Creative Writing (1): “The finger-licking Scotsman”, by Steffen Härterich  (LKE 97/99)

1) It was one of those rainy Scottish evenings when Scott MacScotch sat down in his old armchair to read one of his three books. It was his 28th reading of this particular book but what did he care? It was the very thing he liked. Nothing is cheaper, he thought, than sitting in front of one’s own fireplace reading a book with the taste of whisky (home-distilled, of course) still fresh on one’s tongue. (The fact that he was rather partial to that beverage should be fairly obvious from the size of his nose.)

That afternoon, accompanied by his trusty collie Bookie, Scott MacScotch had ventured outside to collect some fire wood. It was his lucky day: He almost stumbled over a pile of freshly cut logs, just right for his fireplace. (What he didn’t know was that the person who had cut those logs was an American tourist looking for his Scottish roots. He, too, liked the taste of whisky, but he preferred it “on the rocks”, not in an armchair. The American had slipped on a rock and broken his leg and was now shouting for help – but the rain and the wind muffled his cries and so nobody heard him.) Scott MacScotch happily picked up as many of those logs as he could carry and went home.

2) So with a nice fire crackling in the fireplace, Scott MacScotch now was sitting in his armchair ready to enjoy again his favourite book “Mary Queen of Scots, What a Brave Heart!” (The other two were “The Art of Playing the Bagpipes” and “The Kilt, Scotland’s Answer  to Jeans”.) Everything seemed fine, but then he realised he had a problem: His fingers were dry, the book was dry – not the content, but the pages – and there was still some sawdust from the freshly cut logs on his fingers. So he could not turn those bl**** pages! Well, the solution to this problem should have been easy: He would only have to moisten one of his fingers by licking it with his tongue. But his tongue still exuded some trace of that delicious whisky he had just imbibed and who would want to waste even a droplet of this precious liquid? Certainly not him!

3) But wait a moment! Wasn’t there someone right beside him and wasn’t that someone’s tongue wet with good old Scottish rain water? And, believe me, there’s a lot of rain in Scotland! (So the question of “waste” did not arise.) That someone was, of course, Bookie. Yes, Bookie, the Scottish collie who just loved the smell of books! (Whether it was the print or just the paper is hard to say.) So why not kill two birds with one stone? Place your finger in front of Bookie’s nose, wait for him to first sniff and then lick it (the finger, not the nose!) with pleasure, and then turn the page with the now well-moistened finger and so on and so forth. (This method had the added advantage for Scott MacScotch that his neatly kept moustache wasn’t interfered with by any finger-licking activities of his own.)

4) No wonder it turned out to be an enjoyable evening, both for Scott MacScotch and Bookie. His finger moistened by Bookie’s tongue, Scott MacScotch was ready to discover what he already knew. He knew every single word in this particular book since he had already read it 27 times. And, yes, Mary had indeed been treated horribly by that witch Elizabeth, but that wasn’t the point here. He didn’t care for surprises. What he liked was the expected, in other words: familiarity.

He couldn’t think of a better way of spending an evening: a warm fire, a trusty dog, a good book and one or two drams of the “water of life”, in other words whisky, a drink he never called “Scotch” – only Americans did that and, worse still, they diluted the heavenly beverage with ice cubes, calling it “whisky on the rocks”.