Every Wednesday from now until the end of the world, or the blog, I’m going to post a random bit of writing: a rhyme, something from an old folder or a work in progress, or if all else fails whatever random thing I scribbled down during the free-write warm up of my Tuesday Night Writers Club.
It’s been free-write material the last two times, and I see no reason to break that streak now. This is adapted from something I found dated January 29th, 2013, and which originally didn’t go past the second big paragraph. The rest is All New.
The prompt in this case was the opening words, those four words that start so many stories…
“Once upon a time,” said Romping Thomas, “there was me, an elf, seven dwarves and the Mayor’s—”
“Have heard it.”
The smaller man looked at the hulking figure, both sat and yet somehow still looming over him from across the table. “What do you mean, ‘you’ve heard it’?” he said, snippily.
Arvur the Barbarian shrugged. “What it says. Have heard it. Not is funny. With knock-knock, is funny. With one-suppon, not is funny.” He considered, and Thomas had a mental image of one huge boulder slowly rolling down a slope until it hit another, just hard enough to start that one rolling instead. “Bar is for drinking, not smiling,” Arvur said, finally. Satisfied with his logic, the giant fighter drained his bucket of grog and tossed it towards the bar for a refill.
Romping Thomas, finest escort of the finest ladies (if he did say so himself) and a man who had worked some hard bedrooms to earn his nickname, fumed behind his gracefully oiled moustaches. “It is not a joke, Arvur, it is a story. It is intended to present a useful lesson, not cause you to think for ten minutes and laugh for two.” Thomas knew how to use simple words with Arvur, just as he knew not to be demonstrably annoyed. Arvur was known to react poorly, but effectively, to signs that even approximated “threatening”.
“Is joke.” Arvur beat his chest with a big fist, making a sound like a slaver’s drum. “Have told it. Knock-knock.”
Arvur rapped the table with a knobbly knuckle. “Knock-knock.”
“—daughter, you see—” Thomas pressed on, valiantly, hopelessly “—when I opened the wrong door and chanced upon an elven mistress engaged in a startling tryst with—”
Arvur rapped the table again. “Said ‘knock-knock’.”
Romping Thomas sighed. “Who’s there?” he asked.
Arvur grinned. “Elf. Seh– seh…” the grin flickered, then resurfaced “Three dwarbs. Me.”
Thomas put on an expression that said, I’m tired but I’m game. It was one of his best. “An elf, three ‘dwarbs’, and me who?”
Arvur started laughing. Each one stood alone, a deep, gusty “hur” like the biggest furnace bellows ever pumped. He was still laughing when the wench struggled a fresh bucket onto their table. Thomas indicated his own glass with a wink, and watched her rear with professional calculation as she went to bring him another.
At length (about two minutes length, by Thomas’ reckoning) Arvur subsided. He wiped his eyes, gulping back his breath, then took up his bucket and gulped back some grog as well. He paused just long enough to allow a throbbing belch to blow the froth from around his mouth, then he slammed the bucket down and jabbed a thick, victorious finger in Thomas’ face.
“Not say was cat,” Arvur declared, and waited expectantly.
Romping Thomas put on a smile, his number three, the smile that demonstrated he couldn’t be happier than where he was now. “That’s very good,” he said, in his number four voice.
Arvur nodded. “Yes. Know many more,” he continued, and before his companion could recompose his expression (the number three was, by necessary design, not one to slip easily) the barbarian made good on his threat: “Knock-knock. Is dragon an’ man who makes boots an’ me.” He started to laugh.
Romping Thomas envied no man his life. But, he reflected, there were times when he wished he were another sort of master swordsman.