Happy Thursday evening, all!
Did you know that a female turkey can, in the absence of any males, reproduce all on her own?
-snaps fingers “Don’t need no man” style-
That’s weirdly topical because of today’s story. It’s an excerpt from from a longer work that I wound up scrapping, but thought was really fun on its own. It might make a revival some day in one form or another, but the basic gist was about a kid sorcerer named Samson that ran a magical detective agency/law firm inside his own head called “Hitchcock and Grayson’s”.
The name came from a trip to Oakland my girlfriend I went on some years back. We went to the Morcom Rose Garden where we met a house cat with a little name tag that informed us his name was Grayson (the name tag, not the cat – though that would have been pretty cool too). As well as a (presumably wild) turkey that we named Hitchcock for the shape of its neck and jowls. Thus, ‘Hitchcock and Grayson’s’ was born! (In name, anyway.)
Without further adieu, may I present:
Virgin Mental – Hitchcock and Grayson’s
Phelp Harris stood outside a door in an alleyway as a clock somewhere struck midnight. He breathed out of his nose as he shivered and watched the cold turn his breath into wisps that danced in the air. Should be in and out in twenty, they’d said. Forty minutes ago, he’d believed the guy. Personal Protective Services usually meant a lot of standing around looking tough, but not in the freezing goddamn cold. This job was supposedly easy money, though. They didn’t expect any trouble, so They said, and just wanted some muscle with a background in brawling if the situation called for it. Maybe a shady pitch by a shady character, but for what They were paying him, Phelp felt it was easily worth it.
The soft clapping of footsteps sounded at the edge of the sidewalk by the alleyway. Phelp straightened his back and puffed out his chest as the sound came closer. Showtime, he thought. Standing in the bubble of bleak lighting offered by a single exposed light bulb, the approaching figure was smaller than he’d expected, silhouetted against the distant streetlight. “Hey, can I help you, kid? Doesn’t seem like the kinda place you ought’a be.”
Stepping into the pale light was a boy, no older than maybe twelve or thirteen with light, woody brown hair, hazel eyes that blinked more often than they should, and a space between his front teeth big enough to fit the right Lego piece if you tried. He was dressed in a Hard Rock Cafe t-shirt under a puffy red vest, jeans with holes at the knees, shoes just a size or two too large for his feet, and a backpack. “Is Danny home?” he asked.
Phelp blinked his eyes in confusion. “Kid, I don’t think you heard me. You don’t belong here, understand? Now run along and find your parents, or something.”
“If they were around, you think I’d be in a back alley with some perv at midnight on a weekday?”
“What the? I ain’t no perv, kid,” said Phelp defensively.
“Just sayin’. You’re the grown up here with an unsupervised eleven year old. It’s the dead of night, no one knows where we are. Kind of fits the formula wouldn’t ya say, PedoBear?” The kid pulled out his phone and made a show of pretending to tweet about it.
Oh, a wise ass, huh? Time to turn
this up a bit. “Listen kid,”
Phelp said pulling back the flap of his jacket to reveal the handle
of a 9mm Glock. “Like I said, you need to go. Ain’t the place for
you.” Phelp gave a half guilty smirk at the kid’s startled
reaction. It soon faded as the boy’s sobs became hiccups and then a
full fit of the chuckles.
“Listen, Harris- can I call you Harris?” began the boy. “Whatever they’re paying you, I’ll double it.”
“Hang on a second, kid. How’d you know my name?”
“You’re wearing a name tag.”
“Yeah, ya are.”
Phelp looked down and saw a ‘Hello, my name is’ sticker on his chest that he knew sure-as-shit wasn’t there a minute ago. “What the…?”
“You want some gum?” offered the kid, already chewing.
“What? No,” he said, inspecting the sticker with his name written on it. Looking at it more closely, he could smell it had been written with scented marker.
“Suit yourself.” The boy chewed for a moment and, after a look of eye-crossing focus, blew a gum bubble through the gap in his teeth. “So, what d’you say? Wanna make some money?”
“Look, kid,” Phelp said, discarding the sticker. “You really gotta get outta here. Not safe for you. You don’t go, I’m gonna have to make you.”
“Ooo-hoo-hoo!” sang the boy. He did a little dance in place pretending as if he was scared.
Strike two, you little prick, thought Phelp.
“You seriously don’t want to take the bribe? I thought bribes were like, like hotcakes to bouncers n’ hired goons. Seriously, I can pay.” The boy reached into a pocket in his vest and produced a roll of bills which he undid and counted out eight hundred dollars.
Phelp stood in place with eyes wide as the youngster handed him the money.
“Who the hell are you, kid?”
The boy smiled coyly and said, “Your worst nightmare.”
Before Phelp could react, there was a bright, silent explosion of color. A massive rainbow of light spouted forth from the kid’s open palm like a snow making machine, enveloping the surprised bodyguard. When the effect ended and the lonely bulb resumed its monopoly on light supply in the alley, Phelp was left dazed and stupid on the ground beside the door, froth dripping from the corner of his mouth. The kid blew another bubble through his teeth and wore a proud smile.
He stepped over the crumpled body that was Phelp and tried the knob on the, frankly, shack door to the building. It was locked. The boy gave a short huff before laughing to himself with an inspired tap to his noggin. He bent over and closely scrutinized the door’s surface. He reached out and gave it a light flick of his finger. The face of the solid door rippled like the disturbed surface of a still pond. The boy looked down at Phelp before stepping through.
“Oh, or just Samson for short.” And with a wink, a name tag appeared on the front of his vest before he disappeared through the once solid door.
The Take: This one was really fun. I think it was one of the first little doo-dad’s I wrote where I got to use magic. It was a bit of a hump getting over those jitters and realizing it was sort of okay to say something happened “because magic”. Anyway, edited a little bit because the sentences were, upon review, pretty damn run-on-y, but I left in the dumb PedoBear joke that I still think is pretty cringey. Overall, it was a fun little scene to put together with magic, character, n’ goofs.
Anyway, happy Thursday and I’ll see ya next week. Ciao, for now.
Interested in more? Like knee-slappers and chin-scratchers? Check out my first published work in the Third Flatiron’s “Hidden Histories” anthology here:
Today’s FableFact source: