Echoes Through the Mist: A Paranormal Mystery (The Echoes Quartet Book 1) (5 page)

BOOK: Echoes Through the Mist: A Paranormal Mystery (The Echoes Quartet Book 1)
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He knocked and when his knock was met with silence, he opened the door. The single room was remarkably spacious. Three cells stood to his left. One of the cells had its door removed and had been curtained off from the adjoining cells to make sleeping quarters, presumably for the local constabulary. The sleeping area was furnished with a chair, a bench at the foot of a full sized bed and a dresser. There was a modern bathroom beyond. Against the far wall in the main room there was a large stone fireplace.

A desk of utilitarian design and Government issue sat nearly in the middle of the room. A nameplate on the desk announced “Desk Sergeant.”

In front of the fireplace sat two new rocking chairs separated by a low table. The fireplace had never been used and the entire room was free of dust of any kind. It wasn’t so much that the room was empty; it was as though it was waiting someone’s arrival.

Julian sat in the desk sergeant’s chair and could see clearly up and down the main street by turning his head slightly and looking through the windows on either side of the front door. He had left the front door open to announce his presence to any and all passers-by.

***

“He is a strange one to be sure.”

“Is that a bad sign? Bad for us? A good sign then? I thought you could tell when, well, you know…” the Mayor said.

“Tell? There was a time I could. But that was one of the first things I lost. Too soon to tell about much, but have a care. That one, it is lost he is right now, but when he finds his way that will be a different matter,” said the Hagan. “He is capable. No special talent needed to see that.”

“Capable of much good or much bad?” the Mayor asked.

“We shall see. Good I think. He is stumbling right now and so, likely to knock things over in his clumsiness,” the Hagan answered. She looked and felt tired.

Julian had been preoccupied by the Hagan’s pronounced sharp features and her pale gray eyes, but now in the kerosene light without the shawl over her head, she was a woman out of the ordinary.

Unruly hair combined with ivory skin to imbue her with a sensuousness that was at odds with her stern and startling bearing. She was possessed of an intelligence no one would dare doubt and a type of beauty no one could explain.

“We’ll just have to keep an eye on him, won’t we?” the mayor said.

The Hagan continued with a statement of fact. “What do you know about anything? You’re drunk.”

“Oi am always drunk. Oi can’t remember a time when Oi was ever fully sober. Saints above, what a world it would be if Oi ever had to be completely sober. Life wouldn’t be worth living. Oi suppose Oi should go see him.”

“Let him stew awhile. I have some thinking to do so sit and eat your oatmeal. I’m hoping the raisins I put in it may absorb some of that alcohol.”

“Oatmeal is it? Oatmeal you may call it but I know what is really in your heart, woman. You’ll be the death of me with all your rapacious demands, but Oi suppose you can’t help yourself. The power of me office is a potent aphrodisiac.”

“Shut up you old fool,” Moira Hagan said. “If they were giving you away with free mackerel for life there’s no one who’d have the offering. I’ve put up with you as a friend for over thirty years. Count yourself lucky.” She smiled and a softening came into her face and eyes.

Chapter Six
 

Shadows lengthened as late afternoon turned to twilight. Groups of men entered the town talking in the subdued voices of men who had put in a full day’s labor. These were workingmen for whom there was seldom any real hurry. Life, they knew, was best met head on and with a steady, tireless pace.

Greetings were exchanged and good-natured banter ensued as someone approached the men from the opposite direction. Footsteps neared the flagstone path leading to the front door of the police station. Julian sat behind the desk and waited.

A ginger haired man in his 60s in a suit and tie with a bowler hat and a satin sash running across his chest like a bandolier filled the doorway. The Mayor of Cappel Vale, all five foot four inches of him, actually took up a fair bit of space. He peered into the gloom of the police station like a myopic bat until his eyes lighted on Julian.

“Ah, sur, it is full of apologies Oi am. The press of business kept me busy all the day and even then, Mrs. Hagan neglected to tell me of your presence. It was a good talking to Oi was after givin’ her for this oversight.”

Julian could smell the whiskey coming off the Mayor from across the room.

“I am glad you could make the time to see me, Mr. Mayor.”

The Mayor beamed and seemed to draw on hidden resources to push him to a full height of five foot five inches.

“And who would it be me honor to address?”

“My name is Julian Blessing.”

“Blessing. Blessing. Oi believe there may have been a family of Blessings in the village of Flicks, but that was many years ago.”

“My people are not from Ireland. I am just visiting.”

“It is odd visiting you would be doing to find yourself in a place like Cappel Vale. You may have noticed we are not exactly the sun and fun spot the Western World claims we are.”

