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January 8th, 2005, 09:40 AM

When people told themselves their past in stories, explained their present with stories, foretold their future with stories. The best place by the fire was kept for the STORYTELLER.

This is the storyteller's chair.

To sit on it you must tell a tale that is not less than 500 words, but not more than a 1000 words. In this tale you must mention one item in the picture. The tale does not have to be about the item, but one item must be mentioned in your tale.

January 8th, 2005, 11:00 AM
Hush now, I’m not going to tell you if you can’t be quiet.

Are you ready yet?

You’re not going to need a drink as soon as I start are you?


It was a long time ago, before I met your grandmother. I spent a year in India, in Bhandipoor at the foot of the Ghat mountains.

Oh, I’ve told you this before have I?

Did I tell you about the Goddess I met?

No, I didn’t think so, if you’re quiet and don’t interrupt again I’ll tell you all about her.

It was early in the morning, I was drinking tea on the veranda watching the mist drift across the lake. For no reason I can remember I decided to climb into the mountains to try and find the temple of Lakshmi. I fetched some food and water and set off without a thought.

No I didn’t lock the doors, I didn’t need to, no-one ever did.

Now who is telling this tale? You or me?

Yes, that’s right, I am.

So where was I?

Ah yes, I walked all day before I found it. I was just beginning to give up hope when I stumbled across a track, it lead me straight there. The temple was amazing, the golden light of dusk fell across the walls and the whole building seemed carved from fire, but it didn’t end there. As I entered I saw a woman lying prostrate on the floor in front of a statue of Lakshmi, the statue was as beautiful as a woman with four arms could be but she faded into nothing when the woman rose and turned to face me.

My heart stopped, her golden skin reflected the light until it seemed she glowed. It was love at first sight.

I told you, it was before I met your Grandmother.

Well if you let me finish, you’ll find out won’t you?

I apologised to her for disturbing her, she laughed and told me it was fine. When she laughed the world vanished and all I could see was her. She came outside with me and we sat by a stream watching the full moon rise. Her Sari was a vibrant green trimmed with gold, in her hand she carried a lacquered parasol, her dark almond shaped eyes reflected the moonlight as she laughed.

Before we knew it, it was fully night. We walked down the mountain together and as we neared my villa she broke my heart. She told me she couldn’t stay, she kissed me once on the cheek and then fled, her parasol fell to the ground.

I saw her again exactly one year later, or at least a picture of her. I was in Delhi, it was the full moon day of Ashwin, the streets were filled with people celebrating the feast of Lakshmi.

As I walked across the street she smiled down at me from the banner where she sat opposite Indra.

Of course it’s true! I still have the parasol, it’s there in the corner.

Now I think it’s your bed time.

No, I’ll tell you another one tomorrow.

January 8th, 2005, 01:46 PM
But I don’t know where it is?

Under my bed? How on earth do you know that?

Ok, but I’ll get it.

Be careful it’s sharp, you’re going to have to polish it now or it’ll rust.

I was given it in India you know.

I know you know, but do you know about the bandit chief that gave it to me?

I didn’t think so, settle down and I’ll tell you. Oh go on then but be quick.

Are you done now?

It was long ago and I was living in Bhandipoor in the foothills of the Ghat mountains.

Yes the same place, but this was much later. I’d met your grandmother by then.

It was the height of summer and I was sat on the veranda with Varun.

Yes Uncle Varun,

We’d spent the morning trying to coax a fish out of the lake but they simply weren’t biting, unlike the mosquitos.

A small fly that likes to bite you, they buzz like tiny spitfires and…

An Aeroplane from the war, but that’s not important.

The weather had been growing more and more oppressive, it wasn’t just hot, it was humid too. It felt like a storm was brewing.

“It is cooler up in the mountains,” Varun said.

“I suppose so,” I replied, and that was that. The next day we had both packed our bags and we headed off back up into the very same mountain where I met the Goddess, I’ll tell you about her later.

Oh, I’ve told you that have I?

We had been hiking through the mountains for two days when it started to rain.

You have never seen anything like it, the heavens opened and all the water in the universe poured down on us. Within seconds we were soaked to the skin, but it didn’t really matter, the rain was warm you see. We scouted around to find somewhere to shelter and eventually Varun shouted to us that he had found a cave.

