It was a dark and stormy October night. A steady, chill rain tapped at the windowpanes. R.S., safe and snug in the cozy tap room, contemplated closing early for the evening. The clock had not quite chimed seven and the place was aglow with candles and golden firelight. As R.S. peered out the rain-streaked window once more before closing up, he spied a dark figure coming up the sweep.
"Oh well," he mused, "a few more moments of my time and at least I shall make one sale this night." R.S. waited anxiously to see who would venture out on such a night as this. The polished mahogany door slowly creaked open, and a fleeting chill ran up R.S.'s spine as he saw the bony, white-knuckled hand clenching the knob. In with a rush of water and leaves came a thin figure, clad all in soaking wet black. A hat covered the creature's head and the dripping brim concealed his face. As the head turned up, R.S. locked eyes with his neighbor, Mr. Ichabod Crane.
"Why, Mr. Crane!" R.S. exclaimed, "What are you doing out and about on a night such as this? 'Tis not fit for man or beast, as they say." Just then, R.S. noticed the wide-eyed, frantic look in Mr. Crane's eyes and said softly, "What evil malady afflicts you, my poor soul?"
"I, I cannot say for sure, my good barkeep," Crane replied. "I seem to be plagued of late with fever dreams. They have terrorized me so ever since the last full moon. You see, I had a bit of a fright a few nights back as I returned home from work." Now, everyone in town knew of poor Mr. Crane's plight. Crane, meek and mild, was a clerk in town for the penny-pinching Mr. Marley. No one else in town would work for him, save Mr. Crane. His treatment of Mr. Crane was quite ill. Yet Mr. Crane's station in life was a poor one, so he kept his job with Marley & Marley, Msgrs. R.S. imagined Crane was probably delirious with exhaustion after Marley kept him after hours.
"So then, Mr. Crane, you have come to partake in one of my ales, then, to cure you of your ills?"
"Why, yes sir, indeed I have. I came straightaway from Mr. Marley's office. I shall head home after this."
"I insist you do not travel further this evening, Crane. You shall catch your death in weather such as this. Let me get the mistress of our house to make you up a bed for the night."
"I could not impose. I have just come for a growler of your fine Amber Ale and I shall be on my way."
"As you wish, Mr. Crane. And I do believe in the restorative powers of imbibing in a well-crafted ale. The Amber Ale is a fine choice for your this evening."
And with that, Mr. Crane paid what he owed and left the tap room. R.S. watched the solemn figure fade into the gloom. He extinguished the flames and retired for the evening.....
Please stay with us for Part 2 to be released next week.