Not sure if this is a ghost story, but I swear to God it’s true. See, we finished up our work late, Geneva and me. By then, everybody else had left the set. I’m a stunt woman, so I’d been riding horses all day long, subbing for the skinny blonde actress who sat around filing her nails. Geneva, she was in charge of costumes. By the time she got her stuff cleaned up and put away, it was eleven thirty. Couldn’t wait to get back to that motel shower and wash the horse sweat off of me.
We’re stepping into my Ford when Geneva said, “Eddy, not Eddy the carpenter, but Eddy the wrangler, he asked if we wanted to stop by his place on the way home. Said it was going to be a good party.”
I snorted. “A good party? In North Dakota? You got to be kiddin’”. I revved up the Pinto and got her on the road. A dead straight two lane highway stretching out through flat fields on both sides. No moon. No street lights, no cars. Far as my eye could see, just nothin’ but us.
Geneva lay back and closed her eyes. I let my mind wander to the Hershey bar I had stashed in the glove compartment. Just as I was reaching across Geneva’s lap, came this huge WHOMP, right on top of the car. Geneva screamed. The car zigzagged across the highway before my shaking hands dragged it back to the right hand lane and my foot hit the accelerator.
“Oh my God, what was that?” I croaked.
“No idea.” Geneva couldn’t muster more than a whisper.
“Can you see anything?”
“Nope. Close the windows, And lock them.” Geneva sounded as scared as I felt. The car was quiet for a beat or two. Then she said, “What’ll we do?”
“What can we do?” I said through clenched teeth. My hands were like glued to the wheel. “There’s something up there; I mean there’s something on the roof of the car…” My voice went up and up and up.
Geneva twisted around to look behind us. “But what…I mean, if it was some critter like a mountain lion, we’d have seen it coming…” Long pause. “Wouldn’t we?”
“I’m going seventy-five miles an hour. What kind of animal…” My voice died out.
Geneva whispered something.
“What did you say?” My hands ached from gripping the wheel.
“…Gargoyle,” she whispered.
“Y-you mean…” My teeth were actually chattering. “Like on a church or…” I stopped talking real sudden. Above us, the “something” was making scratching noises. “God, what’s it doing now?”
Geneva started to cry. “J-just keep on drivin!”
So that’s how we went, me and Geneva, two girls in their twenties, shaking and roaring down the road, doors and windows locked, until the lights of Rapid City twinkled ahead of us.
A sign on the roadside said Speed Limit Fifty, and I took my foot off the pedal.
Suddenly the “thing” was gone. I don’t know how, but both of us felt sure it wasn’t there any more.
I let out a long breath.. “Maybe we imagined it, Geneva. I mean we were both one hundred percent beat.”
She sat up straighter. “Maybe so. Because how did that thing get away? You were checking ahead and to the left, and I was checking right and behind. We didn’t see it, so where did it go?”
“The only way it could have gone was straight up.” My laugh was nervous.”Is that what gargoyles do? Fly right up?”
Geneva didn’t answer. She was busy cranking down her window and letting the cool night air come into the car.
By the time we pulled into a space at our motel, I was feeling calmer. When Geneva hopped out, I slumped in my seat and noticed the clouds had shifted, letting a half moon shine down on the other two cars in the lot.
“Omigod!” Geneva’s cry jolted me upright. “Look at this.”
Slowly I climbed out. Geneva was standing on the far side of the car, running her hands over the top.
“What is it?”
I let my hand follow hers, tracing the deep indentation in the metal top. Almost four feet long. I shut my eyes, wondering how much a gargoyle weighs.
When Geneva started crying, it set me off. Sobbing like babies, we ran for the door of the StarLite Motel and safety.
An’ that’s it, folks. Like I said, maybe it’s not a ghost story, but it’s sure as hell true. An’ there ain’t anything on God’s green earth I can think of that could do what that thing did. What was it?