The Hounds of the Five Boroughs


Brian C. Petroziello

The two creatures hovered silently in the woods. Overhead the full moon followed its destiny ever higher. The silver light penetrated deep into the tree branches. They looked similar, these two.

They had gossamer wings, shaped like those of a dragonfly. The wings flapped constantly, but silently. Someone listening nearby would have only heard the rustle of the wind in the branches.

Their wings were so sheer that the shimmering moonlight shone through them to the ground. They cast no shadow.

Mairead Cooghan spoke first. She was only slightly smaller than an adult human female. She wore a gray cloak over a long green dress. The hood was thrown back to reveal her long red tresses. It was tousled from flying. Her features were finely wrought, like fine porcelain. Her face was a radiant white in the moonlight. Her eyes were a deep green. "I must find a way out of here," she said. Her Irish accent was thick and ancient.

"Now, where you going to be getting to, Mairead Cooghan," responded Bridget O'Neal. She hovered effortlessly in front of Mairead. She also wore a gray cloak over a flowing green dress--the symbol of their kind. Her hood was tightly closed around her face, protecting her long white hair from the rigors or her flight. Her face was equally fine and white in the lunar light. She had the look of the others of her clan. Tears streamed involuntarily down her cheeks, and her eyes were a bright red from the constant crying.

"I need to follow my clansman across the great ocean. I can only see dim images of them, they are so far away. All of the members of my family here in Erin are dead now these last fifty years, and I have no one to wail for," answered Mairead.

Bridget nodded in knowing agreement. She had been in the chorus when the last of Mairead's clan had died fifty years before. Like many of the sons of Erin, all of the Cooghans had emigrated across the big waters. Many an O'Neal had followed that same path. And in truth she could never before remember seeing a Béan Sidhe who had clear eyes. All the banshee she had ever met had the red eyes of their kind. Reddened from the constant crying for the dead. Mairead Cooghan was the only banshee she had known who did not have tears streaming from reddened eyes.

"You know that's not possible, Mairead," she said, unsure how to console her fairy kinswoman. Her brogue was every bit as ancient and thick as Mairead's.

"And why wouldn't it be possible?"

"You know we can't cross the big waters," insisted Bridget.

"I know no such thing. I have heard whispers about banshee who followed their families on ships to the new land," said Mairead.

"And were never heard from again," said Bridget adamantly.

"We don't know that they died. We only know that they never came back. And besides, we can cross the small waters to the islands, and to the highlands to visit our cousins the Béan Nighe," countered Mairead.

"Those are but short flights. Our fairy wings can handle that. But we can not traverse the big waters." Bridget was almost plaintive now.

"I have a plan. The humans have those flying contraptions. I have figured out which ones go across the big waters. I can hide inside," said Mairead.

"Oh no!" screamed Bridget. She held her hands up to her face, which had grown even whiter with fright if that was possible. "Queen Mab has forbidden us to have any traffic with those metal beasts.

Especially since Mary O'Brien was chopped up by the front end of one, and Margaret Flaherty was burned to a crisp by the back end!" She put her arm on Mairead's as if to hold her back.

"Silly, I have no intention of trying to pet one like Margaret or Mary. I have watched them at Dublin.

"I have even been inside one. I can hide inside until it crosses the big waters, and then get out on the ground there," said Mairead reassuringly.

"I can not stay here. I have naught to do and never will," she continued. "I have asked Queen Mab to let me cross over with the rest of my clan, but she refuses. I fear some slight over the centuries has hardened her heart against me. I have even asked the great Oberon, but even he can not melt her heart in this matter. I have tried to join in the chorus with others of our kind, but it is not the same trying to shed tears for another clan. I am just wasting away." Tears were finally welling up in her green eyes.

"I understand," said Bridget. "I don't approve--but I do understand. When will you go?" she asked.

"With the rising of the moon tomorrow, I will ride the great beast over the great waters. Tell no one until after I am gone. Wish me well, Bridget."

Bridget threw her thin arms around Mairead and clutched her to her breast. "I wish you well, and I will wail for you," she said. At that she turned away from Mairead and flew silently across the deep green meadow to the fairy mound that was her home. Mairead glided silently in the opposite direction.


