I was lusting after a wee dram of Laphroig very late one night as I wasn’t sleeping well so I got dressed, left my sweet wife sleeping, and made my way to the Pub. As you know, it never closes, though other than the handful of Neverending Sessions musos, it’s rather quiet in the dead of the night hours. So I was quite surprised to see a fair number of folk there!
I was even more surprised to see The Old Man tending bar. He pointed to a storyteller cloaked in fall colours sitting in the Falstaff Chair near the Fireplace.
She was maybe fifty years old with deep green eyes and long red hair; no ornamentation could be seen and shadows lay deep around her. I saw that there were deep lines on her face, maybe from the sun, maybe from whatever life had tossed at her. Then I noticed she had a bagful of hand puppets: queens, knights, kings, dragons, and Queen Mab only knew what else was in there.
Her voice matched her clothing — like old oak leaves rustling in the wind. I listened carefully and discovered her tale was one of knights unjustly slain, kingdoms lost from sheer stupidity, and an act of quite justified regicide turned to ashes in the mouth. The story I admit sounded like a combination of things written by Shakespeare, but her telling was so moving that it mattered nought what the source material was, as her voice and her puppets made it come alive. When her queen puppet stabbed her king puppet, it seemed as though blood dripped from the mortal wound she gave him. Her Ghost really looked like it was semi-transparent and was truly chilling.
I sipped my dram of Laphroig and appreciated the sheer artistry of her show. Then the weirdest thing happened — she went lifeless, all animation gone from her, and she fell slowly to the floor. Out of the deep shadows behind the massive chair, a woman looking much like the puppet that The Storyteller had been stepped out and bowed deeply. As all of us looked on stunned at what happened, both she and her puppets disappeared when The Old Man briefly blinked the Pub lights.
All that was left was a handful of oak leaves swirling in the air in front of her chair.
The Old Man refused to answer any questions. Reynard the next day just smiled and went back to making Irish Coffee for a Pub patron, and Jack when I cornered him in The Library claimed that I’d obviously been too sleepy to see what really happened. I know they know what happened but I’ll be deviled if I know why it’s a secret.
Your puzzled friend, Iain