Let me tell you the tale of a man neither good nor bad, but both at the same time. Let me tell you about a man whose story, some say, never ended. Let me tell you the story of Deacon Brodie.
With that, the old man rasps from the back of his clogged throat. His Scottish accent lies heavily on each syllable and he whistles through his sibilance. At the end of a key point he freezes into an expression of disbelief and glances faux-wistfully into the distance. He holds this position for an unnaturally protracted period, allowing his listeners just enough time to think he has lost his way. But then, before any true awkwardness settles in, he whips his arm, bangs his heavy cane, and continues, running through words and hurdling over punctuation, until he stops, exactly as he did before, seemingly mesmerized by his own story.
Dressed in 18th century attire—hat, long-tailed coat, frilly shirt, long socks and buttoned-up trousers—he cuts a mildly ridiculous figure, but is seemingly unaware of own his melodrama and the frayed ends of his cheap costume. He holds forth reflexively, convincing the audience of the narrative’s strength through his enthusiasm.
And then, in a final wheeze—a final creaking, shaking bend of the knees—the story of the life and death of Deacon Brodie, one of Edinburgh’s most infamous hypocrites and the inspiration for Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, is over. Jack Martin, renowned storyteller, doffs his hat, bows, and then returns his hands smartly to the pockets of his waistcoat. He smiles a satisfied smile. A gaggle of Swedish girls dashes to take a selfie with him while the rest of the small audience applauds.