This story is by Michael Piasetzk and was part of our 2023 Fall Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The legend of the wind
Jack Gallagher ran a youth hostel in a small village called Crohey Head in County Donegal. It was on the Northeastern tip of Ireland, on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. When the weather was bad, blustery gales battered the little village. Powerful winds hammered the rocks which jutted along the village’s coastline.
The villagers often reacted to those winds by scurrying over to the local pub, huddling over a few beers.
Jack lived alone with Jackson, a blond-coated border collie with a white streak on his head. His wife Margaret passed away three years ago. His son David left home soon after his mother died to take a job with a financial investment company in Dublin.
Jack was a big man. His face looked worn and weary. He had a warm smile with no teeth. He usually wore an old wool sweater with torn black baggy pants and black working boots. He wore a flat cap and had a funny walk. He waddled from side to side like a duck.
One night while sleeping, Jack had the craziest of dreams. He dreamt he was in Dublin, in a big park. A pack of businessmen in expensive three-piece suits ran around a large grass field. Each businessman carried a leather briefcase. They pursued a green, disgusting-looking corpse dragged along by a swarm of vultures.
One of the businessmen was David.
“Stop David,” he shouted at him. “Let it be. For God’s sake. Let it be.” But it was to no avail. David kept pursuing the corpse with intent.
He started to sprint to try and catch up with his son. When he caught up with the pack and passed David, he saw who they were chasing. It was his corpse.
“I’ll fight you all,” he yelled with anger at David and the businessmen. “I’ll lunge at your greedy throats.”
He looked up and saw a huge helium-filled balloon floating overhead. It burst, sounding off a tremendous boom. Thousands of crisp one-hundred-dollar American bills fell all over the place.
All hell broke loose.
“Can you believe this?” he heard David say. “Each man for himself then, eh?”
The businessmen and David pecked, gouged, and scrambled for the money. To Jack, they resembled starved hens thrown feed.
Jack fell, lying helplessly in the lush green grass, motionless. A village friend appeared and ran over and tried to hold him.
“My God Jack,” he said with a horrified look on his face. “Your bones are so dry. I’m afraid you’ll fall apart if I pick you up. Your body could crack into a thousand pieces.”
In the distance, the businessmen screamed and cursed at each other.
“Idiots,” Jack said to his friend as he lay on the grass, motionless. “They’re all a bunch of bloody fools.”
He looked towards David who was now in a fistfight with another businessman.
“No David,” he said. “Stop. Stop this lunacy. You’ll get killed. It’s not worth it son.”
David looked back at him and replied with a mean look, “Enough old man. I don’t need your advice. Go back to your little village, eh?”
A slew of buzzards swooped down low, and when he feared that they were going to start pecking at him Jack awoke.
The next day he wandered around the village with Jackson. He was thinking about last night’s dream.
He neared a cliff overlooking the ocean and stared at the choppy waters.
“What did it mean boy?” he asked Jackson. “Is David such a bad person to me?”
He paused for a moment.
“It’s bloody cold today eh boy?” he said. He pulled his blue wool flat cap a little lower over his forehead. His ungloved hands fell into the snuggly warm pockets of his green flannel jacket.
He picked up a flat rock and tossed it into the sea, watching it skip a few times before sinking into the ocean. He looked back at Jackson.
“You know boy, I hate the life David leads in Dublin,” he said. “That expensive car he drives with his girlfriends and all that interest he has in money. I didn’t bring him up to be that way.”
He picked up another flat stone, tossed it into the sea, and continued, this time with a raised voice, “He’s obsessed with money boy,” he shouted. “Margaret and I didn’t bring up our son to live that kind of life.”
He stood alone with Jackson, close to the big rocks that dotted the coastline.
“He’s ashamed of me boy,” he softly said to Jackson. A look of pain overcame his face. “Me his father.”
He looked out at the raging sea and a face appeared out of one of the grey, puffy clouds above. Was he dreaming again he wondered? Was he going out of his mind?
The weary-looking native man’s face had dark skin, lined with wrinkles. He wore a red headband over his forehead.
“Who are you?” yelled Jack. “Why are you here?”
“I am Good Buffalo Eagle and I am here to tell you about the legend of the wind,” said the old man in the cloud. “My real name is Ezekiel Sanchez. I use the ancient, tested wisdom of my people to touch the souls of troubled people and their families. I show them the way to reunion and peace. This is why I can move around Mother Earth.”
Jack squinted several times. He was in doubt.
“Am I losing my mind boy?” he asked Jackson. “Am I hallucinating? Old native men named Ezekiel Sanchez or Good Buffalo Eagle don’t appear out of clouds over the sea to talk boy. Ezekiel Sanchez boy. That doesn’t sound much like a native name to me.”
He turned his head upwards and looked back at the elderly man in the cloud.
“OK then, Ezekiel. Tell me more,” he said.
“Listen to me my friend,” continued Good Buffalo Eagle. “As it moves around the earth, the wind carries within it the words uttered by the lips and hearts of every man, woman, and child. Every laugh. Every sad sigh. Every joyful sound. Every foul word. Every song. It is said that the wind carries these words and sounds in its bosom until the last day when we stand with the wind before the creator. That day the wind will unlock the words of our lips and hearts and we will hear the messages that we have sent upon it. At that time our messages will bring us deep joy, but most importantly my friend Jack. Our hearts and messages can change.”
Then, Good Buffalo Eagle was gone. He disappeared into the depths of the big grey cloud.
Jack swallowed hard and stared out onto the vast ocean.
“What happened here boy?” he asked Jackson.
He returned to his house and made a cup of tea.
“You know boy,” he said to Jackson as he sipped his warm beverage. “Good Buffalo Eagle had a message in his words.”
He looked at the phone. It had been a year since he’d talked to David. The last words his son said to him were, “You know what Dad? You go your way and I’ll go mine.”
He walked over to the phone, picked it up and dialed. After a few rings a female voice answered.
“Hello?” she said.
“Yes, is David there?” he said.
“David who?” She replied.
“David Gallagher,” he said. “He does live at this number, doesn’t he?”
“Oh, that David,” she replied. “The guy who lived in this apartment before me. Oh, he’s gone. Last I heard he was living in New York City. Some kind of a big-shot stock investor on Wall Street I hear. I’m sorry sir, I can’t help you with more than that.”
“Oh, ok then,” he said. “No problem. You’ve been very kind then. Have a nice day, then. Thank you.”
He put down the phone, walked over the kitchen window, and looked at the sky.
Thick heavy dark clouds were overhead.
A wave of sadness overcame him. A tear ran down his face.
Then, this time in the window, the face of Good Buffalo Eagle reappeared.
“You tried my friend,” he said. “Which is a good thing. So, when the morning dawn breaks, let your heart be filled with grateful words for your daily walking. Happiness itself depends on it.”
Good Buffalo Eagle then disappeared once again never to return.
But the legend of the wind and the words of Good Buffalo Eagle remained with Jack. It became his guiding light, even though he never got to see his son David again.
A year later Jack passed away, happy and one with the legend of the wind.