Sunday, January 8, 2012

24. Advise from a witch

        Ms Weaverspell wasn’t the only one that learned about the fairy last Friday.  I didn’t think things could get any worse, with her talking of alerting National Geographic, publishing her findings to the world, even trying to get me to leave the fairy in her safe keeping, insisting she’s only trying to help – right!  Little did I know.  Before the day was over several others, with far more nefarious motives, also became aware of the fairy.  So many in fact, I’ve become convinced my only recourse is to take the little fairy and run.  I’m leaving home.  Mom and Brian will have to manage on their own.  I really have no other options available.  I’ll be leaving in the morning.
        After that disastrous encounter with Ms Weaverspell in chem lab, I took the fairy and got out of school quick, cutting across a large grassy slope towards the lower lots where I parked my Mustang.  As I neared the car, I saw trouble.  Goths were congregating in the vicinity of my car and were in way.  It was obvious they weren’t just loitering there, they were waiting for me, with one of them even leaning against the driver’s door, casually smoking a cigarette like in defiance of the world, the big guy with spiky blonde hair.  I don’t know how they get away with smoking on school grounds, definitely against school policy, and maybe even a misdemeanor, but no one seems to hassle them, and it’s obvious they’re smoking more than just cigarettes on some days.
        As I stepped into the parking lot one of them observed me and said something to his fellows, rousing them to my approach.  They stood to block my path and the leader of their little group got in my way.  “We’ve been waiting for you,” he flicked his cigarette away and eyed me with haughty conceit.
        The one leaning against my car stood upright and puffed his chest out.  “Yeah, we’ve been waiting for you.”  What a jerk.
        I’ve never though much of these Goths at our high school, and the feeling is mutual, but they usually just skulk around the shadows of the school halls and bathrooms, or the edges of the school grounds, and usually keep to themselves and don’t cause me any trouble, so I leave them alone and we go our own ways.  Until now.
        “Hey guys, I’m in a hurry,”  I tried in vain to step around.  I didn’t have time for this and I was still fuming from the encounter with Ms. Weaverspell and Madison forcing me to show her the fairy.  Avoidance is usually not a good tactic against bullies, or anyone else for that matter, and normally I would not think of backing down from a challenge, but I had the fairy with me, tucked away in my sweatshirt pocket, and I just wanted to get out of there and get home with Bonnie.
        The Goths closed ranks and totally blocked me from getting to my car.  I don’t take this type of behavior from punks.  Madison caught up to me and skidded to a halt, her eyes going wide as she realized the situation.  She must have felt threatened, for she retreated and stood behind me.
        In times past I’ve observed this gang of Goths hanging around the school; a curious group of misfits that don’t fit in with anyone else, nor make any attempt to fit in with normal people.  They don’t have any friends besides themselves and are generally hostile, or at least apathetic, to any outside their gang.  I have no idea what their real names are, they’ve taken on nicknames from an old French cultist novel by Alexandre Dumas.
        There’s five of them.  The self styled leader goes by the name of Athos.  He strikes me as a typical druggie degenerate - thin, sullen, depressed, but also cocky and arrogant at times, and angry when stirred up.  He was wearing a collar today, and other typical Goth paraphernalia, with plenty of piercings and tattoos.  Another one of them calls himself Pathos.  He’s smaller and so thin he’s almost emancipated, yet he often goes without a shirt, even in winter.  He wears his hair long on one side and shaved on the other.  He looks sickly and acts like a transvestite at times.  Aramis is large, a head and shoulder taller than the others, and wears black but with pick accents.  His hair is all spiked and long.  He tries to look dangerous and is convincing.  D’Artagan is the most normal looking of the group; he has the Goth look, clothes and jewelry, but only temporary articles, no permanent piercings or tattoos, and he probably changes out of it when he goes home.  The only girl, a pathetic teenage who wears a persecuted expression on her face and dresses in all black, not just clothes, but hair, nails and lipstick too.  She’s taken on the name Milady de Winter.  They are an odd group and normally of no consequence.
