This is a new story set in the Black Dog Pub. It’s not in the collection for temporal reasons. Namely it wasn’t written when I released the book.
My name’s Casey. I’m the bartender here at the Black Dog pub…well, one of them. Neegan’s the other. I’m a banshee. Neegan…actually, I’m not sure what Neegan is. Tall, good-looking guy. Maybe I’ll ask him one of these days, but I digress.
The subject came up when I was talking to Tim the Clurachaun. You might notice him if you stumble into the Black Dog. Short guy, even for a fae. Wears a red vest. Like their drink, clurachauns, so he’s often here. Oh, and a word of advice—never make a bar bet with a clurachaun. Trust me on this.
Anyway, one evening Tim was on his usual stool muttering into his beer. Or maybe he was scrying, you never know. Finally he puts his chin on the bar and stares into the golden brew.
“’All that is gold does not glitter,’” he says, and I couldn’t help myself.
“’Not all those who wander are lost.’ You read Tolkien?”
“Not a bad storyteller, for a human,” Tim says, “though he had elves all wrong. They’re about as ethereal and wise as a kick in the arse.”
“What about the Seelie Court?”
Tim grunted. “I was referring to the Seelie Court. The Unseelie Court is worse, if more fun.”
Most fae are at least casually associated with one Court or the other. As a banshee I’m usually lumped in with the Unseelie bunch. Not sure why. Foretelling death is a useful service, and it’s not as if I actually kill anybody. Now, if you were talking about my Scottish cousins the baobhan-sith, you’d have a case. Those girls have a taste for blood. Good dancers, though.
Tim drained his beer, ordered another. “Speaking of Tolkien, I don’t envy humans at all…and I very much envy them.”
“At the same time?” I said, wiping a glass. “Not possible.”
Tim nodded, looking morose. “I know. Probably why it keeps happening.”
“How do you not envy them?”
“They have the lifespans of mayflies, by comparison. Most of them go through that short life in a fog, seldom with any sort of a clue what’s really happening around them.”
“And how do you very much envy them?”
He sighed. “They make stuff up.”
I frowned. “Really? That’s it?”
“Casey, darlin’, when we tell a story, it’s something that actually happened, if exaggerated. When they tell a story, they take a kernel of truth and blow it up into an entire myth! Nothing bends reality like a good myth, and they are myth machines! Like Yeats and the Leannan Sidhe, or that Tolkien fellow. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of his high and mighty elves that don’t exist shows up here one day. The fact that you and I are having this conversation right now might be due to one of them making stuff up.”
Tim does get into the foolishness when he’s into his cups. Still, next chance I get I will ask Neegan what the heck he is.
Just in case.
©2021 Richard Parks
Now it makes sense. I’d forgotten about the earlier promo.
Sure you haven’t posted this somewhere before. I’m pretty sure I read this one.
I don’t see how. It’s the first time I’ve posted it here and the only other place it was shown was in a private library group. Though the leanan-sidhe and the clurachan have show up before. Maybe I’m just repeating myself.
Okay, I’ve figured it out. It appeared in your newsletter of 4/22/21, headed “Tales From the Black Dog II-Maybe.” The title was just “Regarding Tolkien” then. That’s a relief — I was going nuts trying to figure out where I’d seen it before!