ELBIE'S BAR and GRILL: THE NEXT NIGHT
For the first time in months the place is standing room only.
The atmosphere is electric with anticipation and curiosity.
Normally those who perform stand in the center of the dance floor and only the brave, or the foolhardy, mounted the stage.
Until the other night it had been months since anyone dared!
So the lights are dimmed, and a spotlight is trained on center stage...
A dark haired figure dressed all in black approaches the microphone and, with a bow toward the audience, begins to speak...
"Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I am a humble weaver of tales.
They are stories of hopes and dreams and fantasies, of comedy, drama and horror. Of what won't be, could be, or even will be.
Who can tell?
My friends call me Sneakeasy and this is my story for tonight...
It is a sequel to one of the most loved fables of your childhood.
Red Riding Hood.
So clear your mind of all clutter, and listen to my tale!"
It was a dark and stormy night unlike any other sixteen- year old Red could remember and, as she stood under the tree in the forest, shivering and soaked, she was annoyed.
Annoyed that she was missing a chance to visit a web site on the Net that her classmates said she just HAD to visit.
Annoyed that her Ma still made her go to Grandma's house when it might rain, and that she STILL had to even make the trip!
Couldn't her younger sister, Livonia, do it now? She was old enough and, besides that, her bike had two flats!
Annoyed that Grandma, after all these years, with no more trouble, had decided to move to another part of the forest.
For crying out loud!
Annoyed at the sound of howling wolves echoing through the forest, their cry a haunting melody in the stormy darkness...
Red shivered as the howling died out and, as soon as it had begun, the rain stopped.
Looking at the sign at the crossroads she took the directions her Ma had given her out of her pocket.
Now what was she to do? The ink was washed away and she couldn't tell whether to go left or right.
Hearing the startled cry of a child and looking around, she saw a little girl, no more than 5 ½ years old.
"Are you lost?" asked Red.
"My name's Beatrix and, no, I'm not lost, just scared by the storm," said the child.
"Where do you live?" Asked Red.
"In the clearing," said the girl, pointing down the left path, "Oh, you are wet, like me! Come meet my family. We're having a gathering. I'm sure Mommy, Daddy, and CT would be pleased to have you for dinner."
Red thought a moment and, deciding that she needed to dry, and WAS hungry, told the child to lead the way.
As they arrived at the cottage in the clearing, the beauty of its surroundings amazed her.
The child called out so many strange names, in waving to the people sitting near the porch, that she couldn't keep them ALL in her head.
Names like Denali, Lon, Kipp, Canis, Blake, Willow, Jack, and even one called Fang, who winked at her and smilingly said, "I ain't THAT big and bad a fellow, once you get to know me, ya know."
The child took her by the hand and led her into the cottage, past a man with a camcorder, whom she called Daddy, and finally to a woman on a couch.
"Mommy, Mommy, look who I found out by the road!" the child cried. "She's wet and everything, just like me! I knew you'd be pleased to have her, I mean, can she stay for dinner?"
As she looked around the room, and saw the paintings of wolves hanging on the walls, the odd turn of phrase, used again by the child, slowly registered in Reds mind.
"Why, yes, dear child, we certainly shall!" a booming voice full of laughter said from the kitchen, and Red watched as a large man wearing an apron, and holding an old little dog lovingly in his arms entered the room.
"The oven's just about properly heated, " he said, looking (was that hungrily?) at her.
"Oh goody, CT!" the child cried with pride and glee and, looking at Red, said, "See I told you they'd be pleased."
Red noticed that the subject of the painting with pride of place looked frighteningly familiar, and she caught her breath in shock.
She turned to the door and tripped over a hissing cat.
A voice growled, "Down Hokie!" as the cat slinked away into the shadows...
As she gathered her wits about her, face down on the floor, CT continued, "I see young Red that you noticed Aesop. You DO remember Aesop don't you, my dear?"
It all came flooding back to her, as if 6 years had only been yesterday.
"No!" she screamed, as she opened her eyes, "You're lying!"
There, before her unbelieving gaze, were 3 adult wolves and a young, eager, cub.
She turned and dashed outside only to be surrounded on all sides by a howling pack of big hungry wolves.
Wondering where all the people had disappeared to, Red moaned and sank helplessly to the ground, as she realized the awful truth...
CT padded out of the cottage and, standing before her as a man again, spoke through a glistening smile.
"Come now, child, you didn't think we'd forget now did you? Such pain was caused by the defeat of one of our own. He was something of a maverick but he was still one of us, and made us proud.
We watched and planned for this night and, knowing you were making a visit to your Grandma's new home, sent the child out to play in hopes you would meet."
The last thing Red saw on God's good earth were a pack of werewolves closing in for the kill and the last thing she heard was the voice of CT...
"We are so pleased to have you for dinner, my dear..."
As the Storyteller ends his tale, the light on center stage fades to black, then after 1 minute, the light comes on again to reveal an empty stage...
As one, the audience releases its collective breath...
too stunned to do more than stare at the spot where he had stood just a moment before...
Continue on to: The Storyteller wants YOU!