The next night Mairead glided to the end of the runway at the great airport in Dublin. She hid next to one of the tiny buildings that housed the electronics for the runway lights. She watched as people in little carts drove up to the plane, and baggage was loaded on a conveyor in the plane's belly. Soon the activity began to wane and the people began moving the equipment away from the aircraft. This was the moment Mairead had waited for and had practiced. Too fast for the human eye to follow and too quiet for the human ear to hear, she flew into the hold of the plane. She found a spot and pressed herself into a nook in the baggage. Soon the lights went out, and she could feel the plane moving down the runway. Her pulse raced and her heart pounded. She held her breath and closed her eyes. She bit her lip. She was flying into the unknown. She was still afraid that Mab, Queen of the fairies, might still stop her and punish her for her insolence. She still did not know whether she might just suddenly disappear over the big waters, never to be heard from again, just like her sisters who had tried to cross the big waters on wooden sailing ships.

It seemed like an eternity that she lay pressed into the luggage. The sounds that the airplane made were incomprehensible. A couple of times she was sure that the great beast would fall from the sky when it ran into turbulence. She thought it sweet irony that the humans that she had so often frightened through the centuries were now turning the tables on her. Finally she felt the enormous thump of the airplane touching down at Kennedy. The airplane slowed, and she could feel it bouncing along the runway on its way to its assigned gate.

She struggled to her feet, and had trouble keeping her balance. She overcame it by hovering a few feet off of the deck. She glided over to the door. She could hear the sounds of men fumbling with the latch and could hear the equipment being moved into place. She backed away from the door a few feet. The lights popped on and the door opened. She flapped her wings with all her might. The men that opened the door noticed a black blur that shot past them and into the darkness of the airport away from the terminal.

"Did you see that?" asked one.

"You mean did I want to see it?" replied the other. "Do you really want to spend the rest of the night filling out paperwork? Or even worse, looking for it? Just pray that there was only one of it, and that it wasn't pregnant!" They proceeded to position the conveyors and ramps to unload the airplane.

Mairead reached the safety of the darkness far from the terminal. When she was satisfied that she could not be seen, she soared high into the sky. She was amazed at the sight. As far as her eyes could see were the lights of the five boroughs. And the size of the buildings! She had marveled at the sights of the buildings in Dublin. But this--this was something else entirely.

She soared to the top of the Empire State building, and perched on the top, next to the broadcast tower. She sat and drank in the sights. Not only had she not disappeared over the great waters she had--survived! She looked back in the direction of the Emerald Isle, and could only make out dim shapes--just as she could only see shadows when she looked this way from the emerald isle. As she continued to survey the sights of the city, it came to her. She could see her clansman. Not just a few, but many, and scattered all over the vast city. It was the special sight that had been given to the banshee so long ago that its origins were lost even to the fairies. Tears once more streamed down her cheeks, but they were not tears for the dead, rather they were tears of joy. If only Bridget could see her now.

As she surveyed the city, she noticed an area where no buildings intruded. It was a vast area of trees and grass. She would one day learn it was Central Park, but for now it had the look of the woods she just left. She glided slowly to the park in delicate spirals. She flew over open space quietly. She found the upper branches of a great oak, and rested. She spied a small mound nearby. That would make a great home she thought. And it would be close to her clansmen.

She soared again to the heights of one of the buildings, and surveyed her clansman. She marveled at the great number of Cooghans who were scattered among the Boroughs of New York. She checked each in turn. When she was done, she turned back to one in particular. His name was Seamus Cooghan of Queens. She flew near the small frame house in which he lay dying. Cancer was taking him, quickly. She did not know the cause, but like all Banshee, she could detect the life force ebbing from his body. She knew, too, that by morning he would be dead. As the Banshee had done for aeons, she let out a wail. Like a scream of pain--only magnified a hundredfold. It echoed and reverberated through the neighborhood. She could hear the faint answering call of the echo of the wail bouncing off the skyscrapers in Manhattan. She felt useful once more. Her clan in New York was numerous, and old. Over the next few months her blood-curdling wail could be heard many times over the length and breadth of the five boroughs.


