She stood with her back to the closed doors of the club; it was very late, almost three in the morning. The last punters of the evening had been persuaded to leave through those same doors less than twenty minutes before her. She asked herself, not for the first time; why did she work here of all places? Her feet hurt and she was forever on a knife-edge, waiting for the next incident to go off. Her weekends were never her own and her sleep patterns were shot to pieces and that was after only a month of working at the night-club.
As she looked around, she saw that a prominent police presence was very obvious in the hope that by being there they could prevent the majority of fracas. Paramedics were also in abundance, in case the preventative measure was not enough. The two groups of professionals were the only visibly sober people in the vicinity and they were vastly outnumbered by drunken civilians.
She knew that the market place of this medium sized town would be bustling with late-night revellers, queuing for a late night snack at the burger vans, waiting for the Night Bus or a taxi or just walking home. The weekend started a few hours ago for most of these people and they seemed intent on making the most of it.
The sky was crystal clear, sprinkled with stars and accompanied by the luminous glow of the full moon, giving a stark, sharp feel to objects and shadows alike. The streets were filthy and littered with debris from the multitude of fast food outlets which flanked the clubs and pubs. She decided as she gazed up at the moon that she didn’t want to have to mingle with the drunks when she was sober. She had had enough of them for one evening and so on impulse she went against going the shortest route to her car and took the road less travelled.
Looking both ways, up and down the street, she dodged in front of a slow moving taxi and crossed over at a trot, bearing right. As the majority of the crowds continued straight on towards the hill down to the market, she swung left at the corner where only a small minority were walking. Even so close to the crowds still milling about on the street behind her, she felt an instant ease with the change of pace. She walked fast, overtaking a small group of young men who she remembered being at the same club where she had been working.
“G’night love!” One of them shouted as she had passed, his reactions delayed by the alcohol he had poured down his throat in the few hours he had been out. She didn’t turn back but shouted a cheerful “Goodnight” and waved her hand at them. She walked down the slope, alongside the high and curved retaining wall which supported the railway embankment. The alternative way she had taken was peaceful and she was calming down after the stress of being on the lookout for trouble all the time at the club. Once around the corner and out of sight of the group still behind her, she cut right, taking an unusual route up through an isolated car park which led nowhere at this time of night. In the darkness caused by absence of any working street lights, the moon’s glow cast deeper shadows than the sun and blanched the colour from everything, but the tranquillity she found only added to her calm.
Looming above the car park was the ancient and sturdy brick arches which made up the viaduct for the railway, she once again gazed up at the moon gleaming above the brickwork. Her attention was diverted by movement to the left of her focus. Some fool was playing about on the railway lines, perhaps fulfilling a drunken dare. She figured that unless he was unlucky and fell, he should be ok because the passenger trains didn’t run this late. The only thing he’d have to watch out for was the freight trains which ran all night, albeit at a slower pace. Still, it was not her problem.