Hello everyone! As part of Short Story Saturday, I have posted another short story, this one entitled Veiled Intentions. Please enjoy.
My wife and I found the place on an unassuming four-way corner in University Place. We were in town to visit family. I wanted to drive on but my wife insisted we pull over and if you knew my wife, you’d know it is often best to do what she wants. The name was what appealed to her. “Magick Sanctuary.” Melinda could never resist the lure of the so-called forbidden arts. I’m certain she really believes in magic.
Oh, she denies it every time I ask her. It is childish for me to even suggest she believes such silly notions as spells and curses, she always claims. Her eyes always betray her, though. Whenever she speaks of the world of the mystique, they sparkle in the kind of manner you only find from someone who truly believes.
A man donning a black cloak sporting a neatly trimmed beard greeted us warmly when we entered. “Welcome to the ‘Magick Sanctuary’,” he said. “I am your host, Mystic Trevor.”
Internally I sneered but I decided to roll with it. I noticed a tray of chocolate truffles on a small black table beside us. I pointed to them. “Are those magical?”
He grimaced. “No. Those are just a nice treat.”
“I do have something of a sweet tooth,” I admitted. I picked up a piece and placed it in my mouth.
“You do realize those are three dollars.”
“Three dollars per tray?” I asked incredulously as I chewed my food. “That’s outrageous.”
“Three dollars per piece.”
I spit out the chocolate immediately and hastily placed it back on the tray. A grimace then spread across the shopkeeper’s face and I felt the sting of four fingers across my shoulder delivered courtesy of my wife.
“What?” I protested. “Three dollars for a tiny piece of chocolate is highway robbery.”
She scowled. With her one hand on her hip and her index finger in my face, she snarled, “That doesn’t mean you should spit it out!”
The shopkeeper raised his nose as he picked up the chewed piece of candy with his index finger and thumb before discarding it in a nearby garbage can. “I’ll have you know, sir, that each truffle is created with painstaking care. Truly, with its unique texture, look, and taste, it is a veritable work of art.”
“Art or not, a small piece of chocolate is not worth three dollars.”
My wife smiled sheepishly as she gently brushed me aside. “Please forgive my husband. He can be very stubborn especially when he doesn’t want to be somewhere. He doesn’t believe in magic. But that hardly excuses his attitude.” She paused to glare at me before continuing, “Don’t worry. We’ll pay for the chocolate.”
“Melinda!” I scolded but was ignored.
The letch smiled as he leaned toward my wife. “Perfectly all right, my dear. A charming woman like you should never have to apologize for what her boorish husband does. How may I help you today?”
“We’re just browsing. The name of your store fascinated me. I must ask. Do you sell real magical artifacts?”
“Of course, he doesn’t, Melinda. None of this stuff contains magic. They’re just pieces of decoration. Nothing more.”
The charlatan stepped between my wife and me. “Don’t listen to him, my dear. Everything I sell contains magic. Take these for instance.” He led us to a collection of necklaces attached to purple gems. “These magically infused amethysts alleviate physical ailments and emotional distress. Seeing is believing, though. Allow me to show you how powerful it is.”
He showed my wife his thumb. She cringed at the sight. It appeared to be bleeding albeit slightly. I couldn’t help but notice, though, that something about his so-called wound seemed a little off.
“I happened to cut myself opening some packages a minute before you two arrived,” Trevor explained. “ And I have yet a chance to heal the wound. Serendipitous, as it affords me the perfect opportunity to show you have these amethysts work.”
He pulled a cloth from underneath the counter near the back wall of the shop. Trevor then covered his thumb before rubbing an amethyst over it. Then he shook the cloth off dramatically and revealed that his thumb was cured. My wife clapped excitedly. The conman then placed a purple-jeweled necklace around my wife’s neck, an action which caused her to blush.
“The healing properties of the amethyst work best with those that are most in tune with the arcane. Do not fret if it takes longer for you to heal than I for it will take some time for your body to get in tune with the spiritual world.”
