Gertie sighed, stifled and yawn and checked her watch for the 10th time. Her shift at the hospital was nearly over. She ran the reception and admissions at night and loved her job but it had been unusually quiet and she longed for her bed.
‘Night, see you tomorrow.’
‘Night’ her colleagues called. She bundled up and headed home. It was a short walk from work to home and she often enjoyed the brisk pre-dawn chill, it made her feel alive. The shortcut through Denny’s Haven cut 5 minutes off her walk and she always took it. An old tunnel ran right through the center, it was well lit and her shoes echoed against the tiled walls.
Gertie stopped. There were 2 men at the end of the tunnel. They looked ordinary but she was acutely aware of how alone she was. She waited. They stayed. Gertie considered turning around but if they chased her she would be in the dark park and not a lit tunnel. Sending up a little prayer she confidently stepped forward and kept going, even though her insides were jelly.
Half a minute later she walked out the other end, nodded to the men, they nodded back and she kept going. Again sending up a prayer of thanks and continued protection. She made it home in record time, leaning against the locked door she took a huge breath. Chamomile tea helped to calm her nerves and she was soon in bed snoring softly.
The phone woke her a few hours later. It was the hospital HR and they asked if Gertie was ok.
‘I’m fine, what’s this about?’
‘Its Mrs Gerhardt, she was attacked walking home this morning and I know you take the same route through Denny’s. Did you see anyone?’ Gertie sat down with a thump, fear coursing through her veins. ‘Yes I saw 2 men at the end of the tunnel.’
‘But you got through ok?’
‘Can you assist the police?” Gertie agreed, took the number and with shaking hands called the detective. She went in to give a statement and identify the men she saw. Gertie was apprehensive but determined. Mrs Gerhardt and her often walked home together if they left at the same time and she knew it could have been her lying in hospital that morning.
Detective Daily affectionately called “DD” by his peers welcomed her and took her statement. The 2 men they had caught had Mrs Gerhardt’s credit cards and cell phone in their possession but an identification would strengthen the case.
She was shown to the one-way mirror and had no doubt it was them.
‘Number 1 and number 4’ she confirmed shaky but determined.
‘1 and 4 step forward.’ They did and she nodded certain it was them. It was. DD and Gertie had cardboard coffee afterwards and she mentioned to him that she was afraid to go through the tunnel when she saw them and wondered why they hadn’t attacked her.
‘What time did you go through?”
‘Just before dawn the birds were already singing.’
‘They said that a lady had walked through the tunnel a few minutes before Mrs Gerhardt, but she wasn’t alone.’
‘What?’ Gertie whispered.
‘They said that the woman was flanked by 2 large men and that’s why they didn’t attack her.’
Gertie’s mouth went dry and her heart pounded.
‘Thank God for the power of prayer’ she said, sipping her coffee.