The large, plate-glass window of the lounge area of the “River View” aged care home overlooked the willow-lined banks of the Murray River in the centre of that regional city that had been home for him and his family for these many years…known for its fruit and wine industry…Mr. Daniel Flannigan lay quiet in a parked palliative care bed placed in an advantageous position that gave him a full vista of the passing river. He lay quiet in what could be describe as a pensive mood, the latest results of his advanced condition giving little to no hope of continued life expectancy. His pensive mood was not from a state of depression, no..for at his advanced age of eighty six, he was more in a state of reflection of past events that most satisfied and pleased him in his long life.
He was thinking of Moira.
After a long marriage of sixty years and two children, Danny’s wife, Moira, passed away three years ago, leaving him lonely and listless with little will to live longer than what life ordained, so when a diagnosis of terminal cancer was pronounced upon him, he quietly greeted the news as a kind release from an empty life. Now, as the river slipped away past the window, so too did the last breaths of Danny Flannigan.
Yet, not a week ago, did he get a long visit from his son…; Sargent Tom Flannigan, resident and sole officer of the Mallee Region police patrol, that oversees an area the size of Scotland. The visit was a combination of regular “touching of home base” and an inquiry into his father’s knowledge of where he was raised as a young man back in the ‘fifties. Tom was seeking Danny’s insight into a puzzling case that had come to Sgt. Flannigan’s attention with the recent discovery of a skeleton unearthed beside a lonely stretch of road just east of the town of Sedan.
It was an interesting conversation between father and son. The father, because it touched upon his main considerations of the moment, being his reflections on his life lived with Moira Kenneally, how they met and how they married. The son, the police business of wanting to get to the bottom of this mysterious skeleton. But in reality, both father and son knew the solution to the conversation was already resolved, the only missing ingredient was the crossing of the “t’s” and the dotting of the “i’s”.
Sgt. Tom Flannigan entered the private room with Danny’s care attendant who brought in a plate of soft food for lunch..Following a minor stroke a year before, Danny had lost the dexterous use of his right hand and so it was usual for the care attendant to help him with his eating, in case of a minor “spill” with the food.
“It will be fine if I help him, nurse…” Tom quietly spoke.
The nurse looked to son then father and with a nod of approval from Danny, the nurse placed the utensil on the tray and made out of the room. Tom went behind her and softly closed the door. He then pulled up a chair next to the bed and attended to the food on the plate.
“Is the tucker good, Dad?” he asked.
“It’s alright….most days..” Danny replied cautiously “depends on the cook, which days”…he narrowed his eyes a little as he watched his son’s demeanour…there was more to this one visit than the others, he was thinking.
“Everything alright, son?” Danny asked…Tom raised one eyebrow inquisitively…he pursed his lips and blew a bit of breath.
“Phoo, yeah…..” he thought a moment..” Still can’t get Gloria to come live with me permanently…she’s not fond of the place.”
“Oh…well, that’s women for yer…if they don’t like it..that’s it…best to know in advance…otherwise could be trouble further down the line.” And Danny took a spoon full of the food.
“Yeah, well…”Tom wiped a smidgen of mashed potato from his father’s chin “ We’re both not getting any younger…an’ it would be good to settle down to a married life……” and he thought for a moment before he finished..” like you and mum”.
“Would’ve been sixty three years this month” Danny sighingly said.
“Yes…I suppose so….she was a tad older than you, wasn’t she?” and Tom looked down to something on the floor as he spoke, not that there was anything there, but so as he wouldn’t appear to be gazing too hard at his father as he asked him the question. Danny wasn’t fooled by the evasiveness.
“Whatcha want, Tom?….There’s a choke in the pipe and you’re not getting it out.”
Sgt. Tom Flannigan stroked his chin several times and decided to come to the point of his visit.
“Was called by Jack at the council office to go look at something the road crew found there at the “Seven Sisters Junction” around a month or so ago…They were widening the intersection there because of a accident between Heinie Shultz coming home after a few at the hotel and a grain truck of “Slammers” that tipped over trying to avoid hitting Heinie’s old Ford ute..There’s a bit of a blind spot..apparently and the council road crew were there widening the intersection to make it safer to see any oncoming traffic.
