
Two weeks later though, Mick was fighting fit, and he decided to return home again,
against Meg‘s wishes.
Two months later he would have to return again to Megs, and two weeks after this he
once more recovered.
What the bloody hell is wrong with me? Mick thought.
It was less than a week later since returning from Meg‘s place, that Mick was again
out working in the fields. He felt the pain return, much worse this time though, burning and
burrowing its way through his stomach, and he staggered back to the farmhouse and slumped
down at the table. Now, and for the first time in his life, he sat down and seriously pondered
about selling the farm. Yes, he would sell up and take them all, the whole kit and caboodle
and start afresh in America.
He would go and inform Mary and the girls of his decision as soon as this damn
sickness and pain left him, he decided. Mick was still sitting in pain at the table twenty
minutes later, when his young sister Bridget appeared at his side, and she looked ashen white.
―What‘s wrong child?‖ Mick asked. Bridget did not answer him straight away, but stared
silently at him for a moment, making him feel uncomfortable. ―What the hell is it, Bridget?‖
he asked again as he winced in pain.
―I‘ve been looking all over the fields for you, Mick,‖ she exclaimed loudly. ―It‘s
Mary.‖ Her voice was hoarse and sad, and something bad was taking place here, he felt. Mick
sprang up from the chair and ignored his pain, his concern now only for his wife. ―What‘s
wrong with Mary? Answer me girl,‖ he shouted, panic in his voice. He was about to run out
when Bridget grabbed his sleeve and tugged him back. ―I‘ve seen her,‖ she stuttered.
―You‘ve seen her?‖ Mick replied, puzzled.
―I‘ve seen Mary put something, she put something in your tea earlier today, and I
watched unseen from the stairs as she placed a small package at the back of that cupboard,‖
she exclaimed, pointing across the room.
―Show me child,‖ Mick ordered her, now feeling confused and angry.
Bridget reached up to an old cupboard that was seldom used, opened the door and
peered inside. ―There, it‘s there,‖ she said. Mick looked into the cupboard and stared for a
moment, hoping above hope that Bridget was wrong, and that he himself was mistaken in
what he was now thinking.
He removed an old teapot and then a small green sack bag containing snuff. All that
was left was an old broken cup. As he searched through the small snuff bag he looked
puzzled. ―Now why in God‘s name would Mary put snuff in my tea?‖ Mick said, smiling
through his pain at the girl. But Bridget, solemn faced, simply nudged him and pointed to the
broken cup. Mick slowly and with hesitation, lifted the cup from the shelf and peered inside,
his smile now disappearing fast.
A small folded envelope lay in its bottom and Mick lifted it out, opened it, and stared
in horror at the white powder it contained. He had killed the farm rats with the stuff on many
occasions and he knew immediately what the envelope contained. ―What is it?‖ Bridget
Mick stared hard at the contents for some time before he answered.
―Arsenic,‖ Mick whispered, as he quickly slammed the bag onto the table and ran
outside, where he forced himself to be sick.
When he returned back to the room, he sat down and lowered his head into his hands
and silently wept. He didn‘t want to believe this, but here it was, and at once he knew the
reason why. America, Mary had always wanted to go there, but he had been adamant that
they couldn‘t go.
With him dead though, Mary would own the farm, and then she would be free to sell
up and follow her dream. He felt his legs buckle. This woman whom he had loved more than
life itself was trying to kill him, and her betrayal stunned him. How could I have been such a
bloody fool? Mick thought. He would never know how it had gotten this far, he reasoned.
Hadn‘t he given Mary everything she needed? His love for her had been unconditional,
always, he believed, and now this. For tonight though he would say nothing, and he
instructed Bridget to do the same.
Next morning Mick prepared the pony and trap, but in great pain and with some
difficulty. It would be at least a three hour journey to her father Daniel‘s house, but Mick
knew what he had to do. ―Mary,‖ he called out.
―Yes Michael,‖ she answered.
―Fetch your shawl; we must go to see your father today,‖ he said.
―Now what would you be wanting to see my father about?‖ Mary questioned,
―Surprise, you‘ll find out when we get there,‖ Mick replied, trying to disguise his pain
They climbed onto the cart that fine summer morning and headed off on their long
journey, with Mary constantly asking what the surprise was. ―You‘ll see,‖ was all he would
say to her, hiding his contempt and now loathing of her. Beg as she might Mick would say
nothing. Then in a flash, she knew. How stupid I am, she thought. Michael is going to sell
the farm and take me to America; why else would he want to see my father but to ask his
permission to take his daughter away to a far off land.
Mary couldn‘t hide her excitement, and gripping Mick‘s arm, she rested her head on
his shoulder and smiled. ―I love you Michael,‖ she said affectionately as Mick looked away
and grimaced. She was still thinking of America when they arrived at her father‘s house.
Climbing down from the cart before Mick, she ran into her father‘s home and embraced the
At the cart Mick paused for a moment. It would be hard to tell Daniel what his
daughter had done, and Mick didn‘t know how he would react, but tell him he must. ―Hello
Mick, it‘s good to see you again,‖ Daniel said with a smile, as Mick slowly entered the room.
―I hope you are feeling better?‖ Before Mick could answer Mary butted in. ―Michael has a
surprise father, tell him Michael,‖ she urged, her face lighting up with excitement.
Daniel was a short stocky man, but had a big reputation around these parts as a
fighting man who had once bare knuckle fought all around the country, and could still give a
good account of himself, Mick knew. However, no matter what, he would have to know. ―I
have something to tell you Daniel,‖ Mick exclaimed, as Mary looked excitedly from one man
to the other.
―I‘m going to be a grandfather,‖ bellowed Daniel, smiling, as he waved his finger
from side to side at the couple and tried to beat Mick to the punch. ―No,‖ Mary interrupted,
―we are going to Amer…‖
Mick raised his hand and stopped her in mid sentence. ―Do you know how sick I have
been, Daniel?‖ Mick asked.
―Yes,‖ the confused man answered. ―Mary informed me in her letters.‖
Mary was still smiling when Mick threw the package of arsenic onto the table.
―She‘s been poisoning me Dan,‖ he said loudly, as he pointed an accusing finger at
―No!‖ Mary cried. ―What do you mean?‖
―I mean,‖ Mick said loudly as he stared at Daniel. ―One of my sisters witnessed her
put arsenic in my tea‖
―Your tea?‖ Daniel said, dumfounded and puzzled.
―It‘s true Dan,‖ Mick stated, ignoring Mary.
―No, no, it‘s a lie; it‘s a lie. Who is it that accuses me?‖ Mary yelled.
―But why Mick? Why would she do this thing?‖ Daniel questioned, still puzzled,
―Why? I‘ll tell you why,‖ Mick answered almost calmly now. ―America! She wanted
to go live there and I refused, so I believe with me gone she could sell the farm and go alone.
Every time, and when I was out of her reach, I recovered from this sickness, only to
take ill again when I returned home and was back on my feet. I never thought she would do
this to me Dan. Anyway, I won‘t get the police involved if you take her back off my hands,‖
―She was always a bloody dreamer,‖ Daniel spat. ―Even in her letters to me, she
would go on and on about bloody America. Thank the heaven‘s her mother is no longer with
us to hear this.‖
Mary was hysterical now and Mick held out his hand to Daniel. ―Goodbye Dan,‖ he
said. Daniel did not shake his hand, but responded by taking off his belt and holding it firmly
in one hand as he shoved the still hysterical Mary into a side room with the other. ―You have
brought shame on this family,‖ he shouted as he raised his arm to strike Mary with the belt.
Mick grabbed hold of Daniels arm. ―No Dan, there is no need for this, and I don‘t wish it,‖ he
Daniel looked sadly at Mick, put his head in his hands and fell to his knees in silence,
as Mick walked out quickly and climbed up onto the cart. He whipped the pony and moved
off as fast as he could.
Behind him, Mary, who had followed him out into the roadway, was shouting his
name over and over again, as she stumbled after the cart, but with tears streaming down his
face, he whipped hard at the pony and sped on.
He could hear her voice trailing off in the distance, pleading for him to come back.
Mick was still sobbing when he arrived home.
His sisters ran out to comfort him and they practically had to carry him back to the
farm house. The illness never returned though, and at least he had the consolation of knowing
he was right about Mary.
* * * * *
Mick was a shell of a man after this, neglecting his family and the farm, and when he
received news that Mary had hanged herself some months later, it affected him very badly
and he took to his bed for some days. Even though Mary had tried to kill him, he didn‘t care
anymore, because as time passed by he had missed her. He had missed her smile and her
childish ways, and he still loved her so very much. He cupped his head into his hands and
wept. ―Why Lord? Why do you torture me so?‖
Old Mick was convinced there was a curse on the farm, and this he was certain of one
year later, when his older sister Annie died suddenly. Annie had been the backbone of the
farm and could never be replaced. This event made him think seriously for the second time
about selling the farm.
Then Meg came to stay for a while to help out, but almost immediately the woman
became seriously ill, and took to bed vomiting.
Mick, suspicious of the circumstances approached Doc Devlin, the new village
doctor, and informed him that he thought Meg had been poisoned. The doctor agreed and the
police were called in. To Mick‘s horror, Meg passed away in the night, and a post mortem
was ordered immediately.
A large quantity of arsenic was found in her body, and this was soon followed by an
order to exhume Annie. They found that Annie too had been poisoned with arsenic and it
didn‘t take long before the police had a confession.
Bridget, Mick‘s young sister, whom the doctors now believed to be stark raving mad,
had admitted the killings of her sisters, and also of poisoning Mick the year previously. She
had been extremely jealous of her sister-in-law Mary, with the attention her only brother had
lavished on her, and her jealousy had then transferred itself onto her other sisters after this.
Mick was devastated.
He had wrongly blamed poor Mary, the only true love he had ever had, and who had
done nothing but simply want them to have a happier life together in America. He was her
judge and jury; he felt, and he had never given a second thought that this poor sad monster of
a sister, who was now packed off to The Richmond lunatic asylum for the criminally insane
in Dublin, could have been lying. It didn‘t make it any easier for Mick when he thought of
how kind Mary had been toward Bridget. In fact now that he thought about it, Mary had been
decent and kind toward all his sisters.
Mary had told him she was innocent, but his headstrong nature had never given her a
chance, and now she was lost forever. Mick never went to see Mary‘s father again, ashamed
and frightened of what the man might do to him. Mary had come to him at night in his sleep
sometimes, cursing him, and laughing at him, and he thought that like Bridget, he himself
was also going mad. Mick took to the bottle after this and two years later the dilapidated farm
had to be sold off to clear the debts he had mounted, his depleted family now scattered to the
* * * * *
―Whiskey,‖ old Mick shouted to Matt the barman who was still watching him.
―Sorry Mick,‖ Matt replied, ―but you‘ll be getting no more drink here tonight, you‘ve
had enough. Go on home now like the good man that you are.‖
Mick grumbled for a moment before staggering from the warm cosy little bar, and out
into the wet windy night. Home, he thought, bloody home.
Mick‘s home was a single room in Mrs Doyle‘s house. She had let him stay in a small
room at the front of the house with no charge, provided he would do errands when needed,
and also odd jobs around the place. It wasn‘t much, but at least it kept him dry on cold wet
There were two stipulations however, to which he had to agree, and they were that
under no circumstances whatsoever, was he allowed around to the rear of the house to the
rooms that Mrs Doyle occupied, unless with her explicit permission, and also, he was to make
no noise. ―Bloody old bag,‖ he grumbled to himself as he pulled his cap down tightly over his
The rain was coming down much heavier now, and the strong wind that accompanied
it pulled at him. Somewhere in the distance and through his drunken haze, Mick could see the
sky light up, followed by a distant roll of thunder, and he stumbled on as he watched the
lightning quickly creep nearer, and he listened with fear as the thunderclaps grew louder. He
had always, since a small boy been terrified of thunderstorms, and as the rain pressed harder,
he hurried as fast as he could go, almost breaking into a trot as he looked up into the dark
cloud filled sky.
Otis stared out from the upstairs window at the fast approaching storm. He had seen
plenty of storms back home, but not like this one. The storms he had witnessed had been over
the city; large and sprawling, impersonal storms, that had shared themselves among the
millions of city dwellers. This storm seemed to be there just for the two of them, coming
nearer to the house with every thunderous roll, and Otis felt glad that he was indoors on a
night like this.
The open window in the bedroom banged three times as the strong wind and rain
caught it. A large bird, a crow perhaps, he thought, suddenly flew against the window with
such force that Otis was surprised when it didn‘t smash. But the bird flew off seemingly
unhurt, and Otis slammed it shut, forcing the lock down and almost breaking the latch. As he
was about to walk away a lightning bolt lit up the night sky, and then Otis saw him. Only
briefly, just for a half second, but yes, a man moving quickly along the road outside, heading
toward Mrs Doyle‘s house, he believed. He was certain the figure was a man and he stared
out intently as the booming thunder, now overhead, almost deafened him.
When the next bolt of lightning came, the road was deserted, and Otis knew that the
guy had disappeared, somewhere where the road met the forest.
As he came downstairs Sarah offered him a drink of Jack Daniel‘s with a slice of
lemon and some water, his favourite. ―No thanks honey,‖ he said loudly, as he started to
rummage into one of the many boxes that had arrived earlier and had yet to be unpacked.
Sarah had never known Otis to refuse a Jack Daniel‘s before, and she thought that
somehow he looked frightened. She moved in to comfort him. ―Storm‘ll pass soon,‖ she
whispered to Otis, who simply ignored her and pulled the contents from the box all over the
floor. ―What are you looking for Otis?‖ Sarah asked loudly, agitated at the mess he was
―Flashlight,‖ he answered, ―I‘m sure I put it in this box.‖
―No,‖ Sarah replied, ―it‘s in the small box on the top, the one that‘s damaged, but why
do you want a flashlight?‖
―I saw someone, a man; he went up the road toward the old woman‘s house.‖
The crashing thunderclap overhead almost drowned them out.
―Didn‘t that man, um Thomas, say the old woman lived up there by herself?‖ Sarah
―Yes he did, but I saw someone.‖
―Well maybe she has a boyfriend,‖ Sarah mulled.
―Yeah, and maybe I‘m the eldest son of a Texas oil baron,‖ Otis answered
He opened the small cardboard box and hurriedly removed a large flashlight, flicked
on the switch and waved it around. It worked well, which surprised him. ―Batteries seem all
right,‖ he mumbled as he pushed the flashlight deep into his trouser pocket.
―Where do you think you‘re going?‖ Sarah grumbled, as Otis pulled on his heavy rain
―I‘m going to check this out. Maybe it‘s a burglar,‖ he said.
―They don‘t really get that many burglars in these parts,‖ Sarah replied, matter-of-
factly. ―And besides,‖ she added. ―Isn‘t this a matter for the police if it is a burglar, huh?
Maybe you‘ve forgotten, Otis, but you should know you‘re not a cop anymore.‖
Otis felt hurt by Sarah‘s remark, and he looked sadly at her. ―I know that,‖ he
answered, ―but we don‘t have a phone here to call the police and there‘s just no time for this.
Anyway, I hate to bring you down to earth here Sarah, but even Ireland has its criminals,
that‘s the reason they have a police force,‖ he said.
―I forbid you to go and leave me here on my own,‖ Sarah spat as she stamped her foot
down hard on the floor.
Otis felt like Sarah was behaving like a small spoilt child that couldn‘t get her own
way, but he paused for a second before making toward the door. ―Sorry, got to,‖ he said as he
tugged at the handle. Otis froze for a moment as the cold wind and rain blew into his face,
and Sarah stopped him as she tugged at his jacket.
―Be careful,‖ she pleaded, and in that moment he thought her as beautiful as he had
ever seen her before. Their lips met passionately, in a long embracing kiss.
―Just lock the door behind me honey and stay inside. I‘ll be careful, and I‘ll be back
soon,‖ he promised.
―Love you,‖ she shouted, unheard as he slammed the door behind him. ―Damn you,
Otis, you crazy headstrong fool,‖ she whispered to herself.
Otis had always been this way, she felt, always putting others first. Always an act now
consider later sort of guy, but this was what had attracted her to him in the first place. But
even though she felt that he knew what he was doing, she couldn‘t help feeling concerned for
Old Mick was running in panic now, as the lightning crashed overhead, and he felt the
fear rise inside him. This fear of getting fried was so powerful that it had almost sobered him
up. A branch that seemed to come from nowhere jutted out and struck him on the arm.
―Christ,‖ he yelled and cut out onto the middle of the lane, only to trip over another branch
that must have broken off, and he felt himself crash headlong to the ground.
He immediately knew his arm was broken. He had heard the crack of what seemed to
him to be a clean break, and he lay on the ground for a few seconds as he waited for the pain
to hit him. Suddenly his arm felt as though it was on fire, and he yelled in his pain. As he
struggled to get up, he watched in horror as the branch he had just tripped over began to
move slowly over to the edge of the lane. I must be hallucinating, he thought. He struggled,
but stood upright and staggered onward.
As he approached the house he clutched tightly to his broken arm. The pain was
intense now and he knew he needed help, but Mrs Doyle had forbade him to go anywhere
near her side of the house. In his confused and injured state though, he decided to take that
chance. Surely she would have some pity and not turn an injured man away on a night like
this, he thought. She would most likely be sitting in terror herself from the storm anyway, and
would most probably welcome him inside with open arms, he felt.
* * * * *
The house was in complete darkness as he made his way onward, rain dripping from
his chin onto his worn out coat as he moved around to the back, peering through the closed
windows as he went, but he could see nothing through the blinding rain beating off the panes.
Suddenly a lightning bolt lit up the house and he could just make out the unkempt kitchen
room with its piles of unwashed dishes strewn about everywhere.
Further on, he thought, as the pain in his arm grew unbearable. Another bolt of
lightning and the shadow cutting across him made him turn around in fright. But it was only
the old framework of a child‘s swing, the rusted chains hanging limply from its beam, while
the little broken wooden seat hid itself in the long grass. This was sad testament to something
that perhaps had once given some playful children hours of pleasure, a long and happy time
* * * * *
Otis was moving quickly up the road now, through the driving rain, and he could just
make out the chimney pots of the old house against the dark sky, about two hundred yards
away. A flash of lightning, followed by the loudest crash of thunder he had ever heard,
convinced him that the storm was directly overhead, and he thought about big John Wayne
and what he would do if he could somehow be magically summoned here. ―Why I‘d just get
off my horse and go up there and kick me some ass,‖ he mimicked loudly, but rather badly as
he tried to mask his fear. Then he thought about what Lewis would do in this situation. In his
mind he could hear Lewis talking to him, just as clearly as he had heard him all those years
―Where do you think your going Tweedy? Going off on some half–assed, mother-
fucking goose chase, maybe get your sorry ass blown off. Don‘t go up there you damn
asshole, let‘s wait for the goddamn cavalry.‖
Otis shook his head and the voice disappeared. No! There was no cavalry to wait for,
he thought. The old woman may be in danger up there, and I‟m the only chance she has.
―Move it,‖ he said aloud.
Mick was at the second window now, almost passing out with pain as he let go of his
injured arm and rubbed the window clear of the rain and smut that had gathered there. His old
leathery face tightened as he peered in through the mess and into the darkened room. Another
flash and he could see an old table and chairs covered with many discarded newspapers, the
cobwebs weaving and crossing everywhere.
On the wall behind them there was a very large crucifix, and as Mick looked upon
Jesus he mumbled a quick prayer and struggled on, panting. Reaching the last window, he
rubbed the glass with his grimy sleeve, and grimaced as the pain in his arm shot through his
body. He pressed his face right up to the glass, but could see nothing in the darkness.
When the light came, it was a longer flash this time, and he could see Mrs Doyle
sitting up in her bed, almost facing him. She was awake, and it looked as though she was
talking to someone on the other side of the room. He roughly rubbed at his eyes as he tried to
focus around the room, but the rain and dirt on the windows blocked his view and the
constant boom of the thunder claps had him gasping with fear. Then it was dark again and
Mick positioned himself as far across the window as he could, wiping at the glass in a
clockwise motion. Even now in the darkness he could just make out the back of an old chair,
and then suddenly, a movement, slight but definite.
A new fear gripped him now. Mrs Doyle had positively forbidden anyone to come
around to her side of the house, but now here she was, sitting up in bed in a darkened room,
during a thunderstorm, talking to someone.
He had heard rumours in the village about the house, but he had never believed in any
of that nonsense. In all the time he had lodged there, he had never seen or heard anything
unusual, but then most of the time he was drunk anyway, he admitted to himself. Now he felt
the fear growing rapidly inside him as he tried to comprehend what was developing in front
of his eyes.
The sky lit up again, filling the room with its powerful beam, and then he saw it.
―Holy mother of God,‖ he groaned, and backed off from the window, praying loudly as the
roar of thunder drowned him out. Praying it hadn‘t seen him.
* * * * *
Otis had reached the front of the house now, and he shone the beam of his flashlight
through the grubby rain lashed windows, partially lighting up the empty, darkened rooms.
Maybe Sarah was right, he thought, perhaps it was just a family friend. On the other hand,
what if it turns out to be a burglar, or worse? He walked on, shining his flashlight into every
nook and cranny, wishing for a moment that he could have his full sight in both eyes returned
to him, and his mind wandered back to when he was sitting in the courtroom all those years
ago. His perpetrator had smirked at him when she received eight to ten for shooting him with
the flare gun. Out in goddamn less than five, he had thought angrily at the time. He supposed
that in a way though, this perhaps was a sort of ironic justice. He had killed the woman‘s
husband, and now, well, an eye for an eye, he thought, excusing himself the pun.
Mick was running fast from the window now, pain forgotten. He had seen the beast,
hovering in mid air, beside the chair, and pointing at Mrs Doyle with its long grey gnarled
fingers. Then he had heard its wail, just before the thunderclap, a wail he would never forget.
He knew what it was immediately. The stories told over generations had given him an
impression of what it would be like, even if until now he had never believed it. If folklore
was right though, then this entity had been sent straight from hell, and he knew he had to get
away before it looked upon him.
He was in a panic now, running faster than he had ever run before, and he prayed that
the lightning would stay away. As he passed the room with the table inside the sky lit up
again. For a split second and as he glanced once more through the window, he was sure he
saw Jesus on the cross lift his head in the shadows and smile menacingly at him.
* * * * *
Otis had just turned the corner at the side of the house when Mick collided with him,
sending the two men sprawling across the rain lashed ground. The spiralling flashlight flew
into the bushes as Otis lost his grip on it. Mick was up first, his heart almost pounding out of
his chest as he stumbled away. It was the creature, it had caught him, he knew, as he ran on,
struggling and cursing to himself. Otis was quicker though, rushing after Mick and tackling
him midriff, sending the screaming man to the ground as they rolled into the ditch.
The man was trying to speak now, but he was incoherent and obviously in great pain
and shock, and Otis realised immediately that he was just an old man who stank of drink. He
also instinctively knew that this man was no burglar.
Otis helped the old man to his feet, but had to support him. ―Take it easy old man,‖
Otis pleaded, shouting to be heard above the roaring thunder and rain as he fought to get his
breath back. ―Where are you going? Come back damn you,‖ Otis yelled as the old man pulled
away from him, clutching his arm as he ran down the lane again. ―Wait,‖ Otis shouted as he
pursued the frightened and injured man. But this old man was waiting for no one, this old
man had been scared half to death by something, and Otis was going to find out what it was
as he frantically chased after him.
Otis caught up with him about fifty yards from his own home, and placed a reassuring
hand on the old guy‘s shoulder. The old man was spent now and struggling for breath, as he
laid his head against this giant of a man, and hung on to his coat to prevent himself from
falling to the ground. ―It‘s all right now,‖ Otis panted, ―You‘re going to be all right.‖ The old
man gave one last desperate struggle and Otis spoke again. ―You‘re safe now old man, no one
is going to hurt you.‖
Otis slowly helped the old man back to the house, while Sarah, who was watching
from the window, ran outside and helped the rain soaked men into the warm welcoming
* * * * *
―Who are you?‖ Sarah enquired, as Otis attempted to remove the old man‘s coat.
Mick screamed in pain, and they both knew that he was badly injured.
Otis then removed a bottle of bourbon from the cupboard and poured the man a stiff
drink. ―Here, try this,‖ he said, as he handed Mick the glass and watched as Mick swallowed
it down in one mouthful. Otis somehow sensed that the old man was already feeling better
and he poured him another, which again he gulped down.
It was a while before they could get him to speak with any sense though, and for a
long time he sat moaning and staring into the blazing fire. ―Who are you? And what were you
doing up there?‖ Sarah gently asked.
Mick slowly introduced himself and explained how he had been lodging at Mrs
Doyle‘s house for some time now, and then he whispered nervously, ―I have seen it,‖ he said,
as he winced in pain.
―You have seen it?‖ Sarah repeated, puzzled.
―The fairy woman‖ Mick groaned. ―As plain as the bloody nose on your face.‖
―What the hell are you talking about?‖ Otis asked, as he wondered what this old guy
was raving about.
―It‘s a Banshee,‖ interrupted Sarah, ―In the Irish language, it‘s called Bean Sidhe. It
means woman of the fairy, old Irish folklore describes it, usually comes when there‘s going
to be a death in the family. It‘s also said though that if it comes to look upon someone then
that person is dead anyway, because it will always return to claim their soul.
Otis put his hand to his chin and stared intently at them. ―Listen to the pair of you,‖ he
laughed. ―What bullshit?‖
―I‘m telling you,‖ exclaimed Mick, ―I swear to you on the cross of our beloved
saviour, I seen it.‖
Suddenly a lightning bolt filled the room and Sarah noticed that it startled Otis. ―Now
you listen to me old man,‖ Otis said loudly as the thunder crashed outside. ―I know you‘re
injured and there‘s a storm out there,‖ he said pointing, ―but you‘re frightening my wife, so
keep quiet with your bullshit stories or I will kick your sorry ass out of here.‖
―He‘s not frightening me,‖ Sarah spat, feeling that perhaps it was Otis who was the
frightened one. ―I‘ve been listening to stories like this since I was a child,‖ she went on,
feeling resentful that Otis was now treating her like one.
―Bean Si, it is said, is beautiful with long flowing hair, but with red eyes, caused by
her constant crying for all those souls about to die,‖ Sarah exclaimed.
―Well the one I seen wasn‘t bloody beautiful, I can tell you that,‖ Mick shouted, as he
screwed up his wrinkled face.
―The one you seen, and there are different versions of Banshee, said Sarah, was
probably the one they named Bean Nighe, or The little washer by the Ford, an evil, vile,
deformed entity who relishes in violent death, and who was given the name because after
she‘s killed her victims she washes their bloodstained clothes in the stream.‖
Otis rubbed his brow and shook his head despairingly at the pair, deciding to say no
more on the subject that he found to be superstitious garbage, especially coming from his
wife, whom he thought had more sense than to believe in anything like this.
Outside the storm raged on, and no one could see the figure hover up over Mrs
Doyle‘s roof and disappear over to the other side.
―Tomorrow I‘ll take you back to the funny farm, and maybe we can get on with our
lives,‖ Otis said sternly to Mick.
Mick kept quiet now. This big Yank meant business, and he didn‘t relish being
thrown out on a night like this one, not in his condition.
Sarah felt differently though. This old man may be a drunk and a stranger to them, but
he seemed to have an honest disposition about him, and she felt that he was being truthful.
Maybe he had been mistaken about what he had seen, she felt. However, something
had scared him very badly up there, and of that there was no mistake.
―There‘s a spare bedroom you can sleep in tonight, and tomorrow we will take you to
the hospital,‖ Sarah offered.
―Thank you kindly madam, but if you don‘t mind I‘ll stay here in this chair, I won‘t
sleep much tonight anyway,‖ he grimaced.
Otis poured out another glass of bourbon, and drank it almost as fast as Mick had.
Old Mick stared intently at him and reached out.
―Could you spare another drop? Um, for the pain,‖ Mick pleaded as he pointed to his
Otis poured a small one, then changed his mind and filled the glass to the top and
handed it to Mick. ―For the pain,‖ Otis stated. ―Goodnight,‖ he shouted to Mick as he tucked
the bottle firmly under his arm and quickly disappeared up stairs, as Sarah shook hands with
the pathetic old figure in front of her.
―Thank you for everything madam,‖ he said.
Old Mick sat in the chair, frightened and in pain during the long night, and thought
about Mrs Doyle, and the house he would never return to.
Next morning the storm had eased off and Sarah made them some breakfast, which
old Mick refused. ―Gotta get you to the hospital, old fella,‖ said Otis, who by now was in a
much better mood.
―No,‖ answered Mick, as he rocked back and forth in the chair and tried to hide his
increasing pain. ―I won‘t go until someone has checked up on Mrs Doyle.‖
―All right,‖ said Sarah, ―I‘ve wanted to meet my new neighbour anyway, no better
time than now. Come on Otis,‖ she called loudly.
Otis pulled on his coat, and following close behind Sarah, was halfway through the
doorway, when he turned to face Mick. ―Back soon,‖ he assured him.
Mick pointed to the half empty bottle of bourbon Otis had just sat on the shelf, ―for
the pain,‖ he said.
―Not a chance Mick,‖ Otis replied, as he lifted the bottle and locked it in a small
cupboard. ―Want to keep you sober for the hospital, old fella,‖ he added.
As the pair made their way up the road toward Mrs Doyle‘s house, Otis reflected on
how different the area appeared in daylight, and as they reached the edge of the woods a little
lane began where the road ended, and the trees formed an arch on each side, darkening the
lane and giving the place a very eerie feeling.
―Follow the yellow brick road,‖ Otis remarked, as he grabbed Sarah‘s hand and she
squeezed his tightly and pulled him toward her.
A large hare ran across the lane in front of them, which made Sarah jump, but it
stopped and stared at them for a moment before running off. ―I see you‘ve got a suitor,‖ Otis
laughed, as Sarah lightly kicked him. As they strode further up the lane they noticed a large
black sign that had fallen over at an angle of forty five degrees. The writing which was barely
visible warned against trespassers, and an old rusted car sat opposite it, with weeds and
shrubbery growing up under the guards.
―Maybe we shouldn‘t go up there,‖ Sarah cautioned. ―I mean, the sign,‖ she
whispered. ―What sign? I didn‘t see any sign,‖ Otis replied, laughing as he pulled Sarah
As they were approaching the house, Otis couldn‘t help but notice how spooky it
looked, even in the daylight, and for a moment he thought that maybe Sarah was right. Now
he was almost sorry they had come anywhere near the place. Sarah glared at the window
frames in the house, and noticed they had become so rotten in places that the edge of the
glass protruded through, and in some of the windows, little cracks had begun to appear.
―The dump looks derelict,‖ Otis exclaimed.
―Yeah, sure does hon,‖ Sarah agreed, as she squeezed his hand tightly. Then as they
neared the large rotting front door, a woman‘s voice boomed out from an open window.
―What do you want coming round here? Get off my property,‖ she shouted.
―Sorry to disturb you Mrs Doyle, but we are your new neighbours, Otis and Sarah
Tweedy. We live down at the bottom of the lane,‖ Sarah added.
―Don‘t have time or need for neighbours, now go away,‖ the woman responded. Otis
turned and walked away, but on second thoughts stopped and paused to look around at the
old bedraggled unfriendly woman, as Sarah spoke up again.
―We have the old man at our house, Mick O‘Neil, your lodger, he‘s been hurt.‖
―Don‘t have a lodger,‖ the angry woman responded. ―No one stays here, now go away.‖
―Unfriendly old coot,‖ Sarah remarked as they walked back toward home.
―Told you the old man was a fruitcake; the old woman lives alone here,‖ Otis
whispered. ―Well we can take him to the hospital and have done with him,‖ Sarah answered.
―But I would still like to know what he was doing up here.‖
* * * * *
Back at the house old Mick had fallen into a deep sleep, and Sarah would not let Otis
wake him right away, so they had to wait for a few hours before Otis could help old Mick
into the car, which spluttered to a start and they all drove off.
The nearest hospital was almost a forty minute drive away, and Otis wondered how
someone would survive in this small town if they were seriously hurt, bearing in mind the
time factor involved. Otis questioned old Mick relentlessly during the trip to the hospital,
trying to trip him up about the night before, but Mick answered every question flawlessly,
and as they waited in the hospital for Mick to be x- rayed, Sarah asked Otis what he thought
about the old man. ―Well, after talking to the old guy, I think he‘s telling the truth, in that he
lodges at Mrs Doyle‘s house, and that he thinks he saw something up there,‖ he answered.
―But ghosts, c‘mon honey. It just can‘t happen.‖
―It wasn‘t a ghost,‖ Sarah barked, ―but,‖ she said as she pointed her finger toward
him. ―I do believe the old woman‘s either hiding something, or maybe she‘s just going soft in
the head, that‘s what I think.‖
The hospital later confirmed a break in Mick‘s arm and they plastered him up, told
him to rest, and released him.
A little bead of sunlight shone down as Otis turned the car full circle and drove back
through the large gates and out onto the deserted road. ―Thank you for everything,‖ Mick
―It was a goddamn experience, I‘ll tell you that,‖ Otis answered, laughing.
―I don‘t follow your merriment,‖ said Mick loudly, feeling annoyed as Otis continued
to laugh. ―Laugh all you like Yank,‖ said old Mick, who was getting angrier by the minute.
