Challenge #01515-D054: A Good Host's Reward
There's one advantage to being an early riser. Usually, it's watching some kick-ass dawns as they happen. Today, it was meeting Brutus. He's what most people call a gargoyle. I'd go into the difference between the real gargoyles, which are decorative stone waterspouts, and what people call 'gargoyles' but are actually called grotesques. Those are decorative stone building features with no inherent function.
But I wouldn't call Brutus 'grotesque'. He's kind'a pretty. Even with his stone skin on. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It all started in the pre-dawn twilight. I was doing some elementary yard work, basically picking out the weeds that didn't look right from my rock garden. It's Utah. I don't believe in spending a fortune on a lawn I have no use for. Then something big glides into my field of view.
At first, I thought I might be one of the few who saw a Mothman, but this was no Mothman. For a start, Mothman has these big, red eyes and no discernable head. This looked more like a very buff human with huge bat wings. And a tail. I can tell you from personal experience that biological gargoyles are very impressive up close. And very formal.
"My apologies," he began. "I am called Brutus. I have need of a place to rest for the day time. May I make use of your garden? There is little time, and I have great need."
I think I was stunned into murmuring. "Yeah, sure." It wouldn't be the first time I'd played host to a social outcast and trusted them to remain social in my little patch of turf.
"I am in your debt," he bowed formally and selected a pile of rocks to blend into.
The Disney cartoon Gargoyles had it wrong, by the way. They don't turn to stone from the feet up. They don't even turn to stone. Not really. It's more of a skin-tight chrysalis with the structural integrity of granite. And they kind'a hibernate during daylight. It's a chemical reaction, I'm told. The sunlight just happens to accelerate it to rock-hardness. And since the sun hits their heads first, they harden from the head down.
I had to assume that he was comfortable, up there. And, for the record, my neighbours didn't even notice him. Me? I'd notice a 5'8" beefcake grotesque in someone's yard. And that was Brutus all scrunched up to look pretty. Standing, he'd be closer to eight feet. Still, he was nice to look at and I found excuses to do my daily stuff where I could see him.
And biological gargoyles don't shed in dramatically shattering shards, either. They ease out of their old shells like butterflies and -get this- eat them. It sounds like someone tap-dancing on opened, but not empty, crisp packets. I offered him some of my dinner. I'm a good host. Bed, however you classify it, comes with a chance for breakfast.
He politely declined, and I gave him an open invitation to roost in my yard whenever he liked.
That seemed to be it for two weeks. Brutus went home and I didn't think anything more of it. But it turns out that biological gargoyles are a bit like the Fae. Once they owe you a favour, they will move heaven and earth to repay you. Especially if you're a good host.
I started turning up semi-precious stones in the zen section of my rock garden. Instead of the usual 'gems' the neighbourhood cats leave, or the occasional toy left by the neighbourhood small children. Enough to sell for the price of rent, and a little extra. Just enough to avoid notice by the IRS.
I didn't turn a hair at the appearance of a sudden statue in my yard, and come sunset, I'd offer them some food. The smaller ones partook, but the bigger ones rarely ate anything. And sometimes, we'd swap stories. That's how I know so much about the Fae, and biological gargoyles to begin with.
After a few months of hosting their... flock... I had enough scrimpings to add a Folly to my yard. If you can imagine a stone-work miniature castle crossed with a gazebo and false signs of falling into decay... that's what a Folly is. Rich people used to use them on their massive estates, and they beat the heck out of garden gnomes.
Brutus and his flock look way more in place on and around that. And I'll barbecue anything they caught in their hunts. Biological Gargoyles really like barbecue.
And the other little advantage to hosting Brutus' flock? The neighbourhood cats have stopped shitting in my zen garden. Don't fret. Brutus and his crew prefer feral animals. The neighbourhood pets are safe. It's just that cats don't like defecating where biological gargoyles like to roost. They'll sit on a gargoyle, use them as a look-out post... but they won't go to the toilet anywhere near one.
Pro tip, though... don't ask how they know which animals are pets and which aren't. The concept gave me nightmares for a week.
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