I have, I believe, completed the task of resurrecting the lost web log posts. I’ll examine the matter more closely later. But for now I’m tired. To quote Jimmy Buffett, “I must confess, I could use some rest.”
Rest is something we look for even in fiction. We want our characters to have a chance to catch a breather. Tolkien knew this well: Frodo and company interleaved dangers with places of repose. Who wouldn’t want to take a room in Rivendell for an extended break? I for one sympathize with Bilbo’s desire to stay there in peace and finish his book.
Fitting into fictional characters shoes, we want them to enjoy happiness, even though maintaining interest in the narrative demands the characters suffer and struggle. Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion(s) enjoy occasional periods of contentment, well-earned interludes of domestic tranquility. Those seldom take up much page space, but we readers feel the value of it, know it was deserved, and — even though that’s what we’ve paid our dime for — cringe when the inciting event drags the hero away from the bubble of peace.
I’ll be taking a rest of sorts myself. I’m taking a few days off and driving MBW and the HA up to Nebraska to my sister’s house for Thanksgiving. Of course I’ll still be writing, but at least I can take a break from the day job. I wish you all a relaxing Thanksgiving. Perhaps you might like something to read during the holiday. Any one of these ought to keep you entertained.
And now, for those of you following Magnus Stoneslayer’s exploits and commentary, here are a few of his observations on tavern brawls.
A solid hunk of beef bone provides a pretty decent makeshift cudgel, dear diary. A heavy wooden or pewter tankard isn’t bad either, though a trifle unwieldy. A torch can be quite effective too. Any given torch might lack a certain heft, but the flames always prove a deterrent. A serving platter can serve as both club and shield, ungainly in either role, but one can’t always be choosy. Then there’s crockery and glazed pottery dishware to smash over heads – usually quite substantial in their pristine state and afterwards an abundant source of sharp implements. Oh, the list of weapons ready to hand is infinite.
I have firsthand experience with this of course, having resorted to all of the above and more in my time. But what brings it up now is the tavern brawl that erupted around me this evening.
Two wine sodden wastrels started arguing over the favors of a harlot who wanted nothing to do with either of them to begin with. Their tussle became general when the wild roundhouse of one combatant so unbalanced him that he fell full length across a table, upsetting the wobbly board and spilling the assorted goblets and flagons on both the floor and the suddenly aggrieved drinkers. And so the fracas spread like a fever.
I sat alone at a small table in the center of the tavern, a vantage point reasonably well lit by the smoky torches and sputtering oil lamps set about the perimeter of the dank, low-ceilinged dive. Flailing arms, butting heads, and driving knees milled about me.
One brawler, bent backwards at the waist by the throttling hands of his assailant, groped blindly behind him, his fingers coming into contact with the ceramic wine bottle on my table. He turned his head slightly, shifting his shoulder to stretch farther, and his hand closed about the bottle. But at the same time his gaze met my glare. His clutching fingers released their grip, limply, then stiffened to claw at his antagonists groin and the pair reeled back into the melee.
So at length, after a fine entertainment enjoyed from the best seat in the house, I found myself essentially alone, surrounded by detritus: dented pewter mugs, beef bones festooned with clinging shreds of meat and blood (both bovine and human), broken crockery and broken heads.
And I, dear diary, sat and gulped wine betwixt smiling lips.
Until tomorrow, dear diary.