―But pray to God that you never stumble upon this vile thing, because if you do, then you
won‘t see the bloody funny side of it.‖
Sarah could see that the old man was very agitated and so she started to make up
some small talk about the weather to change the subject, but Mick kept on. ―It was from hell I
tell you. From the bloody deepest depths of hell, and I seen it, God help me. I‘m telling you, I
seen it. It was bloody ferocious, that‘s what it was.‖ The last part of Mick‘s sentence faded to
almost a whisper, before he half closed his eyes and went quiet.
Mick had soon fallen asleep on the back seat as Otis eyed him intently through the
rear view mirror.
* * * * *
Otis didn‘t know what to make of this guy. His past experience in the force made him
feel that Mick wasn‘t being outwardly untruthful, but on the other hand what was he
expecting them to believe. Why this was just too far-fetched by any stretch of the
imagination, and when Sarah had told him that the Irish people were superstitious, he simply
hadn‘t realised just how much this was true.
As they drove into the village, Mick awoke with a start and asked to be dropped off at
the pub. Otis obliged, and Mick, who had by now calmed down, invited Sarah, but not Otis,
in for a drink. Otis was surprised when Sarah accepted, but said nothing.
―Give us a chance to meet some of the locals,‖ she said. Otis agreed, ignoring the fact
that Mick hadn‘t invited him, and soon they were all sitting around a table in the quaint little
bar. After a few rounds of drinks, old Mick was telling anyone who would listen about the
events of the night before, and Ivan McAllen, a local at the bar for almost as long as Mick
had been there and who had disliked Mick immensely, stood up and called him a bloody liar.
This prompted old Mick to challenge him to step outside, even with his broken arm in plaster.
However, Matt the owner and barman intervened, and ordered the two men to behave or he
would throw them both out into the street.
* * * * *
James Flanagan, a fair haired giant of a man and a good friend of Mick‘s, had been
sitting in the corner listening to them. He stepped slowly over to their table.
James, whose wife Rose had been called out to her sister‘s again, as the woman was
badly ill, had used the opportunity to visit the pub, rather than be left sitting alone at home.
He had not knocked or laughed at Mick‘s story, because he had a story of his own.
―Hello James,‖ said Mick, and it was clear to all that Mick was happy to see the big
fellow. ―Sit down won‘t you James?‖
―Thank you,‖ James answered with a smile. ―Don‘t mind if I do. I um-I couldn‘t help
over-hearing your conversation,‖ James related.
As Otis pulled up a chair for James, Mick smiled affectionately at him and introduced
him to the company. Otis stared at James for a second and shook his hand loosely before
speaking. ―Leprechauns, Fairies, Banshees,‖ Otis said, mockingly. ―You people really believe
in all this superstitious mumbo jumbo nonsense?‖
―Nonsense is it?‖ James replied. ―Well, you know at one time I would have agreed
with you Yank. Now though, well, let‘s just say I‘ve had a change of heart.‖
―Have you seen it as well?‖ Mick interrupted.
―No Mick, but my grandfather who died earlier this year did.‖
―You mean the captain,‖ interrupted Mick for the second time.
―Yes,‖ said James, smiling, ―the captain.‖ Otis gave Sarah his Burt Lancaster look,
mouth wide and teeth glistening, head moving in the Burt way as he made fun of the men
behind their back. But Sarah simply smiled and ignored him.
―Would you like to hear about it?‖ James asked, thinking to himself that the big Yank
wasn‘t really interested in anything he had to say.
―Why not,‖ Otis answered sheepishly. The rest of the company nodded their heads in
approval, and so James began.
* * * * *
“Captain Patrick McKenna, my grandfather on my mother‟s side, left Ireland at the
turn of the century and joined the Welsh guards as a boy soldier. By the time the Great War
broke out he was married to my grandmother, had been promoted to captain, and was sent to
France with his regiment.
During one engagement he was very badly wounded, losing an arm, and with the rest
of the wounded who had outlived their use, he was sent home. He lived over in England for a
while, but missed Ireland so much that he returned here, which was probably the worst
decision he ever made. Ireland was in turmoil against the British. Still is to this day. So you
can guess that he didn‟t exactly get a hero‟s welcome. My grandmother was sometimes spat
on in the street when she went shopping, and they both became almost reclusive after this. I
myself was bullied in school about it at times, but inspired by my grandfather‟s tales of
bravery; I always stood up to the cowards.
He had told me how he had lost his arm when during one engagement he had charged
a group of Germans who had just killed his best friend and some other comrades. He shot the
six of them dead, only to have his arm riddled with machine gun fire, which had to be
* * * * *
―What did he see?‖ Mick asked impatiently.
―Let him speak,‖ Sarah spat at Mick as she gave him a stern look, and James
Sarah‟s really getting into this, Otis thought, as James talked on.
―Well, as you know Mick, last year he was diagnosed with cancer of the lungs, and
only given a short time to live. Well, as usual I went to pay him a visit. On this occasion
though, he was very alert and he seemed very anxious to see me.‖
* * * * *
„Shut the door,‟ he said to me, wheezing, „and come close,‟ he whispered. „Listen to
me James,‟ he said, gripping my arm tightly, „there is something I must tell you, something I
have never told a living soul before, not even your grandmother,‟ he coughed. „But I haven‟t
got long to go in this world and I want you to know the truth.
Those stories I told you about the Great War, and how I lost my arm, you know, they
just weren‟t true, well not all of them anyway.‟
Then he broke into a coughing fit and I was left feeling dumbstruck. What was he
talking about, I thought? Was he not a hero after all? And why was he telling me all this? My
head was reeling.
Here was a man I had modelled myself upon all my life, a man I had almost
worshipped as a hero, and now he was about to tell me it was all a lie. My God I thought.
Then he stopped coughing and began to speak again.‟
„It was the sixth of February, nineteen seventeen, and there were three of us left alive
after the worst German bombardment we had ever encountered.
Before it had started I was down at one end of the trench with a company of the men
waiting to counter attack, when all hell broke loose. The Germans shelled us like never
before and I watched helpless as my comrades all around me were cut to pieces. I took cover
under two of their bodies, waiting and praying for it to stop, but the shelling seemed to go on
for an eternity, before it suddenly ended and all that was left was an eerie silence.
When I stood up all were dead around me.
Then through the smoke I could just make out two of our men coming along the
trench. It was a cold wet murky day, and the mud was as bad as I had ever seen it, but the
two battled their way through it toward me. „Are you all right sir?‟ One of the men shouted,
and I immediately recognised his voice.
It was my good friend Robert Rankin, a big strapping Englishman, a sergeant with
whom I had come through the ranks with, but I did not know the young fellow with him,
obviously a new man, I thought.‟
„Oh lord, oh lord,‟ the young man cried over and over again, as he surveyed the
carnage around us. I tried not to show my fear to the men, but there are limits to what the
human body can endure, and to tell you the truth I was also at the end of mine.
Then Sergeant Rankin, who seemed to be taking a funny turn, shouted out that the
Germans were coming, and climbed up to the top of the trench, which was a very dangerous
thing to do. However, the next thing I remember is that the boy and I where alongside him,
and we were all surprised to find that the ground in front was deserted, save for the hundreds
of craters that pockmarked the land.
As we sat waiting for the attack that must surely come, Sergeant Rankin removed his
squeezebox, which he had secured to his belt. He played a soft melody to our dead comrades,
a calming melody to which I found myself humming along. I was enjoying the moment, but my
escapism didn‟t last long when the new boy shouted out, „up in front sir,‟ and we all
crouched down. I scanned the area, but in the fading light and drizzling rain I could see
nothing. This young boy, no more than sixteen I believed, was either very keen eyed, or he
was cracking under the strain.‟
„I see him sir,‟ yelled Rankin, pointing to a group of trees about three hundred yards
away. „In front, in the trees,‟ he yelled.
„Yes,‟ I answered, „I can see him too.‟
„I could see him, faintly, but yes, he was there, in the distance, moving slowly through
Sergeant Rankin jumped down into the muddy well of the trench, and was shouting to
one of the dead men to report for duty immediately, and I realised his mind was going
rapidly. Then he picked up his 303 rifle, and climbed back up, handing the rifle to the boy as
he turned to me. „Best bloody shot in the damn regiment sir,‟ he boasted. The boy took a
steady aim at the German who was still slowly moving along the top of the trees and fired at
the slow moving figure, but the figure moved on.
„Missed,‟ I said.
„No sir, I did not,‟ the boy replied confidently, before firing again. „Direct hit sir,‟ he
shouted, but still the figure moved on.
Then to our horror the figure cleared the trees, levitating, about thirty feet off the
ground, and swiftly began floating toward us. The figure was hooded; looking like some old
medieval monk as it quickly came toward us. The boy was firing rapidly at it now, and
Sergeant Rankin and I also opened fire on it, but despite our best efforts, it came on toward
Then we could make out its hideous face, its mouth contorting as it pointed its long
gnarled fingers at us. Everyone dived into the trench, praying that this manifestation from
hell, (because it could have been from nowhere else) would leave. A few minutes passed and
we thought our prayers had been answered, when suddenly the young boy started to cry and
pointed along the trench. As I glanced around I saw it.
It was hovering about five feet from the bottom of the trench, about one hundred yards
away, but coming faster this time, much faster, its long dark cape blowing in the wind behind
it. Then it stopped, about twenty feet away, its cruel face seemed to mock us as it sensed our
fear. „It‟s the angel of death,‟ the boy screamed.
„No lad,‟ Sergeant Rankin calmly answered, as he clipped his bayonet onto his rifle.
„This is no angel, of life or death. This fucking thing is the work of the devil. C‟mon, let‟s see
if the bastard likes the cold steel?‟ Then Rankin gave me a look I shall never forget. This look
was a cold deathly look, unnatural, like a man who was about to go in front of the damn
firing squad. Then he winked, before charging at it.
„No, come back,‟ I ordered, but he ran on into it, and we watched as he bayoneted the
foul thing, which suddenly gripped his head with its two grotesque hands, and twisted it,
tearing it away from the neck. We watched helpless as it threw the sergeants headless body
into the air, and out from the trench.
The young lad was in hysterics now as I tried to reason with the beast. „What do you
want with us?‟ I shouted, but it simply moved its head from side to side as if I wasn‟t there. It
stayed like this for a full minute, and then as quick as a flash it was upon us again, staring
into the boys face. When it screamed, it was a bloody scream that I will never forget until my
It was right beside me now, and in my anger and fear, and as the boy fainted, I thrust
my revolver toward its mouth, exploding the weapon into its hideous face a number of times
as I repeatedly pumped the trigger.
I‟m unsure about what happened next, but as I tried to push it away from the boy it
twisted my arm and ripped it off from the elbow. This thing had the strength of twenty men
and as I lay bleeding profusely trying to tighten my belt around my arm to stop the bleeding,
it floated off and away, in a backward motion, staring at us all the while. I prayed James. I
prayed like never before, until it disappeared up and over the far end of the trench.
Then I looked at the boy laying there in the mud, shaking uncontrollably, and the next
thing I remember I awoke in a field hospital. I never did find out what had happened to that
boy, never even got to know his name. I am telling you this James, because I want you to
know that there are forces out there. Greater forces than we mere mortals can even imagine,
things we should never have to see, but I did James, I‟m telling you I did. Trust in our Lord
James, trust in our lord,‟ he said.
* * * * *
―And that my friends, was the last time we ever spoke, because he died later that
night. But that was the true story my grandfather told me.‖
―Listen!‖ Otis replied, interrupting. ―Shellshock can do a lot of things to the brain,
hallucinating being just one of them.‖
―He wasn‘t hallucinating,‖ James answered firmly.
―Well, how do you know that? You weren‘t there, right?‖ Otis stated.
―I know my grandfather, he wouldn‘t make this sort of thing up,‖ James replied, now
feeling annoyed at the American‘s doubting attitude. ―Well, what about the six Germans he
was supposed to have killed? What about all that bullshit he made up?‖
―I don‘t think I like your tone Yank,‖ James fumed, as he walked slowly away from
―I‘m going home,‖ Sarah barked angrily to Otis, and stormed quickly out through the
door of the pub.
Otis ran outside after Sarah and caught her by the arm. ―Where do you think you‘re
Sarah turned angrily on him. ―I cannot believe how ignorant you were back there,‖
she said. ―What do you mean ignorant?‖ Otis asked loudly. ―Do you mean ignorant in my
knowledge of ghosts? Or that I was ignorant to the big Irish guy?‖
―You mean James?‖ Sarah replied.
―Oh, I see,‖ Otis said loudly. ―Why I‘m so sorry, I didn‘t realise you guys were on
first name terms just yet.‖
Sarah turned her back on him. In all their years together he had never shown any sign
of jealousy toward her, and this took her by complete surprise. ―What did you expect?‖ he
said, as if reading her mind. ―Do you think I‘m just some sort of dumb lard ass American
who flew in from cloud cuckoo land? Huh? Jesus Christ Sarah, Banshees, Fairy women. Do
you know what I would really like to know? Where does Dracula fit into the picture here?‖
Sarah shook her head in dismay and walked quickly on, and already Otis was feeling
sorry for his outburst. ―Wait honey,‖ he said loudly, ―please wait,‖ he said again in a whisper.
Sarah strode on, ignoring him. ―Goddamn stubborn Irish woman,‖ he mumbled. ―Frankly my
dear, I don‘t give a bloody damn,‖ he mimicked badly and rather loudly after her, but Sarah
continued to ignore him and walked on.
Otis had left the car unlocked outside the pub, but he didn‘t care now as he followed
discreetly behind her. Besides, Sarah the wise one, Sarah who knew everything had said that
there was hardly any crime in this country, so the car was bound to be safe. Anyway, the
walk and the breezy cold night air would cool them both down by the time they reached the
He had never realised that Sarah was as superstitious as this before. Sure she had
talked about the old country many times in the past during their time together, but she had
never mentioned anything supernatural about the place, and he suddenly felt that he didn‘t
really know her as well as he had thought he had.
* * * * *
As they walked toward home, Otis was following about fifty yards behind Sarah when
he suddenly sensed something moving in the hedge at the side off the road. He stopped in his
tracks as he wondered what it could be. The sound of something familiar reached his ears. It
sounded like water being splashed about in a bottle. For a moment he thought of James and
his grandfather‘s monster, but laughed it off. ―Bullshit,‖ he whispered as he went over to
Pulling back the bushes he was startled to see an old woman clutching a bottle of wine
to her bosom, sitting on the wet ground. ―Wanna drink?‖ She cackled, as she thrust the bottle
of cheap wine toward him. The wine splashed about inside the half empty bottle.
―No thank you lady,‖ he said.
―Names Elspeth, not Lady,‖ she shouted, as she burst into a laugh.
―Are you all right?‖
―No! Give me some money,‖ she cackled, ―or I‘ll put a curse on you.‖
―Well just how much do I have to pay you for the privilege of you not putting a curse
on me?‖ Otis said with a smile.
―How much you got?‖ she asked through a toothless grin.
Otis pulled a brand new crisp one punt note from his wallet and handed it to the old
drunken woman. ―This ought to cover it,‖ he said, smiling
―Why, God bless you sir,‖ she said, as she kissed the note several times.
―You‘re an American,‖ she slurred, her laugh now gone.
―Why, yeah, sure am,‖ Otis laughed, ―Now how did you know that? I guess my
accent wouldn‘t have had anything to do with that now would it?‖
―No!‖ Elspeth replied. ―Only a fucking stupid Yank would give money away so
easily,‖ she cackled and continued to laugh loudly.
―Well now, if you‘re going to be rude then maybe you should give it back?‖ Otis
stated as he held out his large outstretched palm.
The old woman jumped up with surprising agility for someone of her age and held her
fists out like a boxer. ―Fight you for it,‖ she croaked, as she spat on the ground.
―Well, on second thoughts maybe you should just keep it,‖ Otis answered as he
backed away and pretended to be afraid.
―Wait Yank, don‘t go,‖ she shouted, and started to laugh again. ―Would you like old
Elspeth to teach you to dance? I used to teach all the children to dance at the school,‖ she
claimed. ―Many years ago,‖ she added with a distant whisper.
Otis watched in amazement as Elspeth started to dance around him, standing up on
her toes like a ballerina, and somehow he guessed that at one time maybe this old woman was
a professional dancer. As she danced her way back into the woods Otis called to her.
―Elspeth, where in hell are you going?‖
―Home,‖ she answered. ―It‘s a short cut.‖ Then as an afterthought she turned and
stepped back over to Otis. Her voice was serious now, the laughter gone, the dancing
stopped. ―Listen Yank,‖ she slurred. ―Don‘t ever go into these woods alone, especially at
Otis laughed and Elspeth responded by lifting her hand above her head, forcing him to
take a step back as he believed she was about to strike him, but the haggard woman simply
pointed deep into the forest.
―The dead woman lurks there,‖ she said.
―The dead woman lurks there,‖ Otis echoed.
―Yes, but she doesn‘t come near me now, not after I asked her to dance and I
accidentally spilled some wine on her. She didn‘t like that wine you know, and made such an
awful fuss before she took to her heels screaming.
―I still see her though. She can‘t dance, but she can float through the trees, way up
high,‖ Elspeth exclaimed as she pointed to the tree tops. She tipped the wine to her head, but
―Sure you don‘t want some Yank?‖
Otis shook his head without speaking.
A long drink from the bottle and Elspeth was gone. Otis watched her run speedily into
the woods, her long grey matted hair bouncing behind her as she bobbed and weaved through
the bushes, laughing all the while.
Otis instinctively knew that somehow this crazy old coot must have been a beautiful
woman once, and he wondered how the hell this could have happened to her.
Then as he walked quickly on, he noticed that Sarah had already disappeared around
the bend, and as he shook his head he kicked a pebble hard into the air.
―Only in Ireland,‖ he laughed. ―Only in Ireland.‖
A light rain was descending over the village as the rat moved along the side of the
road. Its mission was to get food for its offspring waiting back at the den. The pain in its
crushed rear leg was immense now as it moved slowly on its remaining legs.
It was the man thing that did it on the night before, when the normally vigilant rat was
distracted by the flashing lights in the sky, and the man thing had stood on it before crashing
to the ground.
It had sensed that the man thing was injured, perhaps as badly as it was, but this
quarry was much too big anyway and so the rat had crawled to the side of the road and
limped back to its den. Tonight though, it would try again, its young desperate for food. It
was almost up at the place where the man things lived when it spotted the worm. It moved
with lightning speed, considering its injury, and secured the plump worm in its razor sharp
teeth. It would not make the same mistake again, as it sniffed the air, its senses to the full. No,
there were no man things nearby.
Suddenly through the darkness it sensed a movement. Something large was coming
through the trees, and it crouched down into the grass, hiding itself and the worm. Then it
quickly appeared. It looked like a man thing, but it had no man thing smell, and as it floated
slowly passed, it made no man thing noises.
The rat stared at the figure as it rose up to the top of the man thing‘s den, and watched
as it turned slowly in a full circle, until the rat could see its face. It didn‘t know why it was
frightened, but its primitive senses were confusing it and it dropped the worm and scurried
off. Tonight its young would go hungry again, but tonight it would be fed.
* * * * *
Otis walked silently into the house; fixed himself a quick drink, and looked over at the
unresponsive Sarah slumped on a chair. ―Goodnight hon,‖ he said smiling, giving an
apologetic bow, but Sarah did not answer and he carried on, up to the bedroom.
He could tell her mood swings by now, and he knew that tomorrow she would be fine.
Inside the bedroom, he stared out from the window at the cloudy night sky. What the hell is
wrong with these goddamn superstitious people? Otis thought as he let his mind wander back
to his own country and the home he had left behind.
* * * * *
Back at the bar, Mick suddenly realised that he had nowhere to sleep tonight. Father
Frank Quinn, he thought. Father Quinn had been a priest at the village for almost ten years,
and had earned the reputation as a caring priest. Besides, when Mick told him what he had
witnessed at the house, combined with his broken arm, then the priest could do nothing but
help him, he believed.
As Mick left the bar he took a deep breath and sauntered up the steep hill toward
Father Quinn‘s house, which was situated next door to the church. When he arrived there he
rapped on Father Quinn‘s door, but received no answer. Undeterred, Mick rapped again on
the large brass knocker. Upstairs Father Quinn lay naked on the bed, listening to the loud,
incessant rapping on the door, and held his breath, afraid.
―Oh, sweet mother of god,‖ cried the naked woman next to him, ―he‘s found out, it‘s
James, he‘s found us, He must have followed me,‖ she moaned pitifully.
―Oh no Rose, what have we done? Oh no, oh no,‖ he repeated, as he felt a massive
weight of guilt surge through his body.
Just a few days ago he had been preaching love and family values from the pulpit, as
he continued to carry on this illicit affair with Rose, James wife, and he suddenly felt like the
biggest hypocrite on the face of the earth. ―Are you there Father, it‘s me, Mick,‖ old Mick
shouted. They both heard him and Rose buried her head in her hands, relieved.
* * * * *
When the affair had started with Frank five months ago she was aware of the
consequences of her husband finding out. He would kill them both, and of that she was sure,
but she couldn‘t help herself getting involved with the handsome priest, and the guilt ridden
priest couldn‘t resist the beautiful woman‘s advances.
―It‘s only that old drunk, Mick,‖ she stated and sighed with relief. She placed her
arms around his neck, as he pulled himself out of the bed and turned his back to her. ―Oh
Frank,‖ she whispered, as she nibbled at his ear. ―I love you; you mean everything to me.‖
The priest did not answer, but stared to the floor for a moment.
To him this was a warning, a shot across the bows. God himself is warning me, he
thought, as he suddenly realised the full implications of what he had done.
He had betrayed James Flanagan, a man who had shown him some kindness when he
had first come to the village. He had also betrayed everyone in town who believed in him,
and above all, he had betrayed God, the church and the Holy order. It was a full two minutes
before he could speak.
―We have to end this, Rose. We have to end this now!‖
―No!‖ Rose shrieked, ―I love you, I want to be with you, please don‘t say that.‖
―I‘m sorry Rose; I have been a fool and a sinner. James is a good man and this affair
―No!‖ Rose pleaded with the priest. ―My husband‘s not a good man, my husband‘s a
useless drunk, and you know that,‖ she shouted.
―The man has been trying Rose,‖ the priest replied.
―Well he‘s too damn late, Frank. It is you I love, more than dear life itself and you
don‘t know what you‘re saying,‖ she cried.
―Rose, I‘m sorry, but in the eyes of God we cannot go on like this. We have both
made a stupid mistake,‖ he said, unable to look Rose in the face.
Rose walked quickly to the other side of the room; her head buried in her hands and
stared hard at the floor, crying. How could Frank say this to her? After she had given herself
to him so completely, and had loved him so much.
―I‘m sorry Rose,‖ he said, ―but you know, this was the worst kind of sin,‖ he
―Shut up, you hypocrite, you bastard, just shut up‖ Rose yelled, tears running down
her cheeks. ―Is that all I am to you, the worst kind of sin?‖
Outside Mick was listening to the shouting coming from upstairs in the house,
unaware that it was his good friend‘s wife. ―So the priest has a floozy,‖ he chuckled to
himself. Mick could hear the loud footsteps coming down toward him as they fell hard on the
staircase, and he instinctively stood back from the door which suddenly sprang open.
Rose, in somewhat disarray, ran out past him, crying, unaware of Mick‘s presence,
followed by the half naked priest trying to stop her. ―Rose,‖ Mick muttered, unable to believe
his eyes, but feeling the resentment quickly rise up inside him. Mick coughed hard to clear
his throat before he could speak. ―I was along with your husband tonight,‖ he shouted loudly
to the fast retreating woman.
―I see your sister has greatly improved,‖ he added sarcastically as an afterthought.
The priest, ashamed, turned to face him. ―Please, I can explain, please listen,‖ he
―What can you explain?‖ Mick asked. ―James is a fine man, and you‘re supposed to
teach against this sort of thing you bastard,‖ he slurred, sorry now that he had not been sober.
―Why I wish I was a young man again,‖ Mick stated loudly, unable to contain his anger as he
held his clenched fist up to the priests face. ―I would give you a bloody good hiding. You
know I came here to see you tonight concerning God‘s work, but I see I‘ve come to the
wrong bloody place.‖ At that he turned and walked away into the night, trying not to stagger,
as Father Quinn buried his head in his hands and wept silently.
* * * * *
Otis lay awake in bed and pondered for a moment. Sure the place itself was fine, and
most of the people made you feel welcome, but it wasn‘t America, and he knew it was going
to be very hard to adopt. He thought about the things he would probably miss most about
back home, the great highways that stretched from state to state, even though he had never
driven more than a hundred miles on one, the drive-in movies, even though he‘d only been to
them a few times, the skyscrapers, even though he had a fear of heights, and the normal day
to day things that make America what it is. Yes, even in its troubled times, America was still
one hell of a place to live in; but in any event, he always had Sarah he supposed, and that was
really all he needed, no matter where he was or how hard it got. And for both their sakes he
would have to give this his best shot.
* * * * *
Otis covered his face and lay back as sleep came to claim him, while downstairs Sarah
kicked off her shoes and sat down on the comfy chair, thoughts filling her head.
She had been too hard on the big guy she felt. After all, wasn‘t he the one who gave
up everything to come with her to a place he had never even visited before? He had never
once tried to talk her out of doing this, and she knew in her heart that it was because he felt
that her happiness was his happiness, and selfishly, she had played on this. Sure he was out of
order in the bar to talk to the company the way he had, but she supposed that perhaps he had
However, the encounter had frightened her, because Sarah knew there was another
side to Otis, and it was a side she didn‘t like. Although a very easy going guy, Sarah was very
aware that Otis could become as wild as a tiger if provoked.
She had once witnessed him almost beat two white guys to death when they had
called her a nigger-loving whore, as Otis accompanied her home from the movies one night.
Now she was glad that the big guy Otis had insulted had not resorted to any violence,
although she was still pretty sure what the outcome would have been.
* * * * *
Sarah lifted the poker and stared into the warm fire as thoughts of her happy but
distant childhood raced through her mind and she thought of how much she had loved
Cappawhite way back in the past.
Things were different back then though, she felt. She was young and naïve in those
wonderful summer days. Days when the thought of falling in love was way over the horizon
for someone like her.
Now she didn‘t feel quite the same as she did then, but she couldn‘t explain to herself
why. Maybe she had outgrown the place, or perhaps she had become so involved with the
American way of life over the years that things didn‘t seem to be as she imagined they would
be back in Ireland.
Her school friends from way back then had all but disappeared, most of them
probably scattered across the length and breadth of Ireland. Most of them would maybe be
grandparents by now. It would have been much easier, she supposed, if she had been able to
have children of her own. She had thought of adopting, but somehow never got around to
following it up.
But even though she had Otis, there were times when she was very lonely. Sometimes
she would think back to the robbery. And even though the robbers were killed, in a way they
had killed part of her.
She still blamed her mother for taking her to America, but somehow she felt tied to
Suddenly the realisation that they had given up everything in the States hit her and she
felt as though she was having a panic attack as the doubts set in.
Maybe in a month or two I will feel differently though, she thought, as she poked hard
at the fire, maybe.
Donald O‘Shea was the village Constable. He had been in the force for eight years,
joining the Garda Siochana when he was a fresh faced eighteen year old, and although still a
young man, he was well respected and thought of as a dedicated and strict but fair officer,
always ready to help anyone out.
At times he thought the job boring, but he reckoned it was better than working the big
cities with the dangers that come with big city policing. He checked the corner pub door and
walked on through the cold drizzling rain. Up on the hill, out in front he could just make out a
figure leaning against the old shop wall, and he increased his step.
As he approached he recognised the figure as old Mick, but the clunk click of his hob
nail boots had gave him away, and old Mick saw him first. ―Hello Donald,‖ said Mick, his
speech still slurred.
―Why hello Mick,‖ Donald replied. ―Not exactly the best of nights to be outdoors,‖ he
―And what the hell has happened to you Mick?‖ Donald asked.
Mick stared hard at the friendly policeman for a moment before speaking.
―Can you help me Donald?‖ Mick asked earnestly, avoiding the question.
―If I can Mick, if I can,‖ Donald repeated.
―Can you let me sleep in the station cell tonight?‖ Mick asked.
―I‘m sorry Mick, but I cannot do that.‖
―Listen!‖ Mick pleaded, ―I have nowhere to stay tonight, and I‘ll die out here in the
cold and rain. Have some pity, man.‖
―Listen Mick,‖ Donald answered firmly, ―Sergeant Woods is on duty at the station
tonight, and there‘s just no way for it to be possible to let you sleep in the cell tonight, not
unless you have committed a crime.‖
Sergeant Woods was a never bend the rules policeman who would have arrested his
own grandmother had the need arose, and Mick knew there would be no chance of this
sergeant letting him kip down in a cell for the night. ―Now it looks as though you‘ve had a
few too many Mick, so go on up home and get some sleep like a good fellow.‖
Mick responded by picking up a large stone, and as he held the stone tightly in his
hand, he stared hard at the surrounding windows.
―Now what in God‘s name do you think you‘re going to do with that stone?‖ Donald
―I‘ve got nowhere to stay tonight. Donald, and if you don‘t lock me up then I‘ll break
every window in the fucking village. I swear it Donald,‖ Mick replied earnestly.
Donald had known old Mick for many years, and had spoken to the man on many
occasions before this, but to date he had never had any cause to arrest or even caution him.
This was a different old Mick than the one he had known up until now though. He had never
heard Mick swear like this before, and he had never seen this normally mild mannered old
man as agitated and aggressive as he was now.
―Put the bloody stone down, for Jesus‘ sake and tell me what‘s annoying you,‖
Donald replied, softly and reassuringly.
Old Mick stared at the smiling Constable for a moment before tossing the stone aside.
―All right Donald, you win.‖
Mick admired Donald enough to relay his story to the trustworthy policeman, who
after briefly hearing it, thought that perhaps there may have been a burglar up at Mrs Doyle‘s
house on the previous night, and that Mick, plied with the drink had simply imagined the rest.
The Constable assured Mick that he would go up to the house immediately and check
on the old woman and that he would come back and try to sort something out for him. ―No,
Donald,‖ Mick cried. ―Do not go up there; did you not listen to me? I‘m telling you, there‘s a
demon lurking up there in that house.‖
―Now hold on a moment there, Mick,‖ said Donald as he pointed at old Mick. ―Best
let me be the judge of that. Just stay here until I return,‖ he said, as he walked away from the
still protesting drunken man.
The rain had started to pick up now, and Donald was glad he had his waterproofs on
as he made his way steadily up toward Mrs Doyle‘s house.
* * * * *
Sarah stepped into the kitchen and put the kettle on, staring out from the kitchen
window as she did at the empty darkened road, and she thought about the old house and Mrs
Doyle. Why had the old woman been so inhospitable toward them? Sarah pondered. After all,
they had been friendly in their approach, only trying to help the woman. Maybe it was
because Otis was black? Sarah thought, God alone knew the humiliation she had suffered at
times in the States because of her mixed marriage. Things she had never dared tell Otis about,
when even some of her friends had turned against her and said some cruel, hurtful things to
her. But this had made her stronger, had made her admire Otis all the more, because she knew
he was not the kind of man who would put anyone down. And just because she believed that
the people in Ireland were not racist, didn‘t mean to say that some of them weren‘t.
It would take time for them to settle in, but she hoped through time that things would
all work out and perhaps someday they would go back and visit America again, even though
there was really no one there for them anymore.
Sarah‘s mother had died when Sarah was in her late twenties, and with her being an
only child there were only distant relative‘s left over there, and friends that had distanced
themselves from her. As for Otis, his parents had both died when he was young, and Michael,
his only brother, an air force fighter pilot, two years younger than Otis, had been killed in
action during the Korean war.
But Otis never talked about him at all, refusing to accept that the brother he loved so
very much was dead, refusing even to go to Michael‘s burial service. As far as Otis was
concerned, Michael was still serving overseas and Sarah dared not even mention his name,
letting Otis handle Michael‘s death in his own strange and macabre way.
* * * * *
James Flanagan left the bar, made his way home and entered his empty house. Rose
would be at her sister Kate‘s house all night, caring for the terminally ill woman, a role which
she would do a few nights each week, and now he was sorry that he had caused the row with
Kate all those years ago.
He had been drunk and had called her some things that she would never forgive him
for, and she had warned him never to set foot inside her home again. It wasn‘t Kate that he
hated though, it was her no good leech of a husband who was mainly to blame for anything
that had been said.
As he sat alone in the empty house he started to think about what old Mick had said,
and also about his grandfather, about the stories they had told him, and he felt frightened
A noise upstairs sent him racing to the drawer of the cupboard, and he rumbled
quickly inside it, withdrew his rosaries, sat down, and wrapped them around his large fist.
It had been a long time since he attended church, and he wished now that he had gone
more often. Tomorrow, he promised himself. Just then the door flew open and he jumped up,
startled. It was Rose.
―Jesus Christ Rose,‖ he shouted. ―You frightened the living dayli…‖ James stopped in
mid sentence when he seen his wife‘s agitated state. ―My God, Rose, is Kate all right?‖ He
lightly gripped his wife‘s arm. ―Rose, is Kate all right?‖ He repeated.
―Yes Kate‘s all right, now leave me alone,‖ she cried, as she pulled herself away from
him and ran upstairs.
This illness of Kate‟s is starting to tell on Rose, he thought, and he quickly followed
―Rose,‖ he whispered to the crying woman lying on the bed. ―Is there anything I can
do for you? Please let me help you,‖ he begged.
