Novels and Short Stories

by John F. Dillon

Tale A Tale before Departure


by John F. Dillon


A stranger carrying an unusual cloth handbag engages in conversation with a fellow traveler during a flight delay. When questioned about the bag, the man relates a gloomy tale.

The tale begins when a clap of thunder causes a peacefully grazing bull to stampede into a young man. The trampled man's body is later linked to he beating and rape of a young girl found comatose at the bottom of a rocky ravine. When the man's mangled body was discovered the following morning,  an unusual locket bearing the likeness of a teenage girl was found in the young man's trouser side pocket. The girl was discovered days later; beaten and raped in the bottom of ravine. So disfigured by the beating, she barely resembled the lovely face in the locket. She was later found to have been impregnated by her attacker and considered unlikely to survive.

She persisted and eventually gave birth to a healthy boy. Sometime the birth, rumors spread of the teenage girl with mystical powers that could command heaven to intercede in her behalf. Soon others sought her intercession with the supernatural.

As her young son entered manhood, he became involved with the fiery Irish nationalist movement. When identified as one distributing leaflets before the "Irish Uprising", he was advised to flee for his life.

When he tells his mother he must leave, she flies into a drunken rage and accuses him of deserting her.  Between obscenities, she places a fateful curse on him and his offspring.

The boy flees aboard  a departing freighter bound for New York.  Accompanying him is the condemnation of his mother's  curse. 

Shrouded in mysticism, the traveler's narrative chronicles four generation of tragic marriages; a soothsayer's cursed son ; a secreted child, an alcoholic mother's neglect, self-imposed isolation and untimely deaths.