“And..?” Danny had stopped eating and stared at the downcast face of his son.
“And”..Tom breathed “ They unearthed a skeleton that had been buried there…sometime back in the fifties.”
“How do you know it was the fifties?” Danny asked.
“There was a wallet amongst the remains with a money order in it.” Tom now looked close to his father’s reaction….”You used to work in the post office there in Sedan back in the fifties, didn’t you?…when you were a young chap” Tom stared hard at his father’s face.
Danny did not reply, but just slowly spooned the food off the plate and silently chewed.
Tom took the moment of silence to dab again at some bit of food on his father’s cheek. Danny stared back at his son before he answered.
“Yes..I did…Friday night through to midnight Sunday..for Mrs Glastonbury..She ran the Post office and there had to be someone there twenty-four seven for the telephone exchange..She took back over midnight Sunday as it was the start of the new week.”
“And you used to sleep there under the front desk..right?” Tom casually spoke.
“That’s right…I had a pull out mattress…but I’d hardly call it “sleep”..I had to answer the telephone if a call came through..”
Tom changed the subject.
“A lot of blokes there in the harvest season in those days, I’d say.”
“Yeah..heaps…it was all labour-intensive those days…and you had to get the harvest in quick-smart in case of bad weather…or locusts.”
“Hmm..” Tom again touched up a morsel on Danny’s face “ I suppose there was a lot of drinking and celebrating going on at the hotel too in those days?”
“Too right there was…” Danny cautiously answered.
“And I shouldn’t wonder if a woman was brought in to do some singing some nights as a bit of entertainment”….Tom quietly added.
Danny paused in the lifting of a spoon full of the dinner…he replaced it on the side of the plate. A tenseness had risen between them. He then confronted his son with his own query.
“What’s this getting to, Tom?…This is about that skeleton I suppose?”
Tom shifted in his chair, the creaking of the frame and the sound of the rustling of his uniform in his movement dominating the stillness of the room. He reached into his pocket and took something small out…something the size of a bulbous button. He did not display it to his father just then.
“Yes…I’m afraid it is.”…He then leant in closer to Danny.
“You see, I was the first one there to examine the thing…The backhoe had exposed the bones and the men just downed tools and left it as it was for me to have a look at. I got there and poked about with a small rod just to see if it was an aborigine or what…and I found a bottle of cheap sweet-sherry there..along with the shoes and clothing mostly rotted away from the length of time..after all, what would it be…fifty..sixty years or so…so not much left..” and then Tom gently placed the item he had taken from his pocket right in front of Danny on the dinner tray..” . . . and then there was this ..”
The item was a locket of soft gold…it was tarnished and marked, but whole…Danny was speechless, his mouth a little bit agape as he stared and stared at the golden locket..He reached for it, but Tom placed his own hand over the locket..Danny looked to Tom and saw his meaning. He leant back onto his pillow.
“Where did you find that?” he asked. Tom moved the locket away a little closer to himself on the tray before he answered.
“In his hand.” And Tom tilted his head as in curiosity. Danny sighed and then softly laughed..
“I always wondered if it had just been lost on the road in the scuffle and some lucky person had come across it and took it away….God!..how long and how many times I looked for that treasure”.
“So I was right in my assumption then…the locket did belong to you?”
“Well, in truth..not really mine…I gave it to her.”
Tom lifted the locket and with his fingernail edged a tiny clip at the top..it opened and Tom read from an inscription there…
“To Moira from your Danny Boy”…he stared closely at his father..” that’d be you, I suppose?” he asked.
“I reckon..” Danny replied.