“That’s a good spin,” I sneered. “Obviously, it was a fake thumb. Or maybe you covered your thumb with a thin piece of film or plastic. Either way, you took it off when you removed the cloth.”
“If that’s true, what do you say about this?” He tossed me the cloth which I caught out of reflex. I looked at it quizzically not sure of his point. As if he recognized my confusion, he continued. “Where is my fake thumb?”
“Yeah, where’s the fake thumb?” my wife concurred.
I shrugged before tossing the cloth over my shoulder. “Just because he hid it well doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.”
“Whatever,” my wife said with a sigh. Her eyes quickly moved toward another item of interest. Melinda never had the greatest attention span. “Wait a second, what’s this?” She was pointing to a circular disc with a pentagram inside of it hanging on a chain behind the store’s main counter.
“That is a pentacle which is a talisman used for magical evocation. It represents the element earth and is often used to bless items by placing artifacts on top of it.”
“It looks like a coaster,” I muttered. “I wonder whether it’d bless my beer.”
The scammer handed my wife a glass of clear liquid before asking her to take a sip. She did as she was told.
“What’s in the glass?” he asked.
She shrugged. “Water.”
“Good. Now, place the glass on the pentacle.”
Melinda did. The glass shook and boiled. Trevor covered the glass with what appeared to be a black box that had a gold pentagram drawn on the side. He then quickly removed it. The glass was still there but the color of its liquid had changed to magenta.
“Please take another sip, my dear.”
Melinda did so. “Oh my God! It’s wine.”
I rolled my eyes. “Turning water into wine. I wonder where I have heard that before. Besides, I know you pulled up the original glass and replaced it with that new one when you covered it with that box.”
“That glass was only covered for a second at most,” my wife scolded. “He didn’t have the time!” Her eyes quickly moved toward another item of interest again. “ Oh, and what’s that?” She was now pointing to a large goblet.
The faker picked it up and then carefully placed it on the counter. “This is a Goddess’s Chalice. It symbolizes her womb much like how the Holy Grail symbolizes the blood of Christ. Watch this.”
He filled the cup with water and then placed the same black box as before over it. A second later, he removed it and as he did, a dove flew from the chalice out a nearby window.
“Birth from water,” the smug idiot said. “That is the power of the Goddess.”
My wife was ecstatic. Her raucous applause and cheers echoed through the room.
Before I could explain that the trick was similar to the one before, my wife exclaimed, “Amazing! Simply incredible! Wait a second.” My wife’s eyes suddenly darted, again, as they are wont to do, toward a glass case on the counter. “You guys sell knives?”
Our senseless shopkeeper pulled one of those black-handled weapons from the case. “Not just knives, my dear, athames. These are not weapons but tools. In fact, if any of them should ever be used to draw blood, it must immediately be destroyed. Its purpose is strictly to direct energy during the ritualistic casting of magic by invoking and beseeching the spirits.”
Trevor handed her the knife in his hand handle first. He then instructed her to grip it firmly with both hands before he gently stepped behind her. Melinda opened her mouth. The expression on her face indicated she wanted to ask what he was doing. Before she could say a word, though, the flimflam man seemingly answered, “You make motions like this.”
The philanderer then moved the hands of a giggling Melinda with his and had her mimic the shape of a pentagram. Once complete, fire sprung from the tip of the blade, narrowly avoiding anything valuable within the shop to my chagrin. My wife found this entertaining to no end.
“Obviously, he pressed a button on the side of the blade or something,” I grumbled. “That thing is a glorified lighter.”
“Really?” the lecherous bastard said. He took the knife from my wife’s hands and offered it to me. “Show me where the button is, then. It shouldn’t be too hard.”
I took the weapon and scrutinized every inch of it from the butt of the handle to the tip of the blade. If anything was askew, I surely would have noticed.