―Go away,‖ Rose sobbed, ―Go back to your cronies at the bar and help them out,‖ she
yelled. ―They need you more than I do, James Flanagan.‖
This was hurtful to him. Sure at one time he drank more than his fair share, rolling in
drunk on many an occasion, but this had not been the case for a long time now, and Rose
―What if I was to go up and visit with Kate, and apologise to her? Would that help?‖
Rose sprang up on the bed and immediately stopped crying. ―Do not even think about
going anywhere near my sister,‖ she said threateningly, pointing at him. ―Do you hear me?‖
Rose shouted. ―Stay away from Kate.‖
―I‘m only trying to help you. I love you Rose,‖ James replied.
―That‘s a laugh,‖ she barked. ―You wouldn‘t know the meaning of love if it bit you in
the arse. Now fuck off and leave me alone,‖ she shouted.
James walked slowly back downstairs letting the rosaries slip from his hand, as his
eyes filled, and his stomach churned at her savagery toward him.
* * * * *
Back at the house Sarah was just about to pour her tea into a cup when she heard the
clanking sound of steel toecaps and heels against the concrete road outside.
The noise indicated that there was someone walking alongside her house, and she
stared out through the window. But it was hard to focus on the figure through the darkness
and the rain. Then as the figure came into her vision, she could see it was a policeman, and as
far as she could tell he was a very young policeman, going up to the old woman‘s house, no
As he passed he sounded like a marching soldier she felt, and suddenly he gave her a
little wave, and she waved back smiling, and then he was gone.
Sarah‘s mind wandered back to when she was a little girl, when she would come here
regularly to visit her Uncle Pat, and she would go up the lane to the old guest house and play
on the swing outback with her new little friend Francis, whom she had met, and who was
staying up there at the guest house for the full summer with her mother. She smiled broadly
and giggled as she thought about the fun times they had together there, during those fine
Donald had not been up to the house for at least two years, when he had taken a walk
up there while on duty one summer‘s day. It had only been a social visit that fine day, but he
remembered the large one story building then as being unkempt, and he also remembered the
unfriendly Mrs Doyle, who had told him to go away, and not in any friendly or polite manner.
However, something had frightened old Mick, and he was going to march up there
and find out what it was. He checked his hand held-radio, but the battery was almost flat, and
so he realised that if anything had happened at the house, then he would be unable to
immediately summon help from the station. Even though his only weapon was a truncheon,
he ploughed on in the knowledge that it was very seldom that burglars carried weapons, and
this burglar, if indeed it was a burglar would be long gone by now anyway.
* * * * *
As he approached the sinister looking house with its large chimney pots towering into
the dark sky, he removed his torch and walked around the front, shining his beam through
Every room at the front was bare except for one, which had a small mattress on the
floor, and an old dressing table beside it. He could just make out a few empty stout bottles
and he supposed that this must be old Mick‘s room, and carried on. Poor old Mick, he
thought. Once a good man, but like so many before him, ruined by the drink. As he turned the
corner to the side of the house, a pigeon, or a bat perhaps — he couldn‘t tell, flew toward his
head and almost collided with him, and as he threw his hands up in defence, his hat fell off,
landing in a large puddle at his feet.
As he bent down to retrieve the soaking hat, he heard a long piercing scream coming
from the rear of the house.
The already alert policeman drew out his truncheon and wrapped the small strap
around his wrist, transferring the torch to his other hand, as he cursed his useless radio. He
paused cautiously for a moment, and then he strode on through the worsening rain.
She must be playing her wireless, he decided, as he glanced through each window in
turn. Then he heard it again, much louder this time, a scream, no, more like a shriek, so loud
that it frightened him, and it was near. Then he heard a woman‘s voice, faintly, in the
―Go away and leave me in peace,‖ it shouted. Donald‘s heart was racing now as he
shone his torch through the next window. So it was a burglar after all, coming back for a
second time to rob and torment the old woman, or maybe worse. Maybe a sexual deviate, he
As the beam of light from his torch entered the window, it lit up the old lady who was
sitting up in bed looking across the room, but she quickly turned her head toward the beam.
―No,‖ she shouted in his direction, as the constable shone the torch across to the other side.
The figure, hooded, had its back to him, and as it extended a long arm, it pointed its
skeletal like hand at the old lady. It was levitating about a foot from the floor, and then it
slowly rotated around, to face him.
The face was distorted and grotesque, as it mouthed meaninglessly at the policeman,
and then it wailed. A wail so loud it was almost ear bursting. Then the demon floated across
the room, toward him, moving its hooded head from side to side. ―No!‖ Donald heard the old
woman yell, as he dropped the torch and ran for his life, his heart pumping fast.
―Holy Mother of God,‖ he cried over and over again as he sprinted along the roadside.
It was behind him now, he knew, he could feel its presence moving quickly through the trees,
close to him, at the side of the road. The rain beat hard against his face as he panted for
breath, and as his adrenalin kicked in he thundered on in terror, feeling at any moment that
his very life would be torn from him.
* * * * *
Sarah was putting away her now empty cup, when she heard the policeman‘s steel
toecaps in the distance, pounding down the concrete road toward her house, and she quickly
ran outside, shoeless, to find out what was going on. As she stepped out onto the road, the
now hysterical policeman almost collided with her, but as he moved to avoid her, his steel
toecaps made him slip on the wet surface, and he skidded to the ground, his truncheon
scraping along the hard road as it slipped from his grasp. Struggling to get up, he found
himself looking into a large rain pool that had formed at the side of the road, and he saw the
reflection of something moving fast, high in the trees, from right to left, its cape blowing
around it in the wind. As Sarah went to help him to his feet, he jumped up, looked at her
pitifully, and ran on, leaving the shocked woman to face this accursed abomination on her
As the now frightened Sarah looked after him fading into the distance, she sensed a
movement behind her and spun around. There was nothing or no one to be seen, only the rain
beating down through the darkness. Now she ran, afraid, back toward the safety of her home,
the fifteen feet from the gate now feeling like fifty, and as she slammed the door behind her,
she felt her mind race.
What the hell is going on here? Sarah thought as she staggered toward the stairs. She
would talk to Otis in the morning, get the hell out of here, rectify this mistake, and they
would return to America immediately.
As the terrified woman walked up the staircase, she could feel the wet floor beneath
her naked, grass-stained feet, and for a second she froze with horror, but she bravely climbed
At the top of the staircase, where the carpet still had to be laid, she noticed a little wet
patch on the wooden floor, hardly visible, but there none the less. Someone had entered her
house, she knew, and they were in her bedroom. Her only thought was for Otis now as she
strode bravely on, and as she entered the dark bedroom, she saw it.
―My God,‖ Sarah groaned, and stared in horror as the cloaked figure that was
hovering above their bed slowly turned toward her, moving its grotesque head slowly around
and to the side, as if it were studying her. Sarah put her hands up to her face, backed slowly
up against the wall, and looked over at the still sleeping Otis. ―Wha, what do yo, you want
with us, she bravely stammered with a whisper, trying not to waken Otis, lest it should attack
The creature was opening and closing its mouth as it slowly moved toward her, but no
sound came from it. Then with a swift jerking movement it was upon her, its grotesque face
just two inches away from hers, as it rubbed its spindly fingers over her eyes and nose. Sarah
knew instinctively that the beast must be almost blind, as it tried to focus in on her face, and
she tried to turn away, but it held her jaw firmly in its powerful grip. Its very breath smelt like
death, and Sarah felt her head swoon.
Then it wailed, so loudly that Sarah fainted. Otis jumped up out of his sleep in the
darkness, confused. The noise had sounded like a car slamming on the brakes at high speed,
screeching and skidding across their bedroom floor.
As he surveyed the dark empty silent room, he noticed that Sarah was not in bed, and
he quickly got up and made for the bedroom door, tripping over his outstretched wife, who
lay flat out on the floor.
Flicking the light switch he felt panic when he saw Sarah lying there, but he quickly
carried the unconscious woman back to the bed, noticing as he looked her up and down that
her wet feet had grass on them. ―What the hell has happened here honey? Sarah, wake up,
Sarah,‖ he shouted to his sleeping wife, ―wake up.‖
Father Quinn was now dressed and heading out through the door of his home. He
would go to Rose and see if she was all right, and to hell with the consequences. He had been
just as responsible for the affair as Rose had, more so perhaps, except he should have known
better. He was a man with the same sexual desires as any other man, but he should have
turned to his beliefs for inner strength, instead of becoming a partner to Satan, he felt. As he
walked down the hill he carried his umbrella under his arm, but he didn‘t use it, and seemed
unaware of the small streams of rain that ran down the sides of his face.
Old Mick had taken shelter from the rain under the short roof that jutted out from the
shop doorway, and he grew impatient as he waited for Donald to return.
Father Quinn had just approached the shop when he saw old Mick sheltering from the
rain. He knew Mick was a good friend of James, and he also knew the full harrowing history
of the old man. The priest walked over to Mick and was about to speak when Mick raised a
hand to silence him. Mick would hear no lame and sorry excuse from him this night.
Then from down the street the two men heard the unmistakable clip clopping of the
Constable‘s boots as he ran toward them. Louder they sounded, until as he was almost level
with the men. Old Mick ran into the road and blocked his path. ―Did you see it?‖ Mick
shouted, as Donald side-swept passed, ignoring him. Mick instinctively knew that he was
heading for the police station though, and hurried after him, followed by the priest.
Inside the police station Sergeant Woods was busy mopping out the hall area of the
entrance. It was an old station in need of some repair, but it was all they had for now and
Sergeant Woods was determined at least that it should be kept clean.
He could hear the familiar sound of Constable O‘Shea‘s hob nailed boots running
toward the station and as he straightened up in surprise, the door of the station burst open and
slammed loudly against the wall, almost breaking the reinforced glass as the distraught
constable came charging in, cascading into the sergeant and sending him and the contents of
the mop bucket careening across the station floor. ―Don‘t let it get me,‖ he screamed at the
sergeant and scurried behind a desk.
Sergeant Woods, thinking they were under some form of attack, immediately raised
himself from the ground and raced over to the small armoury, quickly lifting some shells in
one hand, as he drew out his Webley revolver with the other. He quickly loaded it up, and
stood inside the doorway, waiting for whoever was chasing Constable O‘Shea to attack.
The attack came in the form of old Mick and the priest, who both rushed into the
police station and were immediately confronted by Sergeant Woods aiming his revolver at
them. ―Don‘t shoot,‖ Mick shouted, as father Quinn slipped on the wet floor, falling to the
ground and sending a little spray of water up around the wall. ―What the hell‘s going on
here?‖ roared Sergeant Woods, looking around at the normally dependable O‘Shea, and then
back to old Mick, who was dripping wet in the doorway. ―There is a demon up at Mrs
Doyle‘s house,‖ said old Mick, in a matter-of-fact manner.
Sergeant Woods looked at the priest for some sort of explanation, but the priest who
had now picked himself up raised his hands to gesture that he knew nothing about it. ―I have
seen it,‖ said Mick, ―and now so has Donald.‖
The Sergeant walked over to the desk, the water from the mop bucket still dripping
from his arms onto the floor, and leaned across to the shaking constable who was still
fighting to get his breath back. ―Just what happened to you tonight son?‖
The young policeman tried to speak, but no words would pass his lips.
―He‘s seen a bloody demon I told you,‖ Mick repeated, as Sergeant Woods raised a
hand to silence him. ―A banshee, we both seen it,‖ Mick went on.
―Banshee my arse,‖ yelled Sergeant Woods at Mick. ―Have you been on the bloody
―Yes, I have been on the drink,‖ Mick answered. ―But your constable hasn‘t been
drinking and just look at the state of him.‖
Sergeant Woods then turned to Constable O‘Shea again. ―Get up man,‖ he
commanded. O‘Shea who was sitting on the floor now climbed slowly and awkwardly onto
―No one is going to hurt you,‖ exclaimed the priest, and the constable gave a nervous
half smile. ―Mi, Mi, Mick‘s right,‖ the young constable stammered to the sergeant, ―I seen it,
on my mother‘s grave, I swear it, the woman‘s in danger.‖
―Mrs Doyle‘s in danger?‖ Sergeant Woods asked.
―No, I mean yes, and the other woman as well,‖ groaned the constable, as if in pain.
Sergeant Woods stood hands on hips and shook his head. He had served on the force
for almost thirty eight years, but had never witnessed anything like this in his entire career.
What the hell had happened to these men? Sergeant Woods wondered. Well one thing
was certain; they must have seen something, something that would require an immediate
* * * * *
Sarah awoke to find Otis using a wet cloth to moisten her face and she held him with
all her might. ―Never let me go,‖ she begged. ―Promise me darling,‖ she pleaded. Otis looked
down at his wife‘s feet.
―What‘s with the grass on your feet honey?‖ Otis asked. ―What the hell were you
doing outside on a night like this?‖
―I‘m done for,‖ she cried. ―The banshee was here, and it looked upon me, and now it
will be coming back for me, for my very soul. I know it will.‖
Sarah started to cry and Otis held her tightly. ―Nothing‘s coming back for you Sarah, I
promise,‖ he said. Otis felt his stomach heave. What the hell is wrong with her? He thought.
Is Sarah losing her mind? No, it‟s the place, the people, mass hypnosis, yeah that what it is
alright. But then what about that noise that awoke me.
Anyway, he would take her to the hospital in the morning and get this damn mess
* * * * *
At the station, Sergeant Woods made a move to the desk and lifted the telephone,
dialled a number and after a few seconds began to talk. ―Hello is the inspector there?‖ Woods
asked loudly, ―well Sergeant Cummings will have to do then.‖ After a pause he spoke up
again. ―Hello Joe, its Arthur Woods here. Something‘s happened down here, Joe, and you‘ll
have to come over right away. I‘ll tell when you get here, and Joe, bring as many men with
you as you can. Well, three will have to do then, but please hurry, yes goodbye.‖
Sergeant Woods slowly sat the phone down and looked around suspiciously at the
three men in front of him as he raised an eyebrow. My Lord, he thought, as he stared at the
trio; a priest, a drunk and a constable who was almost in the state of collapse. ―They‘re on
their way,‖ he said pointing at the men. ―And I only hope I‘m not bringing them here on
some bloody fool‘s errand,‖ he said, menacingly.
* * * * *
Otis stared out the window and wondered. He had never believed in anything
supernatural before in his life, and this went against his whole grain of thinking. Sarah had
said she‘d seen something though, and maybe she had, or maybe she and everyone else in the
damn village were going crazy, but he trusted and believed in his wife. Then he thought about
something that had been told to him about fifteen years or so previously, and he wondered
why it had never entered his mind until now. It was something to do with Sarah saying that
this banshee was coming back for her soul that made him realise he had heard a story like this
He had been on duty with one of his many partners, Eric Little Feather, a full blood
Indian of Sioux descent, and one of the bravest men he had ever met. Even though these men
had come from different cultures, they had hit it off straight away, and had become very good
friends. They had been sitting on a stakeout, quietly waiting one night, and Otis had jokingly
remarked to Eric that he would give up his soul for a syrup pancake. Eric had taken exception
and warned Otis that he should never joke about his soul this way. Otis asked him to take it
easy, and then informed him that the Indian people were a very superstitious race who viewed
life too seriously.
―No!‖ Eric had answered him, it was the white man who took life too seriously, he
had said. The white men have always wanted to own everything, he had added. And he
reminded Otis that the white men had even owned the black man once. Otis couldn‘t argue
with that and said no more, sorry now that he had mentioned the goddamn pancake in the first
Then Eric proceeded to tell him about an Indian from his tribe by the name of Satra,
who was faced with losing his soul.
* * * * *
„Long before the white man came to our land,‟ Eric said, „Satra, a fearless Lakota
Sioux warrior, who had shown his bravery in many battles against our then sworn enemy, the
Ojibwa tribe, left his village on foot, accompanied by a party of ten braves, and went out
across the Great Plains in search of the buffalo. They had travelled far that day, and when
darkness fell they made camp and settled down. A brave named Two Bears was looking out
across the cloudless sky as the rest of the party slept, and he watched as a shooting star
raced across the sky.
Although he had seen this many times before, this star had moved in the direction of
their village, and he thought it a bad sign. As he stretched out his arms yawning and twisting
around to observe his sleeping brothers, he noticed something else in the sky, showing up in
the glare of the moon, a figure, a large figure.
Not a bird, bigger than a bird, but with no wings. A man he thought, in the distance. A
bird man, who was coming slowly through the sky toward him and the sleeping band.
Frightened, he yelled loudly to the others, who all awoke at once. Two Bears pointed
into the sky and walked backward, stumbling as he did. Satra lifted his spear and walked to
the front of the trembling band, as three or four of them started to chant, but Satra silenced
them. Still onward it came toward them, descending all the while, and everyone could see
that the bird being was hooded. Satra was very frightened by this floating figure, but he
would not show his fear in front of the others and he stepped forward, spear at the ready.
Watching in terror as the hooded one drew nearer, two of the younger braves ran screaming,
and Satra shouted on them to come back, but they ran on into the darkness. „What is this
thing that comes to us in the night?‟ Spotted Dog asked with fear in his voice, as he looked
around at the others for an answer.
Then the bird being was almost upon them, and they could just make out its grotesque
features. Three of the braves fired off arrows at it, with two arrows striking the body, but still
it came on, until it was level with the little band. Satra commanded the braves to lower their
bows and the shaking men obeyed as the hooded creature looked upon them for the longest
Then it moved, stunning everyone with its speed as it flew across to Satra and stared
into his face. Satra looked slowly up and down its body and watched as it moved its hideous
long gnarled fingers up to his mouth, gently caressing his nose and eyes,
The creature seemed to be trying to talk to him, as it opened and closed its mouth, but
no sound came from it, until it screamed loudly into his face, but Satra held firm.
Another brave by the name of Moving Shadow almost knocked Satra over, as he dived
onto the creature, followed by Two Bears and Spotted Dog, as they tried to wrestle it to the
The hooded one had the strength of very many men though, and it responded by
tearing off some of Moving Shadow‟s limbs, and then it threw Two Bears high through the
air. Spotted Dog struck the beast in the face with his knife, but it also threw him to the side as
easily as a man throwing a rock. Satra rammed his spear into the beast, but it simply moved
its head from side to side for a moment, and then it slowly moved off in the direction from
where it had come, rising into the sky, and away.
Moving Shadow was clearly dead, but Two Bears, although badly hurt, was still alive.
Spotted Dog was also alive, but had many broken parts. The shocked braves sat together in
fear, until the sun came up and gave light to the plains, and then they moved as quickly from
this place as they could travel. They would call off the hunt and go back to their village.
When they returned, Satra visited old Chief Cloud, whom the tribe believed had the
wisdom of all living things on his tongue, and after listening to Satra‟s story, Chief Cloud
told Satra that he was certain that his band had been visited by the Great Spirit Woman, who
has always roamed the plains like a great hunter.
This hunter though, was the hunter of souls. The chief, who was over one hundred
years old, had been told many stories when he was a young brave, but remembered them all
as if he had heard them only yesterday. He spoke of the Great Spirit woman, who would
choose someone‟s soul and then return for it, and no living thing could stop her. The Chief
asked Satra if the Great Spirit Woman had looked upon him, staring into his eyes and when
Satra agreed that she had looked upon him, Chief Cloud stared to the heavens and chanted.
When he next spoke he had tears in his eyes, and his heart hung heavy as he told
Satra that his soul had already been claimed, and the Great Spirit Woman would visit him
again, within ten moons. This visit would be to take him away.
The chief also told Satra that no one could help him now, and that even though the
braves would all fight for him when she came to take him, no one would live who stood
against her power.
The next day Satra left the village early, before the sun came up, and was never seen
again, but very many moons later a hunting party found some of Satra‟s belongings, although
there was no sign of Satra or his remains.‟
* * * * *
This great warrior, Eric had told Otis, had crossed the plains to face the Great Spirit
Woman alone, because he wanted no others to die in vain trying to help him. But it could
have been different for Satra. He didn‘t have to go off alone to his death, because there was
another way, Eric had told him.
Otis had laughed this story off at the time, and had thought it a typical Indian
superstition, but now he didn‘t know what to think. Eric had never made stories up, he
believed, and was always truthful with him, and now that he thought about it, so was Sarah.
Back at the station reinforcements had arrived, in the guise of Sergeant Joseph
Cummings and two constables. Joe was an old hand and very experienced, as was Constable
Pearson, but young Constable McCann, only on the job for four months, was still pretty wet
behind the ears.
―Hello Arthur,‖ Joe said, as they entered the small station. ―What‘s going on here
―Hello Joe,‖ Sergeant Woods replied. ―Well Joe, I don‘t know where to start with this.
It seems these fellows here have seen something up at Mrs Doyle‘s house.‖
Sergeant Woods pointed to the three men standing behind him, and wondered if he
should say any more.
The priest put his hand up to gesture that he had seen nothing, and was about to speak
when old Mick interrupted, ―It‘s true,‖ Mick said, his speech still slurred, ―It‘s up at the
house, the demon,‖ he urged. The three new arrivals looked at each other in disbelief, and
Sergeant Woods felt embarrassed and uncomfortable. ―Donald has seen it as well,‖ Mick said
pointing at the still shaking policeman. ―Tell them Donald,‖ Mick pleaded.
―I did, I swear I did. It chased after me,‖ the young constable answered.
Joe Cummings had seen it all, he felt. In his long service years as a policeman he had
heard many a tall tale, but he had never heard anything quite like this before. However, he
had been born and raised in this village, and he knew old Mick, as a drunk perhaps, but not a
liar. He had also been a friend of Don O‘Shea‘s father, and he remembered Donald as a
young boy, a very honest and truthful boy then, he thought. He didn‘t know the priest though,
but if these men said they seen something at Mrs Doyle‘s house, then that was good enough
―Well, Arthur,‖ he said, ―Why don‘t we all go up there and investigate this?‖
Old Mick spoke up again. ―I wouldn‘t go near that place if the whole bloody Irish
army came with me,‖ he shouted, ―I‘m telling you.‖
―I w-won‘t go there either,‖ stuttered Constable O‘Shea.
―Will you join us father?‖ Sergeant Woods asked, feeling that perhaps this priest may
be needed more than anyone else.
―Yes I will. I would really like to help you out,‖ Father Quinn replied, anxious to
redeem himself in any way that he could.
Sergeant Woods ordered Constable O‘Shea to guard the station until he got back, and
Mick volunteered to keep him company. Sergeants Woods and Cummings; together with the
two Constables, Pearson and McCann; and Father Quinn, stepped into the police vehicle, and
proceeded toward Mrs Doyle‘s house at full speed.
* * * * *
Sarah had fallen asleep now, and Otis came downstairs and stepped out into the
garden. He stared up into the night sky as he mumbled a little prayer. It had been a long time
since he had prayed, but this prayer was not for him, this prayer was for the woman he loved,
and he started this prayer off with a quick apology for having not prayed for so long.
When he had finished praying he looked around in thought at the rain-soaked garden.
Surely, he thought, there must be some other explanation for all of this. Just then he noticed
the car, headlights glaring, coming past his house, and as they turned into the little road at the
side of his house he could see they were policemen.
Otis ran out in front of them causing the car to skid to a halt. ―Something‘s happened
to my wife,‖ he yelled.
Sergeant Cummings, who was driving the car, jumped out and approached him on
foot. ―Does she need an ambulance?‖ He enquired.
―No,‖ Otis replied. ―Something has happened to her, but she‘s not hurt, I think she has
been frightened very badly by something. She‘s asleep now though,‖ he said.
―What do you mean, you think?‖ Sergeant Cummings asked.
―I just don‘t know,‖ Otis answered ―I heard something.‖
―Well, once we have dealt with our call we will come back to you,‖ Sergeant
Otis butted in. ―You‘re going up to the Doyle house, right?‖ Otis enquired, as he
rested his hand on the Sergeant‘s chest.
―Yes we are,‖ Sergeant Cummings answered with some suspicion.
―Listen,‖ Otis stated. ―I was a cop in L.A. for over twenty years, and I may be able to
help you, because whatever is going on up there in that house,‖ he said, pointing toward the
lane, ―is responsible for my wife being the way she is right now.‖
―Sorry,‖ Sergeant Woods said, ―this is strictly police business.‖ Otis held his head as
Sergeant Cummings returned to the car.
―Listen Arthur,‖ Sergeant Cummings said, ―I think we should let the big Yank go
with us, never know what‘s up there, and we may need all the help we can get.‖
―Well, all right,‖ Sergeant Woods replied after a pause, ―he can go, but only as an
―You can go,‖ Sergeant Cummings informed Otis.
―But only as an onlooker,‖ Sergeant Woods stated loudly, his voice full of authority
as he let everyone know who was still in charge. ―Get in,‖ he said to Otis, as though he were
speaking to a cadet.
―We can‘t leave Sarah alone,‖ Otis answered.
―McCann,‖ shouted Sergeant Cummings, showing that he too had some authority,
―stay with this man‘s wife.‖
―Yes, Sargeant Cummings,‖ answered the relieved constable as he promptly exited
The wind was picking up now as Otis pushed his way into the cramped car, and they
sped up the road. As they drove into the lane approaching Mrs Doyle‘s house, Otis noticed
that the Keep Out sign was standing erect, and he wondered who had fixed it. As the men
exited the car, Otis also noticed that both the sergeants had revolvers in their hands, and he
looked surprised when the priest pulled out some rosary beads and a small crucifix from his
There was no sign of any movement in the house as Constable Pearson shone his
torch in through the windows, and the small band moved slowly together as one, frightened at
the thought of what they might encounter. As they moved further along the rear of the house
they could see a figure asleep in one of the bedrooms. ―It‘s Mrs Doyle,‖ exclaimed Sergeant
Woods. Father Quinn quickly kissed his rosaries as Sergeant Cummings walked along and
rapped loudly on the back door. ―She‘s not moving,‖ shouted Constable Pearson, who was
still shining his torch through the window at her.
―Break it down,‖ Sergeant Woods ordered. Constable Pearson came over and handed
Sergeant Cummings his torch, and immediately shoulder charged the heavy wooden door,
which didn‘t budge. He tried again with the same result, as he masked the searing pain that
shot down his arm and across his whole body.
―Excuse me,‖ Otis said as he pushed Constable Pearson out of the way, and before the
man could say anything, Otis flew at the door, breaking it down, sending dust and wood
splinters flying everywhere.
―Well done,‖ Sergeant Cummings said rather loudly, as if justifying why he had asked
that the big American should be allowed to accompany them in the first place.
With the door now opened the five men hesitated, staring at each other to see who
would make the first move. Father Quinn ducked under Otis‘s outstretched arm which was
holding firmly to the doorframe, and entered the dark, litter infested hallway first, closely
followed by Constable Pearson who had retrieved his torch, and was shining it all over the
The putrid smell that wafted along the hall nauseated the men, all except Otis that is,
who had long since lost his sense of smell. He had lost it on the operating table all those
many years ago, when he was so concerned about losing his eye, that it was weeks before he
even noticed he could not smell. It was when the senior nurse announced to him one morning
that she loved to enter his private hospital room just to smell the fresh flowers that Sarah
religiously brought with her on her visits, that Otis first noticed he couldn‘t smell them. But
he didn‘t dwell too much on it then, thinking that it would only be a matter of time until it
Sergeant Cummings fought to stop himself from being sick, while the priest, who was
used to these sorts of smells on his daily visits around the community, moved slowly on.
―There‘s a light switch,‖ shouted someone, and Otis flicked it, but nothing happened.
Sergeant Woods whispered to Constable Pearson to shine his torch on small areas at a time
and stop waving it about all over the bloody place, but he ignored the Sergeant, whom he
didn‘t regard as his superior anyway and continued to ark the beam of light around the walls
The men, still led by Father Quinn, slowly made their way down the hall, walking
over the pile of debris that had accumulated there over the years as they made loud crunching
sounds on the rotting floorboards.
―Good God,‖ croaked Pearson as he tripped over something, and grabbed Sergeant
Cummings to prevent himself from falling.
―Stop!‖ Sergeant Woods commanded, ―I think I hear something,‖ he whispered. Each
man stopped to listen, hardly daring to breathe in the silence, when suddenly a door flew
open. Constable Pearson quickly pulled his torch up, and lit up the large figure in the
―What do you mean by this intrusion?‖ The tall figure raged. It was Mrs Doyle,
standing in the doorway with her unkempt hair and filthy nightdress, her white skin giving
her a ghastly, death-like appearance. Sergeant Cummings was now already convinced of what
the men had seen at this house, and so he decided to take a back seat in the matter and let the
already confused Sergeant Woods run the show from here on in.
―Mrs Doyle,‖ said Sergeant Woods. ―We have had a report that you may have had
burglars in your home, and we are duty-bound to investigate.‖
―There are no burglars here,‖ she shouted, ―This is that old drunk Mick O‘Neill‘s
doing I‘ll bet, now get off my property.‖
Father Quinn stepped forward, crucifix still in hand, which glistened in the light of
Constable Pearson‘s beam. ―Now we are only trying to help you Mrs Doyle,‖ the priest said
softly, but Sergeant Woods moved quickly, interrupting the priest. This was his show, he had
started it, and he wasn‘t going to damn well leave it until he received some answers.
―We believe madam, that there is someone in the house who should not be here, and
we need to check this matter out, and until we are satisfied that there is no one here then we
cannot leave,‖ he informed her.
Mrs Doyle kept yelling at the men to get out, swearing obscenities at them, but they
ignored her outbursts and quickly marched on passed her, making their way into the
bedroom. Sergeant Woods knew that if they found nothing at the house then there could be
hell to pay with his superiors, but he was convinced that the men had seen something, and so
he pressed on. Someone found a bedside light and switched it on, and although the low
wattage bulb was not very bright, it was just bright enough to let the men see around the
room, and the squalid conditions this woman was living in.
Never during his career, before or after for that matter, had Otis witnessed anything as
filthy as this, and it made him feel sad for her.
―Has there been anyone here in the last two nights?‖ Sergeant Woods politely asked.
―No!‖ Was the stern reply from Mrs Doyle, as she lowered her head to avoid eye
She‟s lying, Otis thought.
―Listen Madam,‖ broke in Sergeant Cummings, who now decided to get involved
again, and not let his friend Arthur shoulder all the responsibility. Besides, he didn‘t believe
―We will not intrude upon you much longer madam, but we have to satisfy ourselves
that there is not somethi — er — someone,‖ he corrected, ―dangerous in this house before we
―Get out,‖ was the reply, but the Sergeant ignored her again. The men checked every
room in the house, but could find nothing.
―There‘s just no one here,‖ said Sergeant Cummings after a thorough search.
―Okay,‖ Sergeant Woods replied. ―We will secure the broken door and I‘ll send
someone up tomorrow to fix it properly. I apologise for any inconvenience madam,‖ he said
to Mrs Doyle.
―No!‖ Otis belched, ―she‘s hiding something, why can‘t you men see that?‖
―I‘m sorry,‖ said Sergeant Woods, ―we can do no more.‖
―Like hell you can‘t,‖ Otis raged as the policemen started to make their way out.
Otis looked sternly over to the woman who was now sitting gravel faced at the end of
the bed. ―My wife is in grave danger because of the fucking monster you are hiding here,‖ he
yelled at Mrs Doyle, as the policemen held his arms and tried to pull him out. ―Please help
us,‖ he shouted to Mrs Doyle. ―Help us or my wife will die,‖ he begged.
Mrs Doyle held her head in her hands sobbing as the policemen forced Otis to leave
―We just have no proof man,‖ Sergeant Cummings said to Otis while patting him on
the back as they climbed into the car. The fresh air felt great to the men and they greedily
gulped it down, clearing their nostrils from the stench they had just endured.
Sergeant Woods patted Otis on the back as he was almost manhandled into the rear of
the police vehicle.
Suddenly Mrs Doyle appeared, sobbing at the door, and motioned for the men to
return, and at once Sergeant Cummings felt sick at the thought of entering the house again,
but forced himself back with the rest of the band, still led by the priest.
* * * * *
Inside the sobbing Mrs Doyle eyed each man in turn, before asking them to sit down.
There was an old chair and a partly broken stool, which the two sergeants claimed,
and Constable Pearson sat on an old newspaper on the floor, while father Quinn and Otis
decided to stand. It was a few moments before the old woman started to speak; the small band
of men listening intently to her every word.
―I cannot go on any longer with this,‖ she sobbed. ―Not when she‘s hurting other
The priest interrupted her, as the small band of men looked at each other in confusion.
―Did you just say, ‗she‘?‖ Father Quinn asked.
―Yes, she,‖ answered Mrs Doyle, ―Emily.‖
Otis was standing beside the old woman and she looked sadly at him, which gave her
a gentler and friendlier appearance compared to the raging figure of the brutish woman five
Mrs Doyle then took his hand in her own large but frail, worn-out hands.
―I‘m sorry for you and your wife, but it‘s already too late for her now,‖ she said. Otis
grabbed hold of her wrist almost lifting the woman up from the bed.
―What the hell is this thing?‖ he yelled at the woman angrily.
Father Quinn placed a calming hand on the big American‘s shoulder, afraid that Mrs
Doyle would clam up if Otis hurt her. ―Please my son,‖ he implored, and Otis let go, as the
old woman rubbed hard at her wrist.
―Strong, I like that in a man,‖ she said, making everyone in the room feel
uncomfortable. Then she looked around at the small band of men, once again eyeing each one
of them in turn before speaking. ―I‘ll begin,‖ she said softly.
„Many years ago, when I was a child and living in County Wexford, my mother died
suddenly, leaving my father to raise myself and my older sister Emily. But Father couldn‟t
cope with mother‟s loss, and took to the bottle more and more, leaving Emily and I to do
mainly as we pleased.
