An Encounter with a Monster
Updated: Jul 27
Andrew Andersen Victoria, BC / July 23, 2023
"It was a long time ago, in the late 1980s," Arthur began his story, lighting up a cigar. We all, gathered at his house on a rainy evening by the fireplace, had known him for quite some time and yet knew very little about him. Therefore, his rare but extraordinary stories were always met with interest. The story below was no exception.
* * * As you probably know, at the end of the 1980s, I moved to Germany, taking advantage of my German ancestry on my mother's side. But what you probably don't know is that I didn't start with a job at the Academy of Economics or even at Bjornsen & Sons, as stated in my official biography and resume. I began with something entirely different. Yes, I did work at the academy and at Bjornsen's later on, but the beginning was quite different: first, I cleared peasant fields of stones (under the supervision of Turks), then I washed trash bins at the university hospital. No one wanted to wash those bins – not even foreigners, so they gladly took me on, even though my status in Germany was still uncertain. I remember the head of the waste management department at the hospital saying, "If you can do THIS, then, young man, you can do a lot..." But fortunately, all of that didn't last long, thank God. Finally, after my first six months in Goethe and Schiller's country, I managed to find a relatively decent job as an assistant cook in a countryside restaurant. A month later, I agreed to clean the kitchen at night in the same restaurant. Not out of love for kitchen scraps or even cleanliness, but solely to improve my financial situation - both my own and that of my family who arrived with me. Although they paid me for six hours of work, I quickly learned to do all the night tasks three times faster. After bringing the kitchen to the semblance of a sterile operating room, I would relax for another hour in the empty dimly lit bar, sipping a cocktail or brandy, listening to soft music of my choice, and contemplating what the future would hold. Then I would sit behind the wheel of the old Opel parked behind the restaurant and drive home. If you are worried that I drove under the influence, don't be! I don't know about now, but back in Germany at that time, a small percentage of alcohol in a driver's blood was tolerated by the cops. That night, too, I sipped my cocktail and smoked a cigar, lounging in a tall bar stool and sending smoke up to the ceiling. I reflected on my past life, which seemed to exist in a different dimension, and on the future as well. I didn't make specific plans, but I anticipated that it would be interesting and eventful. I must say that the restaurant where I worked at the time was located in a dense pine forest, almost on the shores of the Baltic Sea, in an ancient two-story half-timbered house that had served as a tavern in time immemorial, then as a club for naval officers, and later as an exotic bohemian restaurant. Upstairs, as I later learned, was the dwelling of the owner—a mature artist of non-traditional sexual orientation, who not only slept there but also indulged in carnal pleasures. However, at that time, I had no knowledge of the owner living in the same house and believed I was alone in that empty old tavern in the forest near the desolate shore, far from any housing or highway. This, on one hand, provided relaxation and relief after a hard day's work, but on the other hand, it could sometimes be spooky—especially if I suddenly heard a mournful seagull's cry from the sea or a creak from within the old wooden wall. In my youth, I was a sensitive person, often giving way to imagination, but I wasn't particularly afraid because... because I was always armed. In the inner pocket of my old leather jacket, casually thrown over the back of the bar stool, lay a small but reliable Beretta 3032 pistol. Here, I need to make a few explanations. You see, considering the region in which I grew up, I considered myself a 'true European' and believed that I knew the 'western way of life' quite well. Well, I did know some things about it... from old books, stories from my grandfather, who had a chance to live in the free world, and even more from dumb American and slightly less dumb Western European detective novels. However, the image of the West I had formed in my mind and the behavior based on that image often made me, at best, laughable, and at worst, caricature-like. In particular, by the late 80s, I assumed that any self-respecting Western man owned a handgun and, for the most part, carried it with him. Strangely enough, my elderly German relative - Uncle Martin - reinforced this belief. Having served in special forces of the German army during World War II, Uncle Martin deeply despised and hated the government bureaucracy of the Federal Rrepublic of Germany, considering it an 'occupational administration' with some reason, and had no regard for its laws, including the law on firearm registration. In the basement of his house, he kept around a dozen registered and unregistered firearms, one of which (the aforementioned Beretta) he gifted to me in the early days of my stay in Germany 'for self-defense and just in case.' Naturally, on that fateful night, my Beretta was with me, silently instilling in my heart a completely false sense of security. I was comfortably sprawled across the wide, dimly lit oak bar counter, savoring a freshly mixed strong cocktail and a Cuban cigar when suddenly, almost imperceptibly, the door at the far corner of the dimly lit bar quietly opened, and a monster emerged from the doorway... The creature was humanoid, completely naked, and, judging by certain anatomical features, male. Its hunched figure was covered with sagging, grayish-white skin in places, and on what resembled a face, unnaturally crimson lips and strangely gleaming eyes stood out, sinking into dark blue-ringed sockets. An irregularly shaped skull with protruding ears was covered with sparse, disheveled hair in some places... The monster noticed me and slowly headed in my direction. A spasm shot through my body, and I felt myself breaking out in cold, clammy sweat. I wasn't prepared for an unexpected encounter with a vampire or ghost, that's for sure. Nevertheless, firmly resolved not to give in to the monster easily, I discreetly reached for my jacket and with a quick motion, pulled out the Beretta from my pocket. The grooved handle instantly instilled confidence and determination in me. Meanwhile, the creature was getting closer. With both hands under the bar counter, I chambered a round into the pistol with a distinct click, preparing to fire at the monster. But apparently, the creature heard the sound of the chambering and didn't like it. It stopped, froze for a moment, then slowly turned back towards the door it came from, flaunting its bluish-gray rear end as a parting gesture. Without much hesitation, I put the Beretta back on safety and hurriedly left the bar, locking the back door of the establishment with still trembling hands. Navigating through the pitch-dark forest, I got into my car and sped away hastily... The next day, as I arrived at work as usual, the restaurant owner called me over and invited me to his little office behind the bar. Offering me a seat, he said, "Arthur, I understand that you come from a completely different world... I would even say, from another planet, and - moreover - I'm willing to accept that in a certain sense, but... I still have to ask you not to bring firearms to my establishment. Agreed?" I nodded affirmatively and as I was turning to leave, I heard the boss say in a slightly lighter tone, "By the way, you almost shot poor Gerhardt yesterday, and he's the best dental prosthetist in town!" On the same day, I learned that the prosthetist, Gerhardt, was one of our boss's lovers. That night, after several hours of "refined decadent debauchery," he decided to come down to the bar for a drink and ran into me, mistaking me for some otherworldly creature. I kept my promise to the boss and stopped carrying the gun to work, and Gerhardt, who frequently peeked into the restaurant kitchen after that, always greeted me with a smile, playfully accentuating his salutations with an ironically old-fashioned bow. Victoria, 11.09.2021