Blind Alick and the Great Beast

Once there dwell’d in Stirlin’, a braggart by the name o’ Tam Bone, barkeep o’ The Stirlin’ Arms, a flea-bit tavern in Baker Street.

Amongst it’s regular visitors was an auld preacher by the name of Alick Lyon, who came there, time an’ again, no’ tae share a draught o’ the Demon Drink with the thieves an’ scoundrels that gathered there, but tae spread the Word o’ God to those wae hauf an ear - or hauf a mind – tae listen.Blind Alick Lyon, Ladies Hill

Blind since birth, Lyon had but one constant companion: an old leather-bound Bible. Alick, though, had nae need o’ that Good Book, himsel’ – he was blin’, after a’. No, he had nae need o’ the written word, for in his lonely youth, scorned by his playmates for his pious ways e’en then, he’d memorised each chapter an’ verse o Holy Writ. E’en so, the auld man was seldom seen without that great black book clutched, comfortingly, to his breast.

Oh, his memory never failed tae impress e’en the dullest drunkards. They had nae time for Scripture themselves, o’course, but found some sport in offerin’ whispered wagers wae their cronies, tae test the preacher’s wits.

Barkeep Bone, though, had had his fill o’ their scornful snickerin’ – though no’ through sympathy for the preacher. Sure, the time his patrons spent in tauntin’ or testin’ that pious auld fool was time that might be better spent quaffin’ his own heady brews. Night after night this pious prattlin’ was costin’ Bone dear.

When next, one storm-lashed eve, Alick entered The Stirlin’ Arms, Tam Bone was waitin’ for him. The rascal wrenched the preacher’s his Bible frae his grasp - and cast it through the open door, tae land in the muck an’ mire o’ the gutter. Then - just in case his message had been too subtle for a sightless man tae see - he hurled the startled preacher efter it.

Bone’s customers? They did nothin’. Some thought his actions cruel, but…well…what was Alick Lyon tae them? None sought tae rise tae his aid, as he struggled, chokin’, in that fetid flow o’ mud, the rain beatin’ down upon his sodden form. None – save for Bone, himsel’ – saw the lightnin’-flash o’ cauld fire reflected in the milky white o’ Alick’s angry gaze, as he turned his sightless eyes towards the laughin’ bully.

“Heed The Word,” the auld man whispered, “lest ye be judged!”

And wae that, Alick vanished intae the night.

He didnae return.

He wasnae missed.

Not one o’ those who had seen him so sorely treated that night e’er thought to wonder what had happened tae him. Dead or gone? They knew little, an’ cared less.

Months later – a year tae the day, if truth be told, as is so often the case in tales lithe this - Bone, after an evenin’ spent enjoyin’ his own ales, locked the doors o’ The Stirling Arms, an’ cut ‘cross the kirkyard, tae his home beyond the Gowan Hill. As he drew near tae that great rocky mound, he spied twa figures – shadows in the moonlight – battlin’ on the hilltop. Fond o’ a good fight, he laughed, an’ clambered eagerly up the worn stone steps, keen for a closer view o’ the conflict – wonderin’ which o’ his drunken patrons had come tae blows.

As he climbed he thought he could hear somethin’…what sounded like a prayer…then silence.

As he reached the summit, his heart skipped a beat. His hair stood on end.

There was Alick Lyon, his beloved Bible clutched, as e’er, tae his breast, his face twisted in rage, strugglin’ tae speak - his great white eyes bulgin’ from his head as some-one…some-thing…some great hell-spawned beast…wrapped a calloused claw about his throat and began tae crush the breath frae him.

The preacher’s legs buckled under him. Bone gasped…an’ the beast turned it’s hungry gaze upon him. It dropped auld Alick, rockin’ on it’s haunches; it licked it’s lips an’ began tae move slowly, surely toward him.

Bone’s fearful eyes fixed upon those of the Great Beast, he backed, tremblin’, away. Desperately, he tried tae recall the words o’ the Lord’s Prayer, the Catechism...or o’ some scrap of Scripture which might guard him ‘gainst the creature’s wrath…but words failed him….as did his footin’. He fell, tumblin’ backward onto the hard steps.

The Great Beast smiled. A hungry smile, it was.

But, before it could pounce, Alick - battered but not broken - was upon it, wrestlin’, writhin’, grabblin’, grapplin’…pleadin’ for the strength he needed tae cast out that Demon…for the Lord himsel’ tae send him the words that would send it on it’s way.

The words? The Word! That was it! What fiend could stand ‘gainst the Word o’ God!

The preacher clambered ontae the Beast’s broad an’ hairy shoulders: sure, in that moment, that his greatest weapon was in his wrinkled grasp! Lyon raised his beloved Bible high above his head, an’, for a moment, his sightless eyes seemed to burn deep, down intae Bone’s soul, as he cowered on the could rock beneath the battlin’ pair. Then Alick bore the book down wae a’ his strength, shattering the Beast’s skull. An ungodly wail cut through the night. A blindin’ blaze o’ light an’ colour bleached the hillside…an’ Bone found himsel’ alone.

He staggered back tae toon, an’, sure, he tel’t any who would gie him the time o’ day o’ his terrible encounter in the kirkyard.

They laughed, o’ course. Just as they had once cawed an’ cackled at auld Alick Lyon himsel’. They thought him moonstruck. An’ the tale o’ Blind Alick an’ the Great Beast? Well...Bone was too fond o’ his ain whisky. Sure, the whole Burgh ken’t that.


Taken from Stirling GhostWalk 2004

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