Long before the sun rises she arrives at the park. With beads in hand she walks the circular track praying. By the time the sun has reached the horizon she is gone. But not this morning. This morning she sits on the bench facing the bay.
Beads of sweat cover her serene face. The heat turning her first pink then red as she sits motionless. Her hands, clasped around her prayer-beads, sit on her lap. Her light blue pashmina folded over the back of the bench gets lifted by the breeze and is lying on the dew-covered grass. Perfect!
She breathes in, and breathes out. Silence.
Picking up the pashmina, and bending over the bench, I ask, “Are you alright?”
“Are you?” she responds without moving.
Unnerved by her response I recoil a little.
“You’ve been watching me from those bushes for months. My question is valid where your question is redundant. You know I am fine.”
I gather myself and compose an attitude of confidence, which is the last thing I’m feeling. “Well, if you are alright, I won’t bother you anymore!”
“But you haven’t answered my question.”
Her eyes remain closed and she still hasn’t moved a muscle apart from her lips. Beads of sweat are running down my face. Being a salty old dog I struggle to keep them from stinging my eyes.
“What question?” I ask backing away from the bench.
“Come now, playing coy? I asked if you were alright.”
Her unshakable confidence disturbs me. This one is different, but I knew that from the start. There’s something very exciting about her… “Yes, of course, I’m fine! I was just concerned for you!”
“Is that why you’ve stalked me all these months?”
“Stalked! Now, just a minute!”
“What would you call it then if not stalking?”
“I… I, was simply concerned for a young woman out in the dark by herself. That’s all!”
“So what were you doing out in the dark?”
“Don’t tell me, let me guess, you were taking the night air?”
“Well, yes in fact. I was.”
Without moving her shoulders her head spins to face me. And, even though her eyes are still closed, I can feel her search every cell of my being. I want to run, but I’ve no strength. I feel myself fall to the wet grass and I’m grasping for air. I can’t breathe! I can’t breathe! I can’t move! I watch as she rises from the bench to stand over me. She must be a hundred feet tall! I can’t protect myself; it’s no use. I’m going to die, I’m going to die!
Her voice reverberates through me.
“Dominic, these are your last moments on earth. Do you have anything you wish to say?”
I can’t speak. I’m lying on the ground like a dead man, unable to move. I scream, I’m sorry! I’m sorry! — Nothing’s coming out of my mouth!
“What are you sorry for Dominic? For Alana? Betty? Jean? Rose?…”
I watch terrified as she transforms from a beautiful woman to a grotesque monster. She lifts me from the ground, and like a dog would a bone, crunches down…
An aged heartbroken woman sits knitting while gazing at her daughter’s picture. Her ears perk up when she hears the nightly news begin.
‘Police are calling the death of a respected local Deacon suspicious. A dog-walker discovered his body this morning in the same park where a number of young women have been found murdered over the last two decades…’
The old woman rises and lifts the picture of her daughter from the sideboard. “You see Rose, my darling, didn’t I tell you, God answers prayers?”
Returning to her armchair she opens her bible and whispers, “Lord, protect all your babies, send Evil to hunt down and slay the Wicked this whole world over. Amen!”
Evil will slay the wicked…Psalm 32:21a