The Lady or the Beast

I sat at the bar nursing my bitters and listening to the fiddler set his fiddle on fire with the speed of his fingers and the heat of his bow. I had been sitting there all evening walking the thin line between mildly buzzed and full blown pissed. I had been watching a young lady sitting at a table in the corner. She had a single glass of wine sitting in front of her all evening. I never saw her so much as take a drink.

The bar maid stopped to ask if she needed anything every now and then but she always smiled and nodded no. As I sat and watched her, she sat and watched the door. It was as if she were waiting for someone. Several times the local wolves on the prowl attempted to make a move on her but she always shook her head and gestured toward the door.

One particularly persistent predator kept approaching her time and again but she was equally as stubborn at rejecting his advances. The evening wore on and finally the bartender announced that they would be closing in half an hour. The young beast ordered one last beer and took it to the end of the bar where he could sit behind his prey and watch her every move.

The patrons started trickling out in pairs and threes. Soon there were no  customers left in the place except the wolf, the lady and me. The lady handed the bar maid a large tip as she got up to leave. She left the glass of wine untouched. As the door closed behind her, her stalker grabbed the glass of wine, downed it and followed her out the door. Afraid for her safety, I threw some cash on the bar to cover my tab and followed him.

It was a moonless night and the street lights cast narrow cones of lights with vast expanses of dark in-between. In the distance, a coyote howled. I could see the silhouette of the lady pass out of the border of the light at the end of the block. Romeo was attempting to be stealthy and gave her a fairly long lead. I kept him in my sight but I wasn’t anxious to get so close that he picked a fight with me.

As I was coming into the pool of light at the end of the block I heard a commotion in the dark up ahead. I decided if I was going to be of any assistance I would have to move quickly. I ran headlong into the dark so fast that I fell over something laying across the path. It knocked the wind out of me for a minute but I was pumped full of adrenalin at this point so I soon pulled myself together and got on my feet to see what it was I had tripped over.

I was afraid it was going to be the body of the lady but as I lit my lighter to see what it was I saw the face of the dandy with a blank stare in his eyes. I looked closer and saw that his throat had a big gash ripped out of it. He was laying in a pool of his own blood. I could hear a low panting noise in the dark beyond the reach of the light from my lighter. I could see the red reflection from two eyes. As whoever or whatever it was became aware of my attention, they turned and ran deeper into the night. I chose discretion and ran back the way I had come.

The news the next day said a local boy had been mauled by a bear. I had my doubts about that. I never saw the lady again.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.