Good evening. This week’s story has a story of its own. From a classic rock song to a drunken idea, to an amateur writer, to a slightly-more-experienced amateur writer, this one has come a long way. It’s still far from finished, but I present it to you here as a work in progress. Tell me what you think. Don’t be gentle.
These were the first words that John Horton heard as he limped home on a moonless Friday night. He carried a small case by his side, but that was not why he limped. An evening at the local bar had rendered his footfalls somewhat unsure but that is also not why he limped.
No, he limped because, by a quirk of fate, he was the oldest in town by a considerable margin. Some left, some died, but not John Horton. He limped because at some point in his late teens he had suffered an accident that still defied explanation. From time to time he was asked, but his descriptions were either entirely unforthcoming, or differed so wildly in their tellings that people had years ago ceased to ask.
He limped from sunup to sundown, across fields or streets; he had limped to church every Sunday for the last sixty-six years, and that is, generally speaking, the only time he was seen. The children avoided his path, the youngsters shied away. The tradesmen nodded respectfully, or plied him with drink when he occasionally surfaced in the bar. I don’t think any one of them could have said why they did this; they did it because it was done. It was the done thing. Mr Horton’s a little different – get him a beer, don’t stare too much.
Tonight had been one of those nights. Horton had long felt that the town held little for him, but on occasion – and questioning ever more why he did so – he would venture forth. The townsfolk talked of things outside his comprehension and the young men tasting their first beers seemed to grow ever younger. Not to mention ever bolder, John had thought more than once before. Was I ever so prideful?
And there was only one answer he could give: Of course I was.
Nobody knew what had happened that night in the depths of summer, but they knew that Johnny Horton had come home one day with about a million dollars’ worth of gold, in the shape of a fiddle. He had strode into the inn like a conquering hero, drawn his bow, and played one single note.
So began the days of wonderment. After them were the days of worship, followed by the days of fear. Next came respect, and then friendly cajoling, which brings us roughly up to date: these were the days of crazy old Johnny. Get him a beer, don’t stare too much. Mr Horton’s a little different.
As John Horton limped home on a moonless Friday night, came a voice both familiar and despised:
‘Hello, Johnny,’ it said.
‘Hello, Georgia,’ replied Horton, without turning. ‘Guess I better rosin up.’