Sunday, 27 January 2013

Talk Back Billy

After a week of absence, here it is, my answer to the prompt.  This one was very difficult for me.  Enjoy!

***Writing prompt 633 - That snappy reply you never had a chance to say ***

There was once, in the middle of nowhere, a village.  It wasn’t a big village, nor was it interesting either.  There were no important roads nearby, nor were there any tourist attractions.  It was plain, boring and far from special.  Why tell its story then?  Because in this tiny village, there lived a man who always needed to be right.  It didn’t matter what you said to him, Talk Back Billy - that was his name- always had the last word.  In fact, anything said after his last utterance was the beginning of a new conversation.  He was witty, something funny but most of the time snappy.  Everyone in the village pitied the woman who would eventually marry him.  To be honest, his only hope was to find a deaf one.  There were none in the village; everyone believed that he would die alone.  It didn’t seem to bother the man one bit.

One day, as most of the villagers had gather at the only restaurant in town, a woman walked in.  She was tall and slender.  No one had ever seen her in these parts.  To tell the truth, these people were weary of newcomers; they didn’t like to see the peace disturbed and so they let Talk Back Billy handle her.  Under their watchful eyes, he walked up to her as the owner was serving her a beer.  Everyone wanted to hear what would be said but the kids were rowdy and the drunks loud.  Afterwards, some of the villagers would boast of actually having heard something when in fact, the whole conversation would forever be clouded in mystery.  One thing is undeniable, something queer happened during that short exchange.

Talk Back Billy spoke first.  The villagers expected the woman to try to say something then be interrupted by the man voluble chatter.  It was not so.  She kept on talking and talking and talking.  She talked so much that the whole crowd finally fell silent, even the children and the drunks.  They all waited for his reply, yet, it never came.  The woman smiled at Talk Back Billy, downed her bear then walked out without even turning around.
As soon as the door closed on her, the whole place exploded with noise.  Everyone wanted to know what had happened, who was this woman who could have the last word.  They questioned the man, again and again, but he refused to answer and soon left the restaurant leaving a trail of gossip.

The story would have died here if something even stranger hadn’t happen afterwards.  From that they on, Talk Back Billy stopped talking back.  Actually he soon stopped talking altogether.  The villagers were bewildered.  They hadn’t enjoyed his ways much, but they liked this new Billy even less.  The poor man started losing weight, his eyes sinking in his skull in dark circle.  His skin turned dry and brittle.  He soon was rechristened Old Man Billy.  The villagers pitied him.  They were also scared of him.

Then, one day, he disappeared. His house was found empty, the inside covered in dust as if no one had lived there for ages.  On one of the wall, the words “Find the word thief” were written in trembling letters.  Billy was never found.  Nor was the woman.


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