I was feeling silly. This popped out.
“My name is…Jeff.”
It was a less than impressive introduction for a sorcerer, and Martin felt underwhelmed.
“That’s it,” Jeff rocked back on his heels.
“No, uh, Maestro of the Mysterious, Wizard of the Secret Skull?”
Jeff wrinkled his nose. “No, I mean…no. I once saved Flatbush from a sea monster, but you know, that’s not that impressive. It’s right by the sea. I mean, if I had saved like Kansas City or Minneapolis from a sea beast, then you’d really have something. Anyway, how can I help you?
“I need someone cursed.”
“Okay, but that’s gonna cost extra. Black magic isn’t cheap. What’s the name?”
Jeff pulled out a notepad and stubby pencil, licked the tip, and poised it over the paper.
“It’s, er, Fluffy. Sir Fluffington the Third actually, but..”
“Wait,” Jeff’s arms dropped to his side, “Is this a cat?”
Jeff sighed and put the notepad and the pencil back in his pocket. “I don’t curse cats.”
“You remember that earthquake in ’85?”
“Cats. Tried to curse one, and as revenge the little bast-” he looked around, “fluffballs crawled into the fault and purred until our china fell off the shelves. I lost a perfectly good Precious Moments figurine that day.
Martin held up a hand. “Are you trying to tell me that quake was caused by cats?”
Jeff nodded solemnly. “Also, the great furball of ’62, but Frank should have known that they don’t have souls.”
“So you can’t help?” Martin asked. His face had begun to fall.
Jeff shook his head. “Sorry. Can I interest you in a love potion? Maybe a charm to ward off warts?”
It was Martin’s turn to shake his head. He slipped his wallet back into his pocket and made his way to the front door, his step a slow shuffle. The bell above the door rung once when he stepped through. When he was gone, a gray cat leapt onto the counter and sat, grooming itself.
“Well done, Jef- hhhhurrrr, hhhhhuuuurrrr, hhhhuuuuurrRRRK – Jeff.”
“Thank you, Sir Fluffington.”
Jeff lifted the hairball gingerly and placed it in a jar under the counter. Sir Fluffington continued to groom as Jeff busied himself around the shop. The jar was almost full. It was almost time.