Death comes to us all,
we all fear the reapers call,
dread and fear,
to us our lives are dear,
he will claim us when we fall.
The sky is grey. It is raining. There is a small village out in the country, it has a pub. The Farmer’s Arms, that’s its name. Inside is a man sat at the bar. The Barman is serving drinks. A mysterious stranger strides into the pub. Now he is sitting next to the first man. The Stranger has a book, there is a number on the front, it is four digits long, a year, two years ago. The men begin to talk.
“I was happy back then.” The first man offered.
“Oh, were you?” Came The Strangerâs reply.
“Yes, I had Margaret then, and Solomon. I was a Cart Wheeler.”
“Ah, the joys of family, I’ve never had them, back when?”
“1568, two years ago, well one and a half but it feels longer.”
“Just a beer for me please and another whiskey for my friend here my good man.”
The first man then made a grunting sound that had qualities of a sigh and proceeded to say “Haven’t seen you around here before, you don’t know my story and you’re buying me a drink. I quite like you but I don’t know who you are or what you do.”
The Stranger paused for a second, thinking about his reply and how much he wished to reveal about himself then stated in his rather deep, almost chilling voice ” I am a reaper, I bring in the harvest.”
“And your name?” the first man inquired.
” I don’t think that I’ll be around long enough for that to be important, how about telling me yours.”
“If you won’t trust me with your name because it’s not important then why should I tell you mine?”
“You would tell me your name because I may wish to speak to you again and I would need to know who to look for. Two years ago, that was a busy time for me.”
“Oh yeah, lots to farm at that point was there? Nameâs William” The Stranger then looked at his new friend, just a quick turn and then turned back to his drink, he was trying to decide whether there was sarcasm in the man’s voice.
“You could say that yes but I’m more interested in your story than how well crop did in the past.”
“OK then, I will tell my story but you keep the drinks coming and don’t get upset when I start insulting reapers.”
” I only wish to listen.” The Stranger went quiet and gave William an expectant look.
William began âSo, OK, wellâŚ right then, it was a hot day, nice and warm, the sort where you just want to be outside, you know in the garden with your family. Oh yes we had a lovely garden me and Margaret, it was only small but that was all we needed, with the greenest grass you can imagine and flowers on the borders, a picket fence surrounding obviously, I mean we didnât want Solomon getting out, did we? Oh it wa-â He stopped rather abruptly because of an interruption.
âWait, who was Solomon? You have mentioned him more than once but you have so far neglected to tell me anything about him.â
âSolomon was my son, the second best thing that ever happened to me was having Solomon, he was five when it all happened. I donât know how I managed to deal with losing them but anyway he was blond with neatly cut hair in a style that I believe was called a bowl cut, he wasnât much more than two feet tall but he was intelligent. Yes, he was and he liked poetry, he was doing it at school, well I say school but we couldnât afford the proper scholaring that the young nobles would have so instead we sent him to talk to the Wisewoman that was part of a group of travellers that came into the village and could be paid in favours such as free goods like eggs or in my case new wheels, the woman taught the youngsters how to read and write and would give them books to read. Every day Solomon would come home and just sit down with some paper, we pinned the best ones to the cupboard in the kitchen and- â
âI understand, he was your son and you clearly loved him very much.â
âI still love him and I go and see him sometimes, anyway can I get back to my story now?â his voice seemed to have become more melancholy when he said this.
âTell me about Margaret first, who was she?â
âOh she was my wife, meeting her really was the best thing that had ever happened to me, before I was with her I was a no-good lay about with a habit of causing trouble, she was the most loving wife a man could have, even when life was hard she stood by me but things didnât get bad often, we made sure of that. She was big as a woman but beautiful, like something out of legends, a Valkyrie maybe. She beat me now and then and it kept me I line, shame sheâs gone.â
âYou may resume the telling of your story.â
âThank you, now where was IâŚ Oh yes, in the garden. Well other than the grass and the flowers there wasnât much in the garden permanently, we didnât need it, we didnât go out often. But when we did go out we took chairs from inside, a buffet for Solomon, two big, sturdy things made from some decent oak for Margaret and me and Fatherâs rocker.â
âRocker?â The Strangerâs voice had changed to a strangely high pitch as he said this, it was the first time that he was uncertain about what William had to say.
âRocking chair.â The reply came quickly and his speech after flowed well. âThen I heard the bell ring, clever things those with their big pulley system attached to a bell in every room, you can know when youâve got visitors when youâre in any part of your property even in the garden if you get a bell put there. I went into the house and answered the door. The house was made of gray stones, lots of different sized bricks cemented together just like this pub, also like this pub it had a wooden door and a thatched roof, the style of house was one of those single floored things, you know, whatâs their nameâŚâ The pause for thought took a few seconds but while he was thinking he was making a humming sound, then he got his answer ââŚbungalows.â
âI was in a field with a wolf and a goat
The wolf ran quickly and ripped out the goatâs throat
The poor goat was dead
Now that it had no head
It wasnât all eaten as it was bigger than a stoat
Where he had learned of such things, you know, death and violence I donât think I shall ever know now but back to the actual story, eh. My father was asleep in his rocking chair, snoring loudly in a rhythm so strange that it seemed as if there was something wrong with him, an old man with a thin fashe, moshtly wrinkled and baldy, shorry bald and wrinkly.â
âMaybe itâs time to stop drinking, it is getting late.â The bell rang for last orders. âIâll take you home, come on, where do you live?â
âI have no home.â