The Irish Nagual by Frank Sonderborg
By a blazing log fire on a winter’s night in an old An Oige hostel. We settled down to hear the story of, ‘The Irish Nagual.’
Seamus was an old Irish folkie. He sang songs we all enjoyed, as the fire warmed our faces, and whiskey warmed our souls. Seamus could spin a tale with the best of them. But on that snow filled stormy night, he swore on the grave of his mother, what he was about to tell us was true.
He still shivered at the memory of his hitchhiking road trip, along the Rio Grande. Seamus had been drunk when he was picked up. When the car finally stopped, he’d just managed to grab his guitar, before the, ‘Vaquero,’ all hat and no poncho, drove off.
His heart sank, when he was told, he was on main street Juárez.
He had meant to give Juárez the body swerve. A town with a reputation for people going missing. Death, he knew, came dripping slowly to the random victims of the drug wars. Tortured beyond any form of meaning.
The powerless Federales, out gunned, out bribed, by the Cartels.
Seamus was broke. So he headed for the only place he could generate some cash. The nearest Cantina.
With any luck he would soon, be on a bus heading north to Gringolandia.
The bartender studied him with pity as he approached. Seamus went through the international language of travellers. Pointing at his guitar. Then taking his hat off, pointed at the hat.
Then pointing at the stage.
The bartender was drying a beer glass and said,
“Are you a simpleton Señor, or just plain loco?”
Seamus apologized and asked, could he play and collect some morralla.
The bartender arranged a paid gig and took his passport as security for the offered beer and food.
As Seamus ate, the bartender asked,
“You know who comes here, every night?”
“The Devil, Señor, and he sits and he listens, and if you do not entertain he will consign you to hell.”
“Sounds like a tough audience.”
“They say he enjoys the screams of his victims. It’s his favorite, música.”
“OK, is there anywhere else, with a less demanding audience?”
“You play tonight and if it please him, you live. No try vamoose. He will find you.”
Seamus was shitting himself, at the prospect of this gig of death. And decided to vamoose, like, immediately. He had no cash, no passport and after one of his madder off the grid moments, no plastic. Spotting a Church in the distance he made a beeline for it.
The Church, as expected, in a city of impending death, was a moving experience.
Seamus entered, sat, and tried to feel like a believer. But felt only the shame of the hypocrite.
Someone spoke in Spanish. Seamus turned, to see it was an old priest. Then looking closer, he could see the priest was not old, just worn down. He reminded Seamus of someone, but he couldn’t quite place him.
“Sorry Father, I’ve just arrived, I’m desperate. I need help.”
“You’re Irish. Me to, name is Father Phil. So, you need to get out of town.”
“I’m expected to play the Cantina, in front of the Devil incarnate. Yep, I need to get out of town.”
“You must play for El Diablo,” was all he said, “then we can see, if we can get you over the border.”
Then he left to do his rounds.
Seamus sat in the Church and pondered the life of a gigging musician. It was hard enough earning a crust, without getting rear ended with a hot poker as an added incentive. He now remembered who the priest looked like. But dismissed it as a ridicules coincidence.
The Cantina was packed with a screaming rowdy crowd. El Diablo was front stage, surrounded by his entourage. He was ugly and small of stature, as all these wannabe Santa Anna’s seem to be. Seamus went on after a Mex-Tex band, singing a string of Narcocorrido songs, in tribute to El Diablo.
Seamus went with a string of rousing Irish rebel songs, to tame the beast in the room.
Then he played, ‘Sally Gardens,’ a soft, powerful love song. That could move the heart of a frozen mountain.
Bad Career move, as El Diablo rose and pointed at Seamus and stormed out of the Cantina.
He was bundled off stage, punched, kicked and beaten into the back of a pickup. Then driven out of town.
Out in the mountains a burning pyre. Sharpened blades laid out on a table. El Diablos crowd of comancheros baying for fresh blood.
Seamus lay where he had been thrown. A rough cross had been made out of slabs of wood. Seamus was berating himself. Should have stayed with, ‘Whiskey in the Jar.’
Juárez was clearly not yet ready, for the message of love.
A thunderbolt split the black clouds. El Diablo studied the sky and pointed at Seamus. He was being dragged to the cross when he was suddenly dropped. The comancheros were pointing and getting excited.
Father Phil came striding through their midst and stood in front of El Diablo.
El Diablo was frothing at the mouth, seeing his entertainment being interrupted. The heavens where going crazy as the wind whipped the black thunder heads.
The lightning bolt seemed to come from the heavens or the earth or both.
And there in place of Father Phil, was a prancing black stallion. It rose on its hind legs and hammered down on El Diablo, battering him to a bloody pulp.
In panic the comancheros ran in every direction. Seamus ran as well, but the stallion came for him, and he instinctively knew it was his ride out of this nightmare.
He awoke to find Father Phil standing over him. Then in a blur Phil was a great Golden Eagle that flew away into the black night.
Seamus retold this confused tale, to the bemused US Border guards who found him.
“Irish, you been drinking too much Chuco mescal. There aint no Irish priest in Juárez. Never has been never will be.”
But a couple of days later his guitar turned up at the Irish Consulate, along with his passport. A note was included.
It said Stay Safe & Good Camino It was signed Phil.
Seamus spoke at length to the Shamans who traveled the border country. And they all agreed,
“Yes, the Nagual, the Shape-Shifter can become anyone he wants. A great Stallion. A great Golden Eagle, and yes, even an Irish rocker called Phil Lynott.”
Phil Lynott - Spirit Of Man