It seemed perfect, there was even a supply of dry wood near the back so we got a fire going and cooked some rice for tea. We had almost finished when into the cave walked a group of men.

For a second they didn’t see us, but then one of them drew his sword, a curved evil looking thing and shouted something in a dialect I didn’t understand. He was a young man, he had the makings of a fine beard, but it would take a few years to fill out. I noticed the older man behind him was bleeding quite badly.

Varun was talking very fast, I caught his eye, he was as scared as I was. I told him to tell them I was a doctor and that I could help. He must have done because they grabbed me and almost threw me at the wounded man.

It was nothing too serious, a long cut that bled a lot but it had missed everything vital. I cleaned it and stitched it up as best I could in the dim light of the fire, the man didn’t complain at all, he simply looked me in the eye. Varun was talking quietly to the man with the sword in the back of the cave, without a word the group of men left the cave and vanished into the rain.

The night passed slowly and in the morning the storm had eased, we were preparing to leave when the young man turned up, in his hand he held a different sword. This one was straight, it looked like a knight’s sword from the days of King Arthur. He held it out to me and said something else I didn’t understand to Varun, he bowed to me and then ran off.

Varun turned to me.

“You are now a bandit,” he said.

“I beg your pardon?”

“You saved the life of their leader and they gave you a sword to show you are one of them."

I tried to explain that I had done nothing but the young man had already left. Varun just laughed at me.

Of course it’s true, I still have the sword don’t I?

Now fetch me a cloth, I need to get those finger marks off the blade.

January 10th, 2005, 12:29 PM
The man leant back in his leather chair and regarded me thoughtfully. Smooth and dark, the leather creaked beneath him, responding to the subtle shift of his weight.

“So, you call yourself a writer?”

Stark, blunt, his words echoed around the room, reverberating against the oak panelling.

“Well, I…” My throat went dry.

His eyes sharpened, indelibly piercing. His long fingers rapped against the cover of my manuscript, drumming the surface. One by one those short nails collided with the substance of my dreams, rendering it invalid. “I would describe your prose as distinctly ordinary. Would you care to object?”

I smiled weakly, masquerading hurt with indifference. “Would you care to expand?”

There was silence, long and obstinate. I found myself unable to release his gaze, unable to evade his scrutiny. The clock ticked on the wall behind me, an eternity between each stroke. From a mantle of drawn white skin, dark brown beads scoured my façade of confidence, undermining its patchwork foundations. I stood, immobile, crumbling with each passing moment, wilting away.

Slowly, the professor drew in a deep breath before releasing it in a condemning burst. Caught between the last vestige of pride and the onslaught of humiliation, I watched him open my chastised tome and trail his finger along the neatly scribed lines. I waited, patient and defiant, wondering which foolish line he would choose to read aloud. Words that had sounded concise and meaningful within the confines of my mind would be exposed here, becoming clumsy and uncouth upon the articulate sliver of his tongue.

The professor raised his head from the guilty pages, tilting it slightly to one side. His hair was ruffled, a tousled mass of white strands tinged yellow by smoke. Now he was alive, turned half within himself, rapt with the incoherent webs of thought. And when he spoke, his eyes lit up, illuminated from within by greek fire. “Writing is art,” he enthused, voice rising in tremulous tones, willing me to drop my guard. “Each word must be sculptured precisely and positioned on the page with unerring accuracy. The stroke of the pen produces an array of abstract symbols to which consciousness attributes meaning. Each curve, each arc, each dash and dot holds the power to persuade, enthral, inform and entertain. There is no greater medium at our disposal, no higher form of expression.”

Abashed, I clasped my hands together and lowered my gaze. “When you put it like that…" i stumbled, tripping over my tongue, "Hell, I’m no poet… compared to Shakespeare, you may as well compare Hyperion to a Satyr...”

The professor laughed and tapped my manuscript. “Well, you’re good with words but you forgot the story.”

