The Storyteller - the wit and wisdom of Frank Coughlin

My Stories of the Short Form - short stories, chapters, etc.

My world is filled with wonder and awesome experiences. Many of these experiences I have used to craft my short stories. I hope you enjoy them and please comment if you like.

The Storyteller

There was a big sigh and then he started to tell his tale.
 "I am only going to say this once so pay attention."  He always said that and he always retold the story anyway. It was not the story we came for. He always told the same story. More or less. Most of us came for him - for the way he would tell the story. The base part of the story was always the same . The one thing that always changed was him - he never told the story the same way twice.
Sometimes it was in a different accent, sometimes it was in broken english. Once he told it backwards. But more often than not, he changed the characters involved. They would be fat one day, lanky the next, comely once and homely another time. Smart once and dumb as stones two straight times.
Once Billy, who now knows better stopped him in the middle of his rambling and asked why the story kept changing. The old man looked at Billy, sighed deeply and walked away. He threw his hands up to signal he was done for the day. No one ever questioned why ever again.
 We wanted to hear the story. There was always something new, some new wrinkle that came out and no one ever thought they would get the complete story ever. Plus he was that good at telling the story - we were never bored. Ever.
If you missed a day, you missed a day’s version and you would never get it back. No one could tell the story like he could even though we all knew it by heart. It was a story about love and betrayal, someone promises something for all time and then as if a magic spell was cast, they are held to it. To living out that promise, year after year, lifetime after lifetime.
Today, as we gathered in the inn, I noticed a young man who had never been here before. I went over and asked his name. He said he was known by Blake, Andrews Blake. I laughed as soon as I heard the words come out of his mouth.
Andrews Blake was one of the characters of the story. His role would change from day to day from hero to cad to innocent bystander to village idiot to arcane wizard to . . . well you get the idea. No one ever claimed to have that name, not at least around here anyway, so hearing it was quite amusing and startling for me. I meant no harm or rudeness to the gent and I told him so. I said if he would stay for the storytelling, he would know why I had laughed.
I also offered to buy him an ale and that gesture seemed to seal the deal so to speak - he agreed to stay.
Blake looked barely old enough to drink so I watched him carefully. I did not want him getting drunk and rowdy during the telling of the tale. I did not want him ending this day’s telling prematurely. I did told everyone around that Master Blake was joining us today, and a murmur of disbelief rose among the twenty or so gathered.
"The real Andrews Blake ?"  Smithy asked incredulously.
I nodded. "Well, ho", he roared  "today’s reading would be special indeed."
 At that moment, the old storyteller came into the inn and immediately looked at the lad.
"Who is this?"  he asked, " a new fan ?"
I could not hold my silence and announced to the teller the lads name.
"Is that so," he remarked and gave us a grin " then today’s story will indeed be special." As he talked I noticed that the teller seemed strange today - he used his hands quite a bit more than usual - like an Italian woman - and on his right hand there was a large golden ring. I had never noticed that ring before. No doubt it part of todays performance, I thought. Yes, I had seen him use his hands before but never this much and somehow his gestures seemed to make the ring more and more apparent.
Today, Blake was the hero and as such that was to be expected because who in their right mind would make a mockery of one who sits right there in front of you. They say the old man was once a fighter but those days were long ago. The lad would have him in no time fast - there wouldn’t even be enough time to take bets.
The Blake of today’s story - was handsome and strapping and a lord - a man with privilege. Against him stood the old wizard Scarn, who was to trick Blake into making a fool's promise.
 The maiden Jane would be the unwitting pawn - she would not be the damsel in distress since Blake was not the sort of man to save this sort of woman. No, she would be the temptress, the woman with wiles. In Blake she would see her mark - I say she was unwitting and I do mean it - she did not see how the wizard had placed her in Blake’s way - how he went out of his way to make Blake look attractive to her and how he knew she would see his wealth and be set for the trap. She did not see her own danger nor did she see where the plot would take Blake - she was only blinded by his money and her dreams of what she could do with that.

The Blake in the audience seemed to be enjoying his role in the story. He had a large grin on his face - perhaps it was the ale going to his head. The storyteller paused at this time to take a sip of the ale - to rewet his lips he would say - and the ring on his finger seemed even brighter than before.
' Can gold get brighter,' I wondered.
 Another unusual occurrence took place at this time too. The barmaid Julia came and put another ale in front of the real Blake. She seem to take great effort in making her cleavage known to the young lad. He did not miss this show. Nor did he mistake this flirting for anything more than a woman giving a young lad a thrill.
He took his ale and then tried to pay for it. She grabbed his hand tight before he could reach his pouch, I saw him wince, and said "This one is already paid for."
 A look of disbelief came over his face and spread to several others in the crowd. Who had done this? As no one took credit, the mystery deepened. We all knew the innkeeper too well - he would never give free what people were willing to pay for.
It was then that the evening's happenings took a stranger turn still - she turned to his ear and whispered something there, something he took delight in, I know this because he laughed, a pleasantly pleased laugh. "Really?" he asked out loud, and she nodded. "Well then," he said out loud, " lets get on with this story."

And as if by cue the old man resumed his narration. The wizard Scarn who was neither evil nor good, just an experimenter, someone who dabbles in lives and outcomes and records and figures things out - this Scarn decided to see if Blake would fall as deep as he predicted. He had thought that Blake would be of superficial nature, a gentleman about town so to speak but Scarn wanted see if the right situation could make him fall deep with lust or love or some such thing.
He had found Jane to be a master at her trade, that being the loosening of purse strings and he knew Blake was no match for her.  They met, she set her trap and he fell willingly into it. Jane was no fool and knew her quarry well. She knew his family would seek to void any trysts or marital agreements he might make when the winds of fortune changed direction. She had to keep her quarry seduced by her until the money was gone. It was his money that seduced her and It was then that the trap of the wizard was sprung. Would she sacrifice her freedom for his money if the only way to hold onto that money was to bind Blake to her favor forever. This is the choice the wizard had given her. The wizard wished to see her both her choice and the outcome of that choice. She agreed to the wizard's terms afterall what bad can come from having money? So the wizard gave her a potion which could change the eyes of a man from wandering to loyal as a dog. He instructed her on its use - slip this in his ale and make sure you are the one he looks at after the first drink. Make sure you touch him soon after that look  and to seal the deal you must invoke one more sense - be sure it is your words that he hears and takes to heart.  Then you will have him, body and soul.

At this point in the story, the storyteller clapped his hands and pointed to Julia the bar maid. "Lady, take your prize home with you and seal the deal," he commanded.
 Julia went up to Blake and kissed him on the cheek,
 "Come my darling lets us go home now. " she said.
The eager eyed Blake jumped to his feet nearly knocking the table asunder. Slowly, she led him around the room as if to show us what has happened. She bowed to the teller of tales and blew him a kiss.
"I owe you one," she said as they both left the inn. The door shut with a silence I have never heard before in all my days. The old man cleared his throat and spoke once again.
"How far she takes them depends upon two things, his will and her amount of desire. The wizard will now wait to see the results. The End"