Here’s something from the current piece. For fellow West Seattleites, the coffee shop in question is indeed the Admiral Bird. This is a sequel to “The Wizards of West Seattle,” which is available in Neither Here Nor There, just out this week!
â€œYou need to stop holding a grudge about it,â€ Penny said.
Albert snorted. â€œYou tried to kill me!â€
â€œIâ€™m a demon. Thatâ€™s my nature. And it was one of the old ladyâ€™s tests. You donâ€™t need to worry about me any more.â€
Albert didnâ€™t say anything, but he was unconvinced. In the months since heâ€™d become apprentice to May Huang, one of the wizards of West Seattle, heâ€™d faced several tests, but none as harrowing as that long chase down Alaska Way towards Alki with a long-faced and eager Penny on his heels. Only his encounter and subsequent alliance with Mr. Gray had put a stop to that, and Albert was still unsure what the consequences of that would be.
Penny mocked him. She manifested as a bright-eyed woman of indeterminate age, her face sharp-featured. â€œOh, Penny, youâ€™re so scary, oh Penny I can never unsee what I have seen, oh Penny please donâ€™t eat my soul.â€
â€œIâ€™m unclear why donâ€™t eat my soul is an unreasonable demand.â€
â€œIâ€™m just saying, you donâ€™t need to worry about it. Anyhow, Huang wants me to teach you about oracles.â€
They were walking down California Ave, passing the Admiral Theater. They both saluted the Little Free Library there, Penny with a graceful curtsey, Albertâ€™s bow slightly more awkward, as they passed.
â€œI know how oracles work,â€ Albert said smugly. â€œThatâ€™s how I knew you were something other than human. I found the Oracle, left a crayon in his path.â€
â€œHeâ€™s powerful because of the limitations on his magic,â€ Penny said. â€œBeing able to use only found objects is pretty severe. But there are other routes.â€ She pointed. â€œWeâ€™re headed to the Bird. I need coffee.â€
â€œIsnâ€™t that a flower shop?â€
â€œAnd here you have a principle of oracles. Anywhere boundaries blur, they can manifest.â€
Heâ€™d passed the store a hundred times on walks and seen the flower shop sign, but closer inspection proved the front was a coffee shop, shifting into flowers in the back as seamlessly as two interior shots Photoshopped together.
At the counter Penny ordered coffee but Albert shook his head when she glanced at him. She shrugged. He looked around: dinette tables and chairs, an old truck serving as coffee table, pictures on the wall, the frames the size of his hand, enclosing stamp-sized pictures. He went closer to look.
Each was a scene from West Seattle: the shore at Lincoln Park, the overlook near Huangâ€™s house, the playground at Hiawatha, drawn in fine-nibbed pen and colored in jewel-colored inks that made each one, a summerâ€™s day, come alive. They were as bright and lovely as the day outside, and he craved one of them instantly.
A little label by the cluster said, â€œEnquire at the register about the price.â€ He went back to where Penny was counting out her bills.
He waited till she was done and asked the woman at the counter, â€œExcuse me, how much are the pictures?â€
She tilted her head, considering him. He was suddenly conscious of the smear of yogurt from this morningâ€™s breakfast on the knee of his jeans, the fact that he hadnâ€™t bothered to shave, and his â€œUncle Ikeâ€™s Pot Shopâ€ t-shirt.
Let me know what you think! Patreon supporters, you get to be the first ones to see the finished version. 😉
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