Julian smiled as the Mayor continued. “Mrs. Hagan – the poor dear woman is distraught over the tongue lashing Oi gave her – mentioned you were in need of accommodations in our little village. Oi must tell you that nothing springs immediately to mind, but if you would like to repair to me office, mayhaps a thought will come to me. Leave your things here and come along with me.”

Shadows had lengthened into night and a chill was in the air. Julian picked up his jacket and towering over the Mayor, the two headed up the narrow main street now lit from the edges by the lights of the village pubs and cottages.

“We’ll go to O’Gavagan’s and a lovely pub it is too,” the Mayor said as he took off his sash and folded it neatly before depositing it in his suit coat pocket.

“Which one?” Julian asked.

“Which one what?” the Mayor answered.

“O’Gavagan’s Pub – which one? I noticed there were two.”

“Doubtless you noticed there are a number of such establishments in our small village. Some of the village people congregate at O’Gavagan’s Pub while another group gravitates to the other O’Gavagan’s Pub. Still others will be seen at Mulherin’s Pub.”

Confused, Julian looked for clarification. “There are two pubs…”

“Well there are three pubs actually, but let’s not quibble.”

“Three pubs and two of them are named O’Gavagan’s. Are they owned by brothers or something?”

“Lord, no,” the Mayor chuckled good-naturedly. “If they were owned by two brothers one would be Tom’s and t’other would be Sean’s don’t you see?”

“Well then, who owns O’Gavagan’s?”

“O’Gavagan does. Pardon my sayin’ so, but I was led to believe you might be somewhat brighter than this, lad. And wasn’t it I who defended you when Mrs. Hagan said you might be an eejit of some sort?”

Julian knew there had to be sense hidden somewhere in the Mayor’s logic, but he would be damned if he could find it. “So the same man owns two pubs and each one is called O’Gavagan’s. Then if someone were to say, ‘I’ll see you at O’Gavagan’s’ how would either know where to go?” Things were becoming murkier by the moment and Julian found himself looking increasingly like the idiot others claimed him to be.

“Forget O’Gavagan,” the mayor said. “He doesn’t matter. What does matter is which O’Gavagan’s one goes to after a long day of physical labor.

“Some families have gone to one O’Gavagan’s for decades and would never think of stepping foot into the other O’Gavagan’s. Anyone who knows you knows your family and knows which O’Gavagan’s is yours. Then again, there are those who frequent Mulherin’s. They would rather be found dead in a ditch than in either of the O’Gavagan’s even though O’Gavagan might be a distant relation. It is all a matter of who you are, who your people are. Don’t ya see?”

“So which of the pubs do you frequent?”

“Oi’m the mayor. Oi have to spread me patronage around lest Oi be seen to play favorites.”

Julian felt that somehow there was an odd reasoning at work in all of this and so followed the little mayor into the first pub they found. It was called O’Gavagan’s.

***

O’Gavagan’s was a spacious room with dark wood on the walls and floor. The bar itself was nearly black with age and the top was polished to a glass-like finish. A turf fire burned in the fireplace and the smell of peat smoke and pipe tobacco wafted in eddies throughout the room.

Village men and women crowded all the tables and children ran around any open floor space. The babble of voices ran the range from quiet conversation to raucous laughter. This was Cappel Vale’s answer to prime time television. The community drew together, talked, listened, laughed, shared, ate occasionally and even drank a little.

The Mayor entered the pub and approached the bar while Julian secured the door. He turned and managed one step into the room before all noise stopped and all eyes turned to him.

The Mayor called out, “God bless all here. Now get back to your business!” and that, much to Julian’s amazement, was exactly what happened.

The Mayor handed Julian a pint of beer and said, “Pay the man. Oi’ve gone off and left all me money at home.” He then picked up two pints for himself and headed for a vacant table in the deepest corner of the pub.

Once seated Julian tried to get right back to the point, “Mayor Cahill, I’ve been told that you can direct me to a place where I might find room and board. I am willing to pay of course.”

“To be sure. Oi’ve been giving this more than a little thought. We are a small village and of boarding houses, we have none. Oi do have a thought though Oi don’t know how it will be received by your fine self.

“No family has a room to spare though Lord knows they could all use the money, but there is one entire building sitting unoccupied at the edge of town. We could arrange with one or two of the village women to provide you with a light supper per day for a modest fee. Any other food or drink you may require could easily be taken care of by one of the three establishments we have for such purposes.”

“That sounds ideal. How much do you suppose the owner would want for rent?”

