By Barbara Weitbrecht
The ale was good. Surprisingly good, once you got used to its faint
barnyard odor and the fact that the flagon was none too clean. Bo
had another. He was on his... was it his third? Well, his third
since something, anyway. After the first two pints, counting had
The Irish minstrel was drifting in and out of focus, listening
intently to Bo's story. Bo took a deep breath and continued. "An'
so the demon says to me, 'Kid, we can save your mother. We do that
kind of thing all the time. But you gotta pay for it. You prepared
to pay the price?'"
"Don' do it, man! It's a trick!" Shannon cried urgently, as if Bo's
decision were a present one instead of something decades past.
"So I said, 'Sure, demon. I'll pay your goddamn price. Jus' you
keep my mom from dyin'.'"
Shannon moaned. "Sellin' yuir immortal soul! An' all to save yuir
blessed mither. There be a ballad in that, begorrah!"
Bo nodded, and drained the flagon. "And so me mither... I mean my
mother, recovered. The cancer just vanished. The docs said it was a
"An' so it was, me man! A miracle from Hell, paid for by her son's
immortal soul! Ye be damned, man! Damned!"
"Sort of. It seems there were some irregularities with the
contract. Me bein' a minor and all at the time. So when I reached
twenty-one, we re-negotiated." Another flagon had appeared at Bo's
elbow. He lifted it and sipped. The stuff was not bad, not bad at
all. Bo felt pleasantly floaty.
Shannon blinked. "So ye be not damned after all?"
Bo grinned and burped. "Oh, I'm damned all right. But on my own
terms. I do odd jobs for Hell, and they give me little bennies like
trips to the 8th century. And I can't be killed easily. And I have
special sources of information. Stuff like that."
The minstrel whistled. "Might almost be WORTH bein' damned, to have
* * *
Time had passed. Bo was now on his... was it his tenth flagon? Who
knew? Presumably the bar-wench, who was now entirely out of focus
except for her bouncing assets. Meanwhile, Bo was teaching Shannon
how to sing the blues.
"Simple, really. Same bloody chord pr'gression. Same bloody tune.
First line, you sing 'Woke up this morning,' and 'splain the
problem. Second line, you repeat it. Third line, you pr'vide
amplification. Lemme show you..."
He was holding Shannon's lute now, splaying his fingers over the
neck, trying to find the chords. "Oh, well. We'll figger 'em out
later. Now lessee.... 'Woke up this mornin', an' the queen had gone
"Aye, that she did!" Shannon sighed into his flagon.
"Got it now," Bo announced, producing something in the neighborhood
of a minor chord.
"Woke up this mornin', and the Queen had gone away.
Yes, I woke up this mornin', found my Queen had gone away.
I dunno where she gone to, but I think she plans to stay.
She was mother to my chillun, an' a goddess in my bed,
Mother to my chillun, lord, an' a lovin' goddess in my bed.
When I brought home Juliana, I was crazy in the head!
Now I sure do miss my woman, an' the chillun got no ma.
I miss my lovin' woman, an' my chillun's lost their ma.
I'm the saddest, blue-est monarch that this country ever saw!"
"That's so BEAUTIFUL!" Shannon sobbed, taking back his
instrument. "It jus' makes me wanna CRY! What did ye say that chord
Next: Hold on, I'm working it out!
Before there was the novel, there were the stories...
by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at http://authorchristophermoss.vlogspot.com