“There doesn’t appear to be a switch or a lever or any mechanism that would cause a flame to shoot out,” I admitted. “But just because I can’t figure out the trick doesn’t mean that you’re using magic.”
A conniving grin spread upon Trevor’s lips. “Just because you don’t have faith doesn’t mean magic does not exist.”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Melinda concurred. “Mystic Trevor, is there anything else you can show me?”
“Of course, my dear, you merely have to point and I will tell you all about the object’s arcane properties.”
Melinda did as she was instructed. The swindler was all too eager to display his wares and gather them on the table as he spun tall tales of wonder and fascination. My wife ate it all up. I am sure at some level she was aware that everything that had been shown to her was merely illusions. However, the little girl inside her wanted to believe so, at least for the moment, she did. I didn’t intervene despite my growing ire. Deep down, I recognized that everything going on before me was mostly harmless. That is, except for the bill. Oh, how I dreaded the bill.
“Perhaps I could interest you in a very interesting old grimoire,” the cretin said after he had finished showing Melinda some of the more expensive glorified paperweights.
My wife gestured toward me. “My husband loves collecting books!”
The wretch sneered. “Does he now?”
I shrugged. “I do have quite an eclectic collection. But the books I collect are rare with great historical value.”
“I assure you this one is much more rare than any in your collection. And has just as much historical value if not more.” The clod pulled a dusty leather volume from one of his shelves. “It is a grimoire that dates back to the Salem Witch Trials.”
“Salem Witch Trials?” I repeated incredulously. “Look, none of those people tried had grimoires because none of them were actually witches! The trial was a farce!”
“I admit that the witches have done quite a bit to repair their reputation through exhaustive public relations campaigns. Through them, they have convinced the world of an alternative history. In truth, though, they really were capable of witchcraft.” He paused as if thinking before shaking his head. It was obvious to me he was recalling something from his script. “However, I admit that shouldn’t be a crime.”
I sneered. “You’re basing all of that on what exactly? There’s no evidence that anyone victimized during those trials could do any sort of magic. And here you are claiming to have one of their magic books? One of their grimoires? And it just happened to show up here even though no others can be found anywhere?”
“That’s because they were hidden too well.”
With smoke metaphorically being exhaled from my nostrils, I snatched the book from the twit’s hands and took a long, critical look. “The cover of this so-called ‘grimoire’ is made of the cheapest leather I’ve ever seen. And I can see the sandpaper scuffs you made when trying to age this thing.” On a hunch, I took a long whiff and suddenly felt compelled to wave my hand over my nose. “Whoof, and I can still smell the heavy amount of rubbing alcohol you poured over it. This piece of crap isn’t nearly over three centuries old! It’s three years at most!”
“I am insulted by your baseless accusations!” the liar protested. “I did not age it like you suggest! This is an authentic grimoire that dates back to Salem!”
I ignored the fraud and instead, opened the alleged grimoire and thumbed through its pages. “Just a cursory glance tells me this book is worthless, Melinda. Certainly not written by someone in the seventeenth century or earlier. Rather, it was written by someone much more modern, say, maybe Raymond Buckland.”
“Who?” the deceiver asked clearly eavesdropping.
I raised my eyebrow at the man as a quizzical look became plastered upon my face. “You claim to know about the arcane and witchcraft but you don’t know who Buckland is.” A contemptuous smile spread across my lips as I shook my head. My condescension radiated.
Catching my disdain, the jackass growled, “It doesn’t matter who wrote it. Arcane knowledge is stored within those pages. Knowledge far greater than your cynical mind could ever hope to comprehend! Why, there are spells pertaining to protection! Love! And even…”
His voice drifted as he moved closer to my wife. He then put lips practically in her ear. The moron may have thought he was whispering but he spoke loudly enough for me to hear, “Even sex.”
My wife giggled nearly uncontrollably upon hearing this. I, on the other hand, breathed heavily through gritted teeth. I was fighting an internal struggle to placate the burning rage that had formed within my chest.