“Rent is it? Oi wouldn’t worry about rent. It has all been paid for by the good citizens of the Irish Republic.” The Mayor took Julian’s look of confusion for one of interest and continued.

“I’m speaking o’course of the police station.”

Julian’s mild confusion turned to stark befuddlement.

“Jimmy Grogan!” The Mayor bellowed and a red headed boy of seventeen appeared.

“Jimmy, this is Mr. Blessing. He will be staying with us out at the police station. Run there, get a fire started and the hot water tank up and runnin’. Then lay some peat in so he’ll have some extra to throw on the fire as needs be.

“Mr. Blessing’s things are already there and if you, Jimmy Grogan, disturb any of them Oi’ll take a stick to your worthless back and your father – God rest his soul – would be thanking me for it too.

“Mr. Blessing, give young James here a coin. Off you go Jimmy and do as I say.”

The boy took the coin, bobbed his head and was gone.

“When you get back to the station, go through your things and make sure none of ’em are missing. Jimmy Grogan is a notorious thief, but bright and will follow directions up to a point.”

“Mayor Cahill, how can this be alright with the police? I mean I can’t just take up residence in their station. It doesn’t seem reasonable.”

“It stands like this, Mr. Blessing. This being Ireland, reason has very little to do with it.” The Mayor made a show of clearing his throat. “Oi would be happy to tell it to you of the matter, but me throat has gone powerfully dry it has. Be so good as to fetch us a few more pints.”

Julian hadn’t touched his, but the Mayor had dispatched both of the ones sitting in from of him.

Julian returned and set two more pints in front of the Mayor.

“What a good man you are! Well then, as Oi was saying, in their infinite wisdom the research branch of the Garda Síochána decided there was not enough of a police presence in this part of the Republic. They’d after be sayin’ somethin’ about community policing, although Oi’m not at all sure just what that means. They’d made noise, but we thought nothing of it. Then without a word to us they arrived one day with heavy equipment, building materials, and workmen and proceeded to take a month to erect that lovely station.”

“They appointed said police station as you have seen it. They then discovered three small facts that had been overlooked during the planning phase.”

“First, we have no need of representatives of the Garda Síochána. The occasional dust up, some cattle or sheep thieving and some school boy pranks, but nothing that would take a police force to handle. Oh, there was the time when Lawrence Donnelly tried to rob Flynn’s store with a hammer. I can tell you, walking into a store with a hammer is an exceptionally bad idea when the stock in trade of the store in question is hammers and the owner is a man who isn’t afraid to use them. It ended in tears of course.

“Second, the Garda could find no group of lads who would work in our little corner of paradise and third, the Garda didn’t have the money to pay salaries and expenses even if they could find someone daft enough to take the job. Slight oversights all, I’m sure.

“That is how we came to have a police station without the policemen who usually inhabit such establishments. It really is the best of all worlds,” the Mayor said as he finished his fourth pint.

Julian still had only sipped his, but he went to the bar and returned with another beer.

The Mayor looked dejectedly at the lone pint but became resigned to his fate.

“Mayor Cahill, I have operated in the business world all my working life. On the one hand, I wouldn’t feel right about taking advantage of your offer gratis. On the other hand, I know nothing is ever gratis. What is it you want in return?”

“Ah, but you are a man of affairs and a man of the world. Oi could see it right off. In faith, Oi have no idea what rent to ask. I’m sure we will be able to work something out. What do you have?” the Mayor asked. “And don’t say money. We are a poor, sad village and you could doubtless buy the lot of us and put it on your credit card.

“No, your money has very little value here except for the occasional pint. Oi’m sure Flynn, for one, down at the store would be happy to be off the barter system and go to hard currency. For the most part your money is not an inducement, however, as Oi say, Oi’m sure we will be able to work something out.

“With that, I wish you pleasant dreams. I will be making my way home. It would seem you are bad company because you have got me terribly drunk,” the little man concluded and lurched to his feet.

As the Mayor headed one way, Julian turned toward the police station. Lamplight issued from the windows and smoke rose from the chimney. Jimmy Grogan was nowhere to be seen.

Julian followed the Mayor’s advice and quickly sorted through his few belongings in the duffle bag. Everything seemed to be accounted for. Julian sat before the fire and in time nodded off to sleep. His last thoughts were of the Mayor’s parting words.

“I’m sure we will be able to work something out.” Slightly ominous, but Julian had handled ominous things before and had always won. He wondered what there was to win this time.

BOOK: Echoes Through the Mist: A Paranormal Mystery (The Echoes Quartet Book 1)
9.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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