Vince Minelli and Brendan Mulhearn walked into the squad room. They saw the shift captain, Pete Donovon motioning them over to their desks, which faced each other in the far corner of the squad room. Two animal control officers sat at the sides of Mulhearn's desk. "Here they are," said Donovon. He introduced them. Mulhearn took a seat at his desk. His red hair turning to gray at the temples. His eyes were a brilliant green, and his complexion was ruddy. He wore his signature black blazer and kelly green tie. There was no denying his lineage from the old sod. Minelli stood over his shoulder, leaning against the wall. His hair was jet black. He wore a five o'clock shadow even though it was only nine a.m. A thin scar danced diagonally across his right cheek. Evidence of a rough child hood on the streets of Bayonne.

"This is Officer Walton and Officer Smith of Animal control. I told them you would give them some assistance, and share your special expertise with them," he winked at Mulhearn, sure that the officers could not see him, and walked away.

"Thanks. May I?" said Officer Walton, pointing to a map tucked under his arm.

Mulhearn nodded his agreement.

Walton unrolled the scroll, and spread a map of the city over Mulhearn's desk. There were red dots marked all over the map. "Our captain told us to see you. I don't believe in this spook stuff, but we don't have anywhere else to turn," he said.

"Each of these marks are sightings, well hearings actually of a pack of wild dogs. Or at least we think. No one has actually seen them. The people calling in report loud howlings. Like a coyote or wolf. Only louder--like a wail. Whenever our officers go out to the scene we find nothing," he continued.

"We've probably picked up half of the wild dogs in the city. We don't know what to make of it," chimed in Officer Smith.

"There are probably more wild dogs in the city than people think," said Minelli. "They hide in abandoned buildings and sewers and forage trash cans at night. Lord knows there's enough for them to eat."

"We know," answered Walton. "That's mostly where we have been rounding up the animals. I mean we have had special patrols out every night all over the city. Some of the patrols have even heard the howls. But, we just can't find any animals."

Mulhearn had to admit that he had heard howling in the city more than a few times over the last few months. "How can we help?" he asked.

"You guys are used to dealing with strange stuff. Maybe you might have some ideas," offered Smith.

"You mean like ghost doggies or something like that," said Minelli, tongue in cheek.

"Yeah, exactly like that," said Walton.

"I don't think even we have come across animal ghosts," said Mulhearn, trying to keep a straight face.

"Our captain is on our backs big time," said Walton. "People are afraid. The sounds are pretty scary. They are afraid to let their kids out at night because they think there is a dangerous pack of wild dogs out there."

"I know it sounds silly," said Smith, but we don't have any other ways to go with this."

"Just keep an open mind--and the map. And if you have any ideas at all, give us a call," he said, handing his card to Mulhearn.

"We'll take a look at it and get back to you," said Mulhearn, giving Minelli a strange look.

The two officers then left. After Mulhearn was sure they were out of earshot, he looked sternly at Minelli. "Ghost doggies!" he said with irritation in his voice.

"You got a better idea," shot back Minelli. "I think that's a good question to ask Mojo the next time we see him." "Mojo" was Doctor Robert Reison of the New York College of Parapsychology.

Minelli called him Mojo after the lyrics of the old Doors' song. He knew it got under the Doctor's skin. But he had provided answers on several of the strange cases they had worked on since becoming the Special Crimes Unit.

"I've heard the howling a couple of times on my way home from work," said Mulhearn. "I just figured it was a dog in someone's back yard, that was upset at being confined. Although, I must admit, it did sound strange. A lot louder than a dog--and sadder, somehow."
"Yeah, I've heard it twice-- once in the neighborhood. I know what you mean about sadder. It was like the animal just lost it's best friend," said Minelli. "So what do we do about this?"

"Let's see Doc Reison," he answered as he picked up the phone.


Forty-five minutes later they pulled into the parking garage at the New York College of Parapsychology. They got off the elevator on the fourth floor. Professor Reison's office was located half way down the hallway. They opened the door and went in.

