Short Stories

Words Have Power, They Are Magic Pt 12

wordsI walked. I really had no place in mind but I walked. I walked through crisscross streets lined with family filled homes, the occasional dog barking letting me know that it was his family in that house or else.  Maybe the dog was just scared, like me, like most of the human race that someone would call his bluff and so he barked with all the viciousness he could.

Soon, I was past the houses and past the little shopping centers. The grocery stores windows papered with great deals, the fast food places telling you how delicious their cardboard food was, the drug stores where the people from the houses could get their medicines that helped them remain happy in the suburbia utopia. It was one of those drug stores that I entered; I had a few things I wanted to pick up.

I had stopped a little bit ago to take an inventory of the backpack. I had not seen it almost a year and honestly I had no idea what was in it. I found lots of socks (guess I thought I was going to really need fresh socks) some underwear, a toothbrush, toothpaste that had hardened and of course my bottle of whiskey.

The whiskey was just fine; I had a little sip and the long lost familiar feeling of warmth coursing through my body, welcoming me back like an old friend.   I thought I would need some more before the night was over, so into the open 24 hours, transfer your prescriptions and get a $25 gift card drugstore I went.  As I was walking I decided to test to see if saying the words would be as powerful and the drugstore seemed like a great place to do it.

When I was a kid, I would wish and it wouldn’t really happen. Like I wished my mom wouldn’t hit me or my dad would rescue me. Never happened. I used to wish that I would find a best friend, never happened. I was pretty certain I had to write the words o make them happen, to unleash the magic, but maybe. I was older. Maybe the out loud wishing would work. I could try. I walked over to where the liquor was. It was always funny to me that a drug store would sell alcohol and cigarettes, then sell you drugs to fix the problems that came with both. Especially smoking, the cough, cough, cough of the smoker, the shitty lungs, constant colds, all that came with smoking, the drugstore carried aisles of remedies.

I decided to pick up cigars, just a couple, along with four bottles of whiskey.  I walked up to the checkout and laid the whiskey, the cigars and a couple of boxes of matches and some lighters on the little conveyor belt. As I watched my items creep closer to the cashier, I said,

“I sure wish you would give me some of this stuff free”

The clerk laughed and said something about “him too. Don’t we all?”  Oh well. He continued to ring up my purchases and when he got to the whiskey, he said

“Hey old timer, guess what your wish came true. The whiskey is buy one get one free this week. You getting two free” He grinned at me.

Ok I didn’t think that was a really successful test. It could have been coincidence. I don’t know.  I did not remember seeing a sign. Speaking of seeing. I had forgotten reading glasses. I asked the young man if I could grab some real quick. He had no problem I was the only one in the store and he was almost off so it didn’t matter. I walked over and just grabbed some; there was also one of those cheep poncho-like jackets next to the glasses display so I grabbed that too. Could never have enough jackets.  I walked back and dumped them. The cashier ranged them up but as he got to the jacket there was no price tag on it.

I looked all over the coat and not finding one, looked in a little book he had next to register. He then looked at the jacket again. Finally, he informed that was already off and there was no price tag, and if he waited for his manager to call back, he would be late clocking out. He had a girl waiting on him outside so the jacket was free today. My luck day he said. He stuffed it into a bag and grabbed the money out of my hand, gave me change and walked away pretty much before I could protest.  So a free coat for me. Maybe. Maybe verbal wishes had some power; maybe there was a little magic in them as well.

Outside of the store, I removed the bottle of whiskey from my backpack making room for the other bottles. I looked around and being alone I uncapped and took a long drink. Long enough that an employee of the store came out and told me to move along. “You fricking drunk”.  No problems. I stood up, put in the jacket, backpack on back and bottle under jacket and off I went.  To where I was not sure, but it would be somewhere away from here. I would not be a burden to my son. I knew if I stayed, I would have gotten angry and then who knew. Who knew what would have happened to the harpy my son had married. I shook my head as her face came into my mind. Guess there had to be something for him to love her. I took out my bottle and took another drink.

I am not sure which way I was walking and I was starting to feel a little tipsy but I was pretty sure there was a wolf behind me. For some reason that cracked me up and I laughed.  I was walking down a lonely two-laned road. Everything around me looked sad and lonely. Broken. The road itself needed a good paving job. It looked as if someone had come along and had patched up some cracks and potholes but it had been awhile and the crack repairs were getting cracks. The potholes were reforming, the tar indented in the center.  The fences on the sides were askew leaning this way and that, the barbwire the only reason they had not fallen.  There was evidence that cattle had crossed the road, in fact, looked as if they were on the road a lot.  Everything was broken. Except the wolf behind me.

