Purveyor of Bollocks to the Crowned Heads of Europe
Thursday, 19 January 2017
The old man sits at the table in the wood-built hovel a few hundred yards down the lane from the grand house where he works as the groundsman. It is a moonless night and the air is warm, so - unable to sleep - he stares steadily through an open window into the blackness outside. Occasionally, he turns his head toward the corner of the room, where the dirty hessian sack was placed before he took it and its contents to the housekeeper.
He had not gone looking for it, he wished he had not discovered it and - above all - he wished he had left it where it was for the dog to find and eat.
When he went back to collect it and return it to the woods, the housekeeper was almost hysterical with anxiety. Between her sobs, she pointed to the torn clothes scattered about the terrace, with the arrow lying discarded close by. The Yorkshire Terrier was lying in its basket in the kitchen, trying to keep out of the way.
There was nothing left to do now but to wait. He had thought about leaving the area, but they would find him. They would follow his scent from the woods to wherever he holed himself up. Walls do not stop them. Nothing stops them. They would punish the archers as surely as they would punish him, but the housekeeper and the dog would probably get off scot-free. There is no human justice in their world.
With these thoughts he begins to drift in and out of a fitful sleep, waking only to listen to the noises of the night that drift through the open window.
He becomes aware of a chittering sound and then a series of sounds which take him some moments to identify. He realises that for the first time since distant childhood, he can hear the bats flying around the hut, but with a far greater clarity than ever he did as a child.
As the bat calls become more distinct, he quickly learns the difference between the echo-location they use for hunting and the less stoccato ones they intersperse to communicate with each other. An individual bat is singled out as it approaches the window, and the old man can now tell the difference between this one and its fellows. He unwittingly begins to think of it as 'his' bat.
Attracted by the bare light over his head, a large moth enters the room and begins flying around it, bashing itself against the glass of the bulb with soft pinging sounds. His bat turns in the air, flits into the room, snatches the moth in one bite, then turns and flies back out again.
Two seconds later, the scented debris from the stricken moth falls over the old man, overloading his senses with the sudden release of all the pheremones to last a moth for an entire lifetime.
He falls on the floor in shock and it is some time until he opens his eyes. When he does, he sees a long, furry object in front of him and he yelps involuntarily, attempting to stand up on his hind legs. So they have come, he realises in despair.
The chair is now unusable, so he curls himself up on an old sack and begins slowly licking his balls for comfort as he waits for the dawn.