Friday, 16 September 2011

227: Our Ginger Friend...

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

It was sometime between nine and ten o'clock in the evening when my ladyfriend and I left The Durley Inn, a reasonably amiable establishment in which we had just dined (and, I might add, imbibed some small amount of wine and ale, respectively; although our measure had been slight enough that our faculties were not impaired for our subsequent stroll).

It was fully dark as we walked along the promenade in the direction of Bournemouth town, the lamplights giving adequate coverage to the sand-strewn path, and a waning moon reflecting on a calm sea above the still-illuminated lights of the pier. Being mid September, there was a slight chill in the air; although it was certainly milder than the previous nights had been, my good lady was wearing a coat, and I myself have been known to brave far worse elements when leaving a public house.

This path beneath the cliffs could not be described as deserted (not least because of our own presence, of course), but other than a couple of brave souls cycling at this hour, it was sparsely populated, lending a comforting solitude to this area of the Dorset coast which had been positively bustling only hours earlier.

It was between two beach-huts that we first saw who I can only describe as 'our ginger friend'. Naturally, given the hour, the patrons who had rented these small chalets were long since returned to their guesthouses, and although his appearance was sudden and he said nothing aloud, still there was no sense of threat or malice about him.

We greeted him, enquired as to his wellbeing and his enjoyment of the evening thus far. Although maintaining his not-unpleasant air, still he chose not to answer vocally, and instead walked closer as if to inspect us, before lazily returning to the spot in which we'd first seen him.

Unperturbed, my lady and I recommenced our journey, whereby in another two hundred yards or so we would turn onto an adjoining path in the form of a zig-zag, which would bring us to the top of the cliffs above. As we walked, however, we were aware that our new acquaintance followed. Although continuing his silence, and being light-of-foot, still he wore something about his person, some metallic trinket or accessory which surely gave his presence away. Not shy of turning to glance behind us and affirm our knowledge of his presence, we nonetheless made our way to the foot of the inclined path, which in this case was completely devoid of people.

This game continued as we proceeded, on a wire-fenced walkway that doubles back upon itself six or seven times in its gradual ascent. As we reached the midway point of each section, the result was the same; a glance behind us revealed the chap's small eyes peering around the previous corner at us. By the time we turned to face the opposite direction, the lamps clearly illuminated him and his light-auburn hair as he followed us up the cliffside trail, almost brazen now in his poorly-perceived stealth.

"Perhaps he is a ghost", I mused quietly, "and we, to him, are as spirits as he silently wanders the paths between worlds, confused as he is". "Perhaps", my companion responded.

And so, on the final link before we reached the open-ground above us, our stalker (for by now, this is surely what he was) made the bold move of wordlessly overtaking us, albeit on the other side of the fence, on the steeply-sloping ground between the allocated stretches of the path. How he kept his footing, even in the amber glow of the lamplights, is beyond me. As he reached the ground parallel with the end of the walkway, all he needed to do was vault the fence to be in front of us. And although no such confrontation had seemed likely before now, why else would he have played this gambit at this late stage?

He crouched behind the fence as we drew closer; not trying to hide (that game was long since over), but tensing himself for the leap that would place him directly in our path. Approaching, we both spoke to him once more, maintaining a pleasant tone, and politely (if not playfully), informing his that his presence was known to us, and had been for the duration of our climb. Then, without so much as a sound of exertion, his small wiry frame leapt and actually managed to maintain a position 'on' the fence. From there he didn't move, but his gaze met us directly, as before.

And yet, as before, there seemed no sinister purpose about him; all the more amazing since he had been actively pursuing us for no short while, now. "What is your name?" my ladyfriend enquired, "and where are you supposed to be?"

Naturally, he said nothing, and simply gazed back, bright eyed. Being more accustomed to this sort of thing than I, my good lady reached over (the fellow didn't flinch), and read the tag hanging from his collar. Although it didn't state his name, he apparently belonged to one of the local guesthouses, who had identified him in this way, presumably due to his frequenting of the local area. Silent, as was now his trademark, our ginger feline friend went about his way, perhaps to find some manner of rodent to pursue as the night's sport, or perhaps just to continue enjoying the evening air, and make new friends...

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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