January 11th, 2005, 12:28 PM
"Ahh," said the boy as he plopped himself into the huge brown leather chair. "Comfy..." he muttered and closed his eyes. Taking a deep breath he opened them again. "Real comfy," he emphasised.
"What about the story?" enquired the hostess.
"Huh? What story?" Large blue eyes went larger.
"You're sitting in the story teller's chair, so you're the story teller?"
"What? Like John Hurt in that Henson production?"
The hostess nodded, a twinkle in her eye.
"Oh dear, well I..." Eyes flicked back and forth between prospective listeners as blood shot into his head. Panicking hands fleeing into pockets, but the right one was full. He tugged out the red scarf he had required earlier that day and stared at it.
"Well..." he began. "You know I came here by train, don't you, and I... well, you see, it was quite a long journey and..."
He held out the scarf. "This by the way isn't mine, and it doesn't really feature in the story, and the story isn't really a story, but this... well, it reminded me of... sorry, I'll begin then, won't I?"
"As I said, it was quite a long journey, quite a long train journey, and at one station, I forget which, but does that really matter, so at one station this woman enters, and she's got this box, a shoe box, white one, and in this box there was...
No, that's not the way to tell it. I didn't see what was in the box, because she was walking and carrying it before her chest and I was sitting down, so all I could see was its bottom and sides, but not what was in it, although there was no cover on the box, shoe box... I doubted there were shoes in the box although it was a... sorry, I'm rambling.
Anyway, the woman then sat down not far from me and began talking to the box, so I craned my neck and had a look and... you know what was in the box? A bunny! A dark grey one. A little one, I know nothing about breeds, so you'll have to do with that, it was a little, dark grey bunny. And she was talking to it...
And then, suddenly, she shot me that glance, no not a glance a glare, an angry one, and she bent down towards the box, and while still looking at me whispered something to the bunny. No doubt something about rude staring boys on trains.
Well, she was a bit barmy, wasn't she talking to her bunny like that. Oh, I forgot to mention that didn't I? She'd look around, like a nervous... hare? Well, anyway, she'd look around like that and then she'd send a few brisk words into the box, nooding all the time... So you can see, why I thought she was a bit barmy, but that wasn't my point. I told you that she looked angrily my way, remember? Well, it was then that I realized I was staring, and, well I turned away and looked out of the window. For the entire rest of the entire journey. Which was a long time, and I didn't even see her leave the train.
Oh, yes, and by the way, this scarf, it was lying opposite me all the time. Someone must have forgotten it, before I came on board. Normally, I wouldn't have taken a seat opposite a scarf, because, you know, it's polite to ask whether the seat is taken, and, well, if there's a scarf and no owner, the owner might be on the toilet, and when she comes back and I'm sitting there... But no-one came back, and I was meaning to give it to the conductor, but then I didn't because I was busy staring out of the window, or rather avoiding to look at the lady with the bunny in the box. So, when I got off the train I took it with me, stuffed it in my pocket, I always liked pockets, always make sure I got big ones, and now it's payed off.
Erm, well, that's the story, and it isn't really a story, and there isn't a moral or something, except maybe this. If I'd sat down opposite a bunny in a shoe box and a lady came into the train talking to her scarf I probably wouldn't have known what to say rigt now."

January 11th, 2005, 04:59 PM
Harvey, 68, short, fat and white stood looking in the window of the 'All Our Memories' Corporation's new building. A frown crossed his brow as he examined the holographic images of a family driving in an old-style vehicle.

"It's called an automobile." his friend Joe said. Joe was exactly the opposite of Harvey - tall, thin and black. But still old.

Harve sighed and threw Joe a side-ways glance.

"I know that, Joe." he sneered. "I ain't the thick one of the two of us."

Joe ignored the barb.

"You thinking of going in there?" the black man said, nodding toward the main double doors of the store.

Harvey stroked his chin with a weathered hand.

"I doubt it. Got a lot to do today."

Joe laughed.

"Like hell! The only damn plans you got for today is to sit on my porch and drink synthi-beer with me." his immaculate, Non-Brushable Teeth(tm) glistened despite the gloominess of the day as the smog clouds hung above their heads.

Harvey checked the digital read-out in the palm of his hand and screwed up his face.

"Damn fool. I gots plenty to be doing without your withered old hide hanging around me! In fact, i gotta get down to Tesco City and get me my weekly shop." he stopped and stared at Joe. "If that's ok with sir, here?"

