“I don’t see why not,” I said. And, in truth, it seemed like a great idea. Over the past week, I’d been thinking about our contest, the two tales we’d already heard, and which was stronger. Though the question of who would be going next hadn’t entered my mind more than a couple times, it was really an important question.
The Writer, whose twitches had subsided to a much more manageable level, took a sip from his ale and said, “Who’s it going to be? I can always go next, perhaps I can weave a yarn about—”
“No,” the four of us said in unison.
The Writer shrugged his shoulders and glanced furtively around the pub.
“How about you?” asked The Traveler to The Drunkard.
“Yeah. You’re in journalism, so I’d expect that you’ve got some interesting things to say. Doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s completely fictional, to be honest.”
“Now hold on,” said The Writer. “Doesn’t have to be completely fictional? I thought that we were telling stories that only happen in the imagination! That were only brought to us on the wings of the Muses! To expect—”
“Goddamnit,” said The Student, leaning over to me, “is this guy a fiction writer or a poet?”
“—that we would interject our own, base, unworthy lives into this contest is laughable! I should say—”
The Drunkard smacked The Writer upside the head with his open palm. “Shut up. You’re telling me that bullshit you said on the plane didn’t happen to you?”
“That is exactly what I’m saying, and I would appreciate it if you would cease attacking me—”
“When I attack you, you will be laid up for a good week and a half. Son,” the Drunkard continued, “what you told us was so laden with pretentious and angst-ridden bullshit that to say it was fictional is a lie on par with saying Saddam Hussein was a direct threat to the United States.”
The Writer mumbled into his drink and took a swig.
“Fuck it,” said The Drunkard, “I’ll give you a story. It might not be the best I have to offer—on account of you all just now asking me to tell you one—but it’ll be better than this shmuck’s by a long run. When I was working on a paper in my senior year at Cumberland Rift University, I was sent away to follow the Republican candidate on his election circuit. Now, they gave me an allowance of a thousand dollars to spend on—”
“Ey lads, what’s going over here?” asked a man who was rapidly swaggering towards us from the other side of the pub. He was tall, about six-five. He had short-cropped brown hair, tanned skin, the build of a body-builder, and wore dark jeans and a black t-shirt that had the words “Fuck Heidi” ironed-on in pink. “You telling stories, yeah?”
“I, uh,” I said.
“Well, yeah,” said The Traveler.
“Wicked. You know,” he said, pushing The Student out of his chair and taking his place (I got up, gave The Student my place, and leaned against the wall), “I’m a pretty good storyteller myself.” He cleared his throat. “Comes from watchin the telly most of the day, don’t it?”
“I see,” said The Traveler. “Well—”
“Tell ya what,” the man continued, “why don’t I tell you Yanks a story, show you what’s done.”
The Traveler and The Writer exchanged a quick glance that said, “This man can easily snap us in twain, we should probably ease him out of this.”
“Well, I don’t think that—”