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    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Wizard Part XIV



    Part XIV

    I eased onto the back porch, which was no larger than five feet wide and ten feet across, through the screen door and let it shut smoothly behind me as silently as possible. The truth is, this was one of the few aspects of the house that made no sense to me. It could barely fit a Parisian cafe table and two chairs, but it came with the house. Looking through the door that led to a small hallway that connected to the kitchen. I waited until I was sure nothing was moving beyond it.

    I could hear every sound the knob made as my hand forced it to do its job painstakingly slowly. I was counting on Mr. Toots to be distracted by viscera. When the door finally cracked, I made a mental note to buy some WD-40 for the hinges, then slipped inside.

    The Jug of tonic I'd taken from Pirate Jane's was next to the litter box. I grabbed it and popped the cap, letting it bounce on the floor. I wasn't sure exactly what was going on, but I was pretty sure Pirate Jane had written the instruction on the jug so she wouldn't forget. I didn't have time to ruminate on exactly what Mr. Toots was, or why Pirate Jane had him, but after everything I was pretty sure I knew how he'd lived this long.

    Easing into the kitchen I almost went sprawling as my shoe lost friction gliding across a puddle of blood. I could hear something satisfying itself with food in the living room. The loud crunches had given way to more of a lapping sound and a deep guttural purr that would have made a pit bull piss itself.

    Just beyond the portable island in the center of the kitchen I saw a possible remedy to my problem. An arm lay sprawled on the floor. The ball of the Humerus beckoned from the top of the shirt sleeve. For a second I flashed to the cantina sequence from Star Wars. Hopefully Mr. Toots liked Walrus Man.

    I put the jug down for a second so I could remove the shirt. I was left with a nice length of arm that I could use as a bludgeon if I needed too. I held the arm by the wrist and turned it palm up so the elbow joint wouldn't flop. I took the jug and poured more than a quarter tablespoon onto the shoulder joint.

    I held the arm in front of me and walked down the small hallway that ran beside the stair case. I tipped left into the living room and had to fight my brain from singing Rocky Top. "Half Bear the other half cat..." stuck in my head as I looked at Mr. Toots.

    Rocky Top was practically a hymn in these parts and whether you liked it or not, and I hated it, you knew it almost instinctually by the time you were five or so. Truth is it wouldn't surprise me if someone were to tell me it's actually in the hymnals of some churches around here. But right now I really didn't need the lyrics taking up what little space I had for problem solving.

    I stepped forward and the floorboards underneath ratted me out. Mr. Toots brought his head up from his meal and hissed. This time I almost wet myself. It was at that moment, as the smell of warm raw meat hit me in the face with the breath of the hiss that I knew I could never call him Mr. Toots again. The moniker of Old Man I'd given him was what was going to stick.

    It's a bit hard to describe exactly how he looked, or what exactly he was. His dynamic true form was about three feet tall and four or five feet long. His hair was thick and bristly and all I could think of was he looked like what might be the side effect of a wild boar raping a bobcat.

    He prowled left to face me. We stared at each other for a minute sizing one another up.

    You left a wing Old Man.

    I tossed the arm to him before he could think about pouncing on me. He caught it in his paws and then settled to the floor to give it a good gnaw. His purr changed to a low happy thing, but I could still feel the vibrations of it deep inside me.

    The thing about transformative magic is that it generally defies the laws of science. That's what makes it magic and not physics. Where the mass of him went, I couldn't say, but about five minutes after he started on the arm he was back down to kitty size and looked like he should have.

    He licked his paws and slowly padded toward me making me realize I'd not moved the entire time. My lower back screamed and my knee popped as I bent down to rub him behind the ears. He rubbed against my knee then padded out of the room, leaving me to clean up.

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