The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper. -Eden Philpotts.
As I climbed down from my horse, I couldn’t help but smile. It had been a long journey, the days spent in the saddle had not been kind. My aching legs were a testament to my lack of equestrianship. But I was home. It had been many years since I journeyed out from these walls. The familiarity was instant, the main thoroughfare mostly unchanged. The bakers shop still stood. I could smell the fresh baked bread, the scent bringing back the times mother had sent me to fetch a loaf for supper. Sometimes, when the baker was in a good mood, he’d slip me a cinnamon loaf. I absently wondered if he still owned the place, he had been getting old then, he’d be ancient now. I walked on. It was good to be home. Too long had i been in the eastern lands. I had seen much and learned more.Wandering down a side street, I walked passed the old shop.
No one had taken up the business after my father had passed. I didn’t have a hand for upholstery, let alone one that could craft such pieces as him. I would sit under his work table, my makeshift castle,for hours while he cut and stitched leather works. Sometimes I would catch him staring off, as if in a dream. I knew he was thinking of mother. She had left him, the gambling and his wandering eye had been too much. “One day ill make it right” he often said. He never got the chance.
The apothecary said it was a tumor in his brain. His health deteriorated quickly after that visit, and he was soon bedridden. I sat at his bedside that last day, he had asked me to show him some of the magic my cousin, Alfonso, had taught me over the years. My father loved watching me. I made things disappear and reappear, pulling birds from my robes, my famous “red silk cloth” from my empty hands and all the clever things I had picked up in my apprenticeship. I looked up, he had that same look in his eye when he thought of mother. I touched his hand, it was cold.
I continued on, up and down the streets of my youth. Smokey, my dog, and I would roam the streets, darting through crowds, always on an adventure. A better companion couldn’t be found. Sleeping at the foot of my bed most nights, always on guard despite his small size. Shaking off the nostalgia, I wandered into a tavern.
The room was well lit, not overly crowded with patrons. Tending the bar was a giant of a man, busying himself cleaning glasses and chatting with customers. Setting down his glass, he walked across to me and took my order, an Ale. I spotted a table in the corner where a small crowd gathered around a man, shuffling sea shells. It was a game I had seen in bazaars of the east, expert cons preying on unknowing fools. Wandering over, I watched intently as the shell man “set” the coin on the table. covering it with one of the shells, he expertly palmed the coin, hidden from the untrained eye . In a blur, he deftly shuffled the shells around. The man who had wagered, chose the left. Upon flipping to see it empty, he cursed and got up, walking back to the bar. I sat down, laying a small sack of coins on the table. The con man eyed the bag greedily. “Big wager. Confident!” he said. I smiled. He matched the purse. Laying the coin under the shell, the same ruse as before, he began shuffling the shells. A blur once again. Coming to a sudden halt, he sat back in his chair with a knowing grin. I chose the middle. He leaned forward to flip the shell. “Wait” I said. I batted his hand aside and flipped over the outside shells. Empty. The blood drained from his face, turning pale. I stood up, gathered the coins, accepted praise and claps on the back from the other patrons.
Back at the bar, the big man walked over with another mug, set it down in front of me. “on the house”. And walked to the other end. I smiled, sipping the strong drink.