Punch line

“Let’s just get on with it,” said the storyteller.

“I’m game,” said the told. “Go ahead.”

“Well,” the storyteller began, and then paused.

“Very deep, very good,” the told said. “Is there more?”

“You’re very impatient,” said the storyteller.

“Oh, no, I’m very patient,” replied the told. “I have traveled far and wide, and I have found many stories to keep me company and entertain me and lift me up up and away. I need not wait for your story, or stories, and yet …”

“And yet?” asked the storyteller.

“I have heard snippets of your tales, and they seem to be intriguing,” said the told. “You go so far, and then say ‘I will finish the tale someday.’ Unfinished journeys leave an emptiness; only one unfinished symphony is immortal.”

“What if I told you I don’t know how it ends?”

“Oh, I think you do. I think the problem is you don’t know how to get from here to there. Am I right?”

“More right than I realize,” said the storyteller.

“Don’t you see that I’m willing to come along with you — that many roads will take you there, and let’s just pick one and see where we end up?” said the told.

“What if I write the end —” said the storyteller.

“Just don’t tell me yet!” said the told.

“Of course not, but what if I write the end, and then go back to the beginning, and tell you about that, with the end always in the back of my mind?”

“Duh! Isn’t that how storytelling works?” said the told. “It’s like a joke, building up to the punch line. Are you seriously asking that question?”

“Let’s call it a refresher,” the storyteller said.

“OK,” said the told. “Are you ready to get on with it, or should I find another storyteller and check back with you later?”

“No, please stay,” the storyteller said. “Once upon a time …”   

Leave a Reply