I was ten years old at the time, and Emily was twelve. One of the things we loved to
do was to play outdoors in the back garden, down by the small stream, where we would have
endless days of fun throughout the long summer months, until Father came in one day that is,
and forbade us to play outdoors again. There were dangerous escaped criminals somewhere
in the forest, behind the house, he had said, and under no circumstances were we to go out
About a week later though, our cousin came to visit, and as we played in the bedroom,
Violet, our cousin, asked us if we could keep a secret. „Please, oh please tell us,‟ Emily
pleaded, and after we promised to keep her secret, she told us that she had overheard her
parents talking about our father, and how he was going to have to sell the house to clear his
debtors. „No!‟ Emily screamed into Violet‟s face, as I started to cry.
„Yes!‟ Violet screamed back. „You two may end up in the convent, and there are no
criminals in the wood. It‟s the Fairy Woman, Mother says.‟
Emily stared at Violet for ages before speaking again. „Father would never sell this
house,‟ Emily had shouted at her. Then she called Violet some bad names and ran to her
A short time later when Violet and her parents had left, I went to Emily‟s room. „Are
we going to be all right?‟ I asked.
„Mary,‟ Emily stated, „No matter what happens, I won‟t let us be separated from each
other, I promise you.‟ Then she hugged me.
„What‟s a Fairy Woman?‟ I asked her, but she said she would tell me all about it
when I was a bit older.
Next day was a beautiful day, although a bit windy, and as Father was away, Pearly
the maid would soon take her afternoon nap. Pearly always did when Father was away, and
so we had decided to disobey Father, and go play in the back garden for a spell, while she
slept. Just like clockwork, and after ordering us not to leave the house, Pearly fell asleep on
She would be like this for a couple of hours, and so we made our escape. We had only
been playing for a short while, about five minutes, when the wind blew up really strong and
the sky darkened somewhat. „Perhaps we should go indoors,‟ remarked Emily.
„All right,‟ I answered, but before I could stand up Emily dropped the doll she had
been holding, and pointed behind me. Something was coming through the trees very fast
around the side of us, high off the ground.
„Run,‟ Emily yelled as it broke from the trees beside us, and grabbing my hand, she
pulled me along.
„It‟s the Fairy Woman,‟ I shouted as the hooded creature blocked our way. I pulled
away from Emily and ran toward it. If this was the Fairy Woman then she would grant me a
wish, I thought, and then I could save the house for Father.
„Don‟t look at it,‟ I heard Emily shout. But Emily was wrong. The kind Fairy Woman
would help us I thought. Then I was upon it, and as I looked up into the kind Fairy woman‟s
face, I drew back in horror.
This was no kind Fairy Woman, but a demon of the worst evil. Its face was twisted
and grotesque, and it was mouthing words at me, but I could hear no sound. Then it
screamed at me, and for a very short time I must have fainted. The next thing I remember was
poor Emily dragging me along the ground, and I could see the vile creature disappear into
When we reached the house we crashed through the door, and I remember Pearly
shouting down into my face as I lay dazed. Then I fell into a deep sleep. When I awoke Father
and Emily were at my bedside, and Father was holding my hand. I smiled up at father as
Emily stood sobbing behind him. „You‟re all right now Mary, you‟ve had a fright, but you‟re
going to be alright,‟ said Father.
„Don‟t cry Emily,‟ I said, „I‟m all right, just like Father says.
Old Father Lynch had been sent for and had come to the house almost immediately. I
could hear him talking with Father and Emily, their voices raised, and I felt frightened
somehow until Father looked across at me and ordered them to be silent. „What is wrong?‟ I
heard myself say, „Please tell me,‟ I pleaded, and it was Father who spoke up first.
„We must leave straight away,‟ he said. „I have a friend in London who will let us stay
at his home for a while. Go pack immediately,‟ he ordered Emily, pointing to the bedroom
„But I don‟t want to leave here,‟ I cried.
„No, you don‟t seem to understand,‟ Father Lynch said loudly to father. „The only
place the child will be safe is in the sanctity of the church, where it dare not enter. If you go
anywhere on this planet it will find her there, anywhere. Go to the north or south pole, or the
deepest depth of the ocean,‟ he repeated, „It will be there and it will never give up, however
long it takes, years, decades, it will always be there, relentless.‟
„How can we kill it?‟
„You cannot kill that which is already dead,‟ Father Lynch replied.
This was all making me feel even more frightened now, and I started to cry.
„Listen to me, my child,‟ he said as he came over beside me. „I do not mean to frighten
you, but this you must know. The mark of the Banshee is on you. It has laid claim to you, and
it will not rest until it has come back to claim your soul, but to do that, it must take you
bodily. You will only be safe in the church where it cannot enter. But time is of the essence
however if we are to save you,‟ he said.
Before I knew it the old priest and my father had me bundled into a large pony and
trap and were heading full speed toward the church, with Father scanning every bush and
tree in case it should be waiting for me.
As we entered the church and the doors shut behind us, I could see the relief on
Father‟s face. „How long must I stay here?‟ I ask.
„My child,‟ said Father Lynch. „You can never, under any circumstances leave here,
ever. You can never venture outside into the garden. Why even an open window could be
dangerous for you if you go too near it, but if you want to live, then the rules we will lay
down for you must be followed to the letter.‟
I believe I cried for three or four days after that, and only cheered up when Emily
came to visit with me.
I would have loved Emily to have stayed with me but it was against the church rules.
I had my own room though, which was quite nice, but I was just like a prisoner, and
as the weeks turned to months my longing to be outside was overwhelming. The priests and
nuns treated me very well though, and even allowed me to have a small pet hamster.
After a few months Father‟s visits became less frequent as the illness he had
developed became worse, but sweet, devoted Emily never missed coming to see me, and I
believe at this period of my life we were never as close as we were then. It was during one of
these visits the following summer, when the sweltering heat inside the church was
unbearable, that Emily took out some material and scissors.
We had just started to make some clothes for our dolls and I asked Emily if we could
play over at the church door where it was cooler, and she agreed. One of the nuns had left
the outer door open and the breeze from outside wafted in which helped cool us down.
Looking out of the church I could see that there was not a cloud in the sky, and because the
church was surrounded by open fields, there was not a tree in sight. I started to cry, and
when Emily asked me what was wrong, I told her how I longed to be outside. „You know you
can‟t do that,‟ said Emily.
„But there is no one about,‟ I said, begging and pleading with Emily. „Please I said,
just for one minute.‟ I believe Emily knew what I was going through, because she walked
outside and looked around.
Father Lynch had gone to town and we didn‟t know when he would return and young
Father Malloy was busy studying in the church library. Emily was walking back into the
church, nodding her disapproval, but she must have read my disappointment, because she
suddenly stopped, had another look around and then waved me forward. „Come on Mary,
you‟ve got five minutes,‟ she whispered.
When I stepped outside it took a moment to adjust to the light, and then it was great. I
burled around a few times, basking in my new-found freedom, while Emily watched intently,
scanning all around. We were about ten feet from the church door, when Emily stopped me
from going any further. “I‟ve missed this,” I said.
Then everything was sort of hazy after that. A heavy gust of wind came from nowhere
and blew Emily‟s hat off, and I ran after it and picked it up, about twenty feet away. As I was
dusting it down I noticed the priest standing just outside the door of the church and I
wondered why he was wearing a hood on a scorching day like today. „Oh God,‟ I heard
Emily shout, as she ran toward me, and then I knew at once. It had returned for me, just like
they said it would, and my heart sank low. It was off the ground, just slightly, and floating
toward us now, as Emily frantically dug into her pockets and pulled out the scissors we had
used earlier. It seemed to be almost blind as it circled around us groping with its gnarled
fingers as Emily took hold of me, and with the scissors, cut a very large chunk of hair from
my head. „Lie down,‟ she demanded, in a whispered voice. „I won‟t let it take you,‟ she said
softly as I lay on the ground. Then Emily put her finger to her mouth, urging me to be quiet as
she walked over to it, holding my hair in front of her face.
Emily had realised by the beast‟s groping manner that it must be blind, and at once,
and to my horror, I realised what she was doing. She was pretending to be me.
I jumped up from the ground and started to run at Emily and the beast, when someone
grabbed hold of me. It was Father Lynch; he had returned. I fought and kicked at him, but he
was too strong and he dragged me to the ground as he shouted for help.
Then I heard someone else shouting. It was the young priest, Father Malloy, crucifix
in hand. He ran toward the beast, thrusting his crucifix into its hideous face. The beast,
ignoring the priest, then ran its fingers through the hair that Emily was holding in front of
her face, my hair.
It then seized Emily around the waist, and I watched with terror as it very quickly
floated into the air with Emily in its evil grip, and then it was gone.
Father Malloy was on his knees in prayer as I screamed for him to help her, but I
knew deep down in my heart there was nothing anyone could do.
I don‟t know how many days had passed before I could speak again, but I must have
been in shock because everything was like a blur to me, and Father Lynch said I was
incoherent for the longest time.
The police questioned the priests, and then I was questioned, three times to be exact,
and I thought they had disbelieved me, but they never came back to me after that third time.
Father Lynch brought an old priest, Father Adams, to see me, and he explained what would
happen next. „My dear child,‟ he started. „Everyone here would like to express their profound
sadness for you at this terrible time,‟ he said. „But I am duty-bound to immediately tell you
the consequences of your brave sister‟s actions so that you may be prepared. The first thing
is that when your sister duped this foul abomination into thinking she was you, then once
taken, it had to accept her soul, and therefore it could no longer lay claim to your soul.‟
„You mean Mary‟s free of it?‟ Father Malloy interrupted.
„No!‟ Father Adams, rather loudly proclaimed. „My child,‟ he went on, his voice
softening. „Your soul cannot be taken from you now, or this beast cannot take you away, that
part we are sure of. However, we at the church believe that your sister is now transformed
into one of these creatures, and that she will be as an outcast among them, roaming this earth
in torment, unless she can drive you to suicide or madness, returning your soul to her. This is
what she will have to do, because if you die naturally, or by accident, then she will have to
stay this way for eternity without your soul, or without peace. This will be her only way and
her one and only purpose. She cannot physically harm you, but now she will visit you, and
relentlessly try to force you to her will, that is to say, force you into madness.‟
„When you say that Emily is one of them now, do you mean to say that there are many
of these abominations?‟ Father Lynch asked.
„Most definitely,‟ Father Adams answered. I had started to cry again and Father
Lynch reached out and took my hand.
„Don‟t worry Mary,‟ he said, „you are welcome to stay here in the safety of the church
for as long as you wish.‟
„Yes,‟ agreed Father Adams, „you will be quite safe within the holy walls of the
„What about Emily?‟ I cried, „I won‟t let her suffer like this, I‟ll kill myself first,‟ I
sobbed. „You still don‟t understand,‟ said Father Adams. „Emily, in any real sense of the
word is dead. This creature is not Emily, but a shell if you like, from Emily‟s existence.
Remember, this creature wants you to take your own life, or go insane. Any of these two will
serve her purpose, and it will do anything it can to get you to do this, anything,‟ he repeated.
„Also, you can never have a child, because your child‟s soul will fill its needs just as well,
and unlike you, it can kill your child for its soul.
If your love for Emily is as strong as her love for you, then Emily must not have been
allowed to have died in vain. For her sake you must be strong and brave as to how you live
the rest of your life,‟ he said.
I stayed in the church for sometime after this, but when Father became very ill I
decided to go to him, even though I knew what was in store for me.
I realised that after what Emily had done for me, I would have to be as brave as she
was, and face this Demon.
It first appeared to me on the second night at my father‟s house, as I lay in bed.
Although I was terrified, I had complete trust in Father Adams that it could not harm me
physically, and I tried not to show any fear to it, but the grotesque being screamed and
tormented me so much that night that I believed I would go insane if I had to endure another
night of this horror.
Next day though, I decided that I was not going to barricade myself into the church,
and from now on it could do whatever it wished, but I would not give it the satisfaction of
giving in to it. It came to me many times in the night after this, but the worst night of all was
when Father died. It came as if to mock me, but I tried to talk to it by calling it Emily, which
only made it scream and wail all the louder.
Other family members burst into my room that night when they heard the screams, but
the creature had already made a hasty retreat, and no one saw it. Later, I married Shaun, but
although Shaun had wanted us to start a family, I would never consent to have children with
him. This caused great friction between us, and even although I had explained to him the
reason why, I don‟t think he ever really believed me. The beast never appeared to me while
he and I were together, which I think made him look at me as if I must be mad, and I must
admit that many a time I felt as if I were. When Shaun was hospitalised though, it came back
almost every night, and when he passed away, then, well, it‟s been almost constant ever
Father Lynch and Father Adams have been dead these many years now and the last I
heard Father Malloy had moved far away from these parts and is no longer a priest. I‟ve
been here alone, except for old Mick who lodges here now.‟
* * * * *
―What about Sarah, my wife?‖ interrupted Otis.
―Your wife will only be safe in a church,‖ but as for what happens to her after this,
well you‘ll have to ask the priests, they‘re the ones who are supposed to know about this
stuff, although I wouldn‘t hold on to your breath for any hope there,‖ Mrs Doyle said
―We must take your wife to the church now.
It‘s the only place she will be safe, but we‘ve no time to lose,‖ said Father Quinn,
interrupting, while looking at Mrs Doyle pitifully.
Otis nodded in agreement, still confused about what they were up against.
This was the story Mrs Doyle told the group of men, and as they left the house
Constable Pearson spoke first. ―You boys don‘t believe that load of baloney, do you?‖ he
said. No one answered him, so he spoke up again. ―Listen,‖ he said, as he shook his head
nervously. ―Everyone around here knows that Mrs Doyle‘s an old crazy woman.‖
―What about the old man and the constable?‖ asked Otis, ―they have seen it.‖
―They‘ve seen something,‖ answered Constable Pearson, ―no doubt about that, but
Banshees or fairy women, or whatever you want to call them, not a bloody chance.‖
―Look,‖ said Father Quinn, ―There are many things you won‘t, or don‘t want to
understand, but there are also many things today that still cannot be explained, in any event, I
think we should take this man‘s wife to the church immediately, until we can find out more
―Let‘s go,‖ yelled Otis, who by now was convinced that Sarah was in mortal danger.
When the band arrived at the house Sarah was still asleep, and everyone couldn‘t help
but notice the relief on young Constable McCann‘s face at their arrival. Otis wasted no time
in wakening Sarah. ―C‘mon honey,‖ he said as he picked her up from the bed in his strong
arms and carried her downstairs. Father Quinn stared at the large black man and thought to
himself how this man would have been very handsome at one time, before some bad accident
had befallen him, leaving him with one eye and one side of his face badly scarred.
Otis noticed the priest stare at him. He had seen the same stare hundreds of times
before, as people‘s curiosity got the better of them. He didn‘t want their pity, and he sure
didn‘t want their stares, and it made him feel angry inside, but there was no time for this now,
not while Sarah‘s life was on the line, and he quickly pushed passed the priest, knocking him
against the doorframe.
―Where are we going Otis?‖ asked Sarah, by now wide awake.
―Tell you all about it when we get there honey,‖ answered Otis.
The drive over to the church was fast and furious, with Otis, Sarah, and Father Quinn
in the car, and Otis pushed his hired car to its limit, and even though it was only a short trip,
the priest sat in the back and crossed himself, afraid of the speed, but afraid to say anything
because he knew that this Demon could come for Sarah at any minute.
―Thank you Lord,‖ said Father Quinn when the car stopped safely at the church, and
they quickly ran inside.
Otis let the priest do all the talking, and he watched Sarah as she listened intently to
Father Quinn‘s every word. Father Quinn assured Sarah that he would make her stay at the
church as comfortable as he possibly could, and that he would have counsel with Rome if
need be to find an answer to her predicament. It was against the rules though to let Otis stay
at the church, but he would be allowed to visit Sarah as often as he liked during respectable
hours, Father Quinn informed him.
The next day Otis walked into town and enquired as to where James Flanagan lived.
He had decided to pay him a visit, to see if he could learn more about this demon, and he
supposed the guy might not be too friendly toward him, but he would go anyway, he thought.
Otis rapped on the door and a very attractive woman wearing a yellow apron answered.
―Hello,‖ said Otis, ―does James Flanagan live here?‖ he enquired.
―I‘ll go get him,‖ the red eyed woman answered, avoiding looking Otis directly in the
face. She looked as though she had been crying, and Otis felt he had maybe stepped into the
middle of a family dispute.
―I hope I haven‘t come at a bad time?‖ he said loudly after the woman, feeling
Just then James appeared behind his wife‘s shoulder. ―Hello Yank,‖ he said, ―what
can I do for you?‖
―It‘s about the night we talked in the bar,‖ Otis replied.
―So you‘ve come to apologise have you?‖ asked James, feeling good that the big yank
had seen sense and backed down.
―Not exactly,‖ said Otis. ―I came to talk to you about your grandfather.‖
―Oh,‖ said James, disappointed and showing it.
―Well, to tell you the truth, something happened to my wife last night, and I guess,
well I guess I am sorry for disbelieving you,‖ said Otis, as he held his hand out in a friendly
manner. James took his hand and firmly shook it.
―Come inside and sit down, then tell me about it,‖ said James, giving him an honest
The house was very small with very few possessions inside, but the place was spotless
and comfortable, and James ushered Otis into his own favourite chair. ―Rose, would you
kindly bring our guest some tea?‖ James politely asked loudly.
―I don‘t want to be any trouble,‖ answered Otis.
―No trouble,‖ said Rose, from the kitchen, I‘ve just made a fresh pot.‖ Otis didn‘t
really like tea, being more of a coffee type person, but he didn‘t want the people to think he
was being inhospitable, so when Rose gave him the cup, he drank it up.
Otis could feel Rose stare at him, and he shuffled in his seat. ―What happened to your
face?‖ Rose asked, and immediately James jumped up from his seat.
―Rose,‖ he shouted angrily. ―I‘m sorry my friend, Rose shouldn‘t have ask you that, I
hope you can forgive her?‖ James said apologetically, as he stared wildly at Rose. ―She
hasn‘t been herself for a while, since her sister‘s illness,‖ he added.
No one had ever asked Otis about the scars on his face before, not outright like that,
about his injury, most preferring to stare as if he was some sort of freak show, and as he
looked up at her, he smiled his Burt Lancaster smile. His smile was so broad, that James
began to smile along with him. Otis admired her, admired her sort of innocence and naivety,
and he thought that this woman had led a very sheltered life, but he felt comfortable talking to
someone as open as this.
* * * * *
Otis said he didn‘t mind one bit Rose‘s honest question, and he explained to them
about his time in the police force in L.A., and how he received his injury on duty. He felt
good getting it off his chest, as it was a subject he never really spoke of. Then as Otis related
to James about the events that had happened since their last meeting, Rose kept popping in
and out from the kitchen, the men not noticing that she only did this when Father Quinn‘s
name was mentioned.
―Your wife is safe enough in the church for the time being anyway, thank God‖
exclaimed James, reassuring Otis.
―Yes,‖ answered Otis, ―I believe she is, but things can‘t stay like this forever though.
Anyway, can you think of anything else that your grandpa said? Any damn thing at all. No
matter how small it may seem to you to be.‖
―No!‖ James replied, ―I‘ve told you all I know, but I will say this, if this thing is the
same creature that came to my grandfather in the trenches, then you cannot kill it. Only the
Lord above can do that.‖
―Yeah, then why the hell doesn‘t he?‖ Otis asked.
James thought for a moment before speaking. ―Do you mind if I ask you a question?‖
―No, go ahead,‖ Otis answered, wondering where this was leading to.
―Do you attend church?‖ James asked.
―No, never felt the need to.‖ Otis replied.
―Well then, perhaps God doesn‘t kill this creature for the same reason you don‘t
attend church. Maybe he just doesn‘t feel the need to. After all, most people nowadays only
call on him when they are in trouble, and maybe — well maybe God is just fed up with it all.‖
Otis thanked them for their time, said goodbye and started back toward the church.
Who knows, thought Otis as he walked along the cold street, maybe James was kind of
speaking the truth, and now he was almost starting to respect the guy.
* * * * *
Earlier that morning Inspector Mooney had strolled into the small police station on
one of his fortnightly visits, and was surprised to see old Mick still asleep in the station‘s
single cell. Inspector Pierce Mooney, a tough, over-zealous, no-nonsense cop, wanted to
know why Mick had been arrested, as to his knowledge he had never knew Mick to be in
trouble before. Sergeant Woods briefed the Inspector about the events from the previous
night, but Mooney remained quiet for a moment, his face like thunder, before speaking. ―Is
this what you lot get up to at night?‖ Mooney bellowed. ―Tramping around the damn country
on some wild bloody witch hunt, looking for damn ghosts. My dear Lord man, if you could
just hear your bloody self,‖ he shouted, and the Sergeant felt foolish and embarrassed. ―If
there‘s any more of this bloody carry on you may just find yourself back on the beat, minus
your stripes,‖ he shouted.
Sergeant Woods walked from the building in a rage, and as he proceeded to walk
home he thought about this ignoramus of a man, who in his eyes wasn‘t fit to sweep the
streets, let alone be a police inspector. Mooney had always been this way though, he felt. This
man was a bully, a tyrant, and a man whose mind did not contain a hint of compassion for
anyone. A snake in the grass, he thought. This inspector had never taken any of his men‘s
parts, always believing the worst in anyone around him, and the sergeant felt glad that he was
coming to the end of his career, away from Mooney and his kind.
Back inside the station Inspector Mooney swung open the cell door violently. ―Right,
my boy,‖ he shouted to old Mick, who had already been wakened five minutes before this by
the raised voice of the inspector as he ranted at Sergeant Woods. ―Let‘s be having you,‖ he
continued, making sure the whole station could hear him.
Mick stood up, shook his head, and sauntered out of the cell; and slowly walked away
from the inspector without speaking.
―Where do you think you are?‖ Mooney bellowed. ―Come on,‖ he said, as he pushed
old Mick in the back. ―Out you go, this is not a damn hotel, you bloody vagabond. Move it,
before I stick my boot where the sun doesn‘t shine.‖
Mick had heard Mooney shout and swear at Sergeant Woods without really giving
him a chance to explain things properly, and he felt sorry for the sergeant. Now though,
Mooney was venting his anger out on him, and Mick, who did not care for the inspector or
his remarks, stopped and reeled on him. ―By the way, did they ever find out who your real
father is?‖ Mick shouted, and ran through the doorway as Mooney‘s flying boot missed him
by a whisker.
Otis, now back at the church, sat and comforted his distraught wife who hadn‘t
spoken a word since she awoke earlier. ―Everything will be all right,‖ he promised as he
tightened his arm around her.
Suddenly Sarah jumped up out of his grasp and stood erect, still sobbing. ―It won‘t be
all right,‖ she cried loudly. ―We should never have left America and I‘m so sorry for bringing
you here. It was so selfish of me and now God has decided to punish me for it.‖
―No honey, no,‖ Otis said softly, ―why if God had his sights set to punish someone
like you, as honest and decent as you are, then he would certainly have to punish the rest of
us first, and that‘s the way I see it.‖ Sarah cried for a long time after this, and Otis decided to
confront the priest again to see what they were going to do about the situation.
―I have arranged for a very experienced man, Father Doran to visit us,‖ said Father
Quinn. ―He will be arriving next Wednesday. He has been involved in the paranormal, more
than anyone in the church, and he‘s very experienced.‖
―Yeah but has he ever dealt with anything on this scale before?‖ asked Otis.
―Well maybe not on this scale.‖ admitted the priest, ―but I still believe he may be able
to help us.‖ The next few days passed quietly and uneventfully, as they waited for Father
Doran to arrive at the church.
Otis however, was growing impatient.
* * * * *
Old Mick, in the meantime, had been allowed to stay in a tiny worn out caravan that
belonged to Constable O‘Shea‘s mother. It was situated at the bottom of her field, some
distance from the house, but it overlooked the church grounds, which made Mick somehow
feel better. There was no toilet or electricity, but there was a small gas cooker, a small gas
fire, some gas lights and a five gallon water container. It hadn‘t been used for a long time
now, but there wasn‘t much fixing up to do and at least it would be a roof over his head,
Constable O‘Shea felt.
―I‘m overwhelmed, madam. Thank you so much for this very kind gesture,‖ Mick
said when he entered the small van, but he said nothing when he felt his teeth chatter in the
cold fridge like interior.
―Well, it will help you out for a while until you can find something better,‖ Mrs
O‘Shea exclaimed. ―Just come up to the house when you need the water refilling, there‘s a
water tap outside on the back wall. Oh, almost forgot, I have left you two full gas cylinders,‖
she added as an afterthought.
As Mrs O‘Shea walked away old Mick turned to the young constable, arm extended.
―Thank you again Donald. Your mother is very kind,‖ he said, as he shook Donald‘s hand
―No need to thank me Mick,‖ said Donald. ―After all, you and I both know what‘s
lurking up in that house, and one thing is certain, you can‘t go back anywhere near the place.‖
When Donald had gone, Mick sat down and thought about Mrs Doyle. It would be
fair to say he thought, that Mrs Doyle was the most bitter and nasty woman in the whole of
Ireland, but she had let him stay there free of charge, and at least on that score he owed her
that. Now he felt sorry for her as he realised that the demon may have been responsible for
the way Mrs Doyle behaved. He also believed he knew the reason why the woman had
forbade him from going round to her rooms. She was simply protecting him, he felt. Of
course he had heard the rumours. Those rumours he had never believed or even considered
The rumours of an entity in the old house had been spread about for many years now.
Nobody had really ever taken them seriously. Anyway, he himself had never imagined there
was anything strange with the house until he had seen it for himself, and now Mrs Doyle had
confirmed it to the policemen, although he was sure they did not believe her either.
* * * * *
Back at the church Otis shook hands with Father Doran as he entered the hallway.
―Hello Father,‖ he said, impatiently. ―How are you?‖
The priest eyed Otis as if he were an old commander inspecting his troops before
speaking. ―Troubled,‖ he answered, ―deeply troubled. This business is all too shocking. Still
we‘ve got to deal with it, whatever may happen.‖
―How do we do that Father, just how do we do that?‖ Otis repeated, his hands clasped
as if in prayer, and hardly giving the priest a chance to get through the door.
Father Doran motioned Otis over to a large wooden bench and sat the impatient man
down. ―Well it seems that what we have here is a manifestation, a manifestation of the very
worst kind. Anyway, I have been granted permission from the church to perform an exorcism
on it, but first we will have to find it, wherever it lurks, because it is not going to come inside
the church to us, that you can be sure of,‖ answered Father Doran, smiling.
―So if the mountain won‘t come to Muhammad, then Muhammad will just have t...‖
―No, damn it,‖ Otis interrupted. ―You know where it is. It‘s up at Mrs Doyle‘s house,‖
he said, breaking the priest off in mid sentence.
―Then we are going to have to take your wife there, to Mrs Doyle‘s house that is,
meet this challenge head on,‖ said Father Doran.
―No, we can‘t do that, it‘s just too dangerous for her,‖ Otis replied.
―My son, you don‘t understand the ways of the church. Sarah would have to be
wherever this demon is for this to work,‖ Father Doran informed him.
―Listen,‖ Otis said, almost in a whisper. ―These plans you‘re concocting for this, um
challenge of yours, having Sarah leave the church that is, and using her for bait. I mean, what
if you‘re wrong about this thing? What if the demon is more powerful than you can ever
imagine? According to Mrs Doyle, this thing eats priests for breakfast. Can you tell me how
you‘re going to guarantee Sarah‘s safety up there, huh?‖ Father Doran fiddled with his collar
and coughed uncomfortably.
―There‘s just no way on earth that Sarah can leave this church‖, Otis said, ―not while
this monster is after her. Look, Father, I just don‘t think you realise what you‘re dealing with
―My son,‖ the old priest replied, touching Otis on the shoulder. ―To fully understand
the paranormal as I understand it, then one has to be in contact with it very frequently. I have
just returned from casting out an entity from a home where the couple would often
experience paranormal activity, lights being switched on at different occasions, water taps
turning on when no one is there, especially at night, and I have performed many rituals in the
casting out of demons, but never in the church. In order to exorcise this particular one we will
need to be in a neutral place, away from consecrated ground.‖
―Listen to me,‖ Otis said sternly. ―Have you ever dealt with a Banshee before?‖
―No, but I can assure you that these entities are all from the same place, the dark
side,‖ the priest answered.
―Could you just answer me this one last question?‖ Otis asked, his voice becoming
noticeably louder. ―When you perform an exorcism on someone or someplace, then you cast
off the unseen entity or poltergeist that possesses that person or place, right?‖
―That‘s correct,‖ answered the priest. ―I see you have some knowledge,‖ he replied
patronisingly as he smiled.
―No, I don‘t have any goddamn knowledge,‖ said Otis loudly, pointing back at the old
priest who began to be frightened by Otis as he grew angrier. ―But I know that Sarah is not
possessed, so therefore she doesn‘t need a damn exorcism‖ he shouted. ―I also know that Mrs
Doyle‘s house does not have a poltergeist. This thing comes to her when it feels like it, so
there‘s nothing there to exorcise, and I‘ll tell you something else. This Banshee or whatever
the hell it is came to my home. It can move all over the goddamn place. And there‘s the old,
um, dancing woman, Elspeth. Why, she sees the damn thing in the woods all the goddamn
time. And do you know what? I don‘t think you can even comprehend the predicament we
are in here. Do you know what else I think? I think you‘re really way outa‘ your goddamn
league here. Sarah is not leaving this church, and that‘s final.‖
Father Quinn stepped between the two men unable to conceal his embarrassment.
―Please gentlemen,‖ he said, ―this arguing is not going to help anyone.‖
Otis buried his head in his hands as Father Doran looked at the younger priest, willing
him to take control of the situation, afraid that this large, seemingly demented black man may
lash out for the slightest reason.
Suddenly Sarah appeared and silently walked over to the men, knelt down and placed
her hands on Otis‘s face. She had stopped crying now, composed herself, and had gathered
her wits about her. She couldn‘t ever remember a time when she loved Otis as much as she
did right now as she witnessed just how much he cared about her. She smiled, but she knew
that she would have to take charge of her husband who was now appearing to be going
rapidly off the rails. ―Otis,‖ she said affectionately. ―Calm down. Things will be all right.
You know you were right. God won‘t let anything happen to me.‖
Otis looked up sadly at her with a tear on his cheek. ―God helps those who help
themselves, Sarah,‖ he said. ―And I intend to get us some real help here.‖
Father Quinn shepherded the older priest away, realising in his heart that Otis was
right, and that this woman needed more help than Father Doran could provide. ―Come with
me Father, and I will show you to your room,‖ the priest said as he lowered his head and led
Father Doran away.
* * * * *
Otis sat back and pondered for a while, his thoughts drifting back to his police days
and Eric. Eric Little Feather had said something to him about the Great Spirit Woman. He
had said something about the Indian brave Satra, who had gone out to meet this demon alone
on the plains. Satra did this alone because he didn‘t want anyone to be killed on his behalf.
But Eric had claimed that Satra didn‘t need to do this, because there was another way. What
did he mean another way? Otis thought long and hard and wished that he had paid more
attention to their conversation that night. He knew Eric was no longer in the force, knew
about Eric‘s drink problem. He had also known that Eric had been forced to resign a few
years after his own discharge because of it, but it didn‘t make Eric any less of a man in his
eyes. The drinking had started with Eric after his wife had died some years back. Maria had
died under suspicious circumstances. Her body had been found fully clothed in a field, so
badly mauled by wild animals that a post mortem could not find the proper cause of death,
although they believed she had been strangled.
Eric was questioned for a time though, and the accuser‘s finger had been pointed at
him, so he had turned to the bottle for solace.
Otis was sure Eric had not killed his wife. He had known the guy as a true friend, and
had got to know his easy going ways. Why, this guy would give you the shirt of his damn
back, he thought. He knew Eric was not jealous of Maria. Why to tell the truth about it, Maria
didn‘t exactly register very high on the beautiful women of America scales. There was also
the fact that Eric had no insurance on her either, which was usually the reason in most cases
why a guy would kill his wife.
No! Otis believed that Eric had no case to answer. The fact was that her body had
been found dumped fifty miles away, and police there believed there may have been a sexual
motive, although they found needle marks covering different parts of her body. This led Otis
to believe that Maria was a user, and so he thought it to be a drug related killing. Over the
years, the two men had lost touch with each other and the last Otis had heard Eric was living
alone on the Isabella Indian Reservation in the state of Michigan. Otis knew what he had to
do and that he would have to do it immediately. There was just no time to lose.
Old Mick sat in the corner of the empty pub and stared at the untouched pint of
Guinness in front of him, unaware that behind the bar Matt was also staring at him as he
washed a pint glass in the small sink. ―What‘s up with you tonight?‖ shouted Matt. ―Are you
―Is it me you‘re talking to?‖ Mick replied.
―Well, considering there‘s no one else in the place I would have to answer yes to
that,‖ Matt answered with some sarcasm in his voice.
―As a matter of fact,‖ said Mick. ―If you must know I‘m trying to give up the drink,
and I feel that if I stare long enough at this pint I may eventually lose my interest in all forms
Matt put his head down and rubbed hard at the glass he was washing, sorry now that
he had spoken. With customers like this, he thought, I‟ll be out of bloody business by next
Mick was still staring at the pint when he heard a familiar voice at the bar ordering a
whisky. He had been so engrossed in his thoughts that he hadn‘t heard James come in, even
though the door creaked like an old fishing boat crane.