        Today though, they were in my way.  I was weighing my chances of shoving the leader, Arthos, aside and bulling my way through, but not liking the odds if they actually fought back.  It looked like Aramis especially was spoiling to take a swing at me.  “Is there a problem here?” I demanded.
        “Yeah,” Athos retorted.  “We know what you have.”
        “What are you talking about?” I snapped.
        “You heard me,” Athos insisted.  “Give it up.”
        I stared him in the eye.  If I could get Athos to back down the others might follow.  “Look buddy,” I took the backpack off my shoulders to free up my arms, and stepped up close to face him, hoping to make the confrontation one on one.  “If you have a problem with me, Athos, let’s settle this right now.”
        I have him by a good 20-25 pounds in size, and he’s not exactly Mr. America for muscles.  He shuffled from one foot to the other, but didn’t move aside.   I could sense he wasn’t liking the idea of taking me on in a fight.  A lot of guys act tough, but when it comes down to a direct challenge, don’t have the stomach for it.
        Then Aramis, sensing his buddy was about to shy away, stepped up to reinforce him.  “You think you’re a tough guy,” Aramis sneered at me.  “I don’t think so.”
         Madison left me then and took off at a run down the parking lot.  I didn’t mind the desertion, preferring she was safely away in case a fight did break out.  I was going to have enough trouble making sure the fairy didn’t get hurt without having to worry about Madison too.
        I squared off with Aramis now and ignored Athos.  Aramis is a little taller and stockier than me, but that wasn’t going to help him much if he didn’t get out of my way.  I was losing patience quick.
        Then Milady de Winter interrupted.  “We know you have a fairy!” she shrilled at me.
        I went cold with surprise.  “What did you say?”
        She stuck her chin up.  “My aunt told us.  She said you have a fairy.  I’ve been watching you and you definitely have something.  I think you do have a fairy.  I think you have it with you now.”
        All the Goths were staring at me hard, gauging my reaction.  I was in shock.  “Don’t be ridiculous,” I said.  “How would your aunt know anything about me?”
        “She lives next door to you,” the girl said.
        Unger’s wife!  That made me mad.  Word was getting out.  “Yeah, I got a fairy,” I said.  “And you got four ugly trolls for friends.”
        The guys turned red in the face.  Then Aramis shoved me at the shoulders, pushing me back a few steps.  I would have lunged at him but I needed to get Bonnie out of my pocket or else she would be squashed during the fight that now seemed unavoidable.
        “Stop,” a female voice yelled at us from down the parking lot.  We turned to see Madison coming back quick, running, and she had two of my friends from church - Ramiro Vasquez, who studies taekwondo, and also one of the Samoans, Leigalo Tulafona, who is on the front line of the football team and does power weight lifting.  Suddenly the odds were looking a whole lot better.  Madison got between me and the Goths.  “We don’t want any trouble here,” she declared.
        Aramis and Leigalo faced off, chest to chest, and Aramis looked a little worried he might have to back up his words.  Leigalo was one of the few people in school that can match Aramis for physical height, and Leigalo is broader and more athletic looking.  He seemed to be mumbling some type of island people chant under his breath, which none of us could understand, but which sounded quite intimidating.
        Madison took my hand.  “Come on,” she said, and pulled on my arm.  She led me through the Goths and to the Mustang.  They didn’t interfere and I opened the door and climbed in quick.  Not wanting to leave Madison behind, surround by Goths, I motioned her to get in also and she circled the car and jumped into the driver’s seat.  “Dive,” she said immediately.  “Hurry up.”  She wanted to get me and the fairy out of there and remove the cause of our confrontation.  She knew if a fight actually started, I would be out of the car in an instant to help Leigalo and Ramiro, although they probably wouldn’t need it against those punks.
        I turned on the ignition and loudly revved up the engine, backing the Goths away from the car.  Athos led them away and they sulked off towards the far end of the parking lot.  I nodded thanks to my friends and pulled out.