“I think my husband is wrong, Mystic Trevor. This grimoire sounds amazing. Everything sounds amazing. We’ll take it. All of it, I mean!”
“Excellent, my dear.” The fraud calculated the price and then announced it eagerly. Upon hearing it, I nearly fainted. Despite my protests, my wife gave the man his money, which he enthusiastically took. He bagged her goods in two large dark plastic bags. The name of his shop was emblazoned in silver on the sides. I’m surprised he didn’t charge us extra for them.
“Melinda, don’t get me wrong,” I said as she was handed the receipt. “I don’t mind if you’re buying these items if you think they’re nice decorations or good conversation pieces. But not if you think these trinkets hold any more magic than a paperweight. That’s foolhardy at best.”
“Sir, your cynicism is not appreciated by either me or your wife,” the alleged mystic grumbled. “I must insist that you cease your derisive comments at once.”
“Yeah, honey, believe in something for once in your life,” Melinda said with a deep but cute scowl. “Are you not impressed by all the magic he performed?”
“Magic?” I snickered. “He performed some parlor tricks. If you’re generous, you might even call them illusions. I’ll even admit that he’s better with sleight-of-hand than most amateur magicians. But that doesn’t mean he has any magic powers, Melinda.”
“I’ve seen a lot of tricks and illusions in my life. I know when I’ve seen something I’ve never seen before. So, believe me when I say what he’s doing is actual magic, not tricks, not illusions. Real, bonafide, magic.”
“It seems like you are a true believer, my dear,” the imbecile said as he suddenly grabbed my wife’s hand with his and began to caress it. I was too stunned to say anything, not that my rapidly drying throat would have allowed the words to emerge. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”
My wife hesitated. She was apparently memorized by his eyes. “There is one thing. I’ve heard of magical items that allow you to talk to those in the great beyond.”
I was aghast. “Honey, please don’t do this to yourself,” I rasped.
The snake smirked. “With whom do you wish to speak with?”
A look of apprehensive excitement burned in Melinda’s eyes. She did her best to choke back her tears. “My mother Martha died suddenly a year ago. A drunk…” She paused to gulp away a sob. “A drunk collided with her vehicle while driving on the wrong side of the road. I would do anything to speak with her again.”
The ass pretended to look sorrowful. “I’m sorry for your loss, my dear. I regret to inform you that no artifact no matter how mystical has such power.”
I breathed a temporary sigh of relief.
“Oh,” my wife said as a dejected grimace washed over her face. “It’s just… I once heard before that… Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter. Thank you anyway.”
A depraved smile curled upon the fiend’s lips before he kissed her hand. “Do not misunderstand. No artifact can allow a layman to speak to the dead. But fret not, my dear. Through me, you can speak with your mother one more time.”
Those words cut through me like a blade. The rage that had momentarily abated suddenly returned with the fury of hellfire. My body clenched as it prepared itself for me putting my fist through the predator’s skull.
“You can?” my wife asked with the excitement of a schoolgirl.
“Perhaps you would be interested in a divination.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked barely able to open my mouth to ask the question.
Whether the bastard noticed my ire, he clearly did not care. Instead, he said disdainfully, “I should have known a simple mind like yours would be ignorant of such basic mystical terms. I am speaking of the art of speaking with the dead.”
I roared, “I know what divination is! I just cannot believe the audacity! To claim you have the power to do something like that is utter nonsense!”
“So you claim. But my father was a shaman and I inherited his ability.”
My wife’s voice broke as she spoke. “So, I can really speak with my mother one more time?”
Another smug smile as he caressed my wife’s hand further. “Of course and for a true believer like you I won’t even charge full price.”
Upon hearing this, I gruffly pointed toward the door. “We’re leaving, Melinda,” I growled.
“What?” my wife screamed. “You do not tell me what to do!”