Reison's secretary, Karen, was sitting at her desk, staring at a computer screen. She wore headphones on her head. She took them off when she noticed them. "Vince. Brendan. How nice to see you again."

"Is Mojo in?" asked Minelli quietly, looking around for the Professor.

"He certainly is!" came a voice from the other side of the wall. Professor Reison came out of his office. He was tall with tousled gray hair. He wore a buttoned down sweater, and looked like he could have been a professor in any college in America. He was trying to look as irritated as possible, but in truth he enjoyed these visits from Minelli and Mulhearn. They always had something interesting to discuss. He liked knowing in advance what stories would be in the tabloids the following week.

He motioned them into his office. Minelli and Mulhearn sank into the overstuffed leather chairs.

"What can I do this time."

"Vince wants to know if there are doggie ghosts," said Mulhearn, breaking out into a big grin.

"The animal control guys want to know, too," said Minelli, trying to sound hurt.

"That we know of, uh, Vince, uh, there are no doggie ghosts--or kitty ghosts--or rabbit ghosts. And I guess you can throw tropical fish in to that category too," said Doc Reison, sounding like a father patiently correcting one of his children.

Mulhearn could hardly contain his laughter. He and Minelli had been partners for a long time, but it never seemed to bother him to have a laugh at Minelli's expense.

"But seriously, Doc. Well ok, let me try to be serious." He still was not done laughing.

"Allow me," said Minelli, shooting a mean look in Mulhearn's direction. He explained the visit from the animal control officers. "We thought maybe there would be something in one of those books back there to explain it," he finished, pointing at the bookshelves behind Reison's desk.

Doc Reison sat back in his chair. "Actually, I don't need to open a book on this one. I heard the howling a few nights before. Wailing actually. I have heard that sound twice before. Once in Scotland, and, Brendan, once in Ireland," he said matter of factly.

"In fact, Brendan, I am surprised you haven't suggested this. I believe it is a Béan Sidhe. When you were a kid, Bren, your families probably called it a banshee."

"I thought they were old wives' tales. Legends from the early days of Ireland," said Mulhearn.

"Some are centuries old," replied Reison.

"Don't they wail and kill people?" interrupted Minelli.

"No, no, the legends of the Banshee are much more involved than that. The banshees are assigned to a family, usually a royal or aristocratic one. Ordinary people don't have them. Some say that it is one of the family's ancestors who has agreed to take on the job of warning the family when one of their number is going to die. The wailing is supposed to attract the attention of angels or other spirits to guide the deceased to heaven," he finished. "The evening before the great king, Brian Boru, lost his life during the Battle of the Weir of Clontarf, the legends say the wailing of the banshee all over Ireland and Scotland sent terror into the population, and the troops, and drove people mad.

"There were many aristocrats on both side that died that day."

"Why haven't we ever heard of one in New York before?" asked Mulhearn.

"I didn't think it was possible for them to leave the British Isles," said Reison. "I have heard rumors that some tried to come to America with their families during the waves of Irish immigration during the potato famine, but none are reported to have survived the journey by ship," continued the Doctor.

"So, how do we stop a banshee from wailing, Doc?" asked Minelli.

"That--Vince--is an excellent question. Much better than the doggie ghost one," replied Reison.

"I've never seen anything in the books about killing one--if you even want to. The banshee are not evil. They think they are performing a valuable service for a noble family. Also, no one is sure what they really are. Some people say that they are fairies from the beginning of time. Others that they are ghosts, maybe even dead members of the family," he finished.

"Where would it hide?" asked Mulhearn. "There's a lot of territory to cover in the city."

"If it's a ghost, it should be confined to one house, but it isn't, it has been heard all over the city. So, let's assume it is a fairy. Then finding it is easy. You would find the banshee in Central Park. They favor the woods, and are reported to live in mounds of earth--a fairy mound," said Reison. "There are structures like that in the Park."

"How do we know we've found it? What does a banshee look like?" asked Minelli.

"They are slightly smaller than humans. Banshee are always female. They have long flowing hair, and bright red eyes--from constant crying for the dead," said the Professor. "They wear a gray cloak with a hood."

"That sounds like half of the bag ladies in New York," answered Minelli.

