In the town of Millersville in West Texas, rain was so scarce that if it were all to come at once, it would struggle to make a Chihuahua fear drowning. And yet, through poor decisions, desperation, or just sheer bad luck, more than a few farmers found themselves living there, tilling the earth in a yearly life and death struggle to produce crops.
It so happened that one year a man who called himself Mister Fairplay came to Millersville with an offer. It was in the middle of a town hall meeting about a drought that he showed up in a plain Stetson and dusty rancher’s coat, his face a collage of five o’clock shadow and thousand year stare. “I can get you anything you need,” he said without introduction, his voice as level and dry as the arid plains. “Anything at all.”
“Well, obviously not anything,” said the town manager. “I mean, it’s not like you can bring the rains.”
“Anything at all,” he repeated. “But you as a town gotta decide what your one wish is.”
“And what do you want in return?”
“Nothin’ more than the satisfaction of helpin’ good people.” He turned to leave. “When you’ve made up your mind, I’ll be in Maude’s Diner. I hear she serves a good pie and cup o’ joe.”
There was much debate among the citizens of Millersville. First, what to make of this madman. Verdict: he seemed friendly and harmless. Second, what to make of his offer? Verdict: presuming he was no devil, it was crazy, but what harm could come of making a request? Third, what to ask for. This was less easily settled. Rain, obviously, most said. But how much rain? And when? If they could already commit to the absurdity of asking a man to bring rain, argued Henry Jessup who ran Jessup Hardware, why not ask for a way to control the rain. To bring it when needed instead of some one-and-done affair? Verdict: they would ask for a blessing to be put on a tree that stood in the middle of town. When they watered the tree, the rains would come. If the tree didn’t get watered, the skies would be clear.
Just as he said, they found Mister Fairplay at Maude’s enjoying a slice of rhubarb. He nodded to their request, gave the town manager a “Just as you ask, so it shall be” and a pat on the shoulder, paid for his pie, and left town, never to be seen again. He didn’t even do a strange magical dance or waving of hands around the chosen tree, which made a few townsfolk feel a little cheated.
- Originally mailed to Ross Cowman of Olympia, Washington. Ross creates games for Heart of the Deernicorn, including the award-winning (and breath-taking) Fall of Magic. If you're into role playing games and storytelling games, you should definitely check it out.