“Yes…” Tom left the open locket on the tray “ And I reckon if we looked closely at that lock of hair remnant there, it could be yours as well?”……Danny nodded, keeping his eyes glued to the locket…Tom shifted in his chair and brought his hands together on his legs..” You see, dad…when that locket fell out of those bones of his hand…sans chain..my experience in this game straight away told me that here was a moment of anger..an act of grabbing and ripping away of a necklace and an attack on someone…I’ve been to enough fights and fracas in front-bar and footy-club to know what this means…” Tom then lifted one hand and pointed a finger onto the inscription…” and It didn’t take me many days, what with the money order scrap and the location to run down the people around in those days…” Tom then sat back in the chair “It’s amazing the memory of those old people for those old times..clear as a bell some of them….Old Kevin Rozenswietz, f’rinstance…he remembers a young woman sang there in the hotel in those days….says he was sweet on her..as was many a young man in the town…why even…he says…yourself…” Danny remained silent throughout Tom’s soliloquy, his eyes still fixed on the locket…Tom continued..” Took him a while to remember her name….rang me just yesterday, in fact ..to tell me…” and Tom then leaned in close to whisper the name to Danny…
Danny sank back into his pillows on the bed and looked like he was going to pass away there and then…Tom sprang to his feet and called for the nurse..there followed much fussing and Tom had no further opportunity that day to follow through with his inquiry..He recovered the locket and waited for his father to recover his strength.. a few more days wouldn’t matter.
It was when Tom came at his father’s request a week later that he saw the difference in him..Danny had a more relaxed look and attitude..he looked..serene..is the word Tom would later use to describe that meeting.
The first thing Danny requested from Tom was that he let him hold the locket taken from the dead man’s hand…Tom hesitated at first then realised the absurdity of his reticence, so he held out his hand and Danny took the locket and taking from a small box at his elbow, a fine gold chain, he passed the links of the chain through the ring at the top of the locket…he then held the completed set up in front of them both.
“I had the chain all the while..I found that on the road where we struggled and I’ve had it repaired..I was always hoping against hope that I would get that locket back..and now here it is..so I can tell you the whole story of that time.” Danny held onto the locket and chain as a kind of talisman while he regaled his son with his and Moira’s story.
“It all started with my going outside for a ciggy and a break from the post office. It was a very clear night, with the only intrusion being the usual raucous from the pub over the road..The harvest was going full tilt. Then from somewhere inside the hotel, a piano started playing and the hubbub started to die down and a woman started singing….and in the now silent night air, that voice sounded to me like the voice of a free bird…her lilting and sighing a joy to my ears…
I flung the cigarette to the ground and crossed the road to look through the window..I was too young to go into the bar, besides, I couldn’t leave the exchange for long in case a call came through. Looking through the window I saw Moira for the first time..To me, her face shone even in that smokey bar-room light like the morning sun on a new day, and her raven hair shimmered and shone…her body lithe and full..she was all that my awakening young male body desired in a woman…already I was in love..
She looked a beauty then and I was to get to know her much better in the weeks to come.
The first time we spoke was through the door of the post office. It was late Saturday afternoon after closing time and she was at the front door knocking and making appealing gestures to be let in. Unknown to her, it was with a trembling hand that I opened the door to her.
“Ah!..thanking you there my good man” she gushed with a beautiful smile “ could I be troubling you to write me out a money order to send to my sister in the city this late in the day?”
“I…I’m afraid the post office is closed now..I’m sorry.” I mumbled out apologetically.
“Yes..the post office is closed, but I see you’re still here…and it would be you who could do me this favour” she smiled cheekly..
The upshot of it was that she needed to send the money to her sister as a payment for caring for Moira’s young child while she; Moira was there earning some money. A single mother could lose custody of her child in those days if the authorities deemed her not capable of “supplying for needs of the child”, and as Moira was paid on the Saturday afternoon, she wanted to get the money to her sister as soon as possible..
Of course, I wasn’t supposed to, but how could I refuse..both because of her parental situation and then because I already adored her as a young man’s heart can adore. So I sent the money..she was genuinely happy that I did her the favour and even kissed my cheek as I leant over the desk to give her the receipt..I did indeed blush deeply.
“That’s to say thanks” she smiled “It means so much to me to have that one thing out of the way…but could I ask that same favour of you every week…I’m sorry for bothering you, but I get paid every Saturday and we live so far out of town..?”
Of course, I would gladly do her the favour..any favour…but I told her to come to the back door and call in for me so no-one else would demand the same service.
“And to whom do I call?” she asked.
“Danny..” I stammered out..”me..I’m Daniel..”
“And a fine Irish name that be too.” Moira smiled again..”I’ll be asking for you then..my Danny Boy!” and again she smiled that beautiful smile.
