Fiction - Summer 2021

Wicked Brew

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By A. E. Stout | June 2, 2021
Ralf Schulze (Flickr/rs-foto)
Ralf Schulze (Flickr/rs-foto)

All day, Old Man McGinty had watched the different festivities at the Highland Games: the caber toss and the sheepdog trials and the young girls in their plaid skirts dancing the Highland fling, all vying for blue ribbons and their picture in the local paper. He had eaten pasties with his family and tried to drink a draught of ale, but only managed less than half and had a slight headache from that. He had looked at booths selling coffee mugs and baseball caps depicting Scottish and Irish family crests. He had watched women in long skirts spinning wool, looking incongruous in the midsummer heat. He had moved through the festival with a happy heart in anticipation of the concert early that evening. Wicked Brew was playing that year. They were Irish musicians in the old tradition, with pipers and drummers and singers, and they knew how to weave the spell of the Celtic sound on their rapt audience. When the time came, when he’d settled into his prime seat, third row center, which he’d procured by arriving at the amphitheater a good hour in advance of the concert’s start, McGinty couldn’t have been more delighted.

McGinty watched as the band set up. He was thrilled to see that a didgeridoo had been added to the assortment of instruments. He could hardly wait to hear the sound that would come out of that big, strange pipe. It was an impressive four and a half feet long, carved out of a dark wood, with elaborate decorations. Next he saw one of the musicians bring out his bagpipes. Ah, he thought to himself, Irish pipes. McGinty’s favorite. If you asked him why, he would tell you that he preferred them to Scottish pipes because they were softer in tone; yes, Irish pipes were distinctly different, he would say, they were not as shrill or loud as the Scottish pipes. Oh, he might exclaim in an unchecked moment, oh, for the sweet, sad notes of the Irish pipes!

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