A good story, a good song, and a good pint of beer. That’s the answer but what is the question? There are any number of questions that might elicit that answer. For instance, what do I want before I go to bed? Or, what can you always count on when you go to Murphy’s Pub? This type of puzzle is sometimes called a writing prompt. It is a tool that writers use to limber up their imaginations. So here goes.
It was a foggy night. There was a chill in the air. I opened the door to Murphy’s and found a stool at the bar. “I’ll have a pint of bitter,” I told the pretty young lady behind the bar. She expertly drew one from the tap and placed it in front of me, taking the bill that I had placed there and making change. I took a long pull from the beer and was treated to the most refreshing taste I had drunk in a long time.
There were a couple of local lads moving toward the corner to resume playing. There was a mandolin player, a double bass player, a banjo player, and a guitarist. As the others were checking the tuning on their instruments the mandolin player started talking in a voice hardly louder than you might carry on a conversation.
“When I was a lad, my Grandpa used to tell me about how the fairies marched across the meadow on midsummer’s eve. I always thought he was just telling tall tales until the summer that I was fourteen. It was midsummer and I had spent the day fishing in the river that ran next to the village. I hadn’t had any luck fishing and was heading down the road to Grandpa’s shack just as the sun was setting.”
“I saw a flurry of sparkles at the edge of the woods from the other side of the meadow. I stepped behind a tree and peeked around it to try to see what was coming out of the woods. There were a bunch of skinny, tall men riding large white horses. The horses were dressed in clothing every bit as fancy as their riders. The first four riders rode single file but the subsequent riders were busy looking for places described by the librarian that had sent them.”
“They marched across the meadow in single file. There were ladies in long velvet green dresses and boys in tunics the exact color of the mid-afternoon sky. Their horses glowed with a light of there own and cast sinister shadows on their faces.”
“I stood glued to the ground and watched as they marched and listened as the bells on the horses’ bridles tinkled softer and softer as they rode ingo the distance.”
“As they rode out of sight, I got a strange feeling of emptiness as if I had lost my only friend. I stood there until the last rider disappeared. And then I went home.”
At this point the band started playing a fast jig. I sat and drank my beer. The mandolin player sang a mournful ballad about a lad who had followed the fairies when they marched across the field on midsummer’s eve and was never seen again.
As I finished my beer a voice came out of my comm badge. “Mr. Wilson, report to the bridge immediately!” I gave the command for the simulation to pause and took off my VR headgear. I would return to this story the next time I had the time.
And that was what I wrote from that writing prompt. Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.