Three sightings of the devil are not things to be described in writing flippantly or frequently or in the “other interests” sections of a c.v. sent out cold to allegedly potential employers.
Pedro thought this last activity futile, since even employers who were recruiting during a recession, were unlikely to want to take on disabled men in their late fifties. Mention of encounters with symbolic manifestations of evil were unlikely to change this.
He could put them in one of his quasi political blogs, but the superstition would not be welcomed, even if the paranoia was, assuming anyone read it that is, but he ploughed on anyway
Chronologically the first devil sighting was aquatic. One summer off the tip of the Isle of Bute, in Scotland, Pedro saw an iron orca, which was a unsubmerged submarine, sliding up the Clyde silently. In the sunlight with the clear air and the bright water, it could have been a beautiful streamlined marine beast. It could have been beautiful unless one thought, as Pedro did, of what it could have been carrying. It might have been carrying nuclear missiles; sailing around a world that it could end.
Chronologically Pedro’s second sighting was on land, England’s green and peasant one, somewhere between the southern end of the Malvern Hills and Tewkesbury. In the another summer, in an early morning when Pedro was riding a touring bicycle through the back lanes. He turned a corner onto straight stretch of road with flat fields on either side, and about half a mile on, a farmhouse on the right. Pedro cycled on towards this building and saw what he thought was a big black dog sitting upright, mid road.
Pedro had feared dogs ever since a black tongued chow barked in his face when he was a toddler. Whatever deep seated fears might be involved, dogs running out of houses by country roads were a menace to cyclists. They might knock you off your bike or make you suddenly swerve out to avoid them. Pedro sometimes kept a heavy pump or D lock to hand. He kept meaning to get a pot of ground pepper or one of them ultrasonic things to keep in his handlebar bag. However he never deployed or used any of these deterrents.
When dogs came at him barking and snarling, he barked back, shouting and swearing at them or even, if they got close enough, kicking out. The last imperilled a cyclist’s stability and Pedro felt a right twat cycling along shouting, swearing and attempting to kick dogs.
That morning he just wasn’t in the mood for it, the sun was burning mist off the fields but the air was still cold enough to be refreshing. He was not resenting cars yet, since he had yet to see any that day and has blood sugar levels had not yet fallen enough to make him stroppy.
He stopped short of the farm, hoping that someone would come out of it and/or call the dog in. The dog sat immobile. It was black , featureless a silhouette. Pedro it was facing him and looking at him to he was too far off to descry its eyes.
Noises came from behind the farm and a large green tractor drove out onto the road from behind the farm. The dog ran off to the left across the fields, away from the building.
Pedro watched it run, its motion was not like a dog’s, more fluid, less rigid, As the beast ran it was possible to see its tail, which was as long as its body. The beast held its tail in a long curve behind it with the lowest point just above the furrows of the field but with the tip raised and pointing up in a sort of C or J shape.
At the time Pedro thought no more of it than that the dog had gone and that he could cycle on.
It was only about a week later that he replayed what he had seen in his memory and he could see the dog running in the clear air across the field away from the farmhouse, away from the building that any true dog would wish to guard. The long tails behind it with the tip curved up was an appendage that did not belong on any dog’s arse. The shug seen in the clear air was no true dog. Pedro concluded that a big black wild strange cat had crossed his trail.
Chronologically the third sighting was high in the sky. It came almost two decades later than the first. Pedro cycled no more. Arthritis had eaten the tendons inside his knees and no known number of Glucosamine tablets could put them back. Nostalgia and wishful thinking made him keep two bikes in his garage, where he also kept garden tools, a portable combined saw horse and vice, half a sawn up tricycle , four tarpaulins, a wooden dining table tripod, paints, rags and about thirty assorted chunks of timber and stone. Therefore the garage was cluttered. It was also dark and murky because of its corrugated asbestos roof. To let light on or to go out into the garden himself, Pedro had to pen a back door and to do that, he had to wheel out on of his bikes, usually the green painted Dawes Galaxy, and prop it up against the garden fence.
He did this one spring a few days after a volcano had erupted in Iceland. The ash from this volcano had drifted in a huge high invisible cloud over Britain. Fear of the ash cloud and the crashes that it might cause, made all airlines cancel their flights. Millions of profits were lost and as the skies emptied, the radio waves filled with the whingeing of airline entrepreneurs.
The day that Pedro wheeled the bike out was just when some authority had just judged the swifts’ road safe again. So after he had propped up the bike, he looked, to see if he could see the vapour trails again. There were a few beginning to weave a blue and white tartan across London skies again.
And above them all, crossing the sky diagonally, white doughnuts on a rope, a vapour trails higher than and unlike all the others, one that Pedro had only read about in obscure magazines devoted to obscure subjects like sightings of things that could be the evidence of secret aeroplanes. The main part of the strange thing that Pedro saw was a line in the sky like other vapour trails, but along it , at seemingly regular intervals were circular white clouds and in threaded through the middles of them. It was superficially pretty, looking like a child's necklace across the sky and maybe round the world. but what Pedro suspected about it made it seem less cute than it looked. He suspected , and his computer later confirmed this, as far as he was concerned, that it could be the trail of a pulse jet. This powered a plane, his computer told him the most powerful nation in the world could use to show it things which its space satellites were unable to detect. So why was it Flying over London? Was it only flying there today, or was it only visible today because there were fewer airliners than usual making vapour trails below it. Pedro shivered as his brain bathed him in paranoia.
However Pedro might have seen angel once in the form of wild European lynx beside a motorway near Gothenburg when he woke from sleep on the hard bed of that road’s hard shoulder.