"I should think that her gossamer wings would give her away. Shaped like a dragonfly's they are," concluded Reison. "If you find a woman-like creature and it's wings are shaped like a butterfly's, then let it go."

"What kind of creature would that one be?" asked Mulhearn.

"I don't know, actually, I just made that up," said Reison, breaking in to a grin. "But, I don't think there is any way to stop a banshee from wailing. She would rather die than abandon her family. And, fairies can do magic."

"Can it stop a bullet?" asked Minelli.

"I don't know," answered Reison, a look of horror on his face-- a reaction that both Minelli and Mulhearn understood quite clearly.

"Thanks, Doc," said Minelli. They shook Reison's hand and left the office.

It was just getting dark when Minelli and Mulhearn emerged from the elevator in the parking garage. They were about to get into their cars when the night air was punctuated with a loud howl--a wail actually, somehow made even more piercing by its journey down from the garage entrance to the crypt-like lower parking level.

"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," Mulhearn hissed. "No wonder the dogs are going mad."

"And they don't even know what it's supposed to mean!" Minelli said, shivering.


It was two days after the visit to Doc Reison when Vince Minelli walked into the wardroom, cup of coffee in hand. It was his favorite mug, emblazoned with "Kiss me I'm Italian" on one side and a crude picture of a swarthy man mooning on the other. Pete Donovon, the day shift Captain, was patting Mulhearn's shoulder. Mulhearn wore his trademark black blazer and kelly green tie. The Captain walked away as Minelli neared.

"Hey, everything ok, partner?" he asked.

"I just found out that my grandfather died two night's ago. His heart had been giving him trouble for a while now, so it wasn't unexpected," he answered.

For a moment, he said nothing, but had a puzzled look on his face. "When is the viewing?" he asked.

"Tonight at seven. At O'Malley's. The funeral is tomorrow at nine from St. Patrick's. The parish church, not the cathedral," he replied.

"Rose and I will be there," Minelli said.

They both picked up files from their desks and began making phone calls.

That evening, Minelli pulled into the parking lot of O'Malley's Funeral Home on Mayfair St. He and his wife, Rose, walked into the establishment through the back door, and found the guest book. They signed in. Vince saw a stack of little prayer cards on a table next to the stand that held the guest book, and put one in his breast pocket. On either side of the narrow main hallway were small rooms filled with folding chairs. The rooms were half filled with friends and relatives. Many of them had reddish hair, green eyes and the same ruddy complexion as Mulhearn. There was no denying the clan relation.

They went further up the hallway and it opened into a large viewing room. The casket of Michael Cooghan was at the front of the room surrounded by numerous floral arrangements. Vince and Rose went up to the casket and took a moment for prayer. In unison they made tiny signs of the cross on their breast. Just as they finished, Brendan and his wife Bernadette came over. Mulhearn wore a black tie with tiny green shamrocks in neat diagonal rows down the front in place of his kelly green tie.

"I'm so sorry," said Rose giving hugs to both Brendan and Bernadette.

"I'm sorry for your loss," said Vince, giving Bernadette a peck on the cheek, and putting his arm around Brendan.

"C'mere. I want to introduce you to my grandmother."

Standing at the head of the receiving line that formed to the left was a gray haired old woman, her hair done up neatly in a bun. Her eyes were sharp despite her obvious advanced age. Mulhearn introduced her to Vince and his wife. They expressed their condolences and exchanged pleasantries.

"At least I know he's going to heaven," she said.

"I know he was a good man, gramma," said Mulhearn.

"Oh, no, I know he's going to heaven because I heard the wail of the banshee last night. She will make sure the angels guide his way. I don't know how she got here, but the family is glad that she did."

"Gramma, that's an old fairy tale," said Mulhearn, but after their meeting with Doc Reison, he wasn't so sure.

"Oh, she's here all right. We have had a lot of deaths in the family lately, and we have heard the wailing each time. The last of the Cooghans in Ireland died around fifty years ago. We heard the wails all the time in Ireland. The family had a banshee, and somehow she has managed to find us."

