He started like this "People always ask me where I get my ideas. They ask how I can phrase my sentences so. They ask where I find my characters."
We nodded, we wondered this as well.
He continued. "It's very simple. But it starts, as all things do, with a story. A story about me, because the stories about me are the best, you know." He winked.
He walked silently, the rain washing away the sound of his footsteps and most of his thoughts. He pulled his jacket against his thin frame and shivered. His mousy blond hair was matted against his skull, wet and dripping and he didn't bother to open his umbrella. He loved the feeling of the rain pouring onto him, caressing his exposed face and skin. He walked with the awkward gait of a young boy, growing into his skin. His bright green eyes darted around aimlessly, taking in everything and processing barely anything. His book bag was slung across his shoulder, bulging and burdensome. He had one goal: get home and dry off.
He didn't notice the man at the end of the sidewalk, sitting on the wet sidewalk with a patchwork umbrella over him, so tattered that it served barely any purpose as an umbrella. The man was wearing an old faded top hat and he wore a bright orange tuxedo. A variety of luggage and strange items were laid out in front of him. The boy kept walking, lugging his book bag around, unsuccessfully trying to flip a wet string of hair out of his face. He collided into the man. He caught himself from falling and began to profusely apologize, blushing bright red. The man stood up and looked at him intently in the eye.
"No harm done."
"I'M SO SORRY, SIR.I DIDN'T SEE YOU! I AM SO.."
"Oh, shush your blabbering boy!" the man grunted.
The boy's lip quivered. "I'm sorry! I wasn't trying to blabber. You see I just feel really.."
"Do you have any stories, boy?" The man interrupted.
"I'm not sure what you mean, Sir.."
"Then obviously you don't have any. I'm a story peddler, you see."
"I buy, sell and trade stories, of course. Sometimes school children have the best whoppers and characters, so I buy 'em off them."
"I don't really understand. How can one sell stories? Like books?"
"No. How do you think people write books? They need to buy a story or an idea, first. Right? You can't write a proper book without one, now can you?"
"So you sell people..plots and such?"
"Exactly! Why I sold Shakespeare half of his stuff. He was one of my best customers! You know Stephen King?"
"Yes?" The boy said, scratching his nose
The man grinned and proudly declared "You are looking at his main source!"
The boys eyes widened. "You sell stories? Like really truly, real authors buy things from you for their books?"
"Well yes. Bad authors and amateurs buy them too. But my stories are hard to handle and they end up killing a lot of 'em. A real shame, but business is business."
The boy looked at him in awe, still perplexed "Can I buy a story?!"
The man chuckled. "Well if I have anything you can afford, sure. But you will have to start with a tamer one. Nothing experimental or crazy or steamy. Youngins like you gotta' start simple. Understand?"
The boy nodded, excitedly. "Do you have anything about pirates?!"
"I might." He began to check through one of his overly large pockets and pulled out a small jar. "This should do."
"Well you think I would just let anyone see my prime merchandise right off the bat?!" The man said scornfully, his multiple wrinkles very visible. "If you buy it, when you get home you can see it!"
"Oh... How much?"
"How do I give you a dream?"
"You tell me a dream of yours. Keep in mind, nothing really big. And then I take it and put in in meh pocket! Got it?"
The boy gave him a strange look. "What's the story about?"
"Lord have mercy..what's the story about? It's about pirates!"
"What about them?"
"It's about a pirate named Will Ferdinand who.."
"That's a dumb name!"
"WELL NO ONE ASKED YOU! Look boy, if you aren't interested I can go sell it to Cornelia Funke or J.K Rowling!"
The boy sighed. "Fine. I'll give you one of my dreams. I just say it?”
The man nodded and wiped some rain out of his eyelashes
The boy shivered and spoke “ Here's my dream. I want to fly."
The man clucked. "Well that wasn't a small dream, but fine. Here is your story!"
The boy felt his stomach make a strange grumbling noise and he coughed loudly. He heard a whoosh in his ears. "What was that?!!"
The man rolled his eyes and pushed some of his gray hair out of his eyes. "Your dream leaving you of course. Here is your story! Now better get out of the rain before you catch a cold." He tossed the open mouthed boy the jar.
The boy caught it his hands and looked at it. He lifted his eyes to the man to realize..he was gone. The boy blinked over and over again. The man was just gone! He walked away slowly, glancing back at where the man had been. Finally, totally confused he began to run home. His heart was beating loudly and he could hear his feet slam against the pavement as he ran. He reached his home, ignored him mom and ran up to his room. He locked the door and stared at the jar. It was still empty. He opened it slowly. He looked inside. It was still empty. He became frantic. THERE WAS NOTHING! Then he became angry. He felt cheated. There was nothing in the jar. He sat on his bed and kicked the air.
We looked at him, confused. "WHAT? Wait..there was nothing? WHAT? So you buy your stories?!"
He laughed. "Of course not. I fill that jar."
"The jar was empty. And I was so mad. I felt cheated and used. I had given away a dream for absolutely nothing. But then I realized how silly it was. It was silly to think that I could buy a story for a novel about pirates from some old man. He sold me another story."
"What other story?"
"The one I just told you. He gave me that story. It's not everyday one get's a story like that. And when I looked back into my jar I could swear I could see little words in it. So I wrote that story down, and another one grew out of it. The more I put into the jar, the more that comes out. That's where I get my stories." We looked at him like he was insane. "That makes no sense!"
"I know!" he laughed. He kept laughing
That's a dumb story!”we roared
“You want another one?” he asked
“YES!” we demanded
“Well it will cost you a dream, then.”