The Thatched Man

There was a little thatched man who lived in the woods in a little thatched house.

Every morning at ten he would go to his front gate (which was locked) to see if the newspaper had come (which it never did); and every afternoon at three he would go to his front gate to see if the mail had arrived (which also never did).

But the man was not disappointed, because he believed in magic (the good kind); and so many long years went by, broken only by the fluttering whistle of owls which he occasionally mistook for magic (rather than merely magical), causing the owls to loud-laugh at his expense (for which they felt badly later).

Most days, late in the day, the man would sit at the back of the house, by the creek, and watch the water lap at the rocks and make the moss dance. Some days, gum wrappers would float by. Other days (days he could not predict), the man would rush out into the woods and bellow for the magic to show itself (but it would not). On those days, the owls would feel sorry for him (and say nothing).

Today (like most days), the man settled in to watch the creek and found that it was not flowing (not like any other day at all). The water did not lap, the moss did not dance, no gum wrappers floated by. The man's face reflected back at him clear and undisturbed. Yet the water wheel at the side of his house turned gently (and without heed).

All was quite quiet, and so the man could easily hear when the footsteps began to come along the gravel path. They were colorful footsteps (blue, green, yellow, with a taste of crimson and gold, and pewter softening the edges). They were dainty footsteps (spongy but sure), and the gravel protected them. They were footsteps that smelled like hair. And they were decidedly female. The man could not help but to listen and to smile.

The footsteps paused by the nimbus of carefully-woven geraniums that prowled the front gate of the little thatched man's little thatched house (he had not planted the geraniums, but he did mind them as if they were his to worry over and plot about); and then the footsteps turned and went through the gate and up the path toward the front door and into the house.

The man was delighted (not amazed, not astounded, and not swaggering either). Today was the day he had finally unlocked his gate and left it open (for no reason other than he had done so). It was a sunny day, but so were so many others. The trees were full of leaves (but they always were). Yesterday was gone (but not forgotten), and tomorrow was sure to come (if not for him than at least for everyone else), and yet today was the day he had unlocked the gate (and thrown it open).

The little thatched man would often look back (with her in his arms) and ask himself about that (ask himself why); and, for the rest of his life, that was the only question left unanswered. The only one. And he was okay with that (so much okay that he bellowed no more). But the owls still found him amusing.

About the author:

Brian Alan Lane is a novelist, nonfiction writer, media commentator, attorney, professor, and screenwriter, whose bestselling book, "Cat and Mouse", was described as "A masterpiece which could have been concocted by Vladimir Nabokov" (The Boston Book Review). Mr. Lane has written and produced more than one hundred television pilots, series, episodes, feature films, and omnimedia exhibitions; his short stories are published regularly in literary journals worldwide. Mr. Lane is Publisher of the renowned literary journal "Sweet Fancy Moses"; the creator/writer/producer of the SciFi Podvision and Mangacast Novel "The Peacemaker"; and his day job is Professor of Writing through the College of The Arts at California State University Long Beach, where he has just launched a sui generis inter-disciplinary MFA Degree Program in Dramatic Writing. Mr. Lane is a member of the State Bar of California, the writers organization PEN USA, the Mystery Writers of America, and the Writers Guild of America (where he has been honored with the award of Lifetime Active Membership and a place on the credits policy board).