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The Rhymer's Return

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Rhymer's Gifts". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: The gifts she made were numbered thrice, beneath the Eildon tree. The price he gave was triple paid: three time three the key.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Miscellaneous > Myths & LegendspythiaFR724,805361,1152 Aug 102 Aug 10Yes

Incident Reports

Warnings: Very, very vague reference to mental health issues …
Disclaimers: None of these people are mine. Buffy et al belong to Joss and the rest of those guys. All references to the sterling members of the Hampshire constabulary (and to their procedures) are entirely fictional, and any seeming resemblance will be purely coincidental. Summary:

The gifts she made were numbered thrice, beneath the Eildon tree
The price he gave was triple paid: three time three the key.
Three songs for the tongue that cannot lie
Three tears to pierce illusion’s eye
A kiss to tease
A kiss to please
And a kiss that set him free

Notes: A sequel to ‘Seeking the Rhymer’s Gift.’ Both pieces written for the Summer Of Giles 2010  event.  Inspirational Illustration posted at the end of the story

Extract from PC Bell’s Incident report: 14:00, June 22nd. 

‘While proceeding across Coronation Square on a routine foot patrol, my attention was drawn to the presence of a small crowd (approx 12 people, including three juveniles) gathered at one side of the memorial fountain. As I approached I registered the sound of music – that is, the sound of single male voice accompanied by some sort of stringed instrument. The crowd appeared to be gathered in enjoyment of the performance, rather than in protest or with intent to complain.  I made my way through the crowd and identified the performer as a white, anglo-saxon male, in his mid to late fifties. He looked haggard and was somewhat dishevelled, as if he had been sleeping rough; his hair was tousled, and there was at least a days worth of stubble on his chin. He was wearing scuffed jeans, a well-worn dark sweatshirt, and equally well-worn boots.   In contrast, the guitar in his hands was gleaming and looked expensive; there was intricate inlay on the wood, and from the sound it was producing I deduced that it was a quality instrument and considered the possibility that it may been stolen. 

As the crowd were enjoying the performance I refrained from immediate intervention and spent some time observing the unknown individual. He was clearly aware of having an audience although he paid more attention to his instrument than he did to the crowd. At the end of the song he was rewarded with a small round of applause, which seemed to surprise him – although he did both smile and nod at those people who chose to drop money on the cloth guitar case that sat at his feet. 

I encouraged the crowd to disperse and approached the individual with caution, asking him to identify himself and to show me his busking license. His answers were evasive and bemused. He initially identified himself as Rimer(sp?), then corrected it to Rupert. He denied having a license, or being aware than he needed one. He claimed he was simply trying to obtain sufficient money for ‘a drink, a meal, and a train ticket home’ – although he then proceeded to ask me where he was, and if I could tell him the date. When I informed him of his location, and confirmed both the date and the year, he paled, and started to become agitated, getting to his feet and pushing the guitar into its case. This scattered the money, and he bent to collect it, muttering about needing to get back, and not realising he had been away so long. As this appeared to be a matter of some importance to him, I enquired where he had been, at which point he looked up at me with disconcerting intensity and announced he had been: ‘Away with the fairies.’ On my remonstration at such an unlikely claim, he glared at me and said:  ‘They led me under the hill, and over the meadow. Down the old Elf Road, all the way to the court of the Shidhe. I paid three favours to earn her gifts. I spent three days without food or drink ... and now you tell me three years have passed …’

It was at this point that I decided to call for back-up.’ 

 Report of the custody Sergeant, June 22nd 15:40 pm. 

 “At 15:10, PC Bell escorted in the gentleman he and PC Higgins had earlier arrested for vagrancy and busking without a license. The man gave his name as Rupert Giles, but had no means of identification on him, and appeared to be in a dazed and highly distracted state. He seemed uncertain of his home address, offering one which he said he had been his place of residence three years ago, and then a telephone number, which he said would reach someone who would know him. He then qualified his statement by stating that that had been three years ago too, and expressed concerns as to whether the person concerned had changed their number, or moved, or was even still alive. I asked if he had a more recent contact who might be willing to vouch for his character and he laughed a little hysterically, insisting that three years was recent for him, that he’d been away, and that his hosts – or kidnappers, his references were not entirely clear – had kept him much longer than he had expected them too. He grew increasingly agitated at my scepticism, insisting that he was telling the truth, and that – as much as he wanted to lie to me and tell me what I wanted to know - he was incapable of doing so.   PC Bell had intimated that he was either on drugs, or else suffering from some kind of mental health condition, so, having decided that further questioning would only agitate the man further, I agreed I would get someone to try the number he had given, and that he might feel a little more co-operative after a short rest and a good cup of tea. His reaction to this was extremely positive; he calmed down immediately and accompanied me to his assigned cell without protest. Having dispatched one of the duty PCs to the canteen to make a fresh brew, I then put in a call to the duty ME and requested that she attend as soon as she was able to.’

Extract from Dr McKinley’s notes, June 22nd 16:30 pm

“On my arrival at the custody suite, the sergeant was able to inform me that he had been able to match the subject of PC Bell’s recent arrest with a missing person report, filed in a neighbouring county just over three years ago. The details in the report were sketchy: one Rupert Giles, Senior Executive of an international foundation, had failed to return after a weekend spent visiting various Neolithic and Bronze ages sites in the area. After a fairly extensive search the man’s car had been located close to one of the sites. His wallet and his mobile phone were found abandoned beside the nearby monument, but there had been no sign of the man himself. A grainy photograph presented me with a distinguished and bespectacled gentleman in his late middle age, his expression weary, and his eyes haunted. This image seemed to support the supposition in the investigation report, which suggested that the man, overwhelmed by his responsibilities, had suffered some form of nervous breakdown and had simply walked away from his life. There was a contact number that matched the one the man had given earlier, but I advised the sergeant to wait until I had completed my examination, so that we could inform the man’s family appropriately. 