And that’s how we got closer and more easier in our relationship over the following weeks. Moira would come into the back room and call a cooee and I would attend to her money order and she would sit and chatter while I did the paperwork..sometimes I’d get her a cup of tea or she would light up a cigarette with me just outside the back door while she waited before it was time for her to go to the hotel to sing…and we talked of each other.
I remember early in this arrangement Moira suddenly asked me;
“How old are you?” I shot a quick look at her, trying to judge her motive…
“Seventeen..nearly eighteen” I hastily replied..” And yourself..if I may ask?”
“Cheeky!..she admonished as she stubbed out her cigarette…”if you must know ; twenty one next week!” and she then slipped away with a teasing laugh..God..she was my delight at that time…my utter delight.
Through all this harvest, she and I became close pals..that’s all..just pals..as we used to say..though there is a point in the relationships between men and women where that line of friendship, once crossed into the realm of affection, can never be reversed..and it can grow like a blossoming flower, slowly, yet intensly…so that you aren’t completely aware of it at all, till one day, one sudden look, one lingering hiatus of intensity tips you over the line….But there was one cloud on the horizon of our friendship and that was her “man”…a brutish fellow named Bruce Dobson..an itinerant labourer that followed the seasonal harvests around the country…a man of around twenty eight or nine years old..a loner, a scrapper, rather handsome in that hard-chiselled way..not someone to cross swords with..if you get my drift. But he was a problem external to Moira and my regular Saturday meetings. He would be working or at the bar drinking when we would meet at the post office. Strange how some men hold their relationships with women more as a trophy, a possession, rather than a loved one.
“Danny!?” she’d call through the back door and I’d call her to come in. Oh how I loved hearing her call my name and how I adored saying her name in return..I recall a quiet moment having a ciggy there by the back door one evening just before she went to do her stint singing that night, she quietly said..:
“Danny…would you like me to sing a song for you?” I flicked the ash off my smoke nervously and replied;
“Oh..well..yes..that’d be nice…very nice..I’d like that..thank you .”
“Well I finish my stand at the piano there at eleven o’clock..if you come to the side window there by the planter-box and look in..I’ll sing you the last song.”…
I mumbled and blushed my gratitude and she touched the side of my cheek with her hand, smiled a gentle smile and walked away..I can still hold the memory of that touch..the warmth of her hand..for it was more than a casual gesture..it was the passing of an affection between us..it changed our relationship from that moment on.
The song she sung to me that night was “Danny Boy”….oh how my heart sung along with her..and every now and then she would look to me..straight to me as I stared through the smudged glass of that window where I’d rubbed a round spot with my sleeve..and sing those most tender words to me..only to me…
“. . . But come ye back when summer’s in the meadow,
Or when the valley’s hushed and white with snow,
It’s I’ll be here in sunshine or in shadow,
Oh, Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so! “
And with those last sung words, she then looked straight to me…straight into my heart it seemed..oh the power a woman has to grasp and hold a man’s deepest desires, whether she is aware of it or no..it is a power so all embracing, so strong that sometimes only death can release him from her hold..And so it must be in return..with a man to a woman..I don’t know what that hold was to her from someone as meek as myself, but Moira saw a strength in me that touched and held her heart likewise..a bond supreme…and it would prove to be a bonding extreme, for it became a point that at the end of her Saturday night session, she would finish with that song and I would make it a point to be there at the window, peering in and through that smokey world, Moira would finish every time with those lovely words whilst staring right into my eyes..into my soul.
As Moira told me, her birthday was to be soon, and I knew the harvest season was coming to a close. Already some of the contractors had terminated their season in the district and moved on, so would Moira and Bruce move away, I presumed. My heart was suffering from the thought of never seeing her again, so one day that week, I grabbed a lift to the city from a local and went to a jeweller and bought a golden locket on a chain for Moira’s birthday..it took a goodly amount of my savings, but I could think of no better use for them than this gift.
That following Saturday, Moira came knocking at the back door as usual..We went through the regular business of her posting the money to her sister and then went to have our usual smoke by the back door..I had the locket and chain ready in my pocket.
“When did you say your birthday was?” I broke the ice. Moira looked slightly askance to me.