Mulhearn gave his grandmother a kiss on the cheek, and introduced the Minellis to the rest of the receiving line. He knew it was useless to argue with her, and he didn't want to get her upset. The return of the family's banshee was the talk of more than one or the anterooms.


The next day, after the funeral and luncheon reception, Minelli and Mulhearn returned to the precinct house. As they were checking out messages, Mulhearn came across one from Professor Reison. He picked up the phone and dialed the number. Reison's secretary Karen put him through.

"Thanks for calling me," said Reison excitedly. "I had an idea. I took the dates that you had for the reports of wailing, and I had Karen order copies of the obituary pages from the library. There are a lot of different Irish names in there on the day after the reports of wailing, but one name stands out, both in the obituaries themselves and in the lists of relatives. The name is Cooghan. I think if you find the Cooghan family in New York, then you may get to the bottom of this banshee business."

The phone fell from his hands, and hit the desk with a loud bang that startled Minelli enough that he tipped over his favorite coffee mug, sending Coffee all over Minelli's desk like a small tidal wave.

He could hear a tiny voice coming from the headset. It was screaming, "Brendan-- Brendan."

Finally Mulhearn picked up the phone.

"Brendan! I thought I lost the connection. Are you ok?"

"Yes," he said hesitantly. "I'm all right. I know that name."

"I thought so," said Reison. "Karen circled your name in the obituary for Michael Cooghan. I'm sorry, by the way."

"Thanks, Doc," he answered. "My grandmother, and a lot of other relatives think that there is a family banshee, according to the family stories, and that somehow she has found her way to New York," he continued.

"So, I guess it's your problem in more ways than one. What does the family think about having their banshee back?" asked Reison.

"My grandmother is deliriously happy. The rest of the family thinks it's a good thing," he answered.

"What are you going to do?" queried the Professor.

"I just don't know," said Mulhearn, sighing heavily. "I just don't know. Thanks for the info. It confirmed what Vince and I suspected, but I didn't want to believe." He hung up the phone, and stared into space.

"What's up?" asked Minelli as he mopped up the spill on his desk with a wad of paper towels from the wardroom.

"The Doc pulled obituaries and matched them to the complaints received by the animal control department. The wailing matches up with the deaths in my family." He said as he buried his heads in his hands.

"Thank goodness I'm Italian," said Minelli.


That night Mulhearn eased his car up to the curb across from one of the entrances to Central Park. He put his gumball machine on the dash board. He made his way furtively into the park. He wandered around, looking over the terrain. It was not long before he came an old oak near a small mound. "It's as good as any," he thought to himself. He produced a small folding shovel, like the one used by the armed forces, and began digging furiously into the mound.

Suddenly there was a sound behind him, thin and reedy and far-away sounding. "Brendan Mulhearn, why would you destroy the home of your kinswoman?"

The hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He pulled his service revolver from it's shoulder holster, wheeled around, but something prevented him from firing.

There on the lowest branch of the oak, sat a being, the likes of which Mulhearn had never seen before. The figure was human like, but slightly smaller. It was definitely feminine, and she wore a gray, hooded cloak over a long green dress. The hood was thrown back, revealing her long red hair. If it had been daytime, he would have noticed that the shade was the same as that of many of his relatives. Her nose and the shape of her face were also hauntingly familiar. The pictures he had seen of his mother as a young woman came to mind. Her skin was the white of fine porcelain, but her eyes were a brilliant red. Tears flowed down her cheeks. He could barely make out the outline of wings. They were shaped like a dragonfly's.

"I am Mairead Cooghan," she said calmly. My blood flows in your veins, as it does in all of the members of the Cooghan clan. Why do you seek to harm me?" she asked softly.

"By everything that is holy," he paused. "You can not exist. No, you should not exist."

"Oh, but I do exist. And for far longer than everything you hold holy, there have been fairies. We are as old as time itself. So old that not even we know of whence we came."

"This is the age of science!" screamed Mulhearn. "I can't accept that you exist--and that you are connected to my family."

