Two teenagers slumped against the couch, looking bored, nodding politely. The boy glanced at his sister, and she back at him, and they shrugged resignedly.
"Kids," their father began, sitting across from them. "Have you ever heard any of those old urban legends of New York City? Alligators in the sewer, colonies
of homeless people in the subway tunnels?"
"Yeah," said the girl. "Everyone has. They're not true."
"What about stone gargoyles that come alive at night?"
"What?" the kids said in unison.
"Okay, okay, I know how it sounds. But just listen…"
It all started when your uncle Barney came running up to our booth in the bar, his tie flying wildly behind him.
"Guys! Guys! I met the most incredible woman!"
"Even more incredible than Tonya, the strip-yoga instructor?" Robin said.
"Even more incredible than Miranda, the slutty ballerina?" asked Marshall.
"Even more incredible than Andrea, the hot pharmacist?" said Lilly, as she propped her chin in her hand.
"More incredible than all those women put together!" Barney insisted. "With a stripper and a girl with daddy issues thrown in!"
We all gasped in unison.
"So where is this girl?" I asked.
Barney squeezed into the booth next to Robin and I, nearly shoving me out the other side. "I'm meeting her tomorrow. She said something about working at night," he waved his hand dismissively. "But her occupation is none of my business. Anyway…this woman is six feet of red-hair, long legs, and an angry attitude that makes me feel like I need spanked. Awe-some."
"And you're sure she's a woman, and always have been?" Lilly asked the question that was burning all our minds I'm sure.
"Yes, Lilly. She is all woman…and she will be mine," he stood up, staring off into Barney-space, and adjusted his tie. "I have a plan."
We all sat there for a good ten minutes, with Barney frozen in position, until Marshall finally relented and asked. "What pla…"
"The plan is this…" Barney interrupted, sitting back down, almost on top of Robin. "I meet her tomorrow for an early dinner. I turn on the Barney charm, complement her outfit. She won't be fooled though, she'll probably say something derogatory. But I'll take it, cause she likes it that way. When it gets close to dark, she'll excuse herself like usual, saying she has to get the "office". But you know, office, street corner, whatever. I'll wave goodbye, but wait! I follow her! And when I catch up to her, I tell her that moonlighting as a hooker is not to be ashamed of and BOOM! POW! What now? She's at my place and we are gettin' it ON!"
"Wait," Robin said, holding up her hand. "What if she's not a hooker?"
Barney rolled his eyes. "Robin, dear, sweet, naïve Robin. Of course she's a hooker, part time at least. Why else would she not want to be seen at night? Besides, her name is Dominique Destine."
"I have to agree with Robin," Marshall said. "Working at night doesn't necessarily mean she's a…"
"She's a hooker! Marshall!" he made the two fingered gesture of pointing to his eyes and back at Marshall. Or maybe he made a less friendly finger gesture…anyway. "You guys will see! You'll all see! And it'll be for free! It's going to be legend…" he got up and ran out of the bar, and once he was out we heard him yell, "dary!"
In the meantime, I met a woman of my own. She wasn't six feet tall or had a profession of questionable possibility, but she was a bit of a night owl.
I caught my first sight of her, leaning against the bar, ordering a beer. She had pitch-black hair cascading down her shoulders, wearing a curious red bomber jacket with a black tshirt and skin-tight jeans.
"Hi!" I said, sidling up beside her. "Don't think I've ever seen you in here before."
She looked at me first with an expression of annoyance, but then it faded into one of good-humor, and I knew I was in. "I'm not usually on this side of town," she replied. "I'm on the beat, just needed a break."
"The beat? Oh, are you a cop?"
She nodded, accepting her drink from the bartender with a smile. A really sexy smile. "Detective second-class. 23rd precinct," she turned her little grin on me and stuck out her hand. "Elisa Maza."
I took her hand, and kids, I swear, literal sparks flew. "Ted Mosby."
While Elisa and I were hitting it off, Barney was having less luck. Though he said he was meeting Dominique for dinner, he was, in fact, just trying to find her. You see kids, Barney met Destine when she came into his office at Goliath National Bank…
Barney looked up from his computer as the impossibly tall, flame haired woman stepped confidently into the room. He looked off into Barney-land and gave himself a wink.