―Hello Mick,‖ shouted James as the barman pointed over toward Mick. ―Would you
care to join me?‖
Mick had truly liked James since he had met him all those many years ago, and he had
always found him to be a great drinking companion. Over the years they had become the best
of friends, but how could he sit with someone he liked and admired so much in the
knowledge of what he knew about this friend‘s wife and her carrying on with the priest
behind his back and yet say nothing about it.
How could Rose have done this to James? Mick thought. True enough he supposed,
there was no doubt that the priest with his film star looks would have had many a woman
fancying after him, but James himself was quite a handsome man, and in his opinion,
although bias, was the better looking man of the two. It would tear James apart if he where to
find out about the affair though, and Mick already knew what it was like to be torn apart,
even if it was for a different reason. No, James would not hear it from his lips, even if he did
feel like a bloody traitor. ―I‘m only having one, thanks anyway,‖ Mick lied.
―Nonsense man,‖ the puzzled James replied, as he looked at Matt the barman who
simply shrugged his shoulders.
―I think he‘s seen too many bloody ghosts,‖ Matt whispered to himself.
―Whisky,‖ James ordered. ―In fact, please make the order two whiskies!‖
Matt poured the drink out and smiled.
James sat down beside Mick and thrust the whisky toward him. ―The big Yank came
to see me today, Mick,‖ he said.
―You mean Otis,‖ Mick answered, by now preferring to call the American he had
begun to like by his proper name.
―Yes, Otis,‖ James replied, feeling that Mick was being somewhat cold and
unfriendly in his manner toward him.
―What did he want then?‖ enquired Mick.
―Well, he wanted to apologise for his behaviour the other night,‖ James lied. ―Oh, and
he wanted to talk about his wife. They have her staying at the church you know.‖
―I know all about it,‖ Mick whispered as he swallowed down the whisky neat.
―This creature must have been the same one my grandfather saw, couldn‘t be a
different one,‖ exclaimed James.
―Now that‘s where you are wrong, James,‖ Mick answered. ―Not the same one, but
the same type.‖
―You mean to say there is more than one of these abominations?‖
―Most definitely, James. I overheard the policemen talking about it at the Garda
station. It seems that this one was once Mrs Doyle‘s sister a long time ago, and it‘s been
coming to torture the poor soul these past decades.‖
―Decades you say? And no one knew?‖ James said as he rubbed his chin roughly.
―Well there have been rumours about the place over the years.‖ But no one has really paid
any attention to them until now.
―I‘ve heard those rumours,‖ James added. ―But just how the hell are they going to
deal with it, Mick?‖
―I don‘t believe anyone can deal with this monstrosity. Only the Lord God himself
can help them now,‖ he replied as he blessed himself.
Suddenly the bar door opened and in stepped Ivan McAllen, who, as he approached
the bar, eyed the two friends with distain and grinned. ―Seen any ghouls lately?‖ he laughed,
as James stood up and stared intensely and angrily at him, curling his lip menacingly.
McAllen immediately went quiet. Fighting with old Mick was one thing, but James; well
James was a different story. ―Sorry James, but sure didn‘t I only mean it as a joke,‖ he said
with a grovelling, apologetic voice, and James slowly sat back down his seat as old Mick
patted him firmly on the back and smiled proudly.
* * * * *
Another man had entered the bar unnoticed while this was going on, and he sat over
in the corner, the same corner he had sat in on the night James had relayed the story about his
grandfather. He had unintentionally overheard the story but had listened to it with great
interest. The man stared over at James and old Mick for a moment, before slowly rising from
As he approached their table he spoke loudly in a polite English accent. ―Can I kindly
indulge you gentlemen in a drink of your choice?‖
Oxford, maybe Eaton, James thought.
―Well, sir,‖ answered Mick, ―That‘s very kind of you indeed, but I don‘t think you
would find our company to be at its best tonight.‖
―Nonsense,‖ the seemingly educated man replied, a man who Mick guessed would
have been well into his sixties, ―I‘m sure gentlemen, that your company would be just
Everyone stared at the man intently.
―Allow me to introduce myself,‖ he said, as he took off his shiny bowler hat that
looked as though it were two sizes too small for him. As his bald head reflected off the bar
lights, old Mick stifled a laugh. ―My name is Cedric Hawthorne, and I‘m visiting your
charming country, accompanied by my dearest wife Harriet, of course. We‘re both staying at
the inn down the street, although Harriet has decided to stay in bed in our room tonight.
Touch of a cold don‘t you see?‖
James politely ushered the man into a seat at their table and made introductions, as old
Mick pulled a funny face at McAllen who was annoyed that no one had offered to buy him a
drink and cursed at them under his breath. Matt smiled broadly when the man waved him to
their table to take the order.
Old Mick noticed McAllen glance around at their table and say something to Matt as
he came from behind the bar, and Mick instinctively knew he had said something bad about
―Why don‘t you go back to bloody Portlaoise prison where you belong?‖ Mick
shouted at McAllen, who flushed with rage. ―Sure don‘t you know he served five years there
for using the wrong document to withdraw money from the bank in Tipperary?‖ Mick said
loudly to no one in particular.
―He used the wrong document?‖ James asked puzzled.
―Yes,‖ Mick went on as he pointed at McAllen. ―He used a thirty-eight Smith and
Wesson, if you follow my meaning. And the police station just fifty yards from the bank.
When he came out of the bank with the money half the bloody police force was waiting for
him,‖ Mick said laughing, and James, who couldn‘t contain himself doubled over with
laughter as well.
―C‘mon now boys, behave yourselves,‖ Matt ordered, but he too fought hard to keep a
Later, when the men settled down, and after a few drinks, Cedric reminded them
about the conversation he had heard when James told the story about the creature in the
trench. ―That was all true, I swear it,‖ said James. ―Every word my Grandfather told me.‖
―I fully believe you my friend,‖ Cedric answered, as he gave him a friendly pat on the
hand. ―You know, in our country we too have our ghosts and ghouls,‖ he said as he glanced
around at McAllen, who was still seething with rage at the bar.
James straightened up in the chair, interested, while Mick stared at the Englishman,
giving him his full attention.
* * * * *
―Did any of you fellows ever hear of the Munro, H. M. S. Munro that is?‖ Cedric
―No!‖ Both men answered in unison.
―Well, that‘s no surprise,‖ he answered. ―Officially it doesn‘t exist. Never did
according to the naval files. But when the Navy erased the ship from all of their records and
swore what remained of her crew to silence, they didn‘t count on the popularity of her
captain. Bingham his name was, and that they couldn‘t erase.
―This captain was one of the bravest, well liked and respected captains in the fleet at
that time. Then when the Munro, a hundred gunner, docked back in Portsmouth way back in
eighteen thirty, minus Captain Bingham and most of the crew, stories about men being torn to
shreds by a demon emerged. And with a ship‘s company that had been half scared to death,
the Admiralty had to act, and act fast.
―They had already had their share of mutinies, and didn‘t want moral between the
men sinking any lower than it had been.
―England had many enemies at that time and the Navy was the backbone and first line
of defence. Without a navy all would have been lost.‖
―What happened to the crewmen on board?‖ Mick asked impatiently, uninterested in
Cedric‘s history lesson.
Cedric glanced around the bar and his eyes met Ivan McAllen‘s, who had been
listening with contempt to every word, and he looked away and smirked. ―Well,‖ Cedric
continued, as he lowered his voice. ―The story handed down through the years has it that the
ship was sailing peacefully through the Bering Straits, when from nowhere a fierce storm
blew up. This they say was the worst storm any of her crew had ever encountered before,
taking the Munro by complete surprise, and that a demon somehow came on board. Came
from the sky they say, killing a few of the crew as they tried to fight it off.
―Tore them to pieces they say, before floating away back into the clouds. When the
storm abated the captain and crew headed full speed for home. But then, just nine days later,
and about five weeks from a friendly port, the demon came back on board again. The captain,
the surviving seamen later reported, had given firm orders to the crew that should this demon
return; they were not to molest it in any way. He assured them that it would only return for
him and that no man was to risk his life.
The crew disobeyed him though when it tried to take their captain and they savagely
attacked it. This time though, it killed half the men, before it vanished over the side with
Captain Bingham held tightly in its arms. The Navy report however later stated that Captain
Bingham had drowned at sea on another vessel, and the matter was officially closed.‖
―What happened to the vessel then?‖ James asked.
―The ship was scrapped when the men refused to sail on her, and later it became
known as the ship they never built. The story leaked out however, although to this day the
Navy still deny it,‖ said Cedric.
―So even then it seems they covered things up,‖ said James.
―It‘s the bloody same thing,‖ Mick shouted unable to control himself. ―It‘s the
Banshee I tell you.‖
Matt turned and washed some more glasses, uncaring if they talked about the man in
the moon, as long as they kept paying for their drinks, while Ivan McAllen shook his head
slowly, and silently cursed them.
Cedric held up his glass. ―To the Munro and good Captain Bingham,‖ he toasted,
before swallowing the contents of the small glass in one gulp.
He then, without warning, put on his small hat, bid everyone a polite goodnight, and
staggered out through the door of the pub, pulling up his collar as he walked smartly into the
cold wet night.
As he left he was closely followed by McAllen, who walked speedily from the pub,
slamming the door hard behind him, before purposefully made his way toward home. As far
as McAllen was concerned, this night was not over. Not by a long chalk it wasn‘t.
The rain was drizzling down onto the cold wet ground, and at the side of the deserted
country road the trees swayed in the ever increasing wind. The two hares darted swiftly from
the bush, twisting and bouncing, colliding and almost tumbling over each other as they shot
across the road before quickly disappearing through the hedges on the other side, frightened.
Frightened by the figure that had come upon them, startling them as it crept its way
along the forest‘s edge, breathless and wet, its evil intent paramount above all else. Then the
figure stopped, deciding that this spot would be perfect. An ideal place to wait, he thought,
hidden behind the large trees and hedges, unseen in the darkness. What better place to wait
for old Mick to pass by, drunk and disorientated as he headed for Mrs Doyle‘s house; a ritual
he had performed every night.
This would be the perfect ambush, Ivan McAllen thought, as he gripped the shaft of
the heavy hammer tightly.
He had suffered enough bloody humiliation from this man, he felt, and now he would
act on it. He would finally do what he should have done years ago and sort it out once and for
all. I will kill this bastard and have my revenge, he thought.
He swung a few practice swings with the hammer, then smiled in anticipation of what
was to come.
Suddenly a movement caught his eye, a slow movement to his right, coming from
deep within the forest, something large. Then it disappeared behind the windswept trees. Just
my imagination, he thought.
The driving wet and freezing wind penetrated his clothes, and he cursed aloud.
But he would gladly suffer this wind, because the pleasure he was about to get as he
smashed old Mick‘s head to a bloody pulp would be the best thing he had ever done. He
gripped the heavy hammer tightly. Even if he were to be caught later, it will all have been
worth it, he felt. Suddenly another movement caught his eye. The figure was high in the trees,
and now he knew it wasn‘t his imagination.
His pulse raced fast now, the cold and wet forgotten as the creature hovered toward
him. He ran across the road and darted through a hedge, pushing his body as fast as his legs
would carry him. After what seemed like an eternity he stopped behind a tree and gulped
some much needed air into his lungs. He was in a very dangerous situation here. And if he
didn‘t get out of here soon, he was sure the cold would kill him even if this creature didn‘t.
He waited for around an hour before making his decision. He knew he had missed old
Mick on this night, but for now his priority was to make it home alive. Mick could be dealt
with some other time. He was confident this thing he had seen was long gone and so he made
his move. He had just cleared the trees, hammer in hand, when he saw it again, and he froze
in terror as the hovering,-monk like figure moved slowly up beside him. The strong wind
blew at its cape, sending it high into the air, its gnarled hands outstretched to him, and then it
was upon him. He was freezing with cold, but fear spurred him to the defensive and he
instinctively struck out at the figure, striking it hard with the hammer, but it surged forward,
its mouth open. He could feel his stomach burn, chest tighten, as he felt a fear he had never
known before. He stared terrified upon the rows of black, shark-like teeth, as the moonlight
reflected onto the monk-like figure‘s hideous face. Something like a tongue, yellow, darted
about behind the teeth.
Instinctively he tried to strike it again but the hammer felt like a lead weight now, and
it fell to his side. The creature seized his throat in its powerful grip, before biting a large
chunk out of his face. He felt himself go weightless as it flung him like a discarded piece of
fruit through the air.
His body broke through a few small branches as he tumbled into the tree tops high
above. When he crashed to the hard earth below he could feel his ankle break badly, and he
screamed in pain as he clutched his profusely bleeding face.
Although badly injured, McAllen‘s fear of what this thing was going to do to him next
forced him to scramble upright, and he pushed his body on, screaming in pain, fear and cold.
He was limping and stumbling now as he moved deeper into the forest. And he was
losing blood rapidly from his wound.
Head spinning, McAllen tumbled face down into a small pond. He hadn‘t believed
these people in the pub when they talked about demons. In fact he thought they were all
crazy. Hadn‘t his beloved father always told him these things only existed in the eyes of
men? His father though had been wrong. He had seen it. And now he knew just how true it
How in God‟s name can this be? he thought.
He tried to get up, but he knew it was hopeless. Because right now he was beginning
to lose consciousness. Now he was beginning to lose his life.
Just before he closed his eyes for the last time, he witnessed the creature slowly float
away through the trees, no longer interested in him, and he took one last look at the hammer
which was covered in his own blood.
The hammer was still firmly clutched in his hand, the object of his failed ambush, and
he threw it from his hand as though it were a snake, as he realised the sin he had been about
to commit on an old innocent man.
―Holy Mother, forgive me,‖ he whispered as his head fell forward into the pond,
staining it red.
Otis clenched his huge fists round the edge of the arm rests as the plane was about to
touch down at Heathrow airport. He still hated flying, but now he hated it even more due to
the fact that Sarah could not be with him.
He would have to take an even longer flight to Chicago after this, and then possibly
another short hop through to Michigan, to the Isabella Indian Reservation. Otis had tried to
call long distance, but gave up after three attempts when the guy at the reservation who
answered the phone sounded drunk, and Otis couldn‘t understand a word he was trying to say
He didn‘t even know why Eric was staying there in the first place, as the Sioux
Reservation was Crow Creek in South Dakota, but he felt it had something to do with Maria,
and he dwelt no more on the matter.
Otis had explained to Sarah about the story Eric Little Feather had told him, and she
too was convinced that this was where the answer lay. Sarah didn‘t want him to leave her and
go back to America, but in her heart she knew that this was what he would have to do if they
were to have any chance of having a normal life together. Father Doran had asked Otis to
reconsider, but Otis was having none of it. No priest was going to gamble with Sarah‘s life,
and that was the end of the story as far as he was concerned. Somehow the Indians had more
knowledge of this dilemma than the priests had, and for now he reckoned that they would be
his best bet.
Sarah felt lost and alone when Otis left, but for his sake she would try to be brave.
Their future and everything else depended on this, but Sarah knew that if anyone could find
out what they needed to know, then it would be Otis. He would never give up on her, she
knew, not while he had one ounce of breath left in his body, and she smiled at the thought of
Otis spent the best part of three days waiting at airports, and travelling, before, and at
long last, he arrived at the Isabella Indian Reservation. The place itself was huge, and Otis
hoped it wouldn‘t be too long before he found Eric.
He wasted no time, starting his search immediately in the town of Mount Pleasant,
which split through the reservation. Otis was certain that this was where Eric would be,
because there were strictly no bars on the reservation, and most of the inhabitants there would
usually visit the nearest bars outside of the boundary. However, no one whom he spoke to
said they knew anyone by the name of Eric Little Feather. The guy at the police station was
of no help to him either, so he had decided to check around and see what he could find.
At one bar, two Indians said they knew where Eric was, and would take him there for
a fee, but when Otis asked them for a description of Eric, they didn‘t even come close and he
felt lucky to get out of the place without a fight. Otis knew there was a high alcoholism rate
amongst the Indian people now, and that it could be dangerous for him floating from bar to
bar asking questions, but he had no other choice and would have to keep trying.
Outside one of the numerous bars Otis had visited, three little kids approached him
and begged him for some money, and Otis threw them a few quarters. An Indian guy of about
twenty-five years of age, he guessed, had followed him out of the bar, and slowly approached
him. ―I can help you find your friend,‖ he said.
―Listen up bud,‖ Otis said threateningly. ―I just don‘t have time for this.‖ He walked
on and ignored the man.
―No, wait,‖ the young man shouted. ―The man you are looking for, I know him, Eric
Otis was sure the guy had either heard him asking for Eric Little Feather at the bar, or
that someone had sent him to follow him outside. ―Go home,‖ Otis said loudly.
As Otis walked briskly along the young man followed behind him, and Otis spun
round to confront him. ―Which part of fuck off don‘t you understand?‖ he shouted angrily.
The young man held his hands up in an unthreatening manner. ―I do know Eric,‖ he
said softly ―He is very sick, and I can take you to him.‖
Otis was about to walk away, but suddenly felt that he had listened to enough of this
man‘s crap, and he felt the anger rise inside him. In all his years in the force he thought he
had met them all; people who would stoop to anything for a dollar, beggars, cheats, robbers,
pimps, wife beaters, child molesters, and all sorts of scum that inhabit large cities. These
people had one thing that was different from this guy though. They robbed and shot each
other, and kept out of Otis‘s personal life.
A line had been crossed here and Otis would act swiftly on it. Otis turned quickly and
rushed back over to the man without giving him the chance to pull a weapon, and with
surprising speed he had the guy pinned against the wall with his arm up his back before he
had a chance to blink.
―You‘re hurting me,‖ the man groaned, as Otis frisked him. Finding nothing on him,
Otis put his hand in the man‘s face and pushed him violently away, and he fell to the ground.
―Now get out of here before you get seriously fucking hurt,‖ Otis spat.
The man picked himself up and rubbed his mouth as he walked away, then stopped
and turned around. ―He‘s an ex-cop,‖ the man shouted back. Otis was stunned by this remark.
No one had known about Eric being a cop, because Otis hadn‘t mentioned it. The man then
turned and walked on, still reeling from the indignity that Otis had just put him through. Now
it was Otis‘s turn to follow. This guy obviously did know Eric and he‘d said that Eric was
―Wait, please,‖ he shouted, but the man walked on. ―Please, I‘m sorry,‖ Otis called,
wishing now that he had not lost his damn temper. Suddenly the man stopped and slowly
turned around. ―Listen, I‘m real sorry,‖ pleaded Otis, as he handed the man a twenty dollar
―I don‘t want your money,‖ exclaimed the man, feeling even more undignified than
―I thought you were someone else,‖ Otis whispered in almost a grovelling fashion.
―And you know I think I‘ve kinda got off on the wrong foot here,‖ he said apologetically.
―Really, I‘m truly sorry,‖
The man stared at Otis for a moment before speaking, ―Well okay, I think we both
kinda got off on the wrong foot here.‖ After they had stared at each other for a few seconds
that seemed more like minutes, Otis held out his hand and smiled, and the man responded by
shaking it firmly. ―Peter,‖ the young man said, introducing himself, ―Peter Ahenakew‖
―Hello Peter, I‘m Otis, Otis Tweedy.‖
Peter pointed to a little coffee shop across the road, and invited Otis to have a coffee.
―My treat,‖ said Otis, smiling as the men sat down.
―Can you tell me something, Otis?‖ Peter asked, ―How did you come to know Eric,
and why are you looking for him?‖
Otis outlined how they had served together in the force and briefly explained about
Sarah and some of their predicament, but not everything, convincing the young man that he
was genuine. ―Okay Otis, I work at the Isabella hospital on Elk Street as a nurse, and when I
heard you mention Eric‘s name, well, I had to make sure that you were a genuine friend of
his, you know how it is.‖
―I understand that.‖
―Eric‘s one of our patients there at the hospital,‖ Peter explained. ―He‘s been a patient
there for the last couple of months. You have probably come just in the nick of time though,‖
he exclaimed. ―The doctors don‘t expect Eric to last much longer. It‘s his liver, hepatocellular
carcinoma, um, very advanced cirrhosis,‖ he added.
Otis was visibly shaken and felt his legs go weak, and for a second he gripped the
table for support. This was the man who had saved his life all those years ago, and a man who
Otis admired immensely. Otis cursed loudly at the unfairness of it all, and Peter at once
realised that this guy was closer to Eric than he had at first thought. Now he was sorry he
hadn‘t broken the news of Eric to him more gently. ―You know what this means Peter?‖ Otis
said solemnly. Peter said nothing but held his arms out and nodded inquisitively. ―It means,‖
Otis said as he lowered his head onto the table, ―Well it means that apart from losing a dear
old friend, I now don‘t have any way of saving my wife. Eric was the only one who could
have helped me there.‖
―Well, Eric can still talk,‖ said Peter. ―Weak maybe, but he‘s still fully coherent. He
could still help you. Look, I‘m on tomorrow at two o‘clock, come and meet me at the front
entrance and I‘ll take you up to the ward.‖
―Thank you Peter, thank you so much. I‘ll be there.‖
The men finished their coffee and shook hands again before parting and going their
Next day Otis made a long distance call to the church back in Ireland, and was
comforted to hear his wife‘s beautiful voice. He had told her that he had located Eric and
would be visiting him soon, but he neglected to mention the state of Eric‘s health, supposing,
he thought, that Sarah had enough to worry about, and he also neglected to tell her that his
trip may have been for nothing.
Sarah cradled the phone and smiled at Father Quinn, who had just entered the
hallway. ―What news Sarah?‖ he asked.
―Otis has located Eric, his Indian friend,‖ she said, smiling, ―and he is to meet up with
―That‘s great news Sarah,‖ answered Father Quinn, ―but please don‘t mention any of
this to Father Doran though.‖
―Don‘t worry Father,‖ Sarah laughed, ―I won‘t breathe a word to Father Doran.‖
Father Quinn had a great admiration for Sarah and Otis since the short time he had
known them. To be confronted with something as evil as this was bad enough, but to see a
man so devoted to his wife that he would travel great distances and perhaps face many
dangers in order to try and save her, was incredible. Then to see a wife whose main concern
was for her husband, and to put his welfare before her own, made them, in his eyes, a most
wonderful and devoted couple.
* * * * *
Two hundred yards away from the church, old Mick was preparing to settle down for
the night in his small borrowed caravan, and had just turned off the gas fire and lights. As he
lay in the small damp bed, he cursed as the pains shot up his broken arm. It would take the
pain killers a while to work, he thought, and as he pulled the blankets up to his chin, he
mumbled a quick prayer, before shutting his eyes.
He was just dozing off when he felt the caravan shake. A quick shake, not prolonged,
but instant and sort of final, and he felt as if someone had entered inside it, before suddenly
stopping in their tracks.
It had happened very quickly, no more than two seconds, he imagined, but the thump
and the noise he had felt in those two seconds was enough to convince him that he wasn‘t
dreaming. Mrs O‘Shea had informed him immediately that the door lock was broken on the
caravan, and he had meant to get it repaired later that day, but he had simply forgotten, and
now he was sorry. Moving slowly from the bed he could feel his heart pounding, as the fear
he had so lately realised returned to him, and he didn‘t notice that for now the pain in his arm
had subsided. Mick tried to focus, but everything was pitch black inside, and with no
electricity in the caravan, Mick would have to light the gas lights.
His mind was reeling now as he groped in the darkness to find the matches he had
placed on the small work top beside the stove, and he jumped with pain, cursing, as he stood
on a small pebble. Suppose this thing is inside the caravan with me, he thought, waiting to
tear me limb from limb. ―Dear sweet Mother of Jesus, save me,‖ he whispered.
Suddenly there was another bump which seemed to come from outside, and Mick
slightly pulled the curtain at the window back as he peered out into the darkness, cursing that
his eyes were taking so long to focus. He could see a movement. Something was there. It was
about fifteen feet away, almost invisible. Mick strained his eyes to focus and the figure
moved slowly to the left. There is no doubt about it, he thought. A large figure is moving
around outside, at the far end of the caravan.
Mick‘s heart started to pound faster now and he looked down at his trembling
The Banshee. It had seen him after all, and now it was back with a bloody vengeance
to claim him body and soul.
Mick made for the caravan door that was located up this end, away from the demon,
hoping that he could steal away and make it across to the church and safety, before this foul
beast from hell would notice him gone. He opened the door cautiously, and silently he put his
naked foot out onto the freezing step, cracking the little thin layer of ice that had formed
there. Slowly he stepped down onto the cold ground, praying all the while that he wouldn‘t be
seen. ―Holy Mother, please forgive me my sins,‖ he muttered to himself as he scanned around
in the darkness, ignoring the freezing cold that was quickly overtaking his limbs.
He was about to run when the figure turned the corner, just two feet away from him,
and as it collided with him, he collapsed to the ground in a dead faint.
―In the name of God man,‖ the slurred drunken voice shouted down at him, ―What the
bloody hell are you doing?‖ Mick opened his eyes and stared up at the large figure bending
―James, you bastard,‖ he shouted, ―You almost frightened me to bloody death man,
―I‘m sorry Mick,‖ James slurred, interrupting him. ―But it‘s Rose. She says she has no
love for me anymore, and she‘s asked me to leave, but I‘ve got nowhere to go,‖ he sobbed.
Mick picked himself up from the ground and rubbed himself down as he looked sadly
He was relieved and happy that for now at least he was safe, and he immediately
―Don‘t you fret now son,‖ Mick wheezed, breathless and still shaking, but now
feeling the biting cold.
―Come inside and I‘ll make us both a warm cup of tea, and you can sleep it off here.‖
Mick helped the drunken, staggering James up the step with great difficulty, but he
managed to steer him to the bed and help him sit down. He fumbled clumsily for his matches
through numb fingers, but soon he had the gas fire and one of the gas lights lit.
* * * * *
Mick warmed himself up, made the promised tea, and had just poured out two strong
cups when he heard James snore, and as he looked around James lay stretched out across the
small bed. ―Well, looks like it‘s the old chair for me tonight,‖ he mumbled as he stared sadly
at James for a while, and thought of their friendship.
―What are you doing to yourself man? Do you want to end up like me?‖ Mick
whispered down to him, as James lay oblivious to anyone or anything around him. Then for a
moment he thought of Mary, and how things could have been so different for him, if only he
had believed in her all those many years ago, those years before the drink.
These long and terrible lonely years that had taken their toll on him. Years when he
sometimes believed that death would be his only comfort, when the only thing that could
replace Mary was the bottle, and replace her with it he did. He would not cry though, he had
already done that. God only knew the tears he had shed already after Mary‘s death, and he
believed he had no more tears left to give.
He would talk to James in the morning though, he decided. Better still, he would talk
to Rose. Plead with her if need be to try and make her see sense. He would even talk to the
priest, but he would not under any circumstances see a fine man like James end up like the
thing he himself had become, a sad, drunk, and lonely man. And he would see an end to this
affair, by God he would.
Otis stood impatiently outside the hospital and glanced up and down the road leading
into the large entrance. It was twenty minutes before two, but he hoped Peter would show up
early. As he looked around a little sports car being driven by a young beautiful blonde
woman drew up, and as her passenger kissed her a quick goodbye, then exited from the car,
he waved to Otis. It was Peter. ―I hope you haven‘t been waiting too long?‖ Peter enquired.
―No,‖ Otis lied, ―just a few minutes.‖
Peter put a friendly hand on Otis‘s shoulder and the two men entered the building.
Inside the place was a hive of activity as nurses, doctors, orderlies and staff of all descriptions
made their way up and down different corridors to their various locations. ―Eric‘s on the third
floor north,‖ Peter exclaimed as they waited for the elevator. As they entered the elevator,
Otis noticed an old bald guy stare intently at him, and he wondered what the man was
thinking. Come see the freak show, he thought. He had grown to hate these goddamn people
who seemed to view other people‘s misfortunes as a right to stare and study. These sick
people who had simply nothing better to do with their time, he felt. Otis was just about to say
something to the old man, when the man smiled at him; a warm sort of caring smile, and Otis
smiled back at the old man and returned a friendly wave.
I‟m becoming paranoid again, he thought to himself. Besides, at the moment he just
didn‘t care anymore anyway. He would have gladly given up his other eye, and disfigured the
rest of his face to save Sarah.
Head lowered, he thought of Eric. Of years long past when Eric and he had patrolled
the streets together, and the trusting, unbreakable, mutual friendship he had formed with his
Indian partner. He hadn‘t wanted to meet Eric this way, but he knew Eric would understand.
As they walked into the private room that Eric now occupied, Peter once more put a hand on
Otis‘s shoulder. Peter knew what sort of shock the big guy was in for when he would see his
friend after all these years apart, and so he would try to give him as much support as he
could. Otis looked down at the sleeping figure on the bed and immediately spun around. ―Is
this some kind of a damn joke?‖ Otis said to the astonished Peter.
―Why, this man isn‘t Eric,‖ he exclaimed. This man on the bed is old and withered,
and barely has skin left on his bones, and in no way even resembles Eric, Otis thought.
Otis pushed Peter sharply out of his way, and was about to storm from the room when
he heard the voice, barely audible, yet somehow familiar. ―Otis,‖ the voice softly called.
―Otis, my dear friend,‖ it said.
Otis turned and stared at the old yellow withered figure on the bed with disbelief. This
person didn‘t even come close to the Eric he remembered, even with all the weight loss and
The figure on the bed struggled to hold one arm up as it beckoned Otis over, and Otis
slowly approached the bed with caution as he studied for recognition. ―Otis,‖ the voice
Otis gazed into the dying Indian‘s trusting eyes, and at that moment he knew he was
reunited with his old friend. Otis gently hugged him, and he felt Eric place his hand lightly on
his back. ―I‘m so sorry,‖ croaked Otis, as he wiped a tear away from his cheek.
―No, my good friend,‖ Eric whispered weakly, ―Do not be sorry. I go soon to join my
people, be happy for me and do not grieve. I have had a happy life with very many wonderful
memories, your friendship being just one of them, and words cannot express how happy I am
to see you after all this time my friend,‖ he whispered.
Otis didn‘t know how to tell Eric the real reason for his visit, and he now felt
embarrassed as he made small talk with his ex-partner.
Suddenly Eric tightly grasped hold of Otis‘s wrist. ―Tell me what troubles you,‖ said
Eric, in an almost normal voice, and Otis, startled, sat upright in his chair.
It was as though Eric could read his mind, he felt.
* * * * *
It was a half hour later when Otis had explained the situation to Eric, and somehow he
still felt ridiculous.
Eric knew better though, and wasted no time as he quickly motioned Peter to come
closer, to which the young Indian speedily obeyed. Eric raised himself up with a groan and
pointed to the bedside cabinet. ―Pen, paper‖ he croaked, as he pointed to a notebook. ―You
must take my friend to this address,‖ he ordered, as he scribbled slowly onto the page.
―Joseph Lapahie,‖ he said, ―whose father and grandfathers before him where all medicine
men. He will know what to do. He knows of the Great Spirit Woman, and he is the only one
who can help you now.‖
―Will he help me?‖ Otis asked.
―Give him this,‖ Eric said weakly, as he reached out to Peter to take the piece of paper
he had just written on. ―I wish to speak with Otis alone now,‖ Eric said to Peter, and Peter
nodded before silently leaving the room.
Eric motioned Otis to come closer, even though there was no one else in the room,
and Otis leaned across to him. ―I also have a great secret,‖ said Eric, as he coughed up some
blood, and Otis wiped it with a tissue as he called loudly for a nurse. ―No my friend, no,‖
coughed Eric loudly, as he pulled Otis by the sleeve, and Otis now gave him his full attention.
Eric held Otis‘s hands tightly before speaking.
―Do you remember my wife, Maria?‖ Eric asked, wheezing.
―Why yes, of course, I was real sorry to hear about that,‖ he said, feeling slightly
embarrassed that he hadn‘t tried to contact Eric when the damn thing happened.
―I did it,‖ Eric said matter-of-factly as Otis squirmed in his chair.
―You did what?‖ Otis asked as he felt something was coming that he just didn‘t want
―I killed Maria,‖ Eric said loudly.
―No, you don‘t know what you‘re saying right now, what with the drugs and stuff
you‘re taking, messing up your fucking brain,‖ whispered Otis, who was now having trouble
believing what he was hearing.
―Please, Otis,‖ Eric said, ―I need to tell someone before I die, someone like you, my
true friend. Someone I can trust. I need to unburden myself before I go to be with my
Otis buried his head in his hands and nodded for Eric to go ahead, but he didn‘t want
to hear this. Quite frankly, this getting it off your chest thing was something he could have
done without, but he felt duty bound to sit and listen. As Eric spoke, Otis kept his head buried
in his hands and found he could not look Eric straight in the face, as his dying friend talked
* * * * *
―Maria had been drinking heavily that night,‖ Eric choked. ―She‘d been drinking
heavily for over a year before this, and she had been doing hard drugs as well.
―I couldn‘t get her to stop; no matter how hard I tried, so one night I decided to pack
up and leave, but she pleaded and begged me for another chance. After some hard thinking I
told her I would do this for her, but I told her this would be the last time. Then two weeks
later, I get a call. You remember Carl Brewster?‖ Eric asked.
