Many years ago I was riding my bike along a country lane when some men kidnapped me and held me hostage. They asked my parents for a large ransom. But we were a very poor family and although my mother cried on the phone and begged them to let me go, they refused.
They were not viscous or violent men. They were lonely and had experienced enough of the world to hope that violence would sometimes pay.
After a couple of days, I started telling them stories. They listened like starved children at a table laden for a feast. I am not a great story teller, but all food is nutritious and filling when you have had so little.
I told them about the old woman who was tortured by the devil for her soul, the man who only ate pumpkin, the boy who married his kindergarten teacher. And they just wanted more.
So I kept telling stories until my mouth developed ulcers, my back side bled from sitting on the hard chair for too long, and until the police came. I have kept the stories in memory and only wrote them down recently. They are all sad, and pained, but they do provide a valuable lesson.
The lesson is that stories can provide nourishment, light and enrichment for the darkest souls. They can lift the mundane and the everyday above the gutter to stimulate minds and free thought. And the other lesson was to be very careful when riding your bike down a country lane and you see a group of men rushing toward you.