I repeated my command. “I said we’re leaving.”
Melinda stared into my eyes. She looked like she was about to reprimand me and then suddenly thought better of it. I cannot say why exactly. Perhaps she noticed the intense anger in my eyes and decided that the most prudent action to take would be to leave with the items we had purchased and head toward the car. This did not mean she could resist leaving without delivering a parting shot. “We’ll talk more about this when we get home,” she grumbled.
I said nothing. My anger was not directed at her. “How dare you prey on the vulnerable like that?”
The so-called mystic shook his head and shrugged. “You doubt my powers. Oh, ye of little faith.”
“All right, cut the crap. My wife isn’t here right now. I know this is a scam.”
The man feigned innocence. “What makes you say that?”
My expression hardened. “It’s one thing to do some magic tricks that you’d find at a child’s birthday party and fool people into thinking that your little trinkets have mystical properties. Those who buy into that stuff are silly, sure, except for my wife, of course. But it’s mostly harmless.” I raised my index finger and directed it at the man. “But the people who are fooled into thinking that you can talk to the dead are desperate. They so badly want to converse with their loved ones one last time they’re willing to believe almost anyone. You are taking advantage of them. I ask you kindly to stop.”
He smirked. “How can you be so sure? Perhaps I do have the power. As the bard once said, there is more to this world than what is accepted in your philosophy.”
I sighed deeply. “I don’t want to but if you force me, I can prove it.”
He threw his head back and laughed. “And you say I am the one making absurd claims. I admit that perhaps it would be difficult for me to prove my powers, though speaking to the dead should be enough evidence, wouldn’t you say? If you just say the word and have your wife return…” It was then that he noticed my expression was one of death. He took a step back and forced a laugh. “Um, okay. I guess not. Worth a shot.” His smug expression then returned. “Anyway, to prove I cannot? To prove a negative? I’d like to see you try.”
“So you’re not planning on stopping?”
“Of course not. A man with such a gift cannot keep it to himself.”
“I’m warning you one last time. I insist you stop. Believe me, I have a way to convince you. But I’d rather not use it so please, please stop.”
The buffoon crossed his arms with a pompous flair. “I refuse. The divination is by far the most lucrative part of my business. It would be financial suicide to quit.” He paused. “Not that money is my motivation to make divinations, of course. I merely want to help others with my gift.”
I sighed one last heavy sigh and slowly shook my head. “It is no gift. Believe me, if you had the power, you would not call it a gift. I didn’t want to do this but I’m afraid you have left me with little choice. A conman like you deserves no better.”
I moved my hands and arms. They flapped awkwardly as if the bones and joints had been removed. My limbs flailed everywhere. It was apparently a comical scene and I will never forget the smirk curled upon the arrogant man’s lips nor will my mind ever rid itself of his insufferable nasally laugh. Such contempt will never be forgotten even if it did not last for very long.
His smirk indeed quickly faded as fog slowly surrounded the shop. It was so thick that it darkened the windows and made it appear as if night had suddenly fallen. White smoke crept from below. There was a sudden chill as the temperature rapidly fell. A rancid smell of rotting flesh then drifted into the air. There was a feeling of ascension as if the building was lifted in the air or more accurately pulled from its foundation.
The asshole remarked how it was odd that the weather turned so suddenly. He also speculated on what could have caused the smell. He further commented it certainly was quite a powerful scent as it made his legs wobble and his stomach churn, feeling as if he had finished riding a rollercoaster.
I encouraged the man to open the door to get a better view, even going so far as to suggest that perhaps a prankster had left him a present in the form of a burning bag of excrement. The supposedly magical mountebank did as he was instructed.
Immediately, he fell backward. He crawled as quickly as he could on his back with his feet and elbows until he bumped into my shins. I looked down and saw the pitiful creature. His skin had turned pallid. His eyes were wide and bloodshot. His mouth was gaped unable to close. His voice was dry and raspy. He muttered noises that sounded like an attempt to express confusion over what was happening but came out as meek and gravelly whimpers and whines.
