He checks the thermometer and sees that thirteen degrees Fahrenheit has cleaned the streets of foot traffic. Good. Andrew concentrates on a single beam of light as it slices the dark, the moon-cold dark—so late that it might be early, that see-saw part of the night—and takes notice of the final remnant of lamps going out and televisions turning off, darkness gets darker. He senses this shadowing deep in his soul and calls it, the devil’s eclipse: when the night tips in favor of crime, the time when creepers creep while good people sleep, especially little children who are completely unaware of living nightmares climbing through their windows.

He is thankful for the frigid weather but hates it just the same. Andrew struggles to keep a rippling hood on his head.

A straightaway! Clenching his teeth with manly determination, he throttles the motorcycle as fast as it will go, no helmet, no gloves, bare-knuckled, white knuckled, tightly-gripped, he shivers almost uncontrollably, his black leather jacket and backpack no protection against the icy, motor-made wind. He groans, his fingers having been slammed and pinched in the heavy door of winter, almost unbearably painful now, throbbing, useless. He imagines the auricles of his ears as icicles—cold, thin, crusts—if flicked will shatter into tinkly pieces.

He conjures Robert Frost, a mental mantra to stay focused on his mission, and through chattering-teeth, says for the hundredth time this winter, “I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” He cannot hear himself above the white noise of the engine. 70-75-80 m.p.h. He feels the powerful gust lifting his body, shaking his cheeks, numbing his face, just as strong as the surge of purpose in his heart lifting his spirit, shaking off his fears, anesthetizing his mercenary soul. Needing both hands, he releases the hood and it bounces off his back as he gallops into the night. He reminds himself he has a message to deliver, a modern-day Pony Express—he must be a strong man—braving the weather, getting from point A to point B in a timely manner. Lives depend upon it. On him. This night. Tonight.

Forty-five minutes later, in a neighborhood where no one watches, Andrew is watching. Now he ponders the image of a hunting spider with eight eyes and night vision, alert from every direction, he will jump, poison, and paralyze his prey, from a narrow concrete ledge the size of a single bed, with a soundless, fearless, controlled fall to the alleyway below.

This is it. The scary place. The alley of lost children.

He reviews the patterned steps of the enemy and his plan to close them down.

Moving only his lips. The muscled man on patrol tonight will feel the lethal sting of two blades, one for each side of his stupid neck. Squirt the life out of him in silent seconds then move through the secret door unobserved. NEVER AGAIN will he guard the door to where babies are seen no more—just past the loading dock of the devil’s brimstone cock.

He looks down at his watch and feels proud that he is early. They will be here within the hour. He begins to gather his thoughts, loosen his fingers, rest.

Twenty minutes is all he will need to add some size to his eyes, now beady and blind as two bee bee’s after a long marathon of necessary wakefulness, so he sets the alarm. Blink. Blink. The LED flickers twice like a firefly and he knows it is the only hint that he is there, waiting in the dark, the full dark. He tightens the knife sheath on his leg. Wasting no time, he allows himself to drift off to sleep, quick as the nursery rhyme he whispers in honor of the little girl trapped by the monsters below.

What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
And everything nice…

[Adding]

Run, little girl. Run! As fast as you can! I will kill the gray-eyed man. Sweet baby, precious child, never again, never again.
_____________
Andrew Dabar