Aladdin served sheiks and veiled ladies at Bosphorus Square Lamps.
On slow days, he cleaned the trade-ins. Noting the component materials, he checked for dents, damage, and neglect. He assessed usability: plugs, wires, oil wicks. He cleaned the lamps up and set a price. But none of them was magic. Aladdin could tell.
An elderly gentleman came in with an old fener. “It needs a good home,” he said.
Holding the lamp, Aladdin felt a nervous energy inside. “I’ll keep it for myself,” he said.
“It needs tea and baklava. Four o’clock, without fail.”
No one asks for woolens anymore. No bags full for BaaBaa’s master or his dame, especially none for the trekkers freezing in Nepal waiting to climb to the top of some freaking mountain. Which one? BaaBaa can’t remember, but he knows exactly when wool tanked and fleece took off.
Warm, washable, even woolly if you get the right stuff. And BaaBaa makes the right stuff. He has a reputation to live down as the black sheep of the family- a misspent childhood, years in Nepal’s wild, sacred heights. He’s redeemed himself.
This bad boy kicks the competition. Woolmark, eat your heart out.
The boat salesman overheard three men planning a rafting trip. When they approached the register, he estimated their combined weight at six hundred pounds and knew that the tub they’d picked would not make it through the calms, let alone the rapids.
“This one’s rated at two hundred fifty pounds. Two small women. Three children at most.”
He didn’t add that even one of these gentlemen would be enough to sink it.
“Well now, I reckon we can read,” said the ginger-haired man.
The mutton-chopped guy put down a credit card. “Customer’s always right.”
“The spinning wheel’s two hundred. The spell’s another five hundred.”
“That’s outrageous,” the queen said pulling the hood of her cape to cover her widow’s peak. She took a card from her purse. “You do take Visa.”
He did. “How about a CosPlay evil fairy for the christening.”
“CosPlay? I want a professional.”
“Who’s gonna know?”
“You horrible dwarf. You have no idea. It’s hard to marry off a princess. You start as soon as they’re born. Then there’s preschool, private school, etiquette… They need skilled help and compelling stories to get to a happily-ever-after.”
The cottage was set back from the street, not at all gingerbread as you might expect. No dwarfs or princesses resided in the bright kitchen where a woman with waist-length crone gray hair, sat at a rhythmically circling wheel. “I need to spin. Someone’s collecting the skeins tomorrow.”
I asked about doctor’s visits for a study of healthcare options at Stanford. She answered, skeptical that yearly physicals made much difference. All the while her fingers moved in a subtle dance pulling the fluff of wool into ivory yarn.
“This is what keeps me healthy,” she said. “This magic wheel heals.”
It was only a matter of time before she broke me. That’s an occupational hazard of delivering bad news to an evil queen when you feel bound not to sugarcoat it.
I did warn her. After two unsuccessful assassination attempts, I ventured an opinion that Snow White had her own magic. Not appreciated. Evil zapped me, electric charge flowing from her fingers until the glass fought back. Magic glass does that. It exploded leaving her a bloody mess and me a disembodied spirit. Now that I’m free, I’ll find a way to dislodge the poison apple from Snow White’s throat.
Cleaning the many mirrors in the castle was a full time job. The blind lass, hired by the queen, felt her way up and down the craggy stones of the winding staircases. Doors opened into lighter shades of gray filled with solid shadows. She found her way through every room but one. That door was always locked. The mirror inside was magical.
Dreaming, she turned a key and entered the forbidden room. Blindsight rendered the planes of the walls a darker gray. The mirror, the room’s only tangible shape, beckoned. A grayscale world of touch emerged from behind the glass.