"Six hundred years ago, I was flesh and blood like you. I was a young woman. I married Brian Cooghan. Oh, he was quite a catch. All of the maidens of the village swooned over him. But he chose me." She continued. "I was so happy. And you can imagine the joy I felt when I found out I was with child. But at that time medicine didn't really exist. As my time approached, I knew something was wrong. Then as the baby quickened, I heard the wailing of the banshee out on the hillside. I knew in my heart what was happening, but I didn't know if it wailed for me or the baby I carried."
Her voice dropped as she said, "It wailed for me. The child, a little girl survived. The mid wife did know enough to cut my belly open and free the child. A scar I carry to this day."

Mulhearn listened entranced. He eased his finger off the trigger.

The apparition continued her tale. "As the life force left my body, I met the banshee of our family, Macha Cooghan. In the distance I could see the bearers approaching to help me to the other side. You would probably call them angels," she said parenthetically. "I could not bear to leave my daughter, and I pleaded with Macha and the bearers to let me rejoin the living." She paused and took a deep breath. It was obvious that the telling of her story was bringing back painful memories.

"It was Macha who made the proposal. She was already thousands of years old, and grew weary of the tears and the caring for the dead. She asked the bearers if I could take her place so that I could be near my daughter. In my grief and upset, I jumped at the chance," she continued. "Macha imparted her knowledge to me, and she took my place with the bearers instead. Finally she went over to the other side--fulfilled.

"Her greatest gift to me was the sight. I can see the life force that is within all of us, but only for my clan. I can tell when that force ebbs and is ready to depart. It is like watching sand dropping through an hourglass," she said.

By now, Mulhearn had gotten closer to the oak tree, and had holstered his weapon.

The fairy was not done. "As fairies measure time, it was but a minute before my child died, and I wailed for her death, and met the bearers to make sure she made her way. And after that I was content to serve my clan. Until fifty years ago as men mark time. The last of our clan in the Emerald Isle died. For all these years since, I have had no one to wail for and no one to weep for. I joined in the chorus with my sisters when someone important was about to die, but it was not the same as serving my own kinsmen. I was empty and unfulfilled. I longed to cross over to the other side, but,
Mab, the queen of the fairies denied me that fate," she said.

"It was long thought that fairies could not cross over the great waters. Our wings would not be able to carry us that distance. I had heard whispers of my kindred spirits following their families to these shores, but they were never heard from or seen again. I don't know if they made it. But I could not stay in Erin when my clan was here. So if you wish to do me violence I will not stop you. If she can no longer serve her clan, then there is no reason for even a fairy to live. No one wails for fairies."

At that she gently floated down to earth just inches in front of Mulhearn. His six-foot frame towered over her. "Kill me if you wish. Your weapon will do it."
She knelt in the grass, her head bowed.

Mulhearn helped her to his feet. "I could never take the life of a kinsman," he said simply.

She reached up and caressed his cheek. "When the time comes, I will wail for you, Brendan Mulhearn, son of the clan Cooghan." Then almost faster than the eye could follow, she shot skyward.


Minelli was already at his desk when Mulhearn showed up at the precinct house the next morning.

"Well?" he asked as Mulhearn took his seat.

"What do you mean?"

"You know, did you find her-- the banshee?" pressed Minelli. "If I know my partner, you went to Central Park last night."

"Yes, I found her. I guess animal control is just going to have to put up with doggie ghosts for a while longer," he answered.

Minelli nodded his agreement. The two men never spoke of Mairead Cooghan again. But every now and then, Mulhearn would take a stroll in Central Park and lay a bouquet of roses on a certain small hill; and every now and then, Minelli would hear wailing echoing off the sides of the skyscrapers of Manhattan, and Mulhearn would get an annoying call in the middle of the night asking if he had been to the doctor's recently.


Brian C. Petroziello is currently a lawyer in Dayton, Ohio. His work has appeared on-line in Planet Magazine, and in the November 2004 Fools Motley. His paper-and-ink publication credits include appearances in Amazing Journeys Magazine and Black Petals. Another story is slated to appear in an upcoming issue of Black Petals. 'The Hounds of the Five Boroughs' is the second Minelli and Mulhearn Mystery; the detectives first appeared in The Eye of Time in the February, 2004 Aphelion.


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