―Yeah, sure do, mean, tough son of a bitch,‖ Otis answered. ―He‘s a detective now,
isn‘t he?‖ Otis asked, as he removed his hands from his face and looked at Eric, who nodded
―Well, as I said, I received a phone call,‖ he went on, coughing between words. ―Guy
told me that if I wanted to see something interesting then I should go visit Harry‘s Bar. The
caller would not leave his name, but I knew his voice, even though he had tried to disguise it,
I knew it was Carl Brewster. I figured later that Carl was only trying to help me out, as he
owed me a big one. Anyway, I went to this um, Harry‘s Bar, and as I approached the place I
saw her, Maria.‖ Eric paused for a moment as the tears welled up in his eyes.
―She was coming outside with some guy, kissing and fondling, you know,‖ he
continued ―and I watched as they disappeared into the alley at the rear of the place.
―I sat inside the car for a few minutes, my heart pounding as my mind tried to work
out just what was happening. I mean, how could she do this to me, betray me like this, I
thought, and then I left the car and walked right over there, into the alley.
―Caught her having sex with the guy right there and then. I was crazy and I punched
the guy a couple of times. I wanted to kill him, but he ran off. Then I dragged Maria back to
the car and started to drive home, but she started to abuse me as we drove along the dark
road. I was so angry that I stopped the car. We fought, and well, I had my hands around her
throat when she collapsed.‖
Eric paused for a moment and Otis knew he was having trouble with this. It was clear
that Eric still had deep feelings for his wife.
―I,‖ he coughed again. ―I didn‘t mean to kill her. I guess I still loved her and I just
couldn‘t handle it. Then I drove to the place where they found her body and left her there. I
would have got away with it too, but the spirits decided to turn against me, and that‘s why I
am here now, dying.
―But I still love Maria and I didn‘t really want to live without her anyway.
―I just wanted you to know that my friend,‖ he said, tears running down his cheeks.
Otis sat straight in his chair and looked sadly at this shadow of the man he was.
He fully believed now that Eric had killed Maria, and he felt numb.
―That was some goddamn favour Brewster done for you,‖ Otis said, his voice filled
with anger and sarcasm. Eric did not answer, but remained silent.
―Damn it,‖ Otis said as he recalled back to when he and Eric were partners. Maria had
been kind to him on any occasion that he had visited their home, and he wished Eric had
confessed to someone else, but who was he to judge Eric? Otis thought.
How the hell he would have handled the same situation if Sarah had been unfaithful to
him would have been anyone‘s goddamn guess, and he felt angry just thinking about it. No,
he would not judge Eric, but he was sorry that Eric had not decided to take his secret with
―Go now my friend,‖ he said to Otis. ―For you time is important, and I have held you
back enough,‖ he wheezed.
As Otis got up to leave, he rubbed Eric‘s cheek with the palm of his hand. ―Goodbye
old friend,‖ he said, his voice weakened with emotion.
When Otis was about to leave the room, Eric called out to him. ―When I‘m on the
other side,‖ he said, coughing, ―I will see if I can help you from there. Now go, go and see
* * * * *
Peter would have to work some of his shift, but he was owed some time off, he
informed Otis. He would meet him later that day at six o‘clock outside the hospital, and they
could go directly to the medicine man‘s house.
Otis thanked him for his help and walked away, unable to remember when he had last
felt as lost and as helpless as he was feeling now, and he looked to the heavens for some
At the church back in Ireland, Sarah, who was about to get undressed for bed, was
surprised at the sound of the raised voices she could hear coming from the corridor outside. A
woman‘s voice had broken the silence of the normally quiet church, and Sarah inquisitively
opened her door to listen. The woman, whom she didn‘t recognise was pleading with Father
Quinn. ―Please Frank,‖ she was saying. ―I love you; please don‘t do this to me.‖
―I‘m sorry Rose, but you cannot stay here. It‘s over Rose, you have to accept this,
there‘s just no other way,‖ Father Quinn answered.
Oh, my word, Sarah thought, and closed the door almost tight, leaving only enough of
a gap to peer out.
―There‘s someone else, isn‘t there you bastard?‖ Rose shouted.
―Please Rose,‖ the priest implored, ―be quiet, Father Doran is here.‖
―Then maybe Father Doran would like to know just what his whoring priest gets up
Just then the hysterical woman looked over in Sarah‘s direction, and Sarah, in reflex,
slammed the heavy wooden door shut. She could hear the woman‘s shoes clatter across the
hard tiled floor toward her room, and she instinctively knew what was going to follow next.
Sarah stood back as the demented woman quickly pushed her room door open,
slamming it hard against the wall, and she felt uncomfortable and embarrassed as this strange
angry woman, whom she had never seen before stared wildly at her.
―Who the hell are you?‖ The angry woman demanded to know, as Father Quinn tried
to restrain her.
―I‘m Mrs Tweedy, and I‘m staying here for a while,‖ Sarah answered meekly.
―I‘m sure you are, you bloody whore,‖ yelled the woman, as she looked disgustingly
back toward the priest.
―Please Rose, no, it‘s not what you think,‖ the priest whispered, as Rose attacked
Rose was kicking and slapping at Sarah now, and the two women fell over a chair and
onto the hard cold floor. Sarah was up first though, and as the still violent Rose got to her
feet, Sarah punched her hard, full in the face, sending her reeling across the room and onto
Otis had taught her how to do this many years ago, in case she was ever attacked, but
until now she had never had any reason to use it. ―Get up you bitch,‖ Sarah roared, her fear
overtaken with anger and hurt. Now it was her turn to call someone a bitch, and in her fury,
she liked it.
―No, stop this right now,‖ shouted the priest.
Suddenly Father Doran came running into the room, as Father Quinn held his head in
his hands, while Rose sat up on one knee and cried pitifully into the arm of the chair.
―Why are you doing this to me?‖ Rose sobbed at Father Quinn, tears running down
her face. ―Why do you torture me so?‖ she cried, as Sarah stepped back, hardly able to take
all this in.
―What in blazes is going on here?‖ said Father Doran loudly, looking shocked and
puzzled as he gazed angrily from each of the trio in turn, and he knelt down to comfort the
Sarah marched passed Father Quinn toward the bathroom, and paused for a moment
as Father Quinn lowered his head again. ―Seems you‘ve got some damn explaining to do,‖
she said angrily.
* * * * *
Old Mick had fallen asleep without realising it. His cup still lay in his lap, and as he
glanced around he noticed that James was sleeping like a baby. The light outside barely
penetrated the old thick curtains, and as Mick opened them up the old caravan sprang alive
inside with light. ―Where am I?‖ James asked as the light awoke him and he held his
―You‘re with me in the caravan,‖ answered Mick. ―You came here last night claiming
that Rose had thrown you out and almost scared me to half to bloody death in the process.‖
―I‘m really sorry Mick,‖ James replied.
―Not to worry James, my lad. Sure what are friends for if they can‘t but help each
The two men sat and talked for a couple of hours before James decided to go home.
His head was almost clear now and he believed it would be better for him to confront Rose
now. He didn‘t like arguing with Rose, but he would go home now, get this matter sorted out
once and for all.
―Are you sure you don‘t want to stay here for a few days with me and give Rose time
to think things over?‖ Mick asked. ―You know, sometimes absence makes the heart grow
fonder, or so they say,‖ he added.
―No Mick, it‘s best if I go now. I think she only said it because I was drunk, and I
don‘t think she meant it when she told me she didn‘t love me anymore, but thanks anyway.‖
The two friends shook hands, hugged affectionately, and then James was gone.
Mick shut the caravan door and closed the curtains before removing his wallet from
his pocket. He pulled out a small brown envelope, scattering its contents onto the bed. A
small collection of faded photographs that he had kept all these years was the only contact
that he had with the past, his past. Another lifetime ago, he thought, as he looked
affectionately at them, smiling, before placing each one in turn carefully back inside the
envelope. First he looked at Meg‘s photograph. A wonderful sister to him, and a most
pleasant woman. Meg‘s was a sister he could never replace, so friendly and helpful to
everyone, he thought. Then he stared at the photo of Alice. She would sing to herself from
morning until night, always happy. He knew she was away from the south of Ireland and
living up north somewhere with her protestant husband.
Then it was Brenda‘s turn. Brenda was the most attractive of his sisters, and she had
moved to England and married a fireman. Then the next in the row was Annie. Poor Annie
who didn‘t deserve the fate she received at her mad sister‘s hands. Then Clare, always up to
mischief and always smiling, who still lived somewhere in Ireland the last he had heard. And
then came Laura, sweet little Laura, he thought. Laura had gone to America after Meg‘s
death, and he had never heard from her again. The next photo he kissed and hugged
affectionately, and stared at for a long time.
―Oh my poor darling innocent Mary, can you ever forgive me?‖
Old Mick felt his stomach tighten, the way it always did when he looked at Mary‘s
photograph. His eyes welled up as he stared at the beautiful woman who in the photo was
now somewhat faded, before carefully placing the photo back inside the envelope.
He had never seen any of his remaining sisters again after he had run away, halfway
across Ireland, and God only knew if they had tried to find him. But he had chosen this path,
and had exiled himself from them in his guilt. Maybe now, he thought, I should try and
search them out. ―Maybe I will,‖ he said loudly to himself.
Then he picked up a photograph that he could not look upon with affection, a
photograph of Bridget, but a photograph that he could not bring himself to destroy either, no
matter how much sadness she had caused him. This poor mad creature that he had loved so
much as a sister, once his favourite, who was now more to be pitied in her sad, demented
state. This was a sister though that he had never even thought of, or wanted to inquire about,
and who could be dead and buried for all he knew, or cared for that matter. This was a sister
who had destroyed Meg‘s, Annie‘s, Mary‘s and his bloody life, he felt, destroyed all their
lives for that matter. But still he could not bring himself to destroy her photo, and the tears
welled up in his eyes as he shoved the picture away, deep below the others, out of his sight.
Then he stood up and blessed himself, sat down and said a quick prayer for James and
Rose. Then as an afterthought he asked that if the Lord wasn‘t too busy, could he perhaps to
be kind enough to look after himself as well.
Otis was waiting for Peter promptly as arranged, and it wasn‘t long before Peter
appeared. ―I have the car here,‖ Otis said, as he pointed to the Oldsmobile he had rented
earlier. As they left town, Peter directed Otis to the address Eric had given him, and twenty
minutes later they had arrived.
The district was pretty much run down though, and Otis prayed that he hadn‘t come
all this way to be beaten now, hoping above hope that this medicine man could give them the
help they so desperately needed. As they studied the house they noticed that it was set back
off the road, and compared with the rest of the buildings the place was actually quite pleasant.
Peter rapped on the large brass knocker that was in the shape of an Indian chief, including
war bonnet. ―Sitting Bull,‖ he said to Otis, showing off his knowledge, and just as he was
about to rap for the second time a small boy slowly opened the door.
―We would like to speak to Joseph Lapahie?‖ Peter requested. The young boy looked
suspiciously at the men before running back down the hallway. ―Grandfather, Grandfather,‖
he shouted, and ran into a room off the hallway. An old man entered the hallway, the small
boy now hiding under his arm, and came quickly toward the men as he patted his grandson on
―Eric Little Feather sent us,‖ Otis stated, as Peter thrust the note Eric had written into
his hand. The old Indian looked relaxed but puzzled somewhat. He also was suspicious of
these men. He glanced at Otis and then the note, before he pulled on a pair of old fashioned
glasses which Otis felt to be really expensive with their meticulous carvings of what looked
like buffalo on the sides. The men waited as Joseph studied the note intently.
After a pause Joseph spoke. ―Come inside,‖ he said, any suspicions he had now
completely gone, which showed his respect for Eric, and as the young boy ushered the men
into the room, Otis was immediately stunned.
* * * * *
Inside, the place was a veritable Aladdin‘s cave of Indian artifacts, and it was like
they had travelled through space and time, he felt, as he surveyed the room that was filled
from floor to ceiling with all sorts of Indian memorabilia. As he gazed around Otis guessed
that most of the stuff was probably authentic.
―Sit,‖ commanded Joseph, as he slumped down on the floor cross legged. Otis sat on a
rather large bamboo chair that somehow seemed out of place in the room, and Peter contented
himself to sit on a wooden bench that was propped against the wall. Joseph called out
something that Otis could not understand, and all of a sudden a rather plump woman
appeared and shyly nodded to the men. ―My wife, Singing Bird,‖ he announced, and the men
nodded back. ―Something for our friends,‖ he barked at the woman, and at that Singing Bird
disappeared quickly through the door.
Otis reckoned that Singing Bird was at least thirty years younger than Joseph, but then
he supposed that Chiefs and Medicine Men where sort of elite in the tribes, and had perhaps
first pick of everything, including the women.
After having some food which was very well prepared, the men settled down to talk.
Joseph enquired about Eric and was saddened by Otis‘s report of him. Otis then explained his
story to old Joseph. The men had to sit for fifteen minutes as the old Indian smoked on an old
carved pipe that Otis felt was carved from ivory. Then as Joseph slowly and carefully
lowered the pipe to his side, he chanted and sang. Another five minutes were to pass when
suddenly Joseph sprang up from the floor with an agility that surprised both men. Joseph
asked Otis if he would be willing to die for Sarah, and Otis said yes without really even
thinking about it.
The old Indian then asked Otis to show him his hands and he held them out. Both men
noticed a tear in Joseph‘s eyes just before he spoke. ―You have strong hands,‖ he said as he
grasped Otis‘s hands firmly. ―You will need strong hands, and a strong heart, because the
Spirit Woman knows no fear, and has the strength of very many men. Her greatest weakness
is in her sight, but her smell and senses are very strong. ‖
―What do I have to do?‖ Otis asked, but felt his stomach heave in anticipation of what
Joseph was going to say next.
―The Spirit Woman cannot be killed,‖ Joseph exclaimed. ―No mortal hand can do this
thing, but she can be greatly weakened, and she can also be very greatly confused. The only
way your wife can lead a normal life now, is if someone gives up their soul for her, and that
someone must be you.‖
―I, um, you mean suicide, is that what you‘re saying here? I have to kill myself,‖ Otis
groaned, hoping the old Indian would come up with another, much better plan than this one.
―Even this may not be enough,‖ Joseph answered. ―The Great Spirit Woman‘s
strength must not be underestimated.‖
Otis felt spent and cheated. He had travelled all this way to be told he would have to
die to save Sarah‘s life, but this wasn‘t even an option. Without Sarah he felt that he would be
nothing, and life would not be worth living anyway.
He also believed that Sarah would feel the same way. How in God‘s name did this
happen to us he thought to himself.
―To greatly weaken her,‖ Joseph went on, ―you must do two things. Firstly you must
chant these words from the Great Sundance. Wakinyan Wakatanka Hunka Tokapi Ni O
Okodakciye,‖ he chanted, as Peter wrote the words down in a notebook. ―This will help
protect you, as well as confuse her, and cause her to lose almost all of her power.‖
―Wasn‘t the Great Sundance performed at Wounded Knee to protect your people from
the soldier‘s bullets?‖ Otis asked, puzzled. ―Every single Indian that day was massacred,
including women and children,‖ he added.
Joseph thought for a moment before speaking. ―Many of our leaders now believe that
The Great Sundance should not have been used at Wounded Knee.
―But it was used to defeat Yellow Hair at t…‖
―General Custer,‖ Otis said, interrupting him.
―Yes, Custer. He was the coward who would not listen to us.‖
The old medicine man looked sadly at Otis. ―Wounded knee was different. We were a
spent people who had nothing left. The Great Sundance is spiritual, and should only have
been used for the spiritual purpose.‖
―Spiritual?‖ Otis whispered.
―The Great Sundance is about self sacrifice. The more you give of yourself, the
greater the reward, and in your case, the more you give of yourself while fighting the Great
Spirit Woman, the more she will weaken. And remember, every drop of your blood she takes
as you chant to her, will be as if it were her own blood, but it will work for you,‖ Joseph said.
―Stand up,‖ Joseph ordered.
Otis stood up, looking around at Peter, puzzled at where the old Indian was going
Peter watched as Joseph grabbed the unsuspecting Otis in a clinch, arms around him
as he squeezed with all his might, knocking the wind out of him. Otis tried to struggle free,
but the old Indian held firm and Otis couldn‘t move. ―The second thing you must do is
exactly what I am doing to you now, you must give her the hug of the bear, and hang on like
this as she fights you,‖ Joseph exclaimed.
Otis felt like his chest was being held in a vice, and he struggled for breath as the old
Indian talked on. ―This will also greatly confuse and weaken her, and allow you to get in
close to her as you chant the words from the Great Sundance into her ear, and when she has
no fight left in her she will have to take you instead of your wife. But be warned, even though
she will lose almost all of her power very quickly, she will still be very strong, and if you fail
to hold on to her then her power will return to her just as quickly as it left her. No matter what
happens, you must not let loose your grip, not under any circumstance.‖
* * * * *
Otis was almost gasping for breath when the old Indian released him, and he fell back
clumsily, onto the chair. ―Now you know what you have to do,‖ said Joseph.
It was a full five minutes before Otis got his breath back and he began to question
Joseph about the Indian named Satra who went out to face the Spirit Woman alone, so that no
others would be killed. Eric had said that he didn‘t have to do this, that there was another
way, and Otis really damn well wanted to know just what this other way was.
Joseph pondered for a moment before speaking. ―I know of this story,‖ he answered.
―You see, Satra could have hidden and lived on the great burial grounds, where the Spirit
Woman would not dare go. This sacred ground would have saved him from her wrath, but
this brave warrior could not have spent his life hiding like a woman among the dead, and
being disrespectful toward them, so he took the only path that he felt was open to him, and
confronted the Spirit Woman.‖
―Yeah, and look where it damn well got him,‖ Otis answered. No, now he knew,
knew the harsh reality, the hard facts. It was sad, sad for both of them that Sarah would have
to spend the rest of her life like this in the church in isolation. But it would be a damn sight
sadder with one of them dead. As they said their goodbyes Otis slipped the old Indian a
twenty dollar bill. ―For the boy,‖ he said. Then he thanked the old Indian and wished him
―I don‘t know to thank you, Peter. I know where I stand now though,‖ he said as they
made their way back into town in the Oldsmobile.
―Do you mind if I ask you a question Otis?‖
―No, feel free.‖
―Did you actually see this demon for yourself?‖
―Well no, I didn‘t see it personally, but there were other people there who did, my
wife Sarah being just one of them,‖ Otis replied.
―Then you‘re convinced by it?‖
―Yes I am, absolutely, or I wouldn‘t have made this trip and left Sarah on her own
―That‘s scary stuff,‖ Peter exclaimed, but when Otis didn‘t follow up on the
conversation, he got the impression that Otis didn‘t want to talk about it anymore, so he kept
quiet for the remainder of the journey.
Soon they arrived back in town and Otis dropped Peter off at the corner of his street.
―Here,‖ Peter said, as he tore out the page and handed Otis the words of the Great Sundance
he had written down.
―No thanks Peter, I won‘t need them now, suicide just ain‘t on my agenda yet.‖
―It was a pleasure knowing you,‖ Peter said, as he shook hands. ―I hope you find
peace from this demon.‖
―It was real nice knowing you too, and once again, thank you for everything,‖ Otis
* * * * *
As Otis drove away he noticed the sheet of paper that Peter had tried to give him
laying on the passenger seat and he crumpled it up to throw it from the car window, before
changing his mind and stuffing it inside his jacket pocket. He would return to Ireland as soon
as possible, but only after he had returned to the hospital to visit Eric one last time. Otis slept
soundly in the hotel room that night, which surprised him, as he hadn‘t slept properly since
the whole messy business began.
Otis knew there was no great rush now, but he still wanted to get home to the woman
he loved. After a quick shower and an even quicker breakfast, he hurriedly packed his
belongings and left the hotel. It would be like a jail sentence for Sarah, he thought, never able
to leave the church, ever, never to walk through the park again or go down to the sea, which
were just some of the things she loved to do. But he would just have to find a way to make
her happy, and with his support they would somehow get through this together, he felt, at
least until they could figure out how to destroy this monster.
As he entered the hospital he noticed that the nurse who had been looking after Eric
on his last visit was walking down the corridor toward him. ―Hi,‖ he said, ―just going up to
―Wait,‖ said the nurse loudly, interrupting him, and Otis stopped dead in his tracks.
He had seen that look before, recognised the body language. Anyhow, the look on her face
gave it away, and he knew before the nurse spoke again that Eric had passed away.
The nurse informed him that Eric had died peacefully during the night, and Otis
cursed aloud that he hadn‘t visited his dying friend on the previous evening. But he just
didn‘t believe that Eric could die as quickly as that, and Otis realised that Eric had only been
holding on all along until he could get his terrible burden of guilt off his chest. Anyway, he
thought, maybe now Eric and Maria are together again.
And as far as Eric‘s confession was concerned, his secret had gone to his grave with
him, because Otis would never repeat it to no one, not even Sarah.
As he left the hospital he looked into the cloudless sky and paused for a moment as he
stared sadly at the heavens, before walking silently away.
James searched in every room in the house, but it was clear to him that Rose wasn‘t
there and he slumped down into his chair and held his head tightly. As he looked around him
he could see his shirts and other clothes all neatly folded up, and he was grateful that at least
he had a clean and hard working wife.
He had always found it hard to show his true feelings to Rose, and he admitted to
himself that he hadn‘t always been there for her, but things seemed to be improving, although
he had not been intimate with her for some time now. He felt though that it would not be long
before they would be together again properly. Ok, so she had said she didn‘t love him
anymore, but he felt that she didn‘t mean this, and that most of it was only said out of
frustration. He believed though, that Kate had badly interfered in their marriage since they
had been first wed, and although he did not want the woman to die, he selfishly felt that Rose
would have no one else but him to turn to when she did. Then, when that happened, he would
be there for her, better this time.
He would love her like he had never loved her before, and then they could put the past
behind them. He would have to go to Kate‘s house first though, because he knew that Rose
would be there, and even if it meant causing a damned argument, he would have his say.
Anyway wasn‘t all this part of the problem? A family that would not forgive him no matter
how hard he had tried, and a wife that wouldn‘t even give him the chance to make it up with
He understood that Kate was at death‘s door, and he did not relish going to the dying
woman‘s house. Kate and her unfriendly husband Seamus both hated him.
Seamus was bound to tell him to go away, but so be it, he thought, as he slammed the
front door behind him and started off toward their house.
A light cold breeze blew onto his back as he walked along the street, unaware that he
hadn‘t even bothered to put his coat back on, and it was at least a half hour later when he
finally arrived at Kate‘s house. He was so deep in thought that it only felt like he had been
walking for a few minutes, although it had taken much longer, and he immediately
recognised Seamus smoking his pipe, as he sat on the little wooden bench on the porch at the
front of the house.
* * * * *
As he approached he said hello to Seamus, but the man ignored him. Seamus had
never forgiven him for that night and the way he had spoken to Kate on his last drunken visit,
and how he had also called Seamus himself some names, cursing him, humiliating and
frightening the non violent man. ―Have you seen Rose, Seamus?‖ James asked.
Seamus puffed frantically on his pipe as he tapped his foot noisily on the boards, and
ignored James, which made the frustrated man angry.
Suddenly Kate appeared at the door with a bundle of washing in her arms, and James
stepped back, startled. ―What‘s wrong with you?‖ Kate asked, ―You look as though you‘ve
seen a ghost.‖
―But, but, you‘re dyi, you‘re sick,‖ he corrected. The woman looked puzzled at his
―What is it you want here James?‖ Kate said.
Before he had a chance to answer Seamus spoke up. ―We don‘t want any trouble
around here, so why don‘t you just go on home,‖ he said nervously, unable to disguise the
fear in his voice.
―Not until I‘ve spoken to Rose,‖ James replied.
―Rose,‖ Seamus mumbled loudly, with a laugh. ―Why Rose hasn‘t been here for over
two weeks now and…‖
Kate gave her husband a darting look before interrupting and correcting him. ―No
Seamus, your mistaken. Rose has been here a few times this week,‖ she lied. Seamus looked
at her oddly, open mouthed, head cocked, and James thought at that moment he had never
seen anyone who looked as stupid as this man did now.
James couldn‘t understand this. Here was Kate, standing in front of him, and in
perfectly good health, yet Rose had told him months ago that Kate was dying.
What the hell is going on here, he thought. Rose had told him this and yet here Kate
was, bright as a button. ―What the bloody story here Kate?‖ James asked angrily.
―There‘s no bloody story, why I don‘t know what you‘re talking about?‖ she lied
again. It wasn‘t that Kate had wanted to lie to James, but she knew how violent he could be,
especially when drunk, and even though she did not like the man, she had tried to persuade
her sister that what she was doing was wrong. But one thing was certain. She would not
betray Rose to him. That was Rose‘s business and not hers, but Rose had obviously told lies
to James, regarding the fact that she was ill, and that she would not accept. She would have it
out with Rose as soon as she saw her.
Rose had told her all about the priest and how in love she had become, and Kate
thought she was behaving like a love struck schoolchild. But during her marriage to James,
Rose had never really known true happiness, and on a few occasions James had beaten her,
one time badly, when drunk, although she admitted to herself that in the past couple of years
James had seemed to change for the better.
However, Rose was her sister; her own flesh and blood, and therefore, Kate would not
give away her secret. She also knew James would not take no for an answer, and although she
didn‘t want to, she realised she would have to be cruel to him if she wanted him to leave. ―I
don‘t know where Rose is,‖ she shouted. Now be off with you before I call the police.‖
―She‘s still my wife,‖ answered James, ―and don‘t you bloody forget it.‖
―If Rose doesn‘t want you anymore, then you‘ve got no one to blame but yourself,‖
shouted Seamus. ―Why if you were a man at all you would clear off out of her life and let her
have some happiness,‖ he ranted on, with a smirk on his face.
―You bastard,‖ James whispered, as he ran across to Seamus, giving him no time to
get up from his seat as he seized him by the throat. Then as Seamus tried to pull himself up,
his coat collar ripped off in James hand, his new coat that Kate had bought him for his
birthday, just the week before.
―Leave him alone you pig,‖ Kate yelled. ―Bloody violence,‖ she added, ―I think that‘s
the only sort of language that you understand. Go on now and get out of here, before the
police arrest you.‖
―That‘s right,‖ James replied mockingly, as he released Seamus and walked away,
―hide behind your wife‘s apron strings, you gutless worm.‖ In his confusion, James looked
around for his coat for a moment, before he suddenly realised he hadn‘t brought it with him,
and at that he strode away, not noticing Seamus shake his fist at him behind his back and
silently swear obscenities at him.
As James walked back toward home his mind was reeling. What the hell is going on
here, he thought, as tried to figure out why Rose had lied to him. To lie to him was one thing,
but to lie to him that her sister was dying, and to lie so convincingly, pulled at his insides,
making him feel sick to the pit of his stomach. He quickened his pace as he strode for home,
and the explanation that he would get from Rose, one bloody way or the other, he thought.
Otis boarded the plane and moved into his allocated F-13, window seat, clunked his
seat belt on with no problem, and leaned his head back on the rest. He hadn‘t noticed before,
but he had lost weight, a hell of a lot of weight, he suddenly thought. The flight from Chicago
would take some time, he knew, eight hours in fact, but at least it was in the right direction,
and his heart beat in anticipation of seeing Sarah again.
Otis noticed the tall, thin, gangly man with the cardigan zipped tightly up to the neck
slowly make his way down the aisle toward him, stopping to talk to everyone and anyone as
he passed them. His annoying high pitched voice could break damn glass, Otis thought, and
he hoped the man would pass his row by. As the man drew level with Otis he pulled his
boarding card from his pocket and gawked at it for a moment, before looking up at the seat
numbers. Well, here we are, ―D-13, unlucky for some,‖ he joked, sounding just like Goofy in
those Disney movies.
There were three seats in the row, D, E and F, and the man, after putting a small case
in the overhead locker, sat down on the outer seat. Otis was at least thankful that the middle
seat would be occupied by someone else, someone who would bear the brunt of this man‘s
personality, and as the man buckled up, Otis stared out of the window and avoided him.
―Marvin Pentigras,‖ Otis heard the man say rather loudly in his high pitched voice. ―Marvin
Pentigras,‖ he repeated, and Otis knew somehow that he was talking to him.
As Otis slowly turned around the man already had his hand fully extended out, and
Otis lightly and quickly shook it.
The man looked at Otis in a funny way as he bobbed his head up and down and Otis
realised that the man wanted an introduction. ―Sorry, uh, Martin,‖ Otis answered sluggishly
as he limply shook the man‘s hand.
―Marvin, it‘s Marvin,‖ the man repeated.
―Um, hello Marvin, I‘m Otis, Otis Tweedy,‖ he answered through a forced smile.
Marvin smiled back, his lips curled back, his teeth bared, except for his front two
which were missing and Otis had to force himself not to laugh out loud. Anyway, he thought,
who am I to laugh at this guy, with my face the way it is.
Otis was looking up to the front of the plane, ignoring Marvin who was still talking
away, when he spotted the fat woman waddling down the aisle of the aircraft. Please let it be
her, please be E-13, he prayed. She would block all possible ways of communication with
Marvin, and Otis sat in hope. ―What line you in?‖ Marvin asked Otis. ―Retired,‖ Otis
answered in almost a whisper.
Otis didn‘t like to be rude to the man, but he just didn‘t want to talk to him. Besides,
he wouldn‘t be good company anyway. He was tired and cranky, and he was just too busy
thinking about Sarah. The fat woman stopped in front of them both and smiled. ―E-13,‖ she
said to herself, as she looked up at the row numbers.
―Strike,‖ Otis cried loudly, and then felt foolish as the pair stared around at him with
puzzled expressions on their faces.
―Hello, I‘m Marvin, and this is our good friend, Otis Tweedy,‖ Marvin said to the fat
―Hello Marvin; hello Otis,‖ the woman politely answered, ―I‘m Rebecca Benson, but
my friends call me Becca.‖ The woman then knelt down and whispered something to Marvin,
and Otis watched as he nodded his head approvingly.
―Why certainly Miss Benson, sorry, I mean Becca,‖ he said apologetically. Then to
Otis‘s surprise, Marvin unbuckled his seatbelt, stood up and moved into the middle seat,
letting the fat woman sit in the outside seat he had just vacated.
Otis looked at the pair and felt angry. He wondered if it was the injury to his face that
put her off sitting beside him, or maybe it due to the fact that he was black.
―Becca says she wants the aisle seat due to the fact she goes to the powder room a
lot,‖ Marvin whispered to Otis apologetically, and Otis felt that Marvin was already talking
as if the woman were his best and only goddamn friend in the world, even though he had only
known her for just about ten fucking seconds. Otis was getting annoyed and almost looking
for the puke bag, and now he had decided to ignore the guy.
Marvin had started to speak again but Otis blocked him off. ―Look, I‘m sorry fella,‖
he said, ―But I‘m tired, and I just feel like being left alone for a while.‖
Marvin looked hurt, and he turned slowly away without saying a word.
―How dare you be rude to that man, apologise right now,‖ Otis heard Sarah‘s voice in
his head say, and of course she was right. His problems were not other people‘s problems,
and after all, wasn‘t he the one who complained to Sarah about how people where less kind to
each other these days. So the man was overly friendly, beats being a damn heel, he thought.
―I‘m sorry,‖ Otis almost whispered to Marvin, ―I‘m kinda under pressure.‖
―That‘s all right,‖ Marvin answered, but Otis knew that the man had been hurt by his
stupid remarks and wouldn‘t talk to him again, and now he felt bad for talking to him that
It stayed like this for most of the flight, with Otis staring out of the window, until he
became tired and he laid his head on the small pillow allocated to him earlier, which he
propped against the edge of the interior of the aircraft and the seat.
* * * * *
It was an uncomfortable experience, but the sleep that followed was most welcoming.
Otis hadn‘t dreamt like this in a long time.
This dream was so real that he did not feel he was dreaming. In the dream, Otis
journeyed way back to when he had just been released from hospital, and Sarah and he were
walking around arm in arm in the busy park. Sarah was hugging him, and telling him how
happy she was. ―Not as happy as I am,‖ Otis answered back, and they kissed passionately.
Otis walked back to their car and collected the picnic basket from the trunk. They
strolled to a clearing and sat down on the newly cut grass. The sun‘s rays shone through the
trees at the edge of the park, sending down little spiralling beams of light all around, and
although Otis had lost his sense of smell, in the dream he could smell the freshly cut grass all
around them, and it made him feel good.
Sarah opened the basket, removing the freshly made sandwiches and transferred them
out onto the paper plates, while Otis opened the bottle of golden seal orange juice.
―I‘ll pour,‖ he said.
―Okay, then I‘ll serve,‖ Sarah answered.
―I‘ve got a big surprise for you,‖ she said. Sarah then called out to a lady with a pram
who was standing about twenty feet away from them and who was watching them rather
intently Otis noticed. The lady came over to them smiling and when she licked her lips
seductively at him, he felt uneasy. She removed the small baby from inside the pram and
handed it to Sarah. ―Meet your son Otis, our baby,‖ Sarah stated, enthusiastically.
―What is this Sarah? You can‘t have children,‖ Otis replied.
―Yes Otis, I can. I had the baby when you were in the hospital and I kept it a secret
until now. Isn‘t it just wonderful?‖
Otis picked the baby up and stared, smiling in amazement and wondered how Sarah
could have kept this from him, and only God would know the reason she would have wanted
to, he thought. Because as far as Otis was concerned, it would have been the best medicine he
could ever have received, as he lay in goddamn agony those last few months in the hospital.
Perhaps Sarah felt he just wasn‘t ready for it, he believed, or perhaps she thought he was
wallowing too much in his own self pity and had no time for their baby.
