On the way back home from work one night, Herbert met an old colleague that he had not seen for ages. Hooting with joy, he offered to buy the gal a drink. They stepped into a pub and began chatting about old times over two pints of rich and meal-worthy Guinness.
“Herbie,” she said, finally. “What was actually the matter with you on New Year’s Eve?”
My father totally perplexed, he shook his head and inquired what she was talking about. He had no idea. “I haven’t seen you for he year,” he answered.
“Well, you were at our New Year’s Eve party this year. We had rented this really big place and you came wandering in, totally out of dress-code.”
“I was out in the west of Ireland on New Year’s Eve, Dierdre,” my father answered.
“No, you were here in Dublin. You came in, unannounced, at about two o’clock at night. We really noticed you, Air-Bear, because everyone was in tuxedo and gala-dress. You were wearing a pullover and some jeans and a long coat. We were gazing at the chandaliers and mumbling something. We tried to speak to you, but you didn’t answer. Then you walked out and we couldn’t find you again. What happened? Where did you go?”
“I was no where near Dublin on New Year’s Eve,” he mumbled. “I was caught by the fairies on a West-Irish field of thornbushes.”
It hit him like a bolt of lightning.
He had been on the field the night he almost died.
The night his friend, over on the west of Ireland, had warned him not to cross it.
His conclusion, even many years later, was that the fairies somehow had transported his soul over across the country for a brief moment. He was never meant to die, he concluded. He was meant to go on and make me. But he never ceased to have respect for those fairies on the field somewhere on the way home in the beginning of 1963.
Yes. My father was full of stories. Playing the wolf in the high school musical rendition of “Red Riding Hood”. Working Off-Broadway. Being compared to Tyrone Power. Praying himself out of the Korean War by working as a chorus conductor. Holding up the curtain for opera diva Maria Callas. Acting with the likes of Mickey Rourke and Clint Eastwood.
But nothing fascinated me so as the stories of the ghosts of Ireland.
Three years after he was caught in the snow somewhere on the Irish west coast, he found himself as a freelance-baritone in Hannover, Germany. Deeply in love with a beautiful Swedish mezzo-soprano, he proposed marriage with her acceptance as a result. They soon went on to sing with her on Irish TV and moved to Austria.
More importantly, though, during that 1968 tour Herbert Eyre Moulton’s wife became pregnant. The baby boy would soon hear of his father’s encounters with the supernatural.
And that boy, me, always wondered what actually happened on that New Year’s Eve in 1963. Was my father’s soul really abducted and somehow transported over to Dublin that night?
As with many things in life, that will perhaps always remain a mystery.
We end this ghostly account with a tale that entails some wit.
Arriving late after a concert, he had been promised a room in a friend’s house for the night. The man of the house knew that Herbert was arriving with his dog late that night. However, the wife didn’t. Fred, the sheepdog, had been granted a meal after the lengthy trip. A sheep’s heart, purchased on that day in a butchery, seemed a fitting supper.
So, an American artist clad in a white bathrobe wandered down the stairs that night. The candleholder with the three candles sparkled lights on his face, making the shiny metal of the knife flicker shimmers of fire on his face.
Awoken by the creeking stairs, the wife appeared from her bed chamber.
Needless to say, she shrieked at the sight of this stranger with the knife and the candles on her own stairs.
Herbert assured her everything was all right.
?I’m a friend of your husbands. I’m just staying for the night.”
“I’m just going to the kitchen to cut up a heart,” he continued.
Now, the woman shrieked.
“It’s all right,” he concluded. “It’s my dog’s!”
The woman was not seen again.
At least not for as long as my father was there.
Ireland remained wonderful, if also surprisingly mysterious.