Five and Daemon, Part Eight
They drove back toward Essie’s, and Fran directed them to a bright white shop with pink and white candy-striped awnings over the windows. Across the front of the second story was a railing with spiral-carved posts. Hanging from the rail was a window box full of bright flowers. A sign hung below the flower box read “Earline’s Toy Land.” Johnny parked in the small lot behind the building and they walked in through the back entrance. The short woman from the diner looked up from behind the counter. She smiled at the three.
“Good day,” she said. “Oh, hello, Fran. What a morning at the diner! My word, I have never seen anything like that. What are you, some sort of magician?”
Cerise barely suppressed a laugh. Johnny nudged her with his elbow. It caught her in the ear. Cerise made a face, but didn’t say anything more.
“I’m, well, something like that,” Johnny said. Earline nodded.
“Well, that was quite the show. You should see if you can do a performance at the theater. People’d be impressed, I’m sure.”
Johnny smiled back at her. “Maybe I will. But, right now, I need to know if you have yo-yos in the store?”
Earline came around the counter and led him to a shelf on the wall.
“Why, yes, I do, as a matter of fact. I remember you used one at the diner for your tricks. Are you looking for another one?”
Johnny nodded. “I had a bit of an accident with the one I had. I’m looking to replace it.”
Earline put a hand on a divided wooden tray. Neatly arranged in each section were yo-yos of all shapes and colors. Plain ones painted in bright primary colors, iridescent blue, green, and yellow ones, and fancier ones with flared edges that looked like butterfly wings.
“Well, now, I am sure I can help you find just the one to replace your old one.” She picked up one of the flared edge toys. It was clear blue plastic, and when Earline spun it out on its string, pinpoints of light flashed on the faces. “How about this one? It’ll get attention.”
Johnny watched it for a moment, then began to look through the rest of the toys in the tray.
“Ah-ha!” He pulled one of the yo-yos out. It was plain silver plastic with a herringbone pattern on the faces that reflected red and blue in the store’s fluorescent lights. It looked just like the one that had been destroyed. “This is the one.”
“One of the classics.” Earline walked back to the counter. “I’m sure it will work just fine for your tricks.” She took Johnny’s money, and they left the store.
They climbed back into the car and Johnny drove to the small motel at the end of the main street.
“I’m going to need some space and time to charge it.” Johnny pulled a battered leather box out of the trunk of the car. It was about the size of a small suitcase, bound with broad, dark leather straps. Heart-shaped padlocks held it closed. The brown leather surface was scarred and marked with scratches, scrapes, and what looked like burn marks. He carried it into one of the rooms and set it on the bed. He drew a thin gold chain from under the collar of his shirt and pulled it over his head. A small key dangled from the chain. Johnny used the key to open the locks, and drop back the lid on the box. He reached in and drew out a thick book, also bound in leather with a smaller heart padlock on it. He set it on the bed beside the box. Cerise tapped Fran’s hand.
“We should leave him alone.”
Fran frowned. “What’s he going to do?” The waitress was watching Johnny, who had taken the yo-yo out of the bag from the toy store and set it on top of the book. There were symbols on the spine of the book, but they were in no language Fran had ever seen.
“He’s going to set the new yo-yo to work like the old one. It’s not exactly dangerous, but it gets pretty intense, and he prefers to do stuff like this alone.” Cerise pulled Fran toward the door.
“Will he be all right?” Fran stopped at the door to glance back at Johnny who was reaching into the box again.
Cerise gave Fran a gentle shove through the door. “He’s always all right.”
The last thing Fran saw as the door swung shut was Johnny spreading a large purple silk cloth on top of the bed.
Fran and Cerise sat at the counter at Miss Essie’s, sipping sweet tea. Fran was fretting, twisting the napkin in her lap between her fingers. She kept glancing at the door. Cerise turned to look at her.
“It’s going to take as long as it takes. Can’t hurry it by worrying.”
Fran turned back to the counter and took a sip of her tea. “But I still don’t understand what he’s doing with that yo-yo. What is it? Some sort of magic wand or something?”
“Something like that.” Cerise grinned. “It sort of helps him focus the power he needs to banish the things we come across. So, in that way, yeah, it is kind of like a magic wand.”
“But why a yo-yo?”
Cerise chuckled before she answered. “Because he’s Johnny.” Fran was about to say something more, when Cerise put up a hand. She got a distant look in her green eyes. When they focused again, she picked up her glass and drained the tea. She tipped the empty glass at Fran’s. “Best finish that. He’s done.”
She looked up at Essie, standing at the end of the counter. “Can we get one of these to go?” Essie nodded and went to pour the drink. Ten minutes later, Cerise and Fran were standing at the door to Johnny’s hotel room. Cerise tapped on the door. A moment later, Johnny flung it open. He’d changed into a light blue shirt and he looked like he’d showered. His long hair was damp where it hung over his collar. He grabbed the tea Cerise held out to him and grinned.
“Just what I needed!” He turned back into the room.
Part Nine coming in November
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