MONDAY: Tame

BY PATRICIA VON HOLSTEIN-RATHLOU

Copyright is held by the author.

SHE WOUND her way through the foggy streets on her bicycle. The fog gave the streetlights a warm glow to light her way home. The streets were almost always silent and empty at 3am. when she got off her shift at the pub.

A dog barked in the distance and somewhere a car door slammed but everything was muffled by the fog. Nothing was out of the ordinary.

The quiet was welcome after the clamour of the pub and the boisterous late night drinkers. The pub’s clientele were locals just laughing and having a good time and there was rarely any drama.

Tonight, when she had walked around the corner from the entrance to her pub and retrieved her bike, she looked down the alley way and noticed two men leaning against a white van that had its motor running. The glow from their cigarettes lit their faces but she didn’t recognize them as patrons of her pub. The exhaust fumes from the van  had caught her attention first. She had never seen a van there this late.

Pedalling down the quiet cobblestone streets of old Amsterdam helped her unwind at the end of her busy week. The streets were lined with red brick houses, four storeys high with beautiful craved granite lintels over their large oak doors.  All had been built in the 19th century.

She was very proud of her black bicycle with its large red basket attached to the handlebars. She had bought it used two months ago and was glad not to take the bus anymore. Now it was only a 10-minute ride to her small apartment. She had found the most  remarkable fountain in a small market square just five minutes from her home on her first bike ride from work.

Three bronze gargoyles each about two meters high guarded the base of a small pool that surrounded the ten meter monument. Water poured from their open mouths filling the   pool and during a hot day children would splash in the water. Their wings were tucked in neatly behind their shoulders and their claws  seemed to dig into their stone perch.

Perched at the summit of the ten meter monument was a magnificent golden gargoyle approximately four meters tall clinging to its pedestal at  the centre of the fountain.

It appeared to have just landed on the monument. Its head was angled slightly to the right as if it was eyeing prey on the ground and its wings were partially stretched out. Its roar could have shattered the windows of the old apartments adjacent to the square.

She loved these majestic statues and smiled at them fondly on her nightly journey home. When she past these statues during the day, she noticed that at least once a week children would place oranges  at the base of the monument as if these were gifts for the gargoyles, a tradition of earlier times.

She embraced this old pagan practise by placing her orange on the edge of the fountain when she passed alone in the night, in the dark.

She was two blocks from home looking forward to her warm comforter and a hot drink when the white van slowly passed her and pulled over to curb. The driver left the motor running and his foot on the brakes. The red glow lit up the narrow cobblestone street and made it easy for her to see the two men exit the back of the van. Cigarette smoke and stale beer  followed them too.

She swerved her bike over to the other side of the narrow street to avoid any contact with them.

The fog and the silence on this narrow street enveloped them.

Hey girl. Want some fun? 

No answer.

We’ll show you a good time.

No answer.

Her was heart pounding as the men were approaching her. She had heard of assaults over the last few weeks but ignored them. This couldn’t happen to her.

The street had a slight grade so she was pedalling standing up. The cobblestones were slick from the fog and as he grabbed her arm her bike slid out from under her.

More terrified now, she went flying off her bike and the pavement came up to meet her forehead.

Her head was bleeding so was her knee and elbow and three finger nails had broken off at the quick. As she looked down at her bloody hand she heard footfalls as the other man approached her. The driver’s door clicked shut and she realized that there were now three assailants.

Two of the men started to circle her. The man who had grabbed her arm tried to pull her to her feet but she struggled free only to trip on the curb and crash onto her other knee.

Before they could seize her she got to her feet and even with blood dripping into her eye from her lacerated brow, she started to back away from her attackers.

She straighten up to her full five-foot-five and smiled at them.

And whistled.

The sound pierced the air and the atmosphere on that quiet street changed.

The fog seemed to fall closer to the pavement and embrace all of them.

A new wind rushed down the street towards them followed by a loud bone chilling snarl.

A drumming sound whoozed through the silence.

Powerful and magnificent gold and bronze wings barrelled towards them.

The cretins screamed but not for long, in the night, in the dark.

She picked up her bike and headed home to her fluffy warm comforter and hot drink.

The legends of the golden gargoyle were true.

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