Valentine’s Day…Watcher style
The last flower arrangement sits behind the glass door of the large refrigerator. After doing your usual end of the day shop closing procedures, you check the clock. Eight pm. You stretch the kinks out of your neck and back, then grab your purse and the flower arrangement and head out the back door.
A cold gust of air whips your hair around your face as you step out into the night. Normally, you don’t accept orders specifying delivery after five in the evening, your normal closing time, but today is Valentine’s day. You have busted your ass all week for this day, one of your busiest delivery days of the year. Turning down this particular delivery would not have mattered where the shop’s bottom line was concerned, but the flowers were for someone special. At least the person paying for the arrangement must think so to put out the extra dough for your night-time delivery.
Snow and ice lined the walk, remnants of the recent winter storm. With each step, the sound of your shoes clip-clop on the concrete and echo off the walls of buildings lining the alley. Another gust of arctic air has you pulling your coat tighter to block most of the chill.
The day sounds of downtown Louisville died down hours ago after the mass exodus of the nine-to-fivers. You try to ignore your jitters as you continue to the delivery destination, which unfortunately sits at the other end of a deserted parking garage.
A sound makes you jump and you feel your heart skip a beat. Taking a look in all directions, you don’t see anyone and tell yourself it must have been a cat, or even a river rat. You quicken your pace, your only thought is to quickly make this delivery and go home to your warm, safe house.
A footstep, then another echoed in the darkened structure. You notice how it had started off distant, but grew alarmingly closer with every step. Your heart rate increases, not because of the sound, but because you do not see the person. Even as you break into a sprint, the pounding of feet continue to match your pace.
Holding on tight to your delivery, the reason why your life may be in danger, you strain your eyes with each glance over your shoulder, but see nothing, until you return your focus forward.
Darkness moves, seemingly taking shape before your eyes. You immediately stop, your mind racing to come to a conclusion of what your eyes are seeing. The shape continues to shift, slowly moving in your direction until you realize the mysterious vision before you is a man.
Self preservation instincts kick in and you move backwards. You search your surroundings for protection, your mind screaming for you to run. Just as you turn to do so, the quick flash of another body blocking your way makes you jump. You feel your scream get lodged in your throat, making breathing difficult.
Your senses tell you the other man was still behind you, somewhere, but you are too scared to turn your head to look. Too scared to take your eyes off the man standing in front of you.
Dark eyes meet yours, but a twinkle, a faint glitter within their depths has your rapid breathing slowing without you forcing it to do so. The small smile curving the corner of the man’s mouth doesn’t strike you as malevolent. His presence calms your screaming mind as a voice inside your held assures you were now safe, protected. Listening to that voice, you dip your chin in a slight nod of understanding and take a step to the side, allowing him to continue forward, knowing he was not here for you, but for the one who has ill intentions toward you.
The man moves forward so fast his image is almost a blur to your eyes. His movement is halted by the impact of hitting the shadowed man. Grunts, snarls and muffled cries reach your ears and you find you cannot move from where you stand.
The gleam of teeth, long and pointed sends a bolt of shock rocketing through your body and you gasp in horror. Both men hiss at one another and emit growling sounds you know no ordinary man, no human can make. Your mind repeatedly denies the sight before your eyes and every explanation bouncing around your head.
As fast as it began, the scuffle is over and the silence of the parking garage returns. You unconsciously hug the flower arrangement close to your chest, feeling the sudden silence just as unnerving as the sounds you heard moments before.
Movement from behind a concrete column steals your breath. You realize the man with the comforting smile is the victor of the battle and begin to wonder why you are not afraid of him and running for safety.
“He’s gone. It isn’t safe to be out in the night alone.”
The sound of his voice flows through your mind like water. Realizing you had heard and felt, but not comprehended his words, your replay them in your head. Yes, he is right, but this last delivery was important to you. Someone is counting on you and someone will no doubt be very pleased with the surprise.
Feeling the need to defend yourself, to prove there is a reason for your lack of good judgment, you hold up the flower arrangement. Inside you feel a sense of pride at your work and hope the man is impressed by what he sees.
You look at his face again, knowing the hardness of his gaze should make you fear him, but it doesn’t. Instead, you find yourself intrigued and wanting to sit down with him, talk to him. You want to know who he is and where he is from. What is he doing here?
The look on his face also tells you the things you are thinking are not going to happen. He has done his job and is going to leave. A sudden panic hits your chest.
“I will walk you to your destination, then to your car.”
Shock and surprise wash over you. Did he read your mind?
As you try your best to keep up with his long strides, you feel both uneasy and safe. You want to ask him all the questions whirling around your head, but the vibes you feel from him tell you he mostly likely will not answer.
After making your delivery, you find him standing outside the door when you exit the building. He kept his word.
“My car is…”
“I know where your car is.”
You stop, but he keeps walking. Giving up on waiting for him to stop, you run to catch up with him. Has he been following you? Before you can ask, you realize he is standing next to your car.
Two words, was all he said, and from the look on his face, you know he means it as an order. Unable to speak, you nod and round the car. When you reach the driver’s side and insert your key into the lock, you look up to thank him, but he is gone.
You search the street on both sides, but do not see him, though you still feel his presence. He is watching you from somewhere, making sure you get into your car and drive away.
“Happy Valentine’s Day,” you mutter, feeling as though you have just met your knight in shining armor, and you make a wish right then and there to see him again.