Outside there was nothing but a black void with white apparitions drifting erratically as if they were mad. Noises emerged from them. Groans are the closest analog any language would be able to describe those sounds but they were unlike anything that had ever been heard by human ears. Yet somehow they conveyed emotions so lucidly that a child could understand.
They were tormented. They were anguished. They were angry. They were in pain.
“What is this place?” the poor fool finally managed to gasp.
“We are nowhere that you can comprehend. You will learn what it truly means to speak with the dead.”
I chanted in an arcane language completely incomprehensible to those who never studied the ancient texts. They were blasphemous librettos that were unlike any dialect of this world. My eyes rolled to the back of my head. My arms, legs, and back arched as I floated a few inches off the ground. My body went limp.
Outside the spirits turned. They did so with the ferocity of a storm as they swirled into a vortex. What appeared to be lightning and thunder clapped outside as the spirits spun and churned out of control. The noise was so loud and painful that the man had to cover his head with his arms as he slammed his forehead against the ground. All in a vain effort to dampen the sound. There was a raucous clamor that echoed as the building shook. It was as if the walls were going to collapse. No, more than that. It was as if the fabric of the universe was breaking apart.
A bolt of lightning struck me. A woman’s voice escaped my lips. The words were disjointed. Every syllable was a struggle. “I’ve escaped!”
Her initial excitement quickly dampened to sorrow. “No, I have not. He’s merely allowing me to speak through him. I’d like to see my daughter. Where is she?”
The man looked at me with stunned consternation as he knelt on his hands on his knees. “W-w-w-w-what’s g-g-g-going o-o-on?” he barely managed to ask.
“Who are you?”
“My name is T-T-T-Trevor. Who… who are you?”
“My name is Rachel. Do you know my daughter Melinda?”
“You’re Melinda’s mother?”
“You know my daughter?”
“I think so. We only just met. She told me her mother died a year ago.”
“I thought death was the end but it was only the beginning.”
“Are you a spirit?”
“I do not know quite what I am.”
“That must mean there’s an afterlife. Tell me, what happens after we die? Do we go to Heaven? Do we go to Hell? Where do we go?”
“There is no Heaven. There is no Hell. There is only the veil. It is all that awaits us after death.”
“What’s the veil?”
“It is darkness. It is pain and sorrow. It is constant suffocation though we do not breathe. It is constant cold though we do not shiver. It is loneliness though there are more here than we can count. It is an endless prison. We search in vain trying for a way to an end to our torment but cannot escape. That is not the worst of it.”
Trevor stammered. “I-I-I-It gets w-w-w-w-worse?”
“A horrid creature torments us. It has no eyes. It has large meat-like hands. It has a mouth and teeth. Oh, the teeth. Large. Horrid. Rotted. Jagged. Broken. It grinds us when it catches us. The pain is indescribable and ceaseless. It is ten times worse than anything that can be imagined. No hundreds. No thousands. No, more than anyone can count. We wish for anything to end the pain. We wish to disappear but we cannot. There is nothing but anguish. It feels like we suffer for an eternity until he decides to let us go.”
“What? Why would he ever let you go?”
“So we fear his return.”
My limbs then shook uncontrollably and my tongue curled. It was as if my body had a seizure in the air. I felt the spirit’s panic. She let out an agonized shriek that shook the foundations of the room. Trevor did his best to protect his ears. Trickles of blood dripped from them.
“It is here! It is here! It has come for me! It has come for all of us! Do not let it get me! I do not wish to suffer any longer!”
A shadow appeared and loomed over the building though such a thing should have been impossible in the darkness. Its many eyes peered inside. Its teeth glistened as if saliva was dripping from its fangs. Its meaty hands reached inside.
Upon seeing it, the man let out a hysterical laugh. His hands tore clumps of hair from his head. After he was finished, he clawed at his eyes.