"And how may I help you?" he asked, standing and gesturing to the chair opposite him.
"My name is Dominique Destine…"
Barney arched one eyebrow. "Of course it is."
Dominique frowned at him. "Anyway, I am the CEO of a company called Nightstone Unlimited. I'm here to discuss funding for a future project of mine. They sent me here…are you the correct person to talk to?"
Barney waved a hand dismissively and chuckled. "Please. So what brought you to Goliath National Bank?"
Dominique smirked. "The name."
She leaned forward, and if Barney even heard her next words for the distraction of cleavage spilling before his eyes, no one knows. "Let's just say I'm going to love telling people that Goliath has made my work possible."
"Mm-hm," Barney nodded. "Well how about I buy you a drink, and we can discuss it…further?"
Now kids, I wasn't there, so I can't say this for sure. But your uncle Barney swears it's the truth. Ms. Destine snarled at him. No, really, snarled at him.
And that was enough to let Barney know he had to conquer her.
So Barney hung out around Nightstone Unlimited to "casually" bump into her. Not stalk her, mind you.
I guess one afternoon it paid off, and as Dominique was leaving her office, Barney, who was "casually" hanging out nearby, made his move.
"Ms. Destine," he said, catching up with her. "Funny meeting you here."
She glared at him. "What, you mean outside my company? What do you want, Stinson? I finalized the deal with GNB, I thought that meant I didn't need to deal with you anymore."
Barney straightened his tie. "Oh, I just thought maybe we could have that dinner…"
Dominique stopped and turned to face him. "I don't have time for this, Stinson. What are you really after?"
He stared at her as if he couldn't believe she actually needed to ask him that. "Fine," and he told her.
"Guys!" I said, charging into the bar. "I met the most amazing woman."
"You too?" Robin said. "Please tell me her name's not Dominate, and Demona, or something freaky like Barney's chick."
"No," I said, sitting down. "But that would be kind of awesome. Her name is Elisa, she's gorgeous, and she's meeting me here today before she has to go on duty," I straightened up, as if what I had to say next was important. "She's a detective."
"A detective?" Marshall asked. "Do you realize what dating a detective would mean?"
"What are you talking about?"
"She's going to know everything about you, right down to your credit score, before she even gets here."
I shrugged. "So? My credit score is just peachy."
"She's also going to look up everyone you've ever dated," Lilly added.
"How could she possibly find that out?"
In unison, all three voiced their opinions.
"Cell phone record."
I raised my eyebrows, but plowed on nevertheless. "Come on guys, like she's really going to bother doing that much digging before our first date. And what if she does? I have absolutely nothing to hide."
"And what if you get into a relationship with her?" Marshall asked. "She'll be watching your every step. You will never have any privacy! And don't forget about July 8, 1997."
I sat up and pointed a finger at him. "Marshall, you promised NEVER to speak of that night!"
"What night?" Barney asked excitedly, pulling up a chair and plopping down at the table.
"How did it go with Dominique?" Lilly asked.
Barney smoothed back his hair. "She's meeting me here tonight, and I'm taking her back to my place."
Robin looked incredulous. "You mean she actually fell for your games?"
"Please, I have her eating out of the palm of my HAND. After tonight, Dominique Destine will know have seen her destiny," he paused for effect. "Anyone wanna make a bet on how many times I can make her…"
He was rudely interrupted by our groans and rolling eyes. If rolling eyes could make a sound.
"So Ted," Robin said. "What happened on July 8th, 1997?"
I glanced at Barney. "We were just talking about my date for tonight. She's an NYPD detective."
"Ted!" he exploded. "Don't you know you never ever date a cop?"
The others gave me "I told you so" looks.
"You're all paranoid!" I protested. "Elisa is great, just wait till you meet her!"
Barney leaned forward. "Teddy boy, let me tell you a story of a much younger, more foolish, but just as awesome Barney who once went out with a lady cop. I thought, hey, she looked hot in the uniform and handcuffs can certainly have their uses. But not only did she say they were only for work, but when I didn't call her the next morning she put out a warrant for my arrest! Fun fact: did you know that is illegal in seven states for a citizen to date a detective?"
Marshall shook his head. "No it isn't."
