Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Ghosts of County Cork


The following is actually a joke converted to a short story for this blog. The joke was told to me on St. Patrick's Day in a bar over a few cold ones. Jimmy, the joke teller had a wonderful Irish brogue. This story, as well as the joke, if read aloud in a convincing Irish accent is even more effective and more hilarious.

It so happened that in a small village in County Cork, Ireland, there had been an inordinate amount of reports concerning ghosts. The stories had become rampant among the folks from the town center to the surrounding pastures and hills.

Donovan's Pub, the local watering hole, served as the exchange place for tales of the spectral sightings. To some it appeared that the pub was a source of the stories, and as such it was easy to discount a lot of the yarns from a bunch of men downing pints of ale for hours on end.

Nonetheless, there were reports of hauntings from those wouldn't even dream of setting foot in a pub, much less partake of liquid imbibations. Mrs. O'Halahan, for example was terrified by the presence of a wraith-like shape floating outside her kitchen window. Lending some credence to her story was the fact that she was an upstanding member of the community as well as of the church. Her neighbor, Darby McDonald also saw a ghost flying back and forth in his back yard. He claimed he didn't empty the two bottles of Irish whiskey until after he had seen the ghost, just to settle his nerves mind you.

Before long the stories began to take on bizarre twists. It appeared that the spirits were becoming bolder to the point of actually making physical contact with some of the citizens. Darby McDonald's wife claimed she was attacked by the ghost in their very yard. This, of course, explained the other empty whiskey bottle.

Perhaps the tales had taken on a life of their own, and a sense of one-up-manship was being acted out by the citizenry. When one man caught a big fish, it was certain that a another would step forward having caught a larger one. Once one person was physically accosted by a ghost, another person would claim to have been molested. As such, Mrs. Fitzpatrick had been raped by a shimmering apparition that had entered her bedroom during the night. Thus it wasn't long before other reports of violent encounters pervaded the conversations all over the village. Several of them began to appear in public sporting various form of battle dress such as bandages, arms in slings, and at least two people on crutches.

The local law however, not only could not verify the reports, but were unable to find any evidence that the events had in fact occurred. The hysteria of the women folk was such that Officer O'Malley had no recourse but to at least give the appearance that an investigation was underway. Despite O'Malley's protests, the village had even hosted an out of town psychic. The so-called expert of the paranormal did report some strange electrical discharges and traces of ozone. She also detected other odors that defied logical explanation. Her credibility was called into question when some of the odors were detected before and after meal preparations.

Finally, it was Father Flanagan, the local priest who stepped forth to end the histrionics. Having gathered the entire local population into his church the following Sunday, he was well prepared with an appropriate sermon. The congregation listened intensely as he related his sermon he had titled "God and Demons." After he had closed his service with scripture and led the choir in singing The Old Rugged Cross, he began to address those in attendance, some individually.

He began, "I would like to discuss the recent and frequent visits by ghosts upon our community. I assure you that these spirits do not exist." There was a buzz among those in the pews as well as those standing against the back wall. "Mrs. O'Halahan, could it be that what you saw at your kitchen window was not a ghost, but your bloomers you hung out to dry that morning?"

Unrelenting he continued, "Mr. and Mrs. McDonald, could it be your fancy new satin sheets and pillow cases a blowin' on the line? And Mrs. McDonald, didn't you get tangled in that laundry? Maybe that was the attack and it happened after you had your whiskey."

As the Father continued to offer reasonable explanations for the hauntings, he could see relief showing on the faces before him. He sensed that they were beginning to realize how silly they all had been. They were very quiet now, the buzz was not heard. Had he ended his talk then and there he might have brought to an end the ghost stories.

There was still another encounter that had to be quelled. "Now, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, were you really raped by a ghost?" He looked her in the eye, "And while this was happening, just where was Mr. Fitzpatrick? Was he playing that game you play under the sheets? Maybe he was your ghost! And maybe he got just a little too rough?" Mr. Fitzpatrick was grinning sheepishly even as his wife was flushing to a deep red.

He then addressed the entire assemblage, "My faithful brothers and sisters trust in me as you would in our Lord. There are no such things as ghosts!" He raised a hand and asked, "How many of you have actually seen a ghost? Give me a show of hands." There were about a half dozen hands raised while the others parishioners hung their heads. "Those of who still maintain they have seen ghosts, did you ever see them when there was no laundry on the clothes lines? Have any of you ever seen these ghosts before you opened that bottle of whiskey?" He smiled at the people in the pews then asked, "Have any of you ever made love to a ghost?

One man had his hand raised and was waving it frantically. That one hand had been raised when he first asked for a show of hands. The hand belonged to little Tommy McGee. Father Flanagan motioned for him to approach the pulpit. The fleeting glances from the others in the church concerned the Father, for but one believer in ghosts could undermine his efforts.

Knowing that Tommy was hard of hearing, he raised his voice to a near shout, "Come closer, Tommy." When Tommy was no more than five feet away he asked, "Tommy, have you ever made love to ghosts?"

Tommy replied, "Ghosts? I thought you said goats!"

No.1290

2 comments:

HoosierGirl5 said...

Good one, Hale. You are too funny.

XXOO,
J.

Hale McKay said...

Thank you, Hoosier Girl. It's good to hear from you.