Anyway, the baby was here now and that‘s all that mattered, the baby Sarah had
craved for, and a baby they would love and cherish forever. ―Smile for daddy,‖ Sarah said,
and the baby turned its eyes sharply toward her, eyeballs turning in unison, head unmoving,
and Otis pushed the baby away to arms length. Something was wrong here. A fear rushed
through him now as he stared at the baby‘s unnatural behaviour, even though Sarah didn‘t
seem to notice it. The way the baby was looking at its mother. Why it was looking at her like
some sort of goddamn adult, he thought, as Sarah‘s voice broke in again.
―Smile for daddy,‖ she softly repeated, and this time the baby responded by
grotesquely moving its lips far up each side of its face, like two great worms, until they met
with its eye sockets. Then the baby pulled at Otis‘s arms with amazing strength as it fought to
get close to him.
―Jesus Christ,‖ Otis cried loudly as Sarah spoke again.
―Kiss daddy,‖ she said quickly, her voice no longer soft, but hard and deep, and
immediately the baby opened its enormous, shark-like mouth; revealing row upon row of
black, pointed, decaying teeth.
Suddenly a large, green tongue protruded out from between the rotting teeth, and it
licked at Otis‘s face, sticky and wet. Otis threw the baby out of his arms with difficulty and as
it fell onto the grass with a thud he stumbled back, horrified. Otis watched in terror as it
crawled off, a high pitched scream emulating from its mouth, as Sarah yelled at him.
―You bastard!‖ she shouted, her voice changing. Now she was sounding just like
Goofy. ―This was my surprise, my fucking surprise,‖ she shouted. Suddenly Goofy was
cussing and swearing at him. But there was something different about the Disney character‘s
voice. Almost the same voice as Goofy, but not quite. Marvin, this was Marvin‘s voice, not
Goofy‘s, not Sarah‘s.
―Surprise, it‘s a surprise,‖ Otis heard Marvin shout to him, and he felt Marvin elbow
him hard in the side. ―Surprise for you,‖ Marvin shouted again, and Otis felt as though his
ribs had been broken.
In reflex, Otis, now out of the dream, flicked his seatbelt open, jumped up and swung
around, confronting Marvin. ―What do you think you‘re fucking doing?‖ Otis raged at
Marvin as he raised his fist, ready to strike. Marvin stayed absolutely rigid, eyes front, and
did not respond.
Even the fat woman sat and stared in front without flinching, and then Otis heard the
cries. Women and children were whimpering and crying in front and behind him as a man‘s
voice quickly recited the Lord‘s Prayer. Marvin turned to face Otis, his face no longer
friendly, but dark and twisted. White foam ran from between his lips and Otis thought back to
when as a young officer. He and some fellow cops had cornered a small rabid dog, which was
snarling and snapping at everyone. The canine had to be shot five times before it would go
down, biting two officers in the process. Now he felt as though he was looking at that mad
dog, and he backed up to the window, as far as he could.
―Where‘s fucking Sarah,‖ Marvin shouted at Otis, the high pitched voice now gone,
replaced by a deep growl. Marvin then raised his arm and pointed forward and Otis
instinctively looked around.
―Dear God,‖ he groaned, as he now understood what was frightening these people.
Otis, from where he was positioned couldn‘t see the hooded figure levitate off the floor,
which made it look even taller, as it almost touched the ceiling of the fuselage, but he felt the
beads of sweat run down his forehead and his heart pounding in his chest as he fumbled for
the old Indian‘s piece of paper.
Then in a flash it was down the aisle and upon him, leaning across Marvin and the fat
woman. As it stared into Otis‘s face, its obscene mouth began opening and closing, but it said
nothing. Otis fumbled with the piece of crumpled paper as he tried to straighten it out, but as
he pulled his reading glasses from their case he clumsily dropped them down onto the floor of
the aircraft. ―Damn it,‖ he said aloud.
Peter had written the words in large letters though, and when he looked at the sheet,
he found he could read them.
―Wakinyan Wakatanka Hunka Topaki Ni,‖ Otis had started to read when the demon
wailed so loud into his face that he couldn‘t hear himself talk. He had heard this sound
before, and he remembered back to Ireland and the sound of the car screeching and skidding
across his bedroom on the night he had found Sarah laying on the floor. It flung its long bony
arm at him, but he quickly threw his head back and it only managed to lightly cut his cheek.
The awesome power and momentum of the beast‘s sweeping motion though, sent its hand
powerfully and speedily into Marvin‘s face with a bang, and Otis watched in terror as a large
lump of what used to be Marvin‘s jaw flew across the aisle. Marvin‘s limp body fell on top of
the screaming fat woman, covering her in his blood as it pumped profusely from what was
left of his mouth. Otis remembered the old medicine man‘s words: ―You must give her the
hug of the bear.‖ The old medicine man had shown him this. But how could he do it? There
was just no room for the manoeuvre here.
Otis was struggling to fight his way out of the seat, but Marvin and the fat woman
weren‘t for budging, and Otis yelled at the woman to move. The captain had left the cockpit
now and came running down the aisle, and as he placed his hand on the beast‘s hood, he
pulled on it and the hood fell down the creature‘s back. He stepped back in horror, the blood
rapidly draining from his face as he stared at the nightmare in front of him, and it slowly
turned around to face him.
Otis thought the captain had fainted at first when he fell to the floor, but as the
creature slowly raised its long arm, it had hold of the captain‘s head, bloodied and torn,
which it then flung viciously over its shoulder, sending it bouncing into the midst of some
screaming passengers. Its head was as hideous as its grey face. The creature had long narrow
eyes and a twisted mouth. It was mainly bald, but with large clumps of hair that seemed to
have grown out at odd angles, and in some places it reached down around the beast‘s waist.
Otis was still chanting the old Indian‘s words at the beast as it moved toward him. Its
long and spindly fingers were about to touch his face, when he felt a gentle shake. As he
opened his eyes, Marvin and the fat women, as well as the passengers in the row in front of
him, were all staring around at him.
―Are you all right friend?‖ Marvin asked softly, ―You seemed to be having a real bad
dream there, well, going by the sound of it that is, you were kinda talking funny, well
―Talking like an Indian, sort of chanting,‖ interrupted the fat woman.
Otis pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped away the sweat that had
saturated his brow. His seat belt was still firmly in place and he knew it had all been a bad
dream. He watched Marvin stand up, remove a small Bible from his pocket, unzip his
cardigan and fold it neatly onto his lap, placing the Bible on top. Otis stared for a moment at
Marvin‘s black shirt and snow white collar, and he felt deeply ashamed, but somehow
comforted. ―I‘m real sorry Father,‖ he said to Marvin, as the priest smiled back at him, and
the captain announced they were beginning their decent.
Rose was sitting quietly in the chair when James entered. ―What‘s going on here
Rose?‖ James asked with almost a whisper. ―I‘ve been up to see Kate, she‘s not sick, and
Seamus says you haven‘t been up there in over three weeks,‖ he exaggerated. Rose stared at
the floor, unflinching.
The game was up, she knew, and now it had to come to this. No more lying, no more
deceit or hiding, she thought. James may kill her now, she knew. But anything was better
than living like this. ―Please tell me what is going on Rose?‖
Rose stared at the floor for a full minute before answering him. ―I‘m sorry James, but
it just happened,‖ she stammered nervously.
―Happened, what happened?‖ James asked, confused.
―I, I‘ve met someone, James,‖ she answered, sobbing. Rose could not believe her own
words; but she had said it, finally, and now to hell with the consequences. There was simply
no other way. If Frank and she were to be together, then she would have to leave James
immediately, and hope that Frank would come to his senses and see reason.
She knew that there was also a good chance that James would kill Frank, kill them
both perhaps, but this was a chance she would have to take; besides, without Frank, life
wouldn‘t be worth living anyway.
Rose no longer had feelings for James, not in any sexual or romantic way, but she had
not wanted to hurt him like this either, even though he had not been so good to her in the past.
But she had thought about this, and she knew it had to come to a conclusion sometime. James
collapsed into the chair and put his hands to his head.
―Who is he?‖ he groaned.
After a moment‘s silence, she spoke.
―It‘s, it‘s, Frank Quinn,‖ she sobbed.
James sat upright in the chair and stared hard at Rose. ―Frank Quinn! You mean
Father Frank Quinn, the priest?‖ He asked; now feeling more confused. ―This must be some
kind of sick joke Ro…‖
―No!‖ Rose shouted. ―It‘s no sick joke. It‘s as real a love that could ever happen
between two people.‖
―You are having an affair with a fucking priest?‖ James asked again.
―Yes,‖ she sobbed.
―Have you been sleeping together?‖ he asked in an almost whisper, praying that she
would say no.
―Yes, but it‘s not what you think,‖ she whispered.
―Not what I think?‖ he cried. ―What am I supposed to fucking think?‖ James asked
loudly. ―How long has this been going on?‖ he asked again, as he shook his head nervously
from side to side; unable to believe this confession that was unfolding in front of him.
―More than five months,‖ she sobbed.
―Do you love him?‖ he asked softly, tears rolling down his cheeks.
―Yes, more than anything, and Frank loves me,‖ she answered, as she tried to justify
it. ―I‘m sorry James,‖ she said, ―I, we didn‘t mean for anyone to get hurt,‖ Rose corrected, ―It
―It just happened,‖ James echoed. ―You know Rose,‖ he said, his face a twisted mask.
―The tide comes in every day, and the tide goes out. The sun rises in the morning and the sun
sets at night,‖ he said, making Rose feel frightened. ―Those things, they happen Rose,‖ he
said. Those things are meant to happen, because those things are nature, God‘s nature. But
what you have done here, these things just don‘t happen Rose. They are made to happen, by
lustful people who want them to happen, and this goes against God and his nature. And
maybe he can forgive you for it Rose, because I can‘t,‖ he said. ―I can‘t ever.‖
* * * * *
James hadn‘t reacted the way she had thought he would, and this surprised her. She
had expected him to go berserk and strike her, maybe break up some furniture, but he simply
stood up from the chair, picked up his coat and walked out to the rear of the house. Rose
didn‘t see him enter the shed and pull an old wheelbarrow to one side, lift a large metal box
from the corner, and set it on the small workbench. It had been a long time since he had
opened it; three years ago in fact, but it seemed just like yesterday. He stared hard at it for a
moment, and then he quickly reached up and ran his fingers along the top shelf of an old
wooden cabinet, ignoring the cobwebs, until he felt the keys, unmoved since he had left them
As he tried to unlock the bench drawer his hand shook uncontrollably and he had to
take a couple of deep breaths before he proceeded.
Inside the drawer a red cardboard box stared out at him and James tore at it until it
was almost unrecognisable as a box. He removed a handful of shells that had scattered across
the drawer and stuffed them into his pockets, spilling some of the shells down across the shed
floor. On opening the large metal box, he removed the long object and slowly unwound the
wrapping, pausing only for a moment as the smell of gun oil filled his nostrils. He cracked
open the barrels and quickly loaded two of the shells into the breach, then placed the gun
inside his coat and walked out through the back gate, stopping for a moment to look back
sadly at the house that he would now never find true happiness in. Wiping the tears from his
eyes, he threw up over the ground, and then hurriedly and with menace, walked quickly
* * * * *
Otis boarded the small plane at Heathrow for his short flight back to Ireland and
Sarah. There was no way he was going to even rest his head or shut his eyes for a moment
during this flight. He remembered the old medicine man‘s note concealed in his pocket and
he removed it, stared at it for a moment, and then decided to memorise the words, just in case
* * * * *
―C-can I have a word with you, Sarah?‖ Father Quinn stuttered, as he stood outside
her door and lightly knocked.
Sarah had calmed down by now, but she didn‘t really want to talk with the priest. She
had been brought into something here that she didn‘t care to be involved in, and rightly or
wrongly, she thought, the blame lay squarely on the priest‟s shoulders, and only his. God
knows she was having enough problems of her own without creating any more, but it wasn‘t
up to her to judge, she felt and she had to admit to herself that the priest had been very kind to
her since she arrived at the church.
She decided she would listen to him. At least she believed she owed him that much.
She opened the door slowly and stepped out into the corridor. ―Over there,‖ she said, unable
to conceal her disappointment in all this, as she pointed to a small table with two chairs. She
wished Otis where here to talk to this priest, in fact she wished Otis where here to talk to her,
because the last time they had been apart was all those many years ago, when Otis had been
shot with the flare gun and was hospitalised for a couple of months, but even then Sarah had
never missed one single visit to him and well, now she missed his strength and that certain
kind of wisdom that he possessed. She yearned for him. Anyway, he had to go to America,
this was something only Otis could do, she believed, as she sat down.
―I don‘t know where to start with this,‖ said Father Quinn, as he squeezed his hands
together to stop them shaking.
―Well, my grandmother used to say it‘s always good to start at the beginning,‖ Sarah
―Yes, well, ok then,‖ he began, nervously. ―About a year ago Rose came to speak to
me about her marriage, and the problems she was having with her husband, James. I tried to
advise her as best I could, but things for her just seemed to get worse by the day. We would
walk in the park and talk for hours, and soon I noticed that she no longer wanted to talk about
her husband anymore, not in any friendly or loving sense that is.
―Then Rose told me one day that she thought she was in love with me. I tried not to
see her again, but I realised that I too, was having feelings, wrong feelings I know, but strong
feelings toward her as well. I prayed for strength but it was no good, I was like some insane
wretch concerning Rose, a Devil‘s disciple who just couldn‘t control himself. Well, it all just
happened, started about five or six months ago,‖
―Why did you finally break it off then?‖ Sarah replied, suspiciously.
―I finally couldn‘t live with my guilt any more. Besides, James‘s friend Mick found
out, as someone was bound to, and this brought me back to my senses. I knew then it had to
end,‖ said Father Quinn softly, his voice full of remorse.
―In any event, Father Doran is going to put in a report to the church about the incident
between you and Rose, so I know I‘m going to be defrocked very soon, which is no less than
I deserve. Anyway, I am going to go and visit James — try and explain to him, and pray that
he‘ll forgive me, not that I deserve that either. Then I intend to move very far away from
Sarah could understand why this woman had fallen for the priest, with his boyish
good looks, and his smooth, relaxing voice, but he had a higher calling and should have
known better from the start, before things got out of control. However, apart from that, he
was a great and understanding priest, and Sarah was sorry that Father Doran, a man who
couldn‘t lace Father Quinn‘s boots, was going to have him thrown out of the priesthood.
―Anyway, I‘m so very sorry that you were put through this,‖ he said to Sarah. ―You
didn‘t deserve to be attacked by Rose like that.‖
―Not to worry Father,‖ she said. ―Truth be told, we all have our secrets, none of us are
perfect. It‘s just like the Bible says, ‗first stone‘ and all that,‖ she said smiling. ―Don‘t worry,
things will turn out all right in the end,‖ she added. ―Although it may not be such a great idea
to go and confess to the woman‘s husband,‖ she added, with a wicked smile on her face.
They held hands for a few seconds, which made him feel happy, and for a moment he
felt almost vindicated by her kindness.
―Thank you Sarah, thank you so very much.‖
Sarah noticed his hands had stopped shaking and he looked as though a massive
weight had been removed from his shoulders.
―I‘ll just go to the kitchen and make us a nice cup of tea,‖ said Sarah.
Father Quinn jumped up from the seat first and waved his hand at Sarah as he ran
toward the kitchen, beating her to it.
―No, this cup of tea will be my treat,‖ he shouted, and disappeared quickly through
Old Mick rapped on the door, and in a few seconds Rose answered it, and he noticed
she had been crying. ―Would your husband be at home?‖ Mick asked.
Rose didn‘t like Mick. As far as she was concerned he was a drunken layabout and a
waste of humanity.
He was also what she believed to be the exact model of what her husband would be
like in the not too distant future, but she tried to be civil to him. ―He‘s out back,‖ was all she
said. She held the door open for him to enter, but she kept her head bowed and avoided eye
contact with him.
Old Mick walked quickly through the spotlessly clean house and out to the back
garden. The back gate hung open, as did the garden shed door, and Mick cautiously
approached the shed first.
On the table sat the empty shotgun box with the loose wrappings all around it, and
when he looked into the drawer which was left open, he saw the shotgun shells scattered
around inside it and also shells on the floor, and he froze.
―Rose,‖ he called loudly, ―Rose, come quickly,‖ he repeated.
Rose came running out of the house to the shed. ―It‘s James,‖ he barked loudly, and
Rose was alarmed at the panic in his voice.
―He‘s gone, and his shotgun, he‘s taken it.‖ Rose looked at the empty shotgun box on
the table, and recoiled in horror. She had forgotten about James owning a shotgun. ―What
have you said to him?‖ Mick shouted loudly into her face, as the woman, realising what
James may be going to do, started to turn hysterical.
―Calm down woman,‖ old Mick said. ―Have you told James of this affair you‘ve been
having with Father Quinn?‖ Mick asked angrily.
Rose stared at old Mick for a moment. She didn‘t take kindly to him talking to her
like this; as if she was a loose woman, and she hated him even more now.
―Have you told James about the priest?‖ Mick asked her again, loudly, as he held her
arms and gave her a hard shake.
Rose pushed Mick‘s hands off her and walked away from him, stopped and turned
around to look at him, before nodding in the affirmative, and Mick threw his hands up to his
―Jesus Christ, woman,‖ he shouted. ―What the hell have you bloody done?‖
Old Mick ran out of the house, and Rose followed him. ―The church,‖ he shouted.
―And just pray that we‘re not too late.‖
* * * * *
James was striding purposefully toward the church now, but stopped and threw up
again. His stomach heaved as he thought about Rose and the priest being intimate together.
He knew Rose had not loved him the way she should have done for a long time now, but he
felt things were getting better this last year or so between them.
He admitted to himself that he had not been good to Rose in the past either, had taken
her for granted, drinking too much and being disrespectful toward her. But that was all water
under the bridge as far as he was concerned. He had changed now, and he believed that given
time Rose would have grown to love him again. Lately, Rose had, on rare occasions; been
kind toward him, but now he knew that this was only because of the guilt she was hiding.
Well, she was his wife, and a wife whom he still loved, more now he thought than
ever before, and this man, this evil bastard that she had let into her life, and who had stolen
her from him, had warped her mind with his fancy smooth talk, slept with her, ruined her.
This bastard would pay, he thought.
He looked up to the heavens for a moment. ―Why dear God, did you let this happen to
me? Why?‖ James asked softly, before stopping to be sick again. Then he gave an odd sort
sickly smile, pulled the gun tightly up inside his coat, and marched quickly on.
* * * * *
Otis stepped in to his old hired Ford Consul and spoke to the car as though it was
some old faithful dog that had sat patiently waiting for him at the airport. ―Hello old gal,‖ he
It would take him at least an hour to get from Shannon airport to the church, he
reckoned and he hurriedly fumbled with the ignition key. ―Now don‘t you let me down
woman,‖ he warned as he turned the key. After a few turns the engine sprang into life, and
then he was off down the small winding country roads, at times squinting to see through the
rain splattered windscreen, as he pressed hard on the accelerator.
He could feel himself getting tired now, and he wound the window down slightly,
letting the cold air and rain blow in around him, he would sleep later. Much later.
* * * * *
Inside the church, Sarah was about to get up from the chair when she heard the man‘s
raised voice. ―Where‘s the bloody priest?‖ the loud voice demanded. ―Get him now,‖ Sarah
opened the outer hallway door and recognised James from the pub; from the night he had told
the story of his grandfather. Sister Bridget was pleading with him to leave the church as he
continued to give her abuse. ―Get me the fucking priest now,‖ James snarled at the frightened
Sarah approached him quickly. He had found out about Rose, she guessed, and he was
very angry. No, not angry, more than angry she thought, demented, the man was demented,
and she also felt afraid. ―Hello, James, can I help you?‖ Sarah asked softly, trying to calm the
raging man down.
―No one can help me now, Sarah, now get me the priest,‖ he ordered loudly. ―I mean
it Sarah. Don‘t bloody mess with me.‖
―Which priest do you require?‖ Sarah asked nervously, trying to play for time.
―Quinn!‖ James answered, unable to hide the venom in his voice.
―Quinn,‖ he barked. ―Quinn…‖
―Father Quinn has gone into Tipperary town to visit with Father Graham. He left
about an hour ago, and won‘t be back again until tomorrow,‖ Sarah lied. This, she believed
would buy her some time until she could summon the police.
James, believing her, turned around quickly, and was just about to leave when the
kitchen door opened, and Father Quinn appeared with a huge tray that had three large cups of
tea and some biscuits on it.
―Where‘s Bridget,‖ Father Quinn shouted, ―I‘ve made her some te...‖ Suddenly Father
Quinn spotted James and stopped dead in his tracks. ―Hello James,‖ he said softly.
James responded by pulling the shotgun from beneath his coat as he looked at Sarah
with disgust. ―Liar,‖ he shouted at Sarah, before confronting the frightened priest. ―My wife
says she loves you, you bastard.‖ Now how do you account for that?‖ James asked, tears
streaming down his face as he aimed the shotgun at the priest.
Father Quinn slowly approached James. ―Please let me talk to you about this,‖ he
said, but James responded by clubbing him with the shotgun butt, sending the tray with the
tea and biscuits crashing down to the floor, and burning Father Quinn‘s hands as the hot tea
splashed onto them.
Father Quinn remained standing though, but his body swayed and his head was very
badly cut, sending a stream of blood down across his face and onto his shirt.
―Leave him alone,‖ Sarah screamed.
―Keep out of this Sarah, I‘m warning you, this is not your concern,‖ James bellowed
at her as he cocked both barrels of the old shotgun. But Sarah was angry now, and she ran for
him and tried to wrench the gun away. He was too strong for her though, but as he violently
pushed her off, she clawed at his face, leaving three deep bloody welts, which made him even
―Bloody bitch,‖ he shouted, as he winced in pain.
Sarah was really afraid now, as her mind wandered back to all those years ago when
she was shot at JJ‘s, the guy calling her a bitch then too. Sarah had almost died then and she
wondered if this situation was going to end up the same way, or maybe this crazy guy could
be reasoned with. No matter what the outcome, she knew she would die if need be to help
save this priest, afraid or not.
―Put the gun down,‖ Sarah spat, as she bravely walked in front of Father Quinn. ―We
can talk about this,‖
―Talk about his fucking funeral,‖ scowled James as he pushed the shotgun toward
them. ―Tell me what your feelings are for my whore of a wife,‖ James shouted at the priest.
―We have ended it James, it‘s over now, and I‘m truly sorry,‖ Father Quinn said
softly, with no show of fear in his voice, but aware of his trembling legs.
―You ended it alright, you ended my bloody marriage and my life,‖ James yelled.
―Now I‘m going to ask you once more,‖ he said, as he pointed the gun menacingly, waving it
from side to side. ―What are your feelings for my whore of a wife?‖
James didn‘t see old Mick and Rose enter the church and stand behind him, and old
Mick was about to speak, but the priest beat him to it.
―I cannot lie to you James. I love Rose very deeply,‖ he said as he looked lovingly
across the room toward her. He knew now that he always had, from the first day he had met
her, but his faith and calling had made him fight it. Now though, she would know the truth.
Father Quinn had no doubt that James would shoot him, and perhaps this would be the only
way out of this predicament for them all, but he would not deny Rose, and he would not stand
and listen to James call the woman he loved a whore, even if he was her husband.
―I am sorry that I betrayed you James, but I have loved Rose from the first moment
we met. You were an animal to her James, and perhaps if you had treated her better maybe
she would have loved you in return, but you didn‘t James, you didn‘t,‖ he said defiantly.
―However, I have put an end to the affair, and I‘m leaving Cappawhite. So perhaps now you
can work through your differences together,‖ the priest said, as he held his bleeding head.
―Do you still love the whore?‖ James snarled.
Father Quinn looked across at Rose, and his heart sank as their eyes met.‖
―Yes, I still love you, my beautiful Rose,‖ he said.
―Then love her when you‘re fucking burning in Hell,‖ James roared as he fired one
barrel of the shotgun.
Sarah had been in front of Father Quinn before he fired the shot, but Father Quinn had
moved slightly to her right, as he pushed her away with his left hand. He would not let her
use herself as his shield for him. The blast of the shotgun however, had been too quick for
him, and tore into Sarah‘s side before blowing a hole in the priest‘s stomach, and the two fell
to the floor. Rose fainted as old Mick ran forward, just as James was putting the shotgun to
his mouth, and dived on him. The second blast almost deafened old Mick, but he had done
enough, as the pellets blasted harmlessly into the ceiling, sending down a hail of plaster.
Mick was amazed at how easily he wrenched the shotgun away from James, who now
looked stunned, but he wasted no time and quickly ran outside the church, throwing the
shotgun over a small hedge, into a field, before running back inside.
James was leaning on a pillar now, his head in his hands, crying loudly, while Rose,
who had started to come round, scrambled to her feet and ran to comfort the dying priest. A
pool of blood was forming on the floor around them, and as Sarah clutched at her side, Rose
kissed at the dying priest‘s head, begging him not to die. But he was fading fast.
―Mother of God, what have I done?‖ James cried, as his normal senses returned to
him, and he looked down at the badly injured pair.
James staggered clumsily out into the outer hall, lifted the telephone and through his
tears, dialled the police station.
* * * * *
Inside the police station Sergeant Woods was sitting at his desk, enjoying the relaxing
solitude of the quiet surroundings, when Constable O‘Shea came marching in. ―Did you
make out that report yet, O‘Shea?‖
Donald was about to answer when the station phone rang, breaking the peaceful
silence as it filled the room with its incessant clanging, and Sergeant Woods paused for a
moment before answering.
―This is James Flanagan,‖ the voice at the other end shouted, ―I‘ve shot someone!
Please send help quickly.‖
―Calm yourself man,‖ Sergeant Woods replied, ―and tell me where you are.‖
―I‘m at the church and, oh God, I didn‘t mean to shoot the woman, please send an
ambulance, and hurry,‖ he screamed down the phone.
―Which woman did you shoot?‖ Sergeant Woods questioned, thinking this was some
kind of hoax call.
―I‘ve shot the priest and Sarah. Send someone, quickly,‖ he cried, as he slammed the
―Jesus Christ,‖ the sergeant barked as he pointed to Constable O‘Shea, and
immediately dialled for an ambulance. Nothing like this has ever happened here in the village
before, he thought, and now in the last few weeks, it had been bloody pandemonium.
James stumbled back inside, as old Mick was trying to help Sarah.
―The ambulance is coming,‖ he shouted, tears rolling down his face. Father Quinn had
said nothing since he had been shot, but lay silent, knowing that death was close at hand.
As Rose wiped his brow he suddenly pulled himself up onto her shoulder. ―James,‖ he
called past her. ―James,‖ he weakly called again to the distraught man.
James slowly staggered over to him, and saw that he was dying. ―Forgive me Father,‖
he begged, tears running down his cheeks, as Rose punched at him several times, hitting him
in the chest and arms.
Father Quinn motioned with his hand for her to stop, and for James to come closer to
him, and James knelt down in the priest‘s blood. ―You must not let the ambulance take Sarah
away,‖ groaned Father Quinn. ―If she leaves the safety of this church, the beast will get her,‖
―I won‘t Father,‖ James promised.
―Will you forgive me Father?‖ he begged.
―Yes, but it‘s me who should be asking for your forgiveness, James.‖ Father Quinn
coughed again, as his life‘s blood ebbed away, and he took one last look at Rose, smiled at
her, then he was no more.
James looked down at Rose who was crying loudly, as she kissed and hugged the
dead priest, and he knew in that instant, that even in the early days of their sham of a
marriage, she had never actually really loved him at all, and he crawled away, through the
In the distance they could hear the sirens, and old Mick pulled the distraught James to
one side. ―It‘s the police James,‖ he said. ―Run James, before they catch you, run for your
―No,‖ James sobbed. ―You heard the priest. If Sarah leaves this church, she‘s a dead
woman, and I‘ve got to make sure she stays here.‖
Sergeant Woods was the first policeman to enter the church, and he ran inside with
revolver in hand. On seeing him enter, Sister Bridget, screamed.
―Quiet Sister,‖ he shouted, as Constable O‘Shea followed closely behind him.
Inspector Mooney and Sergeant Cummings had been alerted, as had an ambulance, and they
would all be here soon.
―Oh dear God,‖ muttered Constable O‘Shea when he saw the dead priest sprawled out
on the cold tiles, in his own pool of blood.
―You, on the floor, now,‖ Sergeant Woods screamed at James, as he menacingly
pointed his revolver at him. ―Don‘t make me bloody use this.‖
James lay on the floor as Constable O‘Shea performed first aid on Sarah, stemming
the flow of blood.
―This woman needs an ambulance, now,‖ he shouted to the Sergeant.
―No!‖ James yelled from across the floor. ―You can‘t let Sarah leave the church.‖
―Keep quiet you,‖ ordered Sergeant Woods, ―I think you‘ve done enough damage for
―He‘s right, you can‘t let Sarah leave the church, it‘ll get her for sure,‖ old Mick
proclaimed, just as Inspector Mooney came charging in through the doorway, followed by
Sergeant Cummings, who in turn was followed by young Constable McCann.
―You again,‖ Inspector Mooney bellowed at old Mick. ―Trouble just bloody seems to
follow you,‖ he growled.
―I didn‘t do anything,‖ pleaded Mick. ―I was only trying to stop James,‖ he cried.
―Arrest them both,‖ ordered the inspector, and Mick immediately protested his innocence.
Sergeant Woods, revolver in hand, accompanied by the two Constables, forced James
and Mick into the police car, as the ambulance sped into the church grounds, bells ringing as
it screeched to a halt. ―Inside,‖ shouted Sergeant Woods, pointing, and the two ambulance
crewmen ran inside with the stretcher.
Within two minutes the ambulance with Sarah inside was speeding out through the
gates. The warning bells once again broke the peaceful quiet of the church grounds, and Mick
and James could only watch from out of the police car window, helpless in their confinement.
Otis didn‘t know how he was going to tell Sarah about his trip to America being a
failure, (and a failure it was.) This demon could not be destroyed; therefore Sarah could never
leave the church. This meant that as he was not allowed to live there with his wife, they
would not have a proper marriage in any real sense of the word. No! They would just have to
bend the goddamn rules, he thought. The windscreen wipers would only work on slow speed
and Otis cursed them as he tried to keep his only eye focused on the wet road ahead, as he
sped through the worsening rain.
As he passed the sign for Cappawhite, he felt good in the knowledge that he and
Sarah would soon be reunited, and he smiled as he pressed harder on the gas.
He was nearing the town when suddenly his heart skipped a beat, as the ambulance
speeding toward him on the bend with the bells clanging and it almost rammed him. He lost
control of the car as it skidded to the left and to the right before hitting a large rock at the side
of the road, almost shearing the passenger wheel off.
―Goddamn road hog,‖ Otis shouted, as he got out and surveyed the damage.
This car‟s going nowhere, he thought, as he looked at the mangled tyre and the split
Still, the church was only about a half mile away from here, he reckoned.
Otis threw his bag over his shoulder and marched speedily along the rain-soaked road,
almost breaking into a trot.
He would phone the car rental later, and have them send someone pick up the wreck
* * * * *
―He‘s dead,‖ said Inspector Mooney as he stood up from the floor.
―It was my husband who done this, James Flanagan,‖ Rose cried, as she continued to
caress and kiss the priest‘s head. Frank loved me after all, she thought to herself. He had told
her so in front of everyone, and now she would love his child, this child now growing inside
her. She would love it as much as she had loved him. This child that she had yet to tell Frank
about, afraid of his reaction, but she knew in her heart that God would tell him as he led him
into his kingdom and this gave her some comfort. This would give her something to live for;
she thought, as Sister Bridget helped her up from the floor, trembling, and led her over to the
Otis was panting for breath now as he hurried up the hill to the church, but he could
see the church spire clearly and it spurred him on. Turning the corner he froze with shock as
he saw the two police cars. ―No!‖ Otis screamed as he dropped the bag and charged into the
church, ignoring the two policemen standing by the cars. ―Sarah,‖ he yelled, as the inspector
―Who are you?‖ asked Inspector Mooney.
―Where‘s my wife?‖ Otis shouted, ignoring him, as he looked at the dead priest on the
―Sarah‘s been in an accident,‖ said Sergeant Cummings.
―What sort of an accident?‖ Otis choked, hardly able to believe what was going on.
―She‘s been shot, son,‖ said the sergeant, ―They‘ve taken her to...‖
―The ambulance, I saw it,‖ cried Otis, breaking him off in mid sentence. ―But she
can‘t leave the church,‖ he stated. Otis was about to run from the church when Inspector
Mooney stood in front of him.
―Where do you think your going?‖ he said loudly.
―To save my wife,‖ answered Otis as the inspector grabbed him firmly by the arm.
―Take this man to the station,‖ he ordered Sergeant Cummings. ―We can sort all this
out down there,‖ he added.
Otis pulled free from the inspectors grip as the sergeant pulled out his revolver, he had
no time to lose now, every second would count if he was to save Sarah, and going to the
police station was just not part of the plan, he knew.
Otis spun around and punched Sergeant Cummings full on the chin, sending the man
plummeting to the floor, his revolver clattering on the tiles as it dropped from his hand. The
inspector kicked out fiercely at Otis, but Otis was too quick for him and wrenched his leg
from under him, sending him sprawling on to the top of the dead priest, and into his
thickening blood. Otis picked up the sergeant‘s revolver and ran outside. The two unarmed
Constables raised their arms in unison, as Otis ran out from the church and brandished the
weapon at them. Sergeant Woods opened his holster and was about to draw his revolver,
when Otis spotted him.
