After getting home very late last night, I woke up much later than usual. I took care of several chores, then coaxed Mr. Christopher Moore into taking a walk with me and finishing his tale of the Sacre Bleu. I have been a long time admirer of Mr. Moore, an author that straddles the line between horror and comedy with a deft hand.
Mr. Moore and I walked silently until we came to my normal walking track so as not to be run over by the Saturday afternoon traffic. Mr. Moore continued his tale of the sacred blue and its effect on late 19th century french painters. He has been telling me this tale for about a month now and while I can say that most of the narrative is breathtakingly beautiful in both wordage and scenario as well as being funny and clever, the story itself has been lacking.
We start at a slow pace. Very few others are on the path today and it seems storm clouds are attempting to brew above us although I feel no real threat of rain. The first person that passes us is a large white man in a tank top holding a cellphone up to his ear that is blasting techno music. He nods and we nod and carry on.
Ten minutes pass and I can feel Mr. Moore growing anxious to finish his tale. As this is the last chapter, hell the last 10 pages, I can feel his excitement. The journey is nearly complete.
Then we meet the Devil.
Now, I cannot speak for Mr. Moore, but I am not a religious or superstitious man. I cannot give credence to anything that has not been proven with science and lean more with Mr. Sagan in the idea that magic is merely science we do not understand.
When a beautiful, tall red-haired woman appears in the middle of a field at a crossroads and she asks you for your help in finding her black dog...
Again, I do not believe in superstition, but when that many old wives’ tales pile up in one location I have to call a spade a spade.
See, I may have explained before, but the walking trail I use is converted train tracks. At one portion, a road to a defunct subdivision was built on the same tract of land where power lines cut through the pine forest. So, there is a literal crossroads of track and street that dead ends in a field of brown, unkempt grass. The imagery is beautiful, especially when one adds a six-foot tall woman with waist length light red hair. She stands dead center of the crossroad wearing a short white peasant top and an ankle length green skirt with flowers decorating it in green stitching. She stares across the field and whistles a high tone that matches the birds. A grey Toyota Camry is parked to her left.
As Mr. Moore and I approach, she smiles and my heart stops with a thump of joy.
“Hi, I’m sorry, have you seen a black dog?” she asks.
I shake my head. When she says “black dog,” I immediately picture the hellish creature of myth that supposedly shows when you are destined to die. Mr. Moore is silent.
“We live just up there and he comes down here sometimes and I can’t find him,” she whistles and walks around me as she speaks. I look where she points, to the hill and into the woods. I cannot remember any houses between where we stand and the street.
“I’m sorry,” I say, passing through the crossroads, “I haven’t. But if I do I’ll be sure to catch him.”
She smiles, this time bigger and showing white teeth, “He’s little. Wiry.”
“I’ll keep an eye out.”
I leave her standing in the crossroad.
I look back when Mr. Moore and I are about sixty feet down the path, near the bridge that crosses the Interstate. She is looking our way.
We continue walking. Mr. Moore wraps up his story as we are enveloped by a large (both in number and girth) family. Their chatter and their children is amusing but distracting while Mr. Moore tells his epilogue.
On the return journey, Mr. Moore lays out his history and research and how much has changed. To be honest, while I enjoy talk of the craft and ideas, my mind is on the mysterious redhead and the black dog. They are gone on the return trip and I walk home feeling both silly for my behavior and a little mad that I did not enjoy the company and chivalry that the situation presented itself with.
A small part of me, though, gave a sigh of relief when I did not see her again. Best not to tempt fate.
Plus, I like the idea that the Devil drives a Camry.