"Anyway," Barney continued. "We're getting away from the matter at hand. WHAT happened on July 8th 1997?"
"Ted was arrested," Marshall said."
The others chorused, "WHAT?"
"It was all a big mistake!" I insisted.
Barney pulled out his cell phone and frantically started pushing buttons.
"What are you doing?" Lilly asked.
"Searching the Internet," he said, voice cracking. "Somewhere there is a mug shot of Ted, and I will find it!"
Marshall crossed his arms. "He was arrested for indecent exposure."
Barney looked up with his eyes as round as saucers. "You mean there is a mug shot of Ted somewhere and he's NAKED?" he went back to his phone.
I sighed. "I was dating this girl, and she was a member of PETA. She asked me to go to protest with her. I didn't know until I got there that I had to lay in a giant meat container, naked."
Barney looked up again. "Wait, so you mean she was naked, too?"
I grinned. "Yeah."
He looked back to his phone, but reached his fist across the table. "Nice," I bumped it, but then he jumped out of his seat. "Here it is!" he exclaimed and showed everyone my less-than-flattering mug shot.
"Are you crying?" Robin asked, laughing.
"No," I lied, weakly.
"You see?" Marshall said. "You think she's gonna want anything to do with you once she sees that?"
I felt discouraged, but I was determined that Elisa wouldn't care about a stupid mug shot from years ago. "I'm still meeting her."
Everyone shrugged, resigned, then Barney's eyes were locked to the other side of the bar. "It's her!"
We all turned, and who could miss the crimson haired amazon woman leaning against the bar. She looked mildly annoyed, but I kind of had the feeling that was just her neutral face. When she caught sight of Barney though, they lit up with a kind of fury that sent chills down my spine. For the first time ever, I felt afraid for Barney.
"Are you sure about her?" Lilly asked, obviously concerned like me.
"She scares me," Marshall added.
Robin shrugged. "She looks okay to me," but I'm not sure if she meant that, for all I know a lot of people look homicidal in Canada, or if she was just still mad at Barney for their breakup.
Dominique sauntered up to our table. "Stinson," she all but growled.
Barney stood up. "So, should I buy you a drink, our do you just want to get out of here?"
"Let's just get this over with," she said, narrowing her eyes at him, then reconsidered. "On second thought, get me a drink."
Barney led her to the bar and Marshall leaned in over the table. "You guys, I think that woman is going to murder Barney!"
"She's totally gonna murder him!" Lilly agreed.
We all looked over to where they stood. Barney tried to stroke her leg but she swatted him so hard he had to turn around and silently cry out in pain.
I was about to agree that yes, Dominique was definitely going to murder him, but then all thoughts of Barney flew out of my mind when Elisa walked into the bar.
"It's her," I murmured and jumped up to meet her.
"Ted, hey," she said, smiling.
"Hi," I said, and my stomach did a flip. She was so beautiful. "Come on, I'll buy you a drink."
"Thanks," she said and followed me over.
We had a few minutes of scintillating small talk when suddenly she put her hand on my knee. "Listen Ted, I haven't been completely honest with you."
I smiled. "So you're not an NYPD detective?"
She smiled back. "Yes, I most certainly am, but that's not it. You're a really nice guy, Ted, and I like you a lot…"
And here is where my stomach dropped. "I hear a "but" coming on."
"I'm afraid so. It's just that…there's…someone in my life. It's a difficult relationship but he…well, he's the one. I just haven't figured out how to make it work yet."
I sighed, immensely disappointed. "I understand. It's all about finding "the one", right?"
She laughed a little sadly. "Yeah, and you don't always get to pick who that "one" is."
"Well, I hope he knows how lucky he is."
Just then, Barney walked by with Dominique. "See ya, Ted!" he said, grinning.
Dominique looked at Elisa, and she back at her, and suddenly there this electric tension. Their eyes flew open and they exclaimed in unison. "YOU!"
Elisa jumped out of her seat, her fists clenched. "Demona, what the hell are you doing here?"
"Demona?" I asked, but no one heard me.
"I can never get away from you, Detective," she sneered the last word.
Elisa glanced at Barney and back at me. "Is he a friend of yours?"
I nodded. "Yeah, and I'm guessing you two have met."