        Madison was silent on the dive home, until we got to her house and I tried to let her out.  Then it was like the flood gates opened and she couldn’t stop blathering.  She was so sorry for telling Ms Weaverspell.  She felt just terrible.  She should never have said anything.  She was so sorry.  Would I ever forgive her?  What a surprise to hear Madison admit to anything wrong.  But she didn’t let it go with an apology.  Couldn’t I see we needed help?  Ms Weaverspell meant well.  We were in over our heads.  Someone was going to get hurt.  This was all too much.  Couldn’t I understand?  We needed help.  We were in danger.  The fairies were going to be back.  The gnomes were going to attack again.   She was getting hysterical.  You would think there were werewolves and vampires beating at our doors, not little fairies and gnomes.  She wasn’t getting out of the car and I finally had enough.  I just drove away with her still in the car and went straight to my house.  She could walk home for all I cared.
        Unfortunately there was someone standing on the front porch of my house, a woman.  She looked like she was just about to knock when she heard us pulling up in the Mustang.  It was Unger’s wife, Louise, the one who apparently told her niece the Goth girl about my fairy.  Louise Unger was wearing a jean skirt that was ankle length, a flowery blouse, large moon ear rings, and what looked like a talisman hanging around her neck.
        I cut off the engine to the Mustang.  “Now what?” I mumbled to Madison.
        “Maybe she just wants to borrow a cup of sugar to make some funny brownies?” Madison spoke sarcastically.
        “Yeah, right.”  No since delaying the inevitable.  I opened the car door and stepped out, squinting in the sun.  I approached the porch and tried to act nonchalant.  Madison followed close behind.
        Mrs. Unger seemed excited to see us.  “Hello Michael,” she greeted me gaily, like we were long time friends.
        I decided the upfront approach would be best.  “I suppose you want to talk about the fairy too?”
        She looked shocked, and stumbled for words, then said, “Well yes, I ahh, a fairy you say.”
        “Yes, we saw your niece at school today.  She said you told her I have a fairy.”
        Mrs. Unger looked at me sideways, afraid I might be angry.  “I suppose I did,” she admitted.
        “She believed you,” I said.  “You shouldn’t go around teasing foolish impressionable teenage girls.”
        Mrs. Unger caught her breath, then forced a laugh.  “But you do have a fairy.”
        I tried to speak with incredibility.  “Are you kidding me?  A fairy?  Like in fairy tales?  With wings?  Tinkerbelle I suppose?”
        Mrs. Unger wasn’t deterred.  “My husband saw the fairy.  He described it to me perfectly.  I know it was a fairy he saw.  Max has no idea what it was, but I do, I recognized it immediately.  I love fairies.  I’ve studied all their folklore.  I have membership in a website based in Wales that’s dedicated to the promotion of fairies.  I went on fairy spotting hunts in the woods of upper Maine when I was a teenager.  I’m kind of an expert.”
        “I bet you are,” I nodded my head with exaggeration as I walked around her, opened the front door and tried to escape.
        Unfortunately she took that for an invitation and followed me inside, right into my house no less, as did Madison also.  “So where is it?” Mrs. Unger said.  “Can I see it?”
        I halted in the hall and turned on her.  “Look, Mrs. Unger, I don’t know what you want from me.”
        Before Mrs. Unger could answer, Madison interrupted.  “So, you say you’re an expert on fairies.  Know a lot about fairies and their customs, do you?”
        “Yes, yes I do,” Mrs. Unger beamed
        “Have you ever seen one?” I demanded.
        “Well, no, but on several occasions I’ve set under a full moon, in a circle of mushrooms, signing Celtic ballads and hoping they might appear.”
        “But you never saw one?”
        “No, but I’ve felt their presence.”
        Madison shot me a glance and mouthed the words, ‘Circle of mushrooms?’
        Mrs. Unger continued, “I have tons of books on fairies in my house, and figurines too.  I dress like a fairy sometimes at Halloween or at Renaissance Fairs.”
        “Oh well, that makes you an expert,” I said.
        Madison elbowed me, and then questioned Mrs. Unger.  “So, what do they want, usually?  When they come out?  What are they after?”
        Mrs. Unger was quick to seize the opportunity Madison gave her.  She stepped on into the living room.  “Oh, well, mostly just to sing and dance.” She glanced around the room as if looking for some evidence of fairies.