Joe's non-stop smile grinned back.

"Do what ya gotta do, Harve. I gonna go check this here place out... with or without ya."

And with that, Joe walked towards the doors and went inside.

Harve stood where he was for the minute. He knew his companion would be expecting him to follow... and he knew he was going to go after him.

"Old fool." he muttered before hitching up his skin-tight, silver jump-suit, his hydraulic knee coping admirably with the weight it was forced to carry.

Harve entered the building and almost walked into the back of Joe who was stood talking to a salesman in a snow-white suit, whose teeth and eye-whites were just as spotless as his attire.

"...and I think you'll find we have a package to suit everyone's credit-beam." he turned his pearly white's to Harvey. "Are you two, together?"

"Don't you believe it." Harvey mumbled but Joe quickly put his hand round his stout friend's ample shoulders.

"Yes he is and we'd like something we can do together." Joe said.

The salesman faltered, his grin ever-ready but his eyes grew confused.

"No, we don't want any damn lovers' trips, boy!" Harvey spat.

This cheered the salesman up no end.

"Then allow me to show you our packages. Please follow me."

Harve and Joe did as they were instructed and were led into a large booth with two very comfortable looking seats in it's middle. The salesman gestured for them to be seated.

"Now, good sirs, what sort of thing were you thinking of entertaining yourselves with?"

Harve stayed silent while Joe prepared to pick off his list of things with his gnarled fingers.

"Might I suggest something?" the man butted in, and then suggested away without their leave.

The three walls of the booth around them lit up with the scene of a seedy nightclub. Disco lights flashed around the walls and a stage in front of them carried three ladies with hardly any clothes on, gyrating to music.

"Now this, sirs, is from the early 2000s. It's an old place called Peppermint Elephant which catered for... most men's desires."

"Goddamn, get that crap off." Harvey moaned. I ain't gonna sit here and watch something like this with this old fool next to me."

"Plus you forgot your stimulants." Joe swiped.

Even the salesman's smile faded this time.

"Ok, how about this?"

And the image around them changed to an African environment where a jeep thundered in front of them as it followed a herd of running animals.

"This is very popular." the salesman smiled.

"With who?" asked Joe. "Psychotic young murderers? Half these poor animals are extinct now!"

If the salesman's smile hadn't been surgically fixed, it might have disappeared completely.

“Uh.... then try this one.”

The scene was now as if they were water-skiing behind a powerful vintage sports-boat. The water seemed to spray up around their ears and they could almost feel the air rushing around them

“Isn’t it great to feel fresh air blowing thru your hair?” was the salesman’s obligatory line.

“No, cos then I have to chase the bloody thing down the road and stick it back on my head.” Harvey grumbled as he ran a fat finger thru his thinning strands.

Joe could do nothing but burst out laughing.

“Then would you care to suggest something you may enjoy?” said the man becoming rapidly exasperated.

“How about something soothing.” Harve said between Joe’s rasping laughter.

The moon’s surface appeared around them

“Too cold.” Harve said.

A desert.

“Too plain.” added Joe once he’d stopped laughing.

“I want comfort.” Harve requested.

A tropical beach.

“Nope.” Joe muttered. “More homely.”

Bournemouth beach.

“No way.” this time Harvey spoke. “I want a fireplace.”

“Yeah, with a tv in the corner playing vintage films.” added his companion.

The salesman called it up as instructed. The scene around them looked like someone’s living room, complete with television, side-boards, magazine rack, and a comfy looking leather chair in one corner, covered with paraphernalia.

“Now this is more like it!” Harvey exclaimed, as he and Joe settled further into their comfortable chairs.

“Just like home...” cooed Joe as they slipped their shoes off and relaxed.

“Then,... then, wouldn’t you be better off going home?” stammered the perplexed salesman.

“Now why the hell would we wanna do that when we got home right here?” Joe asked with a look on his face like he’d been asked to run twenty times round the block.

“Now be a good lad and get the beer’s in.” smiled Harvey.

The salesman could do nothing but comply, his eyes clearly betraying his stay-fast smile as he slowly walked away from what he was sure was the scene of some crime...
11 January 2005