“ I didn’t…but since you ask..it was two days ago.”..she took a drag on the cigarette and then continued “ why do you ask?”
I stubbed the smoke out and reached into my pocket and removed the locket nervously..I wondered now if it was not too presumptuous on my part…perhaps the locket and chain looked too cheap..many doubts now crossed my mind.
“Because I..I brought something for you.” And I held up the locket and chain. I mumbled on nervously and quickly “ it is a special locket where…if you look here there is a tiny clip that you can unlock with your fingernail and it opens up and you can put a keepsake inside….”
Moira left the cigarette fall to the ground and turned and clasped the locket in both her hands like it was a fragile thing. Her eyes glowed with delight at the gift…she then turned her face to me and gazed with the most deep affection.
“And I had it engraved inside ..if you don’t mind…here, see?” Moira read out the words..:
“To Moira, from your Danny Boy.”
“Oh, Danny..it is so wonderful…truly beautiful..thank you.” And she then took the locket into her hands and gazed upon it..” Could you clip it on me, please?” and she held it to me. I took it and she turned around and lifted her hair so I could fix the clasp on the nape of her neck..which I did, but so slowly as I wanted to see and touch her skin there..my finger-tips absorbing the warmth of her body..I closed my eyes and took in the moment..I wanted to totally absorb the feeling of her body there..the soft touch of her hair and the colour of her skin..the tiny follicles of hair on the nape of her neck as I fixed the clasp of the chain..I was trembling..I was enthralled.
After I had finished, Moira turned to me..she lifted the locket to look closely at it then she suddenly let it go, threw her arms about my neck and kissed me passionately on my lips…I drew life there and then from that kiss..oh..that kiss..I held her so tight with my open hand and fingers spread so as to touch and clasp as much of her to me as possible..I had then embraced a joy complete..we kissed and kissed.
Before she left just then, she went and took a pair of scissors from the counter and coming back, she cut a tiny lock from my hair and placed it into the locket…we kissed again and she went to her work.
It was the commencement of life for both of us.
Of course, it did not take long for Bruce to notice a change of heart in Moira..for her heart was now given to another and such a shift of the soul cannot go un-noticed. Bruce’s jealous spite took command and even though she had told him that the locket was a gift from her sister, he was fouly suspicious…even more so than we had suspected, and it happened one night as I was making my way home up the “Sleeper Track Road” at the Seven Sisters Junction.
It was the Sunday night a couple of weeks after I had given Moira the locket. It was a foul night of the big storm that took down the telephone wires all around the district..so the exchange was out of action…Mrs Glastonbury came in and told me to go home as there was little chance the exchange would be up and running any time soon. I had walked almost to the junction when I saw a utility parked ahead…there were no lights on and after coming closer, I recognised it as Bruce’s ute…and he was there with Moira..I had the feeling he was waiting for me. True enough, for as I got close, he stepped out of the ute. He had a swagger in his step..I stopped..
“Took you a while to get here boy…I been wanting to have a little talk with you.” I could see that “talking” was the last thing on his mind. I paused and did not answer, not really having anything to say and I knew what his intention was.
“You been playing at sweet-talking to my girl, I believe..”
“I..we just talk of things.” I weakly said…” just things”
“Yes..just things..I should imagine..” Bruce approached me at the back of the ute “It’s those “things” I want to talk to YOU about now…..with my fists!” and he slowly stepped toward me..I stepped back from the ute…Moira had got out of the car and came around to the back of the ute..she grabbed Bruce by the shoulder and pleaded with him..
“Leave it Bruce..he’s only seventeen..he’s no equal to you in a fight..” Bruce gave a sudden reflex jerking away of his shoulder from Moira’s grip and swung his arm at her and hit her with a back-hander, yelling at her..
“Hold off woman..don’t tell me how to deal with this little shit!”
I leapt at him and connected with my fist with one blow..he spun back and grabbed me with both hands and flung me easily to the ground, Moira recovered from his blow and went for him as well..he grabbed and held her and then yelled to me while I was still prostrate on the ground..
“What the hell do you think you’re playing at..eh..eh? trying to muscle in on my life…my woman!?” he yelled..and then he saw the locket there swinging on Moira’s neck..he flung her away grabbing the locket as he did so and tearing it from her neck..he held it in his fist right in front of my face and yelled..
