I was supposed to get this up yesterday, I know. It was a long weekend, and yesterday needed to be a bit of a recovery day. But here it is, a day late, but here.
Here is the link to Part 1, in case you missed it or need to re-read:
Five and Daemon
The beat-up yellow two-door rattled down the main street of Carroll Fork.
“Hick town, for sure.” Cerise slumped back against the torn vinyl seatback. Johnny chuckled as he parked the car in front of Essie’s Eats. The building was painted light blue with bright white trim. Through the large front windows, they could see people sitting at tables. It looked fairly busy, a good sign in a small town restaurant. Johnny turned the car off, and climbed out. Cerise waited on the sidewalk as he came around the car. They walked up to the door of the diner under a navy-blue-and-white-striped canopy. Johnny pulled open the door to the jingling of bells.
“Just pick any empty seat, folks.” The woman who spoke from behind the counter smiled through bright red painted lips. “Someone will be right with you. You want coffee?” Johnny nodded and led Cerise to a booth along the front wall near the back of the room. Cerise sat facing the room and began scanning. The plump woman came over with two cream-colored ceramic mugs and a pot of coffee. The name tag on her shirt read “Miss Essie.” She filled the mugs and dropped a handful of creamers on the table. The sound of crashing dishes made all three jump, and caused Essie to splash coffee on the table top. She pulled a towel from the pocket of her bright blue apron and wiped the spill.
“Sorry about that, folks.” Essie tucked the towel back in the pocket and turned toward the counter where the crash occurred.
“Fran! That’s the third time this morning! What has gotten into you?” Essie set the coffee pot down on the counter and bent to pick up the dropped plates of food. “We’ll be out of eggs and plates before lunch if this keeps up.” The waitress who dropped the plates was staring down at the mess on the floor. One hand was twisted in the green scarf around her neck. She looked like she was trying to suppress a fit of giggles.
Johnny tipped his head toward her. Cerise nodded.
Johnny reached for the sugar canister. Cerise slapped a hand down on his arm.
“I wouldn’t use that, if I were you.”
Johnny stopped, glancing up at her. “Oh, you have got to be kidding me?” Johnny pulled his hand back. “The sugar?”
Cerise grinned. “Well, the container.” The scarf. That hat sitting next to the old guy at the counter. And the god-awful necklace that woman is wearing.”
Johnny followed her gaze down the line of tables to an older woman with stereotypical blue hair. Around her neck was a collection of large, brightly-colored shapes: striped, polka-dotted, and solid colors. It clashed with everything she wore. Cerise shook her head.
“Must be some fancy pants demon in that thing. Or it better be, ‘cause if she picked that out because she likes it…” Cerise trailed off with a shake of her head. She turned back to Johnny, who was looking down at the coffee in his mug. “Coffee’s fine. So is the mug. But lots of stuff in here isn’t. Something very weird is going on here.”
Johnny picked up his mug and took a sip of the hot coffee. It wasn’t bad. He glanced around the diner. It seemed like a fairly normal place- small two and four seat tables arranged neatly in the larger room at the other end of the diner, a counter along the back wall on this side with swivel stools lined up in front, and tables with banquette benches along the windows across from the counter. A long, open pass-through looked into the kitchen behind the counter. . The blonde waitress walked up to their table.
“Morning, folks. Sorry about the commotion. I have no idea what’s got into me lately. Had a chance to look at the menus yet?” Johnny looked up at her, but before he could say anything, the green scarf she had tied around her neck began wailing.
“You’ve been made,” Cerise’s green eyes were focused on the scarf. “And it ain’t happy to see you, Johnny.”
“Yeah, I gathered that.” Johnny slid off the bench and stood looking down at the waitress, who was clawing at the shrieking scarf. Her face was pale, and her hands shook as she tried to pull it off. The scarf was flipping back and forth, avoiding her hands. It pulled out to one side, dragging the waitress away from the table and toward the back of the restaurant.
“Cerise!” Johnny followed the struggling form of the waitress.
“Coming!” Cerise jumped from her side of the bench and ran to where Johnny had the waitress cornered in the short hall that held the restrooms. Cerise stopped next to Johnny, and grabbed his hand. She closed her eyes and went still. Johnny’s eyes unfocused for a moment. He blinked once. Everything in the hall stretched and looked slightly out of focus, except the woman standing with her back to the wall at the end of the hall. The shrieking stopped as Johnny started walking toward her. He could now see the trail of daemonflash from the scarf around her neck. He stopped in front of her.
“Out with you.” The only response he got was a giggle that sounded like it was coming from the wall. He spoke to the waitress.
“Can you take a step to the side, Fran?” He read her name from the tag she wore pinned to her t-shirt. He put a hand gently on her arm and moved her aside. The daemonflash drew out into a thin line as she moved. It ended in the hands of a small demon. It was only two feet tall, with long, thin horns, and gray, leathery skin. Johnny let out a long breath.
“Seriously? An imp? Well, that explains the dropped dishes.” He took one step closer to the little demon. It ignored him, spinning the thread of daemonflash into a thick rope.
“I said, out with you.” The imp didn’t move. Johnny sighed and reached into his pocket. He pulled out the silver yo-yo and snapped it out on its string to knock the imp on the head. It looked up at the blow, and the daemonflash cord faltered. Watching for the opportunity, Cerise darted forward and grabbed the waitress’ hand. She pulled her back down the hall toward the dining room.
“Toss the scarf!” The waitress did as she was told, and pulled the scarf off and threw it back toward Johnny and the imp.
“Well, now that I’ve got your attention.” Johnny tucked the yo-yo back into his pocket. The imp bared short, sharp-looking fangs. Johnny laughed. “Yeah? I could do more damage with my yo-yo. Now, let’s see. Where were we? Oh, right. You were on your way out of here, and back under whatever rock you crawled out of.” He pointed his right index finger at the imp.
“Begonia, demon!” The imp raised its head and keened a long, high note. Johnny waved his hand at it, and it disappeared. Johnny spun on his heels, hands stretched out at his sides, and began a showy bow. He stopped short when he realized there was no one else in the hall.
“Hmph. What good is the show without an audience?” He walked back into the dining room, picking up the scarf as he went.
End Part Two
(Copyright 2015 M.A. Kropp)
Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy by M.A. Kropp is a set of short fantasy stories. Meet wizards, imps, gangster angels, and frogs in this group of varied tales of magic and mischief. Escape from the everyday into worlds of fantasy with Six of One: A Collection of Short Fantasy.
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