Before entering the cell, I took a moment or two to assess my patient. I had been told that he had been acting in a dazed and distracted manner, which the arresting officer had attributed to drugs or some kind of mental health condition. But the eyes that caught mine as I peered through the peephole were focused, alert and held a hint of amusement, rather than a suggestion of insanity. He also looked tired: he had the bleary look of a man who had been sleeping rough for several days, if not longer. The stubble on his chin and the dishevelled state of his clothing seemed to confirm this supposition, although he was nowhere near as dirty and unkempt as he should be if he’d been living rough for the entire time since his disappearance. 

I entered the cell and exchanged pleasantries, identifying myself and my intent to examine him. He was entirely co-operative, allowing me to undertake a fairly through examination without protest. Physically, he was in surprisingly good shape; his heart was strong, his breathing clear, and he showed no signs of being under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Nor did he have any signature evidence to suggest he’d been living rough for more than a few days. He was, however, showing some signs of dehydration; when I asked him when he’d last had something to drink, he promptly responded with ‘ten minutes ago.’ He informed me that the custody sergeant had been supplying him with good, strong, hot cups of tea, a kindness for which he would be eternally grateful.   He then explained that he hadn’t actually had anything to drink – or eat - before that for at least three days, a statement which – if true – would go a long way to explain his distracted state at the time of his arrest.

Having completed the physical portion of my examination, I moved on to a preliminary assessment of his mental state, the results of which I found far more concerning. He was able to tell me the date, although he admitted that his certainty of it was rather dependant on the honesty of the constable who’d arrested him and the validity of the calendar on the wall behind the custody desk. He was less certain of his location, knowing the name of the town, but admitting he had no idea how he had got here. He knew his own name – confirming some of the details in the missing person’s report – but every other reply he gave me seemed to be adrift in time, as if the three years he had been missing had passed him by without registering. He named the previous Prime Minister rather than the current one, knew nothing concerning the progress of the World Cup, or about the oil spill in Mexico –  and couldn’t name the current President of the USA.

Throughout my questioning, he offered apologies for his answers, apparently aware that they might be wrong, or giving an impression of confusion. ‘It’s been three years for you, but only three days for me. I think I’ve probably missed a few things.’ The consistency in this statement remained – as if his awareness of the world had stopped at the time of his disappearance, and had only just reasserted itself. Given his apparent rationality, I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that he had, indeed, had had some sort of breakdown, from which he was starting to emerge - until I asked him to explain where he’d been during the three days that he did recall.

His response was utterly impossible and a total fantasy – and he clearly believed every word that he said.”

Transcript of a telephone call undertaken by the duty custody sergeant, June 22nd 17:30pm

‘You have reached the offices of the IWC Summers Foundation. This is Harriet speaking. How may I help you?”

“Ah, yes, hello. This is Sergeant Merryfield, from the Hampshire constabulary. I’m calling to speak to – a Miss Summers, or a Miss … Willow Rosenberg?”

“If that’s Buffy Summers, I’m afraid she’s out of the country at the moment. Miss Dawn Summers has left for the day, but I believe Miss Rosenberg may still be on the premises. May I enquire as to what it is you wish to speak to her about?”

“It concerns a missing person’s report that Miss Summers posted about three years ago? There’s a request that we contact her if any new information comes to light. And the gentleman concerned gave Miss Rosenberg’s name as another possible contact on this number ...”

“The gentleman concerned?”

“Yes – a Mister Rupert Giles – “

“Hold on. Just – hold on. Right there. Don’t go anywhere.”

[The line switches to a few seconds of music, then is picked up again.]

“Hello? This is Willow Rosenberg. This had better not be a joke, because I was in the middle of – something you don’t need to know about – and the last person who called about Giles, trying to make some money out of us is still – well, you don’t need to know that either. Harriet said you were with the police?”

“The Hampshire constabulary, Miss. I’m the custody sergeant at Romsey. Earlier today, one of our constables arrested a man for vagrancy and busking without a license. He identified himself as Rupert Giles, and he matches the description of the gentleman of the same name who was reported missing roughly three years ago.   We have decided not to press charges and our ME is currently arranging for him to be admitted to the local Mental Health Trust. I am required to notify next of kin, and he did give me your name – “

“Whoa. W-wait a minute.  You’ve found him? You found Giles? He’s safe? And you’re admitting him – where? Why would you … is he raving? Is he violent? You think he’s insane?”

“Our ME has concerns about his mental state, yes. He is not violent, although he has become somewhat agitated, and has insisted that we contact you. As for raving … steel yourself, Miss. He – he claims he was – taken away by the fairies. Who kept him for three days, which seems to have become the three years he’s been missing. He’s very insistent about it, and is – upset – that we … don’t entirely believe him. The ME says that we shouldn’t humour his delusion, but – “

“I’m coming down. I’m coming down right now. Don’t let anyone take him anywhere until I get there, you understand? If anyone so much as sticks a needle in him – let alone produces a straight jacket or any of those restrainy things – they’ll be answering to me.”

“I’m sorry, Miss, but we have our procedures …”

“I’m on my way!”

[The line goes dead at this point. The custody sergeant redials the number.]

“IWC Summers foundation. Imra speaking. How may I help you?”

“Yes – I was just on the line with Miss Rosenberg …”

“Oh. Yeah.” [There is a muffled sound on the line, similar to that of a sonic boom heard from a distance.] “Good luck with that. She’ll be with you any moment now.”
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