        “Nothing else?” Madison asked.
        “Well, usually not.  It depends.”
        “But they’re harmless,” Madison concluded.
        “Oh no,” Mrs. Unger said quickly.  “Fairies aren’t very nice really.  At best they’re mischievous.”
        I felt Bonnie stir in my pocket and kick at the sweatshirt.  I put my hand in to quiet her, but she didn’t hug me as usual.
        “Like how?” Madison persisted.
        “Well, there are good fairies and bad fairies, I suppose, like people.  But even the good ones like to play tricks.”  Again Bonnie kicked the sweatshirt, this time at me. 
        “Ummm.   Hiding things.  Stealing things.  Did you know I’m a Wiccan?  I can tell my coven of sisters about your fairy and we could cast some spells for you.  Spells for your protections.  You probably need it.  We even know the local druid and he sometimes visits during our ceremonies.  You can’t be too careful with fairies about.”
        Bonnie was getting quite wiggly, so I put both hands in the pouch pocket, one on each side to still her.
        “What about the bad fairies?” Madison continued.
        “Oh, they can be quite dangerous.  Quite.”
        “Such as?”
        “They have been known to try and bewitch people?”
        Suddenly Bonnie got very still in my pocket.
        “What is the worst thing a group of fairies might do?” Madison persisted.
        “Well,” said Mrs. Unger, leaning closer and fingering her talisman.  “They steal babies.”
        That was too much for Bonnie.  Suddenly I felt the most awful sting in my hand and I knew she poked me with her little dagger.  I howled and drew my hand out and instantly Bonnie was out of my pocket.  She flew up in front of Mrs. Unger’s chest, all in a huff and full of fairy anger, and swiped at her with the little dagger, neatly and expertly severing the talisman from its leather strap.  Mrs. Unger’s talisman fell to the floor with a loud thud and Mrs. Unger screamed in surprise, threw her hands up and backed into the couch.  She fell onto her rear with her legs flying up unceremoniously.  Bonnie shrieked at her in a shrill little scream, then swooped at her face, waving the dagger menacingly.  Mrs. Unger shrieked again and stumbled to her feet waving her hands about in the air as if to ward off evil demons.  Her face was contorted with fear and she fled for the door.  Bonnie whooped and chased after her and Mrs. Unger flung the door open in a panic and rushed outside.  Confrontation with the reality of her fantasies was apparently now what she had anticipated.
        I hurried to shut the door after her, and then scowled at Madison.  “Now a coven of witches are going to be performing pagan ceremonies for our sake?”
        Bonnie started chuckling, as if I had said a great joke.  She was feeling in high spirits after successfully chasing the neighborhood hag out of our house.  The little fairy circled around my head and landed on my shoulder.  “Bonnie did good, Bonnie chase bad woman away,” she chanted merrily.
        “I guess,” I said, and shrugged, smiling at her.  Bonnie laughed and leaped off my shoulder.  She flew over to Madison, gave her nose a hug, which caused Madison to sneeze, and then flew up to the ceiling and commenced flying loops, tucking her wings at the top of the loop, then gliding, and then swooping up and around at the bottom of the loop.
        Then I saw Mom, in the dining room, watching the fairy go round and round.  She had apparently been sitting there the whole time and had witnessed everything.  Mom’s eyes and whole head followed the motion of Bonnie’s loops as if hypnotized.
        “Bonnie!” I snapped, bring the fairy out of her revelry.  She saw my mother instantly, gave a little shriek, and flew towards me and thudded into my chest.  I caught her and immediately ran her upstairs.  Mom didn’t say a word, just watched us go.  She was too stunned I guess.  I heard Madison leave through the front door a moment later.
        So now I don’t have any choice.  I have to leave.  Too many people know or shortly will know – friends, my brother, my mom, a neighbor, a school teacher, Goths, witches, fairy warriors, gnomes, etc. etc. etc.  I have to get Bonnie out of here.  I’ll be leaving tomorrow.

    January 8, 2013
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