Wednesday, February 22, 2012
A shaky Leo sat down by the fire yesterday afternoon and told me about something that happened while I was away. As instructed, he took Ansa for a walk three times a day, the last walk being around midnight.
Last Friday at midnight, he walks her down the shore to the Delaney House, an old house that's been there for well over a couple hundred years. Small, tight, and freshly enhanced with a family of three, including a baby, in the last couple of years. Ansa was doing her business by the rocks when she suddenly barked. Leo, who had been watching her, looked up just in time to see Billy Delaney running along the shore just about to crash into the two of them.
“Wearing his waders," said Leo, his eyes round and frightened in the memory of it, his mouth trembling, “and that awful old cap of his, a dirty old tweedy thing, should have been lumped out years ago.”
“Ansa started to howl, just a bit, and then Billy...” he tried to go on.
“What, Billy did what?” I said.
“Well Billy ran through me. And it hurt.”
“Billy ran through you? What?”
“I could hear the crunch of old waders on the stones and he ran through me and I fell down because my chest hurt so much and my legs went all rubber on me and wouldn't hold me up and Ansa was making an awful crying sound.”
“And what about Billy?”
“Oh he was gone, right gone, right quick. But I could still smell him, he never gave himself a good washing.”
“So Ansa licked my face, and I managed to stand up, but I couldn't walk properly at all. So I managed to make it over to Annie's by the crossroads and told her what had happened. It was going on for nearly one o'clock in the morning then, and I was drinking the cup of tea she made me with lots of sugar for the shock and then she goes ahead and calls Father Korea. I tried to stop her but she wouldn't listen. So next thing Father Korea comes on down with his prayerbook and his holy water saying he thought I'd have to be dying for him to be taken out of his warm bed on a freezing night like this.”
“You can't be serious,” I say, laughing in spite of myself, petting my brave Ansa.
“Oh, but I am,” and Leo has never looked more serious and is slightly offended at my laughing, “and he says all these mumbly-jumbly prayers over my head and sprinkles holy water all over me, and tells whatever is inside me to leave forever.”
“Did it work?” I ask.
“On I'm still fair haunted with it all. I don't know about it working.”
“You're sure it was Billy?” I say.
“Oh no doubt at all, not a doubt it was Billy, drunk as always, gallivanting like a mad man around the place.”
Billy has been dead for eight years.