“You think this will make me go away?…hey?…You think this trinket will force me to say ..Oh..look..my woman’s been stolen by another..so I’ll just leave them to it..?? You think so ?..hey!..well think again!” and he grabbed me by my shirt front and struck me full in the face with the fist that held the locket and he was about to land another when suddenly in the flare of a flash of lightning, there was fast moving shadow and a WHACK! and Bruce fell off to one side of the road and rolled down the edge to lay dead still on the ground. Moira stood above me holding the bladed spade that she had struck Bruce with..It happenned that fast and was without the tragic intent that resulted…but I think that’s how many of these things happen..we both were silent and the storm raged.
Upon examination, we could see that the edge of the spade blade had almost cut through Bruce’s neck and he had quickly bled out..he died quickly and we were there in the wild storm and darkness of the night in shock and with no idea of what to do. We were just a couple of young people caught up in an uncontrollable situation.
After some short while of consoling each other and attending to our own selves, we started to formulate a plan. Considering that while it was in truth self-defence, it would look awfully suspicious if it were to come to the attention of the police and Moira would for sure risk the custody of her child in the process..We were fortunate that day of the week and the violence of the night storm kept all traffic off the back roads..so we set to with a plan…it is a wonder how quick the mind focus’s on a problem when the cause demands it..everything we needed to do just fell into place in that short space of time..
“ You take the ute and go pack yours and Bruce’s things and make it look like you both have done a runner..it happens all the time with itinerants, drive to a distant city and leave the ute by a river or the sea with Bruce’s gear in it only so it will look as if he has topped himself…with all those sherry bottles it will not be hard to imagine..I’ll bury him here where he fell and look after this end of things..”
Moira was shaking and tearful, but her natural sensibility soon got control..
“Yes..yes..I will make sure of my end of things and get rid of the car..I will have to get a bus back to Adelaide and act as if Bruce threw me over for another..I can do that..” she wiped away the tears..
“Moira..” I, I held her shoulders and said regretfully..”we can do this if everything goes right..you are both temporary workers, so you will not be missed…I…I have no known connection to either of you so I will not be considered..but we have to not be in contact with each other until such a time as it seems there is no chance of us being found out..we cannot see each other again for a long time…a long time..some years perhaps..and it’s hurting me already..”
Well…we kissed and held each other and kissed again and professed our love together and swore that we would meet when the time was right. And as Moira drove away in the slanting rain of the night, I truly wondered if I would ever see her again..but there was this deed to do and I set to work with the very spade that killed Bruce, to now bury him.
As I moved to do the job, in a flash of lightning, I saw the chain of the locket on the dirt road at my feet..I picked it up, but could not see the locket itself..and though I looked desperately, I couldn’t find it and the urgency of the moment made me attend to the digging of the grave.
Fortunately, the sandy soil there allowed me to dig a deep hole in a short time and I tipped the body into it, making sure to place some heavy rocks on top of the first layer of soil to dissuade any animals from digging down to the corpse…I also took advantage of a road-kill kangaroo just down the track a ways to drag it to place it on top of the grave so as to cover any decaying smell from the buried corpse. I then made my way home in the filthy weather up the sleeper track, confident the driving rain on that isolated stretch of road would wash any evidence of the night’s deeds far away…
The next few months I lived out in trepidation of suddenly being grasped by the arm by a police constable and arrested for the killing of Bruce…but no..nothing happened..not then nor ever over the next years..of course there was some grumbling in the district of Bruce and Moira doing a runner while owing a small amount of money to the local store and rent for the cottage they stayed in..but that was the only gossip that came to my ears…I was never considered connected to the couple owing to my position and age…About six months later, my family changed address over to the Bulldog Run about five miles north of the Sleeper Track, so I never went that way again…so the months and the years came and went with no longer a mention of the couple and the town went on with its life..