"What are doing with him, Demona? You do realize that it's almost sundown."
"Oh, I realize that fully, and that also means I could rip you apart long before your precious protector could find you."
Barney gasped. "Fight, Ted, I think there's going to be a chick fight!"
Dominique…or Demona as Elisa so affectionately called her looked at him, as if just remembering he was there. "Come, Detective, shall we take this outside?"
"Let's." Elisa said, following her out back.
The others, who of course had been eavesdropping, leapt out of their seats and we all flew after them.
When we got there, Elisa was delivering an epic roundhouse kick to Demona's face.
"Oh my God, yes!" Barney exclaimed, pulling out his cell camera.
"Should we do something?" Lilly asked.
Demona stood up and…now I saw this with my own eyes, and I swear it's true. Her eyes glowed…red.
We all yelled, drawing back as Demona leapt at Elisa, but Elisa easily avoided her attack.
We all stood, too afraid to step in, or in Barney's case, too busy filming, and watched as the fight continued for several minutes until Demona suddenly stopped and doubled over and screamed.
"Is she okay?" Robin asked.
Elisa turned, seeming to just notice us, and waved us back. "You guys need to get out of here, NOW!" she pulled out her gun and aimed it at Demona, even though she looked incapacitated.
We were all too shocked to move though, and watched as the red haired woman continued to writhe in pain until her body actually started to…distort.
Again kids, I saw this with my own eyes. I wasn't even drunk. I swear it's true.
Demona's body twisted and twitched, and turned an ashy blue color. The her clothes ripped apart as wings…no really, wings, like bat wings, popped out of her back.
It was over in a matter of seconds, and then she stood back up, totally composed, but now she was…quite frankly, I'm still not sure what she was, but if the legends are true, she was a Gargoyle.
"Now," she growled. "We'll end this once and for all, and when I'm done with you, I'll take care of that revolting Stinson."
Barney gulped, suddenly not that interested in his camera.
Demona lunged, and Elisa got ready to fire, when from all around us came a deafening roar.
We all looked up to watch a massive shape fly over us. Even Elisa was surprised, but not afraid. Demona just bared what were now quiet impressive fangs and backed away. "How did he get here so fast?"
Elisa frowned and I heard her mutter something that sounded like, "must have slept nearby…knew I was meeting someone tonight."
Demona let out a terrifying panther-like roar and turned to scale up the opposite building. "I'll deal with you, later, humans!"
She took off into the air. Yes, she flew…or glided, really.
Everyone was still for a while, then Elisa looked back at us, all with our mouths hanging open. She stepped up to us and took Barney's phone from his lifeless fingers and pushed a few buttons. "Sorry fella," she said. "Can't have you walking around with that video," she handed it back to him then looked at me. "Ted…I…"
I held up a hand. "No, don't explain, I don't think I want to know."
She looked up again and a fond smile spread across her face. "I better go, goodnight Ted," she leaned in and pecked me cheek.
"As for you," she pointed at Barney. "Try to stay away from tall, homicidal red-heads, will ya? You do realize she only agreed to sleep with you so she could, you know, kill you. Or possibly brainwash you somehow, who knows with her."
It wasn't until she was long gone when any of us could look at each other.
"What just happened?" Robin said.
"I don't know," I replied. "But it…was…AWESOME!"
Everyone exclaimed in agreement and we went back inside the bar and went over our favorite parts of the event. Barney wasn't at all daunted by the fact that he had come very close to being shredded apart, but he never considered perusing her again. I still felt bad for a little while about the missed opportunity with Elisa, but figured she must have had quite a bit of baggage. Not to mention a tall, homicidal redhead who hates her.
For years afterward, when any of us would have a bad date, we'd make each other feel better by saying, "At least he/she wasn't a Demona!" And the night became known simply as, That One Night.
So kids, obviously Elisa Maza didn't turn out to be your mother. But it was a heck of a story anyway, right?
The boy rolled his eyes. "Dad, you actually expect us to believe that?"
"Of course I do! It's true! And you know what, I heard something later about a Gargoyle marrying a woman, and I think that woman was Elisa!"
The girl laughed. "Sure it was, dad."
"Well, that last part I don't know for sure, but hey, you never know. You don't always get to choose the "one" after all."