It was just luck that I decided to doss in the alley
that night. It was May, and underground would have been too hot for my
I bedded down next to a dumpster in hopes of getting a few hours sleep.
It wasn't to be. When the moon was high (my watch had broken long ago), I awoke to a scream. Well, it was more of a snarl, really,
but not like an animal, it had purpose behind it. There were men's voices too, screaming their hurt and calling someone freak, among
other nasty things. Then there was a dull thud and a howl of pain.
I went out to investigate, my gun in hand (no matter how many meals it's worth at a pawn shop, I feel safer keeping it). Someone was
being hurt out there, someone was being called freak, and I hoped I could help. No one deserves to be called freak, it makes you feel
too bad, and then the voices jabber louder.
There were three gangers with clubs and knives out in the street, and a body a hundred feet away, its throat gaping in the light of the moon.
Now, I should have used my brain right then and left, because anyone that could do that to a man could take care of himself. But I looked
back at the fight and saw that whoever was being beat on was much smaller than the men, and alone. My heart took over my better judgement
and I screamed, "Leave 'em alone, ya slime!," and held my gun ready to fire.
I surprised them, and the little victim took the opportunity. It slashed one of them in the belly. Another one turned to me with an aluminum
bat and the third laid into the little one.
People always assume those of us who carry guns don't know how to use them. Usually they're right, but I'm the exception that makes the
rule. So he swung at me with a yell, and I blew his elbow apart. Meanwhile, the little scrapper was more than a match for one man.
While the gangers who could still walk ran off, I got my first good look at the person...creature...I had come out to help. It stuck to the
darkness as best it could, but I could see that it was only about three feet tall, had a tail, and what looked like wings. The poor thing didn't
seem so good. It was weaving and holding its head, where I saw it get hit at least twice. I put my gun away so I wouldn't scare it, and did a
very stupid thing, now that I look back on it.
I crouched down by it and asked if it was all right. It looked right at me, and I never thought such sad eyes could fit into a face with a beak
and horns. The poor little thing kind of crooned, swayed, and fell over.
It didn't fight me when I picked it up, and I told it I just wanted to help. Once I got it into the light, I realized it had to be one of those
gargoyles I had seen on the news in the TV shop window and sometimes in the sky. I knew this one must have been a baby because it was so
small, and the way it set off all my 'mommy instincts.'
My little guest was the same red-brown as the clay
dirt my Daddy and I used to plant gardens in when I was a kid. She, or
he, I couldn't tell,
had long dark brown hair growing down its back from between the horns. Its hair was becoming matted with blood from a big gash over its right
eye. The eye itself was going purple, along with that whole side of its head. Its eyes were dilated unevenly and couldn't stay focused. That would
mean a concussion in a Human, I remembered that much from when I was in Nursing school, back when I had a life. I decided to try to keep it
awake, at least until dawn. I'd heard there would be no waking it then.
People said gargoyles could talk, but this one never
said a word. Maybe it was too young or too hurt and scared, or didn't trust
me, I'll never
know. I did my best to clean the blood off, then stripped off my outermost coat and wrapped up the poor darlin'. A little warmth never hurt anyone.
It lay there watching me with those sad eyes, until I felt like a bad host, since I had no food to offer and I couldn't go scrounging. I didn't have
much a baby would like, didn't have much, period. But I figured if I could make it happy, then we might both feel well enough to decide what to
My most prized possession, even more than my gun, was a music box with a sad-faced little girl painted on the cover in blue and white. It was
scratched and old, but when it opened, it played a song from a musical that left Broadway years ago. I opened it up and hoped the little one would
There is a castle on a cloud,
I like to go there in my sleep ...
It was amazing. The gargoyle could smile with that beak.
Aren't any floors for me to sweep,
Not in my castle on a cloud.
There is a room that's full of toys,
There are a hundred boys and girls,
Nobody shouts or talks too loud ...
It closed its eyes, but I couldn't let it fall asleep, so I picked it up and held it on my lap. It was really heavy for such a little thing.
Not in my castle on a cloud.
There is a lady all in white,
Holds me and sings a lullaby ...
I had to keep moving the gargoyle to keep it awake. I was so angry I was glad one of the men who did this to such a sweet baby was dead.
She's nice to hear and she's soft to touch,
She says, "Cosette, I love you very much."
I wondered where its mother was, and if she
was worried. For all I knew, they could be like birds that chased away
their fledglings and never
thought of them again. But I knew I wouldn't let this one go unless it wanted to. I may not be the best Human being, but I couldn't do that.
I know a place where no one's lost,
I know a place where no one cries,
Crying at all is not allowed,
Not in my castle on a cloud.
The music wound down, and the baby just looked at
me. I told it I was sorry the music stopped. I told it I would be its Mommy
now, if it
wanted. The voices told me not to, but I didn't listen, for once. I reached down to pick up the box and wind it again, and a square shadow
passed over me. The gargoyle was facing skyward and set up a howling.
There was an answer from above. "Hello?" he called. Then I saw him. A short green fellow landing on the wall above my head.
I asked him if he'd come for the baby, and he said he had. He looked like a baby himself, with his big round eyes and round bald head. The
voices screamed 'Demon!' and I was scared half out of my mind. Since I'm usually only half in my mind to begin with, I don't know how I
I asked him how the little one had gotten lost, and he told me she was learning to glide, and had taken off on her own. They'd been looking
all over the city for her. I was glad she had a family who cared about her. I asked him if he was her Daddy, and he said he was more like an uncle.
Then he took the little girl from my arms and asked me if I had a place to go. He must not have been too worried about her, because he just
gathered her up against his chest. Then he told me about a place under the city that some friends of his ran for people like me. I took the location
when he handed it to me, but then I got scared. I told him to take good care of the baby and told him I had to be someplace. I backed out of the
alley, and he sighed, climbed the wall, and glided away.
I left my music box there, and when I came back after dawn, it was gone. I still have the paper he gave me. Maybe someday, when times get
really tough, I'll actually go there. Maybe not. He said there were lots of people there, so maybe people who accept him would accept a freak