It was quite late, the wee hours of Sunday morning. The Flaneur closed the hard-bound book he had been reading and turned out his bed lamp.
The book was Morrissey's witty and insightful Autobiography. The section I had just finished reading (pp.229-239 US ed) told an odd tale. At six o'clock one night in an early January, when people are often prone to paradoxical behavior and when paradoxical events sometimes take place, Moz and three close friends went for a drive on the wind-swept barrens of Saddleworth Moor. They stopped the car at one point and got out of it in order to experience the blast full force and to shine their flashlights into the pitch blackness with its intimation of non-being.
As is often the case with such an excursion, they were somewhat relieved when its conclusion seemed near and they had again reached a proper roadway. Just as they were turning onto it an alarming figure came suddenly into view. It appeared to be a gaunt young man of eighteen or so years, with long-matted hair and wearing only a short open jacket to cover his nakedness in the freezing night air. He stretched his arms out toward them in a frantic gesture of appeal. His girl friend Linder wanted them to stop the car but Moz insisted that they drive on. As they passed the figure he appeared to beg for mercy in what Morrissey describes as a "Christ-like" pose.
They drove on in great upset, speculating about what they had just seen. Was it some youth who had just escaped from a grisly captivity, a lunatic who scared people for kicks, part of a ploy to waylay good samartans foolish enough to pull over?
They found a phone box at the shuttered village of Marsden and called the constabulary to report what they thought they had seen. The police were dismissive after some talk Moz posse gathered that they considered it to be a ghost sighting. A lot of strange things are seen on Wessenden Road they were told.
The shock was that at this point they had to admit it to themselves. They all recalled that the figure seemed entirely grey and without color, and that they had all felt a profound grief at its sight.
They went back to the spot the next day and saw that no vehicle could have concealed itself there and that not so much as a sheep-feeding shed where someone could have been held captive was available to the eye for spacious miles and miles.
These were my thoughts as sleep approached. I weighed the possibilities of natural explanations for the occurrence and I imagined the vision as if supernatural in origin, as I drifted off.
Shaking... I'm weary just fell off at last ... shaking my bed ....the ghost of the moors is shaking my bed...shaking my shoulder waking me... temblor shaking my bed...long seconds until it stops.... my heart beats a heavy beat...I follow the grey youth back toward sleep
There had been I learned a substantial earthquake with its epicenter in the wine country capital of Napa forty miles from where I slept.