It's WritePhoto time!

Image by KL Caley

I'm writing this for the weekly #WritePhoto challenge by KL Caley at New2Writing.com. Read all about it and join in if you'd like! Mine's a bit creepy, a bit of crime, and a bit of humor.

Around 860 words this week.

On the Tower

Gervais the Gargoyle clung, as he had for over a century, to the side of the crenellated tower of the absurdly fake castle. Not that Gervais knew that. How could he know what was absurd in architecture? He had taken form in a stonemason’s workshop and been carted at once to the Abernathy-Foyle home in the year 1843. It was a big year for fake castles and gargoyles, another fact of which Gervais wasn’t cognizant.

 

What Gervais did know was everything that was done or said in range of his stone eyes and stone ears, which could see and hear a great deal farther than anyone might have suspected.

 

In actual fact, of course, no one expected or suspected that Gervais could see or hear anything. Those who had known the truth about gargoyles, or at least the gargoyles out of that particular workshop, were long since gone. So were most of the sentient gargoyles. As far as Gervais knew, he was the only one left. The ones either side of him—Annalise and Piero—had stopped talking maybe a dozen or thirty cold seasons back. Gervais couldn’t quite remember.

 

What happened was that the gargoyles pretty much hibernated in winter, when the cold made their thoughts slow. In the spring as he warmed up Gervais began to review all that had happened in front of him while he was—away—along with the others so they didn’t miss anything. But one year Annalise hadn’t woken up, and the next Piero had stopped talking. If others farther along still woke, he couldn’t hear them.

 

So Gervais was the only one left to know when the Abernathy-Foyle family pretty much died out, and the last heir sold the house and went to California to make his fortune. It should have gone to the National Trust, but wasn’t quite old enough or interesting enough for their strapped finances, so the house had been sold to a nouveau-riche family from the Bronx who wanted a classy joint to back up their claim to being British aristocracy.

 

The Burney-Smythe family claimed the house as their own ancestral digs. Gervais heard the story often enough. The wife always told it when visitors toured the house, and she always told it on the top of the tower where any gargoyle could hear it. It was a good story, all about how they had defended the castle from some enemy or other and the king—she never said what king, or when—had granted the family nobility in perpetuity because they had saved the kingdom. But a younger son had gone to America, and in the end been the only one to survive, so their branch of the family had stayed there a couple of hundred years until they’d been rediscovered.

 

Too bad she had no idea the house was only 180 years old, and the tower had seen nothing more violent than a ladies’ tea or a fierce game of badminton on the side lawn. Or maybe she did know. Gervais knew, but he was just an auditor, created to watch and listen and remember everything. Not to put humans in their place.

 

It was hard, not being able to see what went on behind, on the other side of the tower. Long ago, he got the news from the other gargoyles around the tower passed from one to another, but now… now he had to find a new way. What was happening when the woman and that man who drove up in a fancy car ran around behind the house? Gervais remembered there was a summerhouse back there, but didn’t know exactly what that was.

 

When another car pulled up and the man who lived there got out, Gervais paid attention in the patient way he paid attention to everything. That man, too, went around behind. Gervais, driven by nature to know what was happening, pulled and stretched to see just a little farther. Perhaps someone farther around the tower was still awake.

 

He stretched and craned first one way, then when someone came to move the cars, the other way. When the driveway was empty he tried a little harder to see around his tower.

 

            #

 

Efforts by some parties to connect the mysterious disappearance of a wealthy American couple and a certain member of parliament on the same day was a flat failure. There were, they said, no witnesses to prove that the three had ever been in the same place at the same time, let alone on the day when they were last seen. No one had any idea that the man had visited the house. The Burney-Smythes employed household help only on special occasions.

 

No one paid any attention to the pile of broken stone that had fallen from the tower, save a single policeman who nudged the rubble with a toe.

 

“Pity the way the place is crumbling. I think this was one of the gargoyles, and there’s no one now who could possibly fix it.” With a shrug he nudged the rock aside and moved on to supervise the dredging of the pond.

 

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©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2022
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