As did I…albeit with a melancholy sadness lodged deep in my heart. “
“ It was five years to the month before I heard from her again..It was getting near to Christmas and now I was permanently employed in the post office…five days a week and Saturday morning..Mrs. Glastonbury got another lad to man the exchange over night and the weekend…It was getting near Christmas, as I said, and I was serving old Gladys Auricht in the shop …she wanted a page of stamps so as to send her regular batch of cards and she was fussing with her purse and contesting “the price of stamps nowadays”…
“I don’t make the prices, Mrs. Auricht..they’re printed on the stamp by the government..” I said.
so I was busy attending to her wants and though I heard the bell over the front door ring that told me another person had entered the shop, I only quickly glanced up to see and then went back to Galdys’s fussing…What I did see, was a head of red hair..a woman..who went to the far end of the shop there, for it was a gift shop along with the post office…so I didn’t give much thought to her. Then Gladys gathered up her stamps and purse and things and left the shop and I would have gone to attend the other customer except, as fate or chance or call it what you will, intervened and at that moment there started to play a treasured piece of music over the radio…only the music..no singing with it..an’ it was the tune of “Danny Boy”….I must’ve been tired or a tad sentimental at the time, because I forgot all about the other person there and went into a kind of daydream..and the music just played softly and seemed to caress me..like even now, sometimes over the speakers here they play “Danny Boy” and I go into a kind of dream..and then too..and it was playing through the tune till it got to that part in the singing where it goes…: “So come ye back when Summer’s in the meadow….” And I thought I was hearing things, ‘cause I thought I could hear a voice softly mouthing the words..softly singing along with the music..; “. . . or the valley’s hushed and white with snow” …and I suddenly became aware that the other person who came into the shop was singing those very words..and singing them with the same inflection of voice that I remember from so long ago..and then I saw her…I saw her…she lifted her sunglasses and I saw her eyes..and she sung those beautiful words along with the song..but oh so softly so affectionately..to me she sung…only to me as she looked into my eyes..reading me deeply…” I’ll be here….in sunshine or in shadow….” And then she almost whispered breathlessly, those last delicious, delightful words…” Oh Danny Boy…Oh Danny Boy….I love you so….”
There was a quiet in the room so solid and deep that when Danny next spoke it was almost as in a prayer..
“I can’t tell you the feelings that came over me with the seeing of Moira there…right there in front of me…and hearing her say those words to me…enough to say that we threw ourselves into each other’s arms and held and held each other like we would never let each other go again…I pushed my face into her hair just to breathe in her scent and how I wept..how I wept..how WE wept..” Danny stopped at that moment and took a deep breath before speaking again ..”. . . and that was when I saw her again…”
Tom sat through Danny’s talking, quietly and impassively…for what ever the sentiment, he had to close this episode…this file…He broke the silence..
“Well…whatever the circumstances of your relationship with this lady..this Moira, I have to find her if she’s still alive and talk to her about this death..”
“You’ll not find her this side of heaven, I’m afraid, Tom….she’s gone.”
“Oh…and you know that for sure, dad…you kept in touch?” ..Danny raised his eyebrows a little. Tom persisted…” Well, if you do know her last address, you had better tell me so I can at least go talk to her or her relatives.”
“It’s no use, Son…she changed her name by deed-poll before she came back to Sedan that day..She became a different person.”
“You seem to have a close knowledge of the situation…tell me then what she changed her name to”. Tom was getting impatient.
“She changed her name I tell you, Tom…Moira Kenneally became Mary Kennedy!” Danny burst out.
“And just where does this Mary Kenn . . . “ and that was as far as Sgt. Tom Flannigan got, because his thinking had just caught up to his demanding…Tom slumped shocked back into the chair, staring blankly…Danny continued his thoughts for him…
“Yes, Tom…she changed her name, Tom..Moira Kenneally became Mary Kennedy…..your mother, Tom..your mother!”
From that moment on nothing really mattered to Daniel Flannigan, he was comfortable where he was, the feeling was all warmth and embracing…the afternoon sun, the river silently flowing past, he clasped the locket and chain tight in his hand and for the life of him, wasn’t that music he was hearing over the speakers an old favourite…wasn’t it “Danny Boy”…yes!..that’s it…Danny Boy…and even the cries from Tom calling for a nurse to come quickly and all the scrambling around and over his person and Tom calling his name over and over..all fading away..nothing could now stop Danny from his long anticipated assignation with his only love….Moira.