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Friday, June 24, 2011

Edward Baldstreet

This is the story of a storyteller; the late, great Edward Baldstreet.
As a child, he was known as a shirker and a rogue. Somehow he always squirmed his way out of work. There were days he would go down to the local tavern to pick the drunk men's pockets. But usually he'd go down to the stream deep in the woods behind his house where nobody could ever find him.
Down there in the woods, in his own secret spot by a bend in the stream, he would sit, watch, and listen to the water go burbling by. Here he would dream. Dream about faraway places, and daring heroes performing spectacular deeds. Sometimes he'd imagine himself as one of the heroes, riding out on his snow-white charger to rescue a castle or a fair maiden from some evil force. Other times he would be a tragic figure betrayed by a close confidante and killed by a bitter enemy. Mostly he dreamt of heroes long-gone doing deeds long since forgotten.
Unfortunately as he got older he discovered the pleasures of alcohol and soon his secret place down by the bend in the stream, deep in the woods behind his house was forgotten.
But the stories weren't and with the lubrication of alcohol he became one of the greatest storytellers. He could dream up a story in seconds as long as the promise of a free drink was involved, and he tell that tale as if it were a sacred myth centuries old. Over the years he amassed a stupendous arsenal with which he dazzled, entertained, and stunned his audiences.
He lived out his days at the tavern where as a child he had robbed drunken men of their money. He survived on his tales of places he'd never been, people he'd never met, and deeds he'd never seen done.
But one day the tales ran out, the heroes disappeared, their deeds vanishing like mist. Edward Baldstreet passed on with only his fellow drunks at the tavern and the young men who knocked off early from work to ply the drunken old man with drinks to hear one of his amazing tales to mourn his death.
Some say if you visit that tavern in the mid afternoon you might see an overweight old man sitting by himself in the shadows, at a table in the corner waiting for someone to buy him a drink. Others say if you walk along the edge of the woods you will come to a ruined house with a stream running deep in the forest behind it. If you look you might find the flowing water and a small hidden bend where you can hear the stream burbling by, telling stories of where it has been and what it has seen.

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