I chanted once more. The spirit expelled from my body as if she were shot from a cannon. My body hit the wall on the other side of the door as she flew toward the void.
The spirit narrowly avoided the creature’s claws. I could only hope and pray she managed to escape.
Slowly, the fog dissipated as did the smoke. The building then returned to its original location as if it had gently floated down. Outside, it was bright, sunny, and cheerful. Birds were singing. It was an idyllic scene.
The man remained on the ground. His head had cleared enough that he was no longer trying to gouge out his own eyes. Instead, he preferred to cover them as he wept. Blood from his self-inflicted wounds poured down from his lids and eyebrows and mixed with the tears. I noted he was no longer laughing and indeed, the “mystic” would need quite a spell to return to his once elegant form.
“Now do you see why I was so certain that you could not communicate with the dead?” I asked rhetorically. “A man like you could never control those spirits nor could you handle what awaits us all on the other side.”
I paused for a moment and looked upward as I let out a deep, melancholy sigh. “It is also why I can never let my wife speak to her mother even though it is the only thing in this world she truly desires. I could never subject someone I love to the horrors of the veil. You understand, right?”
The man said nothing and continued to sob.
I shrugged and looked around the shop. On a different black table than before, there was an untouched tray of truffles. They were made from a darker chocolate than the ones that had caught my eye. Dark chocolate is the kind my wife enjoys the most.
“You don’t mind if I take these, do you?” I said those words more as a command than as a question. The shopkeeper was too busy blubbering and whimpering to respond.
Just before I left, my hand was literally on the door handle, the pathetic man called to me. I turned to him. His lips quivered and it took a few attempts but eventually, he managed to stammer out, “Those images were just illusions to punish me, yes?” His tears became a torrential rain of saltwater as he continued, “That can’t be all that awaits us after death, can it? Tell me, ease my pain! Tell me that just isn’t true!”
I knew the answer but I did not respond. Instead, I silently walked out the door.
“How dare you command me to leave?” Melinda shouted as I met her beside the car. “You don’t tell me what to do!”
“I apologize. I know how you get when it comes to magic. So, I had a feeling you weren’t seeing that Trevor was trying to con you. Con us. I admit, though, that I could have handled everything better than I did.”
She crossed her arms. “Yes, you certainly could have!”
“Once again, I’m sorry. However, my conversation with him was hardly fruitless. He confessed that he wasn’t a mystic or a wizard or a sorcerer or what have you. More importantly, he admitted that he cannot speak with the dead.”
My wife’s face conveyed genuine disappointment. “Really?”
“Look into my eyes, honey. I have never been more sincere in anything in my life, except, of course, when I express my love for you.”
She studied my eyes. After a few moments, she sighed and uncrossed her arms. “Okay, I know you’re telling the truth. I guess ‘Mystic Trevor’ over there was just another fraud. Still, it’s disappointing. I really thought, for a moment, that I would be able to speak to my mother one more time.” She stared off into the distance. I decided to give her some space.
Eventually, she mustered the strength to continue. “He seemed like a nice guy, too. I can’t believe he’s trying to con people like that.”
“The best con artists seem nice. That’s how they’re able to fool people.”
She gazed at the items resting in the backseat. “Should we return these trinkets?”
I paused. “No, let’s keep them. You seemed to like them. They’re good conversation pieces if nothing else. Besides, Trevor’s not all bad.” I moved the tray of confectionaries in my hand closer to Melinda so that she could get a better look. “He did give me these as an apology for his indiscretions.”
“Of course. Do you think I’d spend $18 on chocolate truffles?”
If you enjoyed this story, then perhaps you’d be interested in reading more by pressing the “short story” tag below or clicking this(short story) link or this(genre and tags) link or this(story list) link. I would also urge you to share this story with others and comment below. Please check out my books page as well by pressing here. Thank you for reading my story.Follow: