“Most people entertain a pleasant superstition that Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and sold his soul to the devil in return for unparalleled skill with the guitar,” the professor wiped a daub of chalk of his wrist, then turned his sharp eyes back to his Montana-like classroom, his words echoed with plenty of empty chair-space to reverberate.
The black student continued to thumb away at his phone, barely hidden under his desk. The two girl students managed vague eye movements of interest. The fat kid on the side tapped his pencil and seemed to be quietly humming to himself.
The professor continued, “But what would you say if I told you that the true explanation if far more strange and alarming?”
Black:thumb. Girls: eyes. Fat: tap.
“What if I told you that instead of any mythic manifestation of Evil, Robert Johnson was met by a SPECTRAL PTERODACTYL?!?” he bellowed.
The pencil, eyes, and phone all hit the floor.
“Like…a dinosaur?” one girl asked slowly.
“Exactly,” the professor crossed his arms with satisfaction.
“Uh…” the fat one vocalized in an acceptable D flat.
“Sir.” the black student raised his hand, the professor nodded. “I know that maybe we haven’t been paying as close of attention as you’d like in your class–”
“I’m not yanking your chain,” the professor interrupted. “I am telling you something important and true. Robert Johnson was taught to play the blues, better than perhaps any other human before or since, by a ghostly flying reptile.”
“But that’s crazy, sir. I don’t know why you’d say—”
“Let me ask you a question. How did he get the skill then? If NOT from a Pterodactyl?”
The second girl chimed in.” Natural talent.”
“Good marketing.” the first girl supplied.
“No no, what we know about the situation is very clear. Before that night he was an okay player, after that night was a god. This fact is not in dispute. Hundreds of reliable, ear-witness accounts – even the recordings that survive. A clear-cut piece of musical history. Something happened that night, some event, something extraordinary. None of the things you’ve suggested could have caused such rapid improvement.”
“But the devil explanation is just as plausible as the…”the fat student winced. “…dinosaur explanation. What makes you so sure that it’s the correct one and not the other?”
The professor sighed with weariness. “Because the Devil is a hadrosaur and only plays country.”
Resurrected my long dormant feature ‘Story on Demand’ to help get my writing dynamos spinning again. Someone suggests an idea and I write some flash fiction about it. Today’s ‘winner’ is Brent Thomas – who is also a writer with a new book BOUT TO BE OUT.