A Story by Peter Rogerson

A morbid little tale of memory and deception


The night came like a devil, the sort of devil the old priest told me about before he died and went to join him in the castle where devils live. He, it was overpowering and stank of sweat and smoke and all the things that seemed to lurk under the priest’s drab cassock and bottle-bottom spectacles.

I was scared.

Of course I was scared! Who wouldn’t be? But I knew what to do. I’d been told, and you’ve guessed it no doubt, by that old priest.

Blood,” he’d said in that whispering, cracked, breathy voice of his, “blood … give him blood … that’s what he wants, ever more blood, good red blood, the sort that tastes of birth and hope and love and … and everything he hates. Give him that blood, and you’ll live for evermore.”

And I lay there, quivering, needing to release my blood for that old devil and his black heart but not quite sure how to do it.

And won’t it hurt?

There’s a nail file near my bed, on the bedside table where I keep things I might need in the night, things like my tablets for blood pressure to keep me alive for another day longer, and the brush I use to straighten the wisps of hair that dare to be anything but straight, white and straight, old like the world is old. That’s what I keep on that bedside table, and my clock that shines its little red lights of time onto the ceiling.

And that nail file.

Blood,” I heard in the old dead priest’s voice, “give him blood, charm him with it, Eva, charm him with so much blood he’ll taste it beyond the ending of all things...”

Of course I will!

I’ve been around too many years anyway, and so has my blood. It must be putrid in its redness as it struggles like a liquid earthworm through my clogged up veins … tablets for this, tablets for that and tablets for clogged veins and arteries.

And my nail file.

I used to have to file my nails quite often, to keep them young and pretty for the boys who graced my days and nights and loved my shapely nails. Oh yes, I had boys all right, sweet young things with stubbly beards and whispered words of adoration. Of course I did! They called me Eva of the night, and Eva of the night I liked to be. It made me wanted. It made me desired.

But those days have gone. What boys want a craggy old witch with white straggly hair and eyes that are too dim to see properly?

What boys want Eva now?

So I reach out and by touch only in the darkness I find my nail-file.

Oh yes, I’ll file those nails all right! They’ll never have been so well filed, and maybe one of the boys, bulging of muscle and hard of heart will come and rest his head awhile on the pillow next to me. And breathe young breath on me, and reach to touch me...

They used to do that, did the boys. Sometimes more than one at the time, and I giggled like they liked me to giggle about the things we got up to … but those mirthful days are long gone and well night forgotten now, of course… but we had so much fun!

The little red numbers on the ceiling have reached 00.00. Midnight. I remember like it was yesterday the words of that old priest, with his head next to mine and his clothes strewn on the floor, cassock in a pile of black, surplice like a coat of snow. Coal and snow. That’s what it looked like when a streak of moonlight found its way between my curtains and brushed against his untidiness. Coal and snow. Black and white. Bad and good.

And at midnight the devil will reach out to you and you will, you must, let him have your blood...”

Words whispered in my ears a lifetime ago as he pushed his priestly body against mine and I screamed with the naughtiness of it. I mean, he was a celibate priest and I was me, Eva, the girl who loved the boys.

I might have thought of him as a boy, but I didn’t.

He was the guardian of my soul. He was my guide through the mysteries of life, and I respected him like a girl should respect her moral guardian. And anyway, he might have been a boy once but he wasn’t that any more. His white whiskers denied it, his rasping breath told a greater truth.

But I giggled anyway.

Give him your blood, child, give him your redness, give him your juices, and he will repay you a thousand times … it’s what the devil does, and the devil likes what he does, take it from me, take it from a man of God.

The nail-file was in my hand. It even glinted slightly in the near complete blackness of a night that was so dark it was like the devil.

And in one savage gash I forced it down between my nail and the finger it grew on. I pressed with all my might until the pain, that old familiar pain, made my cry out like a whipped banshee. I heard myself howl, and I loved it.

My blood flowed feebly.

That’s all it ever did these days. Flow weakly.

And somewhere in the devilish guise of night it got lapped up. I could hear it happening as I pushed that glinting nail-file deeper into my flesh. Lap, lap, lap.

I’m coming, Lord!” I croaked.

And I went.

Into the void, drained of blood and life, searching for my devil or my priest, either would do.

And finding neither.

© Peter Rogerson 25.09.17

© 2017 Peter Rogerson

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Added on September 25, 2017
Last Updated on September 25, 2017
Tags: night, old woman, memories, nail file


Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom

I am 74 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..