I turned around to look better. He had been following me for quite a while, always staying a ways behind me.  I could see him clearly but he never got closer and he never got farther. Stayed the same. I was a little drunk so I had to squint when I looked at him. I don’t know if he was white or grey or brown cause it seemed his fur changed a lot. Same thing with his eyes, red brown, yellow, or blue. Made me dizzy. Also reminded me of that song bout red riding hood….something like “hey there little red riding hood. Dontcha know”. I broke into laughter. I was going to tell this wolf that I was not wearing a red hood and what did it want anyway.

“Hey wolf,” I yelled. I was trying to speak with a forceful, clear authoritative voice but I am pretty sure it came out sounding something like, “HEYS wolfths.”  I cleared my throat, took another sip of my nearly empty bottle and tried again.

“Hey wolf. Whatcha want?”

The wolf did not answer me and he was still doing that changing thing. Really was going to have to stop.

“Hey stop it.  Wolf. Be one wolf color. Whatcha want anyway why are you following me.”

The wolf had been standing, not doing anything. When I yelled again, it sat down.

“I want to know what you want. What color should I be?”He asked me.

His color changed, slower this time. Lack wolf with blues eyes, yellow wolf with brown eyes white wolf green eyes, still changing but much easier to watch. I did not feel so dizzy watching it change.

“Hey wolf, whatcha want? I asked first. I am drunk. Are you real? Am I seeing things?”  I squinted my eyes looking.

I got the feeling that it wasn’t a real wolf. Why aint it eaten me yet. I closed one eye and then the other. Nope, still there. I closed both eyes and counted to ten……8 elephants….9  elephants…..10 elephants…I opened my eyes and still there. I walked to it but the weirdest thing. No matter how much I walked, the wolf remained sitting the same distance from me. I was truly drunk I decided. I sat on the side of the road, careful to sit on some broken asphalt, for some reason I was reluctant to sit on the patch of grass growing through the rocks and asphalt. The wolf still sat there, looking at me, his tongue hanging out one side. We stared at each other.

“Whatcha want” I finally said. “Why you screwing with a drunken old man and can you be just one color please.”

The wolf turned into silver with blue eyes. Quite beautiful actually. And said, “No Richard it is what you want.  You have the power. You are in charge.  What is it you want Richard?”

Even though I was drunk, I think I knew what it was saying. It was what I had been thinking the whole time I was walking. It seemed as if I truly was at a fork in my life. As I was walking, I was thinking of my grandson, Stanley. How much I was going to miss him. How much he was going to be alone. I thought if I stayed that maybe I could guide him as he learned about the power, the magic of words.  Possibly, I abandoned him when he needed me and he was going to have to go through the stuff I did.

I had been walking thinking that. And drinking. I loved the amber liquid going down my throat. It, the whiskey, had always remained the same. It had never changed. It had always been there for me. But it didn’t always work. It was supposed to erase the memories and sometimes it didn’t.  It was supposed to help me sleep and sometimes it kept me up.  It was supposed to help me not care but it sometimes made me care too much. I walked. And drank and thought that I should not drink.

That is what the crazy wolf was telling me, or so I thought. What did I want?  I looked at my bottle, there was one drink left in it. I stared. This it I thought. I can finish this bottle or I can throw it away and go back. Help Stanley. Or wait. I might hurt Stanley. He was ok afore I came there and he got in trouble because of me. Who needs a drunken old man?

“Wolf I hate you. You had better watch out I have powers. I know the magic of words. I can put the hoodoo on you wolf.”

The wolf looked at me and replied (well come to think on it he didn’t even move his mouth yet I could hear him talk.) “You do have the power. You are magic. What are you going to do? Make your choice.”

I stared at him. Her? It? I don’t know. I do know that I felt some pressure. What was I going to do. The wolf’s eyes stared at me, making me squirm. Doesn’t that thing ever blink? What was I going to do? I looked at the wallow left in my bottle. I looked at the road. The way I had come. The way I was going. I thought of Stanley. I looked at my bottle. What to do.  I shifted my rear and I heard the clink of the bottles in my backpack. Like little bells. Bells that beckoned me, promising me oblivion. I looked up at the Wolf. I felt its eyes boring into me, making me feel as if it was looking at my soul. I got a little angry then. My soul was not up for scrutiny by an illusion brought on by whiskey. I was putting way too thought into a figment of my alcohol-fueled imagination. Time to put a stop to this

“I chose this” I drank the last swallow. As I did, the wolf turned to black with yellow eyes. He looked evil and just mean but the words that came into my head had the same singsong angelic quality.

“Your choice is yours. Remember someday you will have need of your power your magic. There is no gift that does not have its price. You have a great gift, and your will pay the ultimate price. So ,remember when it gets too hard, when it feels as if there is no other way,” The wolf stood up and started to walk away, it turned his head back to me and finished” remember words have power, they are magic.”


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