He was a bachelor, bespectacled, with a round face that gave him the semblance of a little owl. He devoured the newspaper to compensate for the loneliness that had engulfed him after his retirement. He enjoyed the robberies and the murders, but the rape cases disgusted his near-Victorian sensibilities. The obituaries prompted him to piece together a gruesome patchwork of dead persons. Thus, many an hour went by!
It was the bewitched hour of twilight. Dark shadows lurked as dogs howled. He checked his doors and windows. "No point in being sorry after the event!" he mused, as the trees whispered softly and a branch scratched on his window.
Rap, rap! That was no branch! The rapping came again. It was a knock on his front door, followed by a frantic pounding. He made his way to the door and peered through the keyhole.
A young girl stood outside, clothes in disarray, large doe eyes filled with panic. "Let me in, please...!" Her voice reached him faintly. "They are after me...they will kill me!" He opened the door and the distraught girl nearly fell into his arms. She was a slight lass, forehead beaded with perspiration. Never ever had he seen such large eyes, with such fear in them!
He shut the door in one swift moment, and fetched a glass of water. She drank it thirstily, thanking him. In his state of solitude, she appeared like a dishevelled Helen of Troy to his unlikely Paris.
"Who is after you?"
"I was walking on the street when this van stopped by me." Her voice quavered. "Four men got out and came towards me. They looked dangerous." She should not have been walking on her own. These days girls were not safe..."tried to grab me, but I broke away and ran as fast as my legs could carry me!" He saw the rip on her sleeve. "They were right behind me, pounding the pavements. I managed to dodge them by ducking into your garden."
A loud knock sounded on the door. She cowered in desperation as he put an arm around her. "No one can take you away by force!"
"But there are four of them. They will beat you up!"
"Only if I let them know you are here," he smiled slyly at her. The knock came again. Her terror woke a deep emotion within him, as he pressed a brick on the wall of his dining room. Part of it opened up, and he shepherded her in, showing her the tiny lever that would open it. He walked to the door, mussing his hair.
The four men strode in, ugly and menacing. "Did a young girl come in here?"
"I would hardly have been asleep in that case!"
After a thorough search they looked at him. "Listen, she is a lunatic on the run, and has murdered three people - her parents and her brother." I bet she has, he smirked inwardly, as he replied, "I'll let the authorities know if she comes here."
As they moved out, one of them spoke. "She has this habit of twisting her hair around a finger as a prelude to violence!" He was incensed. How could they dare to frame an innocent girl! He banged the door behind them aggressively.
"Come out, my dear! Now it is just you and I!" The sly smile was back on his face.
The wall slid back, she stood there poised gracefully, and then stepped out. There was a strange silence about her, a faint smile on her face as she twisted her hair around a finger!
Won first prize in the Pipeno Launch Contest