―Don‘t even think about it,‖ shouted Otis to the sergeant, as he aimed the gun
menacingly at him. ―Throw it over the hedge,‖ he ordered, and Sergeant Woods quickly
This bloody mad Yank meant business, Woods thought, as he threw his revolver away.
―Drive to the hospital, now,‖ he shouted at the young Constable McCann who was
paralysed with fear. ―I, I can‘t dri, drive sir,‖ he stuttered.
―You, quickly,‖ he shouted to Constable O‘Shea, who jumped into the driver‘s seat as
Otis entered the other side, slamming the door hard as the car sped off.
* * * * *
Inside the church Inspector Mooney was having great difficulty getting Sergeant
Cummings up from the floor. The blow had almost knocked him unconscious, and he fought
to stand on his feet. Soon though, the band of policemen were chasing after them.
As Otis looked around he was shocked to see James and Mick sitting in the back seat
of the police car. ―What are you two guys doing here?‖ he asked in astonishment.
Mick looked at the revolver in Otis‘s hand and kicked James on the leg. He would say
nothing, for as sure as there was a cloud in the sky, the big man would shoot James if he
knew what he had done to Sarah. Maybe he would go crazy and shoot everybody, Mick
―We came to fetch my beautiful Rose,‖ answered James sobbing, and Mick kicked
him again as he wiped his friends runny nose with his soiled handkerchief.
―Rose done it,‖ Mick lied. ―She‘s been having an affair with Father Quinn, and the
priest ended it. Woman scorned don‘t you see.‖
As Otis stared at the three prominent deep scratches on James face with the caked
blood, he was unaware that Sarah had caused them, but old Mick was taking no chances as he
quickly spoke up again, afraid that the big American may just yet put two and two together.
―Yes, that Rose has a terrible temper; did she hurt you, James?‖ Mick asked, as he once again
kicked James on the shins.
―Hit the gas!‖ Otis commanded angrily, and the car sped on. ―Hurry, before we are
too goddamn late,‖ he yelled at Donald O‘Shea.
―I‘m driving as fast as I can,‖ Donald answered loudly, ―do you want to get us all
bloody killed man?‖
―Look,‖ Otis replied, eye fixed on Donald. ―You know this damn thing exists. You
witnessed it and you know it‘s coming for Sarah, so you‘ve gotta help me here.‖
―You stole the sergeant‘s revolver, man,‖ said Donald. ―Then you stole a police car
and abducted the bloody officer. Inspector Mooney has probably contacted the whole of the
bloody Irish army by now, and believe me, this man takes no prisoners. I mean he‘ll shoot
you on bloody sight,‖ he said, as he sped on down the wet road.
―When we get Sarah into the car we must take her to the nearest church,‖ Otis
―St Gabriel‘s,‖ shouted Mick loudly. ―I noticed it when you drove me to the hospital
to get my arm fixed, it‘s about a mile before the hospital gates.‖
The dusk had now turned to darkness, and Donald flicked on the full beams. In the
other police car Inspector Mooney was tearing after them at high speed, while Sergeant
Woods, who had since retrieved his gun, was sitting beside him gripping the door handle
tightly. In the rear seat young Constable McCann was tending to Sergeant Cummings, who
was still dazed by the punch he received at the church.
―I‘ll kill that bastard,‖ said Inspector Mooney angrily, as he pulled his automatic
pistol from his coat.
―The Yank‘s only trying to save his wife,‖ muttered Sergeant Cummings, as he held
his jaw tightly.
―There it is,‖ shouted Otis, as they sped past St Gabriel‘s church.
―Not much further now,‖ Mick yelled. ―On your right,‖ he added as an afterthought.
James sat with his head in his hands weeping and old Mick knew that no matter what
happened now, for James there was no future, and his heart hung heavy.
The police car sped through the hospital gates and Donald skidded to a stop. ―Please
help me here,‖ Otis pleaded as he placed his hand tightly on Donald‘s shoulder. ―I promise to
come peacefully once Sarah is inside the church.‖
Donald looked sadly at the big American and his heart filled with pity. He glanced at
the two men in the rear seat, and then back to Otis, pausing for a moment before speaking.
―All right‖ he said, ―let‘s go.‖
The men quickly left the car and Otis tucked the revolver inside his trousers, covering
it with his coat as James sat alone in the rear seat and continued to weep.
* * * * *
As Otis, Donald, and old Mick entered the hospital, Donald moved to the reception
desk first, approaching the small thin receptionist with an heir of authority.
―A woman, Mrs Sarah Tweedy, has just been admitted here with a gunshot wound,‖
―Yes‖ said the receptionist, ―The lady has just been taken down to the theatre, they‘re
starting the operation on her now. If you care to go into the waiting room a doctor will see
you all presently, she said smiling.‖
As the three men slowly entered the waiting room the hallway telephone rang, which
the receptionist moved slowly across to answer. The trio used this opportunity to sneak back
out into the hallway and they hurried on down the corridor toward the theatre.
―Please God, let Sarah pull through this,‖ Otis prayed aloud. ―Please don‘t let her
Sarah was in great pain now, but she knew instinctively that this injury was not as bad
as the one she had received at JJ‘s all those years ago. However, this was not her main
concern. This damn monstrosity could come for her at any moment in time she felt, and a
trickle of sweat ran across her brow.
The tall nurse smiled at her before adjusting her mask, as the anaesthetist, needle in
hand, stepped over to her. Suddenly the theatre doors flew open, and Otis marched in first,
followed by old Mick and the constable.
―Otis,‖ Sarah weakly cried as he hurried over to the operating table and embraced her.
―You‘re gonna be fine honey,‖ he said, a tear running down his cheek, ―I‘m here for
―What is the meaning of this?‖ said the shocked doctor who had just finished
―I‘ve just got no time to explain this,‖ Otis answered, ―but we‘ve got to get my wife
to the church right now. You can operate on her there. We just don‘t have any time to lose.‖
―He‘s right, doctor, the woman is in danger,‖ shouted Constable O‘Shea.
―It‘s the Banshee, it‘s coming for her,‖ old Mick added.
―Are you people all stark raving mad?‖ the doctor roared. ―Phone the police,‖ he
―I am the police,‖ said Constable O‘Shea, as he pulled at the lapels of his uniform in
an authorative manner.
―Help me get Sarah onto the trolley,‖ Otis instructed the doctor.
―I certainly will not,‖ the doctor answered angrily.
Otis pulled the gun from his trousers and aimed it at the doctor‘s head. ―Don‘t fuck
with me on this one buddy,‖ Otis shouted.
The doctor and the tall nurse quickly transferred Sarah onto the trolley, and Otis
slammed the gun into the wall as she screamed in pain.
―If this woman dies it will be entirely your fault,‖ the doctor groaned nervously, as he
pointed menacingly at Otis.
―Yes, and if she stays here she‘ll bloody die, and no mistake,‖ said old Mick. ―So why
don‘t you just what you‘re bloody told?‖
―Drop it,‖ the voice behind Otis shouted. ―Drop it now or so help me I‘ll blow your
fucking head off,‖ repeated Inspector Mooney.
Otis was holding the revolver at his side now, and even though he had his back to the
man, he was pretty sure he could still take him out. No, he thought, he couldn‘t take the
chance. Sarah was in the guy‘s line of fire, and may get hit. Otis dropped the revolver and it
clanged hard on the tiled floor as he turned angrily to face the man.
―You don‘t understa…‖
―Thank God you came,‖ the doctor barked, interrupting Otis. ―They were trying to
take this patient out of here.‖
Sergeant Cumming‘s picked up his revolver and holstered it. He had heard Mrs
Doyle‘s story up at the house and witnessed the others tell him what they saw, but he still
wasn‘t convinced. Besides, he was a policeman first, and had to follow his orders. Anyway,
this whole affair had all went just too far, he thought.
Just then James appeared at the doors. ―Arrest him,‖ shouted the inspector.
―You must take this woman out of here now,‖ cried James, as Constable McCann held
his arm. ―She‘s in grave danger here.‖
Inspector Mooney pulled Otis‘s arm behind his back, handcuffs at the ready, but he
had only managed to cuff one wrist when the tall nurse stepped back, tipping the instrument
trolley over, and emptying the instruments out onto the hard floor with a loud crash, and as
she put one hand to her mouth, she started to whimper.
―What the hell is wrong with you?‖ The doctor boomed loudly as the inspector looked
across the room, puzzled. The tall nurse raised her arm nervously and pointed high behind the
men, who all looked around as one, like a group of well trained soldiers on the parade
―Good God,‖ said the doctor, as old Mick crossed himself, and the anaesthetist ran
quickly out through the theatre doorway.
High in the far corner of the operating room it lurked, like some unholy judge waiting
to pass sentence on the unfortunates below, as it moved its head slowly from side to side, and
started its descent toward them.
Otis dropped his arms to his side, and stood almost attention like, the metal handcuffs
hanging from his left wrist, swinging like some sort of out of sync pendulum. So this was it,
he thought, as he stared up at the hooded being slowly coming toward them. This damn fiend,
he thought, the cause of all their problems. This cursed abomination that kills at random,
uncaring about the grief and destruction it leaves behind in its wake. What gave it the right to
take anyone‘s soul? Otis thought. Surely that was God‘s right, and God‘s right alone. What
the hell gave this abomination before them the power to act as judge, jury, and executioner?
Otis asked himself, and he could feel the anger inside him rise.
Mick felt his fear return like before, but as he stared at Otis, watching as the big
American slowly moved out in front of the creature, he quickly made his mind up that this
time he would not run away. This time he would stand up, stand up and be counted. This time
he would be a man. This time he would salvage something of his worthless life, and if he
were to die, then so be it, but he would not let it take this brave man‘s wife without dying as a
―I‘m with you Otis,‖ Mick shouted.
Sergeant Woods had not really known what to believe before, but now he knew. Mrs
Doyle had been telling the truth, and so had the Constable and old Mick, they where all
witnesses to this, and still he had doubted them. Now though, there was no more doubt, he
thought, as he stared wide eyed at the creature. ―Emily,‖ he shouted at it, ―Emily,‖ he
The creature, which was quickly moving in jerking motions, arms outstretched,
ignored him, as it powered down toward the bed, coming for Sarah, and as it drew level with
Inspector Mooney, he suddenly and without warning, fired his automatic five times into its
body. The beast reacted by gripping the inspector by the throat, tearing a large chunk of flesh
and bone from his neck, and as he dropped dead instantly, it flung the clump of bleeding
tissue across the room. Otis acted on reflex. There would not be another chance like this one,
and he knew it.
He also knew that it would mean certain death for him, but he couldn‘t let it take
Sarah‘s life, not after all they had been through, and so he leapt up onto its chest, wrapping
his arms around its back, and squeezing with every ounce of his strength.
Sarah watched in horror as it tore at Otis‘s back, ripping through his clothes, and she
screamed at it. Leave him alone damn you, it‘s me you want.‖
―Wakinyan Wakantanka Hunka Tokapi Ni O Okodakciye,‖ he chanted loudly into its
The creature flung its head back and shook violently, wailing, so loud that young
Constable McCann covered his ears and fell to the floor in terror.
―So you don‘t like those words, huh,‖ Otis said, and he chanted the words into its ear
over and over again as its face convulsed and its pointed black teeth chattered.
The old Indian was right, Otis knew, the words from the Great Sundance were
working, and he squeezed even harder. It was rotating swiftly now, and flailing its long arms
at Otis‘s back, as Sarah tried to crawl from the trolley toward it.
The hug of the bear the old medicine man had told him, this along with the words of
the Great Sundance will greatly weaken and confuse it, he had said, and Otis squeezed with
all his might, now trusting the old Indian‘s words completely. Otis continued to chant the
words from The Great Sundance loudly into the beast‘s ear, as it shrieked and wailed, and
shook violently. The more Otis chanted the words of The Great Sundance, the more the beast
tried to throw him off, and he felt like some rodeo rider in the Wild West, but he knew how
badly the beast was cutting him, and in many places, as he felt the pain and his blood run
down his back. Then it pulled its lips up each side of its face and opened its shark-like mouth,
tearing at the side of Otis‘s face with its rows of razor sharp rotting teeth, and he screamed in
pain as he felt it cleanly remove his ear in one almighty bite.
Suddenly old Mick ran forward and tried to punch the beast with his good arm, but
although the beast was weakening with every second, its flailing hand almost broke Mick‘s
jaw, and the force sent him sprawling down onto the hard cold floor.
Still Otis held on as he chanted the words and still the beast shrieked, almost
deafening the men, but Otis could feel his own warm blood run down his body now, as the
beast, even in its weakening state tore at his back and shoulders, and he knew he was hurt
bad. ―Help me,‖ he cried. Otis knew he could not hold on much longer, but he also knew that
the beast itself was getting tired; he could feel its movements becoming slower, much slower.
Where was Lewis? He thought, as his life‘s blood drained from him. Where was Eric? Where
was John Wayne? Most of all, where was his brother Michael? Why wouldn‘t anyone help
him? Please God, he prayed, I can‘t do this alone, he thought.
Then he knew. There was no help, no cavalry to rescue him, no one to rescue Sarah.
Only he could save her, he was the hero here, and he was all she had. He was the one dying
for her, no one else. Just like his brother Michael had died in Korea, died to save others, he
now at last acknowledged to himself. This was the cards they had been dealt in life.
Michael‘s had been an ace though, and now so was his, he felt. The pair of aces, he thought,
and smiled through his dead brother‘s strength.
Otis then quickly thought of Sarah, his brain starting to go into flashbacks, as dying,
drowning men do, and he remembered back to when Sarah and he were walking in the park
one day, many years ago, when she had spun around and handed him a small flower. It was
just after his release from the hospital, and he had been very depressed that day. ―This is for
the best husband in the world,‖ she had said, as she squeezed his hand tightly. ―I will love
you forever honey,‖ she had said as she hugged him, and he had kissed her passionately.
Later that night they had celebrated with a bottle of champagne, and he laughed when Sarah
screwed her face up as she drank some of the bitter tasting drink.
“Drink,” Otis thought. ―Alcohol,‖ he whispered to himself, as he remembered
Elspeth, the old dancing woman, the one he had met that night at the woods edge, and how
Elspeth had told him she had seen the dead woman in the forest. How she had spilled the
wine on her, and how the creature had reacted badly to it, running off, screaming.
That‟s it, thought Otis, as he snapped himself back to life, and he shouted loudly, as
the creature shook and turned, and continued trying to throw him off again. ―Alcohol,‖ he
shouted loudly, ―alcohol.‖
The doctor, who had been until that moment, standing frozen in terror, understood
him, and he ran from the theatre into a side room, returning almost at once, clutching a small
bottle of pure alcohol in his hand.
―Throw it,‖ Otis groaned, and the doctor ran forward removing the cap. He was just
about to throw the contents from the bottle at the creature, when it swung out its large bony
hand, and grasped his arm, sending the bottle flying across the room where it landed on top of
Sarah, who was now trying to crawl off the trolley, as she tried desperately to help her brave
and badly wounded husband. The doctor fell back to the floor, his arm bleeding profusely, as
the tall nurse ran to his aid.
Old Mick was on his feet now, the pain in his jaw forgotten, and he ran over to Sarah,
picked up the small bottle which still contained more than half its contents of alcohol, and
bravely confronted the creature, who swiped its long arm at him again. But it was slowing
down rapidly now, and Mick easily sidestepped it, and hurled what alcohol was left in the
bottle into its face, soaking Otis in the process.
―Drinks are on the house,‖ Otis muttered into its ear, as the beast wailed even louder
than before, convulsing rapidly. This monster from hell is not going to kill my wife he
thought, as he felt it weaken.
A sudden rage engulfed him now, as his fear left him, and he tightened his grip.
―Wakinyan Wakantanka Hunka Tokapi Ni O Okodakciye,‖ he cried.
The beast wailed loudly again, as it twisted and turned, and shook even more violently
than before, as it called up the last of its remaining reserves of strength, still trying to throw
―You‘re not so tough,‖ Otis whispered into its ear.
Then in his weakened state, he could hold on no more, and he heard the old medicine
man‘s voice. ―You must not release your grip on her, or she will immediately regain the
strength you have taken from her,‖ the voice said. But he could feel his arm starting to slip
down its bony back now, as he just had nothing left to give.
―Oh God no,‖ he said. ―Please Father in Heaven, give me strength,‖ he prayed aloud,
as his hand slipped further down the creature‘s back, and he knew he could no longer hold
Then something happened. Otis could feel someone move his arm quickly up the
creature‘s spine, and he could feel that same someone pull the cuff that was still hanging
loosely from his arm and lock it onto his free wrist. Now he was secured to the beast, and
nothing was going to make him let go now, he thought. Someone had helped him and now
that someone was pulling at the beast‘s hood revealing its grotesque face, the same face Otis
had seen during his dream on the plane, and he wondered how this could be. Then as it
slowly turned, Otis, in his helpless condition, saw James. James had cuffed his other wrist,
James had helped him.
The big Irishman was punching at its face from the side now, and because of its
weakened state, Otis felt sure that it could feel the strong Irishman‘s blows, as they crashed
into its leathery, bony head. Otis head butted the creature, but almost got hit by a massive
uppercut from James, that shook the creature‘s whole body from head to toe. The creature
then grabbed James by his throat, and as it squeezed, its long fingers pierced the big
Irishman‘s skin, and the blood flowed thick and fast over its bony gnarled fingers. Otis head
butted the creature twice more, but could do nothing to save James, and he felt even more
anger as James was thrown down dead to the floor, like some unwanted, discarded doll.
Sergeant Woods calmly walked over to the now rapidly weakening pair, who almost
looked as though they were dancing, and as they performed this not so merry waltz of death,
he aimed his revolver toward its head.
―Emily,‖ he shouted at it, and this time it turned to look squarely at him, snarling, its
black pointed teeth bared. The sergeant emptied the full chamber of his revolver into its face,
blowing chunks of its leathery flesh around the theatre wall. But on it fought, as it tried to
catch the sergeant in its still powerful grip. He was too quick for it though, and it missed him
by a mile.
Otis felt it moving, slowly, but yes, moving away from his hysterical wife, who had
pushed herself off the trolley and was on the floor, trying to crawl toward him, reaching for
him, as she screamed his name. The creature, rapidly weakening now, was heading toward
the theatre doors; about two feet off the ground, with Otis tightly bound to it. Sergeant
Cummings, who until this moment hadn‘t really believed there was anything supernatural at
all, was now in a prime ringside position, as he stood beside the door, and he decided to make
his move, jumping up onto Otis.
He panted for breath as he tried to wrench the big American‘s arms away from it,
trying to release him.
―No, get back,‖ Otis coughed, blood spraying from his lips onto the sergeant‘s clothes
as he continued his struggle. The sergeant looked into Otis‘s face and at once he knew what
Otis had to do. ―God bless you son,‖ he said, as he released his grip and slid off the pair,
down onto the bloody floor.
* * * * *
Otis could feel himself losing consciousness now, as his life‘s blood flowed freely
from his body and formed large red pools, adding to the blood already gathering all across the
operating room floor, but he knew the beast was spent as it fought to reach the theatre doors.
The old Indian had been right. ―The blood you lose will be as her blood,‖ he had said.
He looked around at Sarah for the last time and smiled at the still hysterical woman
and gave her his look. This look that was no longer funny to her, but she forced herself to
smile back at this brave dying husband of hers.
He had won, even though he knew what the consequences would be for him. His wife
would live, and he had beaten it. ―Fuck you,‖ Otis croaked into its ear, ―I got you, you dumb
bastard‖ he laughed, as the blood pouring from his mouth and nose sprayed over its torn,
hideous face, and as Sarah reached out for him, calling his name, the creature slowly levitated
through the theatre doors, and into the corridor, its head convulsing, teeth chattering even
Then with a last burst of its strength, it smashed through the large corridor windows,
and outside, just as Otis died in its arms, and then it was gone. Old Mick sank slowly to his
knees, muttered a prayer, and sobbed loudly.
LOS ANGELES 2003
As the old woman left the store; she stared at her small package which she held tightly
under her arm, as she slowly, with walking stick in hand, hobbled toward home. Home was a
half empty apartment in East Los Angeles, in the little town of Monterey Park, just south of
Highway ten, where the many juggernauts, cars and buses, would carry thousands of
passengers to and fro every day, to their many different destinations. The apartments would
be coming down soon, only to be replaced by a new shopping mall, which meant being re-
housed, but what the hell, she thought; at least I‘ll have some company, and maybe make
some new friends.
The apartment next door to her belonged to old Mr Campbell, a Scotsman who had
moved to America with his parents over seventy years ago as a small boy, and every time she
met him he would talk about Scotland frequently, playing his collection of bagpipe records
from morning until night, but who had never actually journeyed back to the country of his
birth, which everyone in the building found utterly astonishing. The apartment above
belonged to Mr and Mrs Friedman, who had supposedly survived the Nazi death camps. But
the pair were almost deaf, which made communicating with them a most strenuous ordeal,
which she preferred to avoid at all costs, and the apartment next to them had been empty for
the last six months, so things had been very quiet around here for awhile.
There were a couple of old busybodies up the street, but their gossiping about anyone
and everyone, simply got her down, and so mainly, apart from the church and an odd visit to
the store, she really didn‘t venture too far, spending most of the time in her apartment.
Someone else who had used highway ten frequently, also had an interest in the old
woman‘s apartment. Miguel Santos had been watching her every move for three days now,
and he had finally decided to play his trump card. Tonight he would enter her apartment, rob
her of anything valuable that he could carry, just as he had robbed so many helpless women
before her, and then perhaps, have a little fun.
He grinned as he put a cigarette between his rotting teeth, lit it up, and started to walk
back into the bar, only to pause to look up at the sky, at the fork lightning that brightened the
far off horizon, and the thunderclap that followed, which could be faintly heard in the
It had been thirty years since her husband had died, and as the old woman looked up
thoughtfully at his photograph on the wall, she gave it a little pat, the same pat she always did
before cooking her meal. This was her way of remembering him, and she had stuck to this
ritual faithfully since he had died.
She had never bothered getting involved with any other men after his death, which
was an easy decision for her, feeling that the special love they had for each other, could just
not be replaced.
It had been very lonely the last thirty years however, but she had managed on her fond
and loving memories of him, and she was thinking of him now as she opened the little parcel,
removed the portion of chicken, and prepared her small meal.
In the distance she could hear the roaring thunderclaps approaching, and as she closed
her curtains the rain started to beat down heavily, swirling and whipping against her
windows, as she sat down in her comfortable chair.
It was ten o‘clock when Miguel Santos grudgingly left the bar. He had met up with
two old friends, Marco Romero and his girlfriend Cecelia, and they had been drinking all
evening, drinking on Miguel‘s money that is, as they both claimed to have been cheated on a
drug deal, and had lost every dollar. Miguel had told them he would be back within the hour,
as soon as he had collected some money a friend owed him, and then they would continue
with their little party. He had just left the bar, when Marco, making sure Miguel was gone,
pulled a fifty dollar bill from his sock, and laughing, bought another two drinks.
Overhead, the lightning forked across the sky, and Santos grinned as the thunder
crashed and the strong wind blew the stinging rain into his face. Ideal conditions, he thought.
No one would be out on a night like this, and no one would hear him enter the old woman‘s
Her apartment was only two hundred yards away now, and as he stealthily hurried
along he licked his cracked, salted lips in anticipation of what he would find there. He
scurried through the deserted alleyway which ran along the rear of the apartments, only
stopping momentarily to adjust his White Sox baseball hat that he had previously stolen.
Reaching the rear window of the old woman‘s apartment, he pulled out a thin pair of
rubber gloves and stretched them over his fingers. He would be careful, he thought. He had
spent too many years in the joint, and he had no intention of going back there, but there was
no need for stealth tonight though, he knew. He would simply let the storm cover for him.
He smashed his way through the rear window, just as a thunderclap exploded
overhead, and he thought he could hear the sound of bagpipes faintly floating in from
somewhere nearby, and he paused to listen for a moment. Another almighty crash of thunder,
a smash of glass, and he found himself inside the old woman‘s apartment. The little kitchen,
though small, was very bright, and everything in it was tastefully furnished. A half eaten
portion of chicken sat on the work top, covered only by a paper towel, and he quickly and
greedily scoffed it down.
This old woman‘s apartment is cool, he thought, as he drifted back to his childhood,
and the squalor he and his eight brothers and sisters had been forced to live in, with their
brutal, drunken, demented father, who wouldn‘t work, and would beat them and their mother
mercilessly with anything he could get his hands on, even on the slightest whim. That is until
their older brother Pedro stabbed their father to death one night, after witnessing his mother
take yet another beating.
His mother though had refused to forgive Pedro, slinking into depression, and the
family had been divided into different foster homes after this. Miguel thought affectionately
for a moment about Pedro and his other brothers and sisters that he hadn‘t seen for a long
time, but he suppressed his tears.
―Bah,‖ he said aloud, as he made his way down the hall from the kitchen, crouching
as he went, as a bolt of lightning lit up the dark sky again, turning night time to day for a few
Moving on he passed an open door and peered inside. A woman‘s bag sat beside a
fake Ming vase on the table, and he greedily pulled it away, knocking over the vase in his
haste, and breaking the vase around the rim. ―Pay dirt,‖ he whispered, as he rummaged inside
and pulled out the heavy purse. Inside there was a ten dollar and five dollar bill, and he tipped
the contents out in anger. He counted out about twelve dollars in small change, and cursed his
Tearing angrily at the purse he felt something stuffed into a secret compartment at the
rear of it, and he pulled frantically at it, but stopped momentarily when another lightning bolt
filled the room, and he thought he saw a movement, as the thunder crashed in around his ears,
and for a moment he felt afraid. Bah, he thought to himself, nothing frightens Miguel Santos.
He pulled again at the purse and was angered even more when an old photograph dislodged
from it. The old woman and her husband, he thought, taken many years ago, and in his anger
he ripped her favourite photo to shreds and threw it down onto the hallway floor.
Opening the door to the next room, he was surprised to see so many cardboard boxes,
all piled on top of one another, and he tore frantically at them.
―Clothes, fucking clothes,‖ he whispered, as he ripped and pulled at them. ―Fuck,‖ he
said loudly, uncaring if the old woman heard him now or not, as he scattered the boxes across
Feeling his anger rise, he ran out of the room and down the hall, kicking heavily on
the last door, which burst open just as another thunderclap boomed loudly overhead. The old
woman sat up in her small bed, afraid. ―You shouldn‘t be here,‖ she said nervously as she
watched him move around in the shadows.
―Where‘s the fucking money Mama?‖ he screamed, as he flicked open the knife.
―Don‘t make me cut you,‖ he shouted. The old woman leaned across and quickly rummaged
through a dresser drawer. ―No tricks now,‖ he ordered.
―It‘s all I have,‖ said the old woman, as she tossed the roll at him.
―Now please, take it and go, and leave me alone,‖ she sobbed.
Santos knew instinctively that the wad contained at least two or three hundred dollars,
and as he smiled the old woman caught a glimpse of his rotting teeth, and she squirmed. He
thrust the money inside his trouser pocket and walked out into the hallway, and the old
woman thought he was about to leave, when suddenly, he changed his mind and turned back.
―I think you and I are going to have us some fun,‖ he said menacingly as he waved the knife
―I‘ve gave you every damn thing I have,‖ she cried.
―Not everything,‖ he said, as he removed his shirt and dropped it to the floor.
Santos put one knee on the bed and waved the knife menacingly.
―Please, my husband will kill you if you don‘t go now,‖ the old woman said. ―Please,
you don‘t have any time,‖ she pleaded.
―What the hell are you talking about lady? Your husband is dead. So why don‘t you
just face that fact?‖ Santos interrupted, grinning.
―My husband is here.‖
―Yeah lady, he‘s right here,‖ Santos replied sarcastically, interrupting her again, and
laughing loudly, ―This must be the husband I‘ve seen you walk home from the store with
every night, right? The same husband for whom you cook and clean, the husband that lies
beside you in that small bed every night. Well that‘s all right, you see I got me an imaginary
Meet um, Harry, the invisible rabbit,‖ he said.
Something in her mind told her he should have said Harvey, and she wondered why
she was having these thoughts at a time like this.
―Please get out and leave me alone,‖ she whimpered.
―I just gotta be the one to ask you this lady,‖ Santos answered smiling, as the thunder
outside roared even louder. ―Harry wants to know are you up for a threesome?‖ Santos
laughed loudly and almost doubled over.
The old woman didn‘t answer, but she felt a rage building up inside her that she
hadn‘t felt for a very long time.
―Well, this is your lucky day Mama. Why you and me, and yeah, Harry here, well, we
are all going to have us a little sleep over party tonight,‖ he said grinning.
―My husband is going to fucking kill you for this,‖ she said, her voice now full of
―Don‘t you know you ain‘t got a husband, he‘s dead you damn crazy old bitch, I seen
the photo though, so you loved a brother once, huh?‖ He scowled at Sarah, as he quickly
unbuttoned his filth stained trousers. Suddenly a large lightning bolt filled the room, and
Sarah got her first proper look at him. A thin, small runt of a man, she thought to herself.
A useless junkie, who lacked any sense of decency or morals. This was a scum who
no decent woman would look at twice, but a scum who would kill his own grandmother for a
few dollars without even blinking an eye, and he had just called her a bitch.
Sarah thought back to all those years ago when someone else had called her a bitch,
someone quite like this sad excuse for a human being, someone just the same as this no good
thieving murdering rat, who had no right to share this planet with ordinary decent hard
working people. People like these had no right to come into her home and rob, rape, and
maybe murder her, and her fear turned to hatred.
―Yes, it‘s true, my husband Otis, he‘s dead all right, why he‘s thirty years dead now,‖
she said calmly as she pointed a scolding finger at him. ―But a large part of him has always
stayed with me, and now, well now he‘s coming for you, and he‘s got a terrible temper you
know.‖ Her Irish accent sounded as strong as ever as she pointed behind him.
Looking around he could see nothing in the darkened room, and now he was getting
angry again, ―Okay, so we‘ll have us a foursome. C‘mon in Otis, and join the fucking party
man,‖ he shouted sarcastically as he turned and ripped the nightdress from Sarah‘s shoulders.
Now he was waving the knife menacingly into her face and as he turned the blade from side
to side, its shiny steel edges reflected the outside street light into her eyes. The old woman
quickly dropped her head into her hands and Santos thought she was crying, when suddenly
she slowly lifted her head to him. She had an unusual smile on her face, unnatural, almost
evil looking, and Santos reeled back, afraid.
―Otis,‖ she whispered, pointing again behind him, and this time Santos turned around
quickly, the grin gone from his face as another bolt of lightning lit up the room.
* * * * *
The huge figure was hovering about one foot of the ground, with its hooded head
almost touching the ceiling, and as it came down slowly toward him, Santos dropped the
knife onto the floor and moved with lightning speed from off the end of the bed.
His stained trousers fell to his ankles causing him to trip over backward, but he
quickly kicked them off and scrambled back up on to his feet again. His head was spinning
with fear as he moved slowly back toward the window.
―Holy mother of God,‖ he mouthed, crossing himself vigorously as the hovering
creature came down quickly upon him, and he shook with fright as he looked into the beast‘s
The creature stared at him for what seemed like an eternity, and as the lightning lit up
its moving silent lips, he could have sworn it only had one eye socket. He forced a nervous
smile through his rotting teeth at the giant creature, as he tried to speak to it. No words would
come from his quivering lips. Suddenly the beast wailed loudly into his face, drowning out
the noise of the storm outside, and he didn‘t even notice the urine run down his leg and form
a small pool on the carpet, as the creature stared vacantly him.
Then he whirled around to look at the old woman, his eyes pleading for her to help
him, but Sarah looked away.
Santos looked back into the creature‘s face, looking for any sort of compassion, but
could see none. ―Please, ta, tak, take it easy O, Otis,‖ he managed to stutter, as he pleaded
pitifully for his life.
The creature slowly moved its head, cocking it to one side, as if in recognition of its
Its foul breath wafted into his face, before it covered his head in its large skeletal like
hands. Its massive shoulders dwarfed him in its shadow as another lightning bolt filled the
room, and Santos had no time to scream when his warm blood rushed heavily over his chest
and arms, as the creature tore his head away from his body and threw his shaking carcass out
into the hallway.
His eyes still blinked in fear as his head dropped to the floor, his blood spilling out
and covering the old ripped pieces of the faded photograph he had discarded earlier.
―Otis,‖ Sarah called loudly to this shell of a thing, this hollow creature that once,
another lifetime ago had been Otis. This damn beast, which had loved her so much when it
was a man, she knew.
But was here now only to torture her, the way it had done so all these sad and lonely
thirty years, as the poor pathetic creature that Otis had since become.
This damned abomination that had now saved her life, not for the love of her, but
because it simply had no choice.
―Why?‖ she shouted into its face, ―Damn you Otis. Why did you have to leave me?‖
Sarah cried, the tears streaming down her face.
The creature ignored her, as it slowly turned around, and as another bolt of lightning
lit up the room; she noticed a little red droplet run from where its eye should be, and form a
little fine stream down its bony cheek. Maybe it was just a splash of blood from the burglar,
she thought, maybe.
―Oh Otis, honey, I miss you so much,‖ she whispered, as she lay back on her pillow
Faintly in the distance the sound of the bagpipes could be heard wafting in through
the broken window, as the storm passed slowly away, and the creature silently and
majestically, moved back up into the corner.