Art and the philosophy of life

Posts tagged ‘Edith Olive O’Connor’

Edith Olive O’Connor and the Book Lovers Emporium…21

“I told you not to drink Blue Moon,” sighed Edith, watching Tilly stagger into the room.

“What gave it away?” whispered Tilly, squinting, trying to hold her head on with her hands.

“Your lips are blue.”

“Oh.  Oh, yeah.”

“Did you have fun?” asked Edith, merrily.

“I can’t believe Jimi dedicated the Star Spangled Banner, to YOU.”

“Why not?”

“Is there anyone you DON’T know?

Edith thought for a minute and then said, “No, I don’t think so.”

“Greatest concert EVER,” said Tilly, lowering herself to the floor.  “No doubt about it.”

“Yes, it was wonderful,” agreed Edith, a far away look in her eyes.

“You can really sing.  You rocked the house,” smiled Tilly.  “I thought Keith was going to take a bite out of you.”

“Oh, no.  We don’t do that anymore,” said Edith, warmly.

“You and Keith? When do you have the time?  You’re always HERE!”

“I Hop dear.  I Hop,” she snickered, putting books into the White Dog’s basket.  “Please take these to room 309,” said Edith, to the Dog.  “Tell the recipient that I’ll send tea up in a moment.”

The White Dog nodded and toddled away, pulling his wicker cart behind him.

“Who’s in 309?” asked Tilly ”

“You’ll find out tonight.”

“Last night I saw Miss Marple in the hallway leading to the Room of Mysteries.  It’s possible that I just drank too much Blue Moon, however, so don’t take my word for it.”

“She’s here.  She’s working on a case and needed some information,” said Edith.  “Sir Gawain is here as well.  His steed is in the barn.”

“He brought his horse?”

“He rode his horse,” said Edith.

“Old school?” asked Tilly.

“Definitely,” nodded Edith.

“Merlin certainly had the crowd’s attention when he spoke about the war,” sighed Tilly.  “No one wants to go to war.”

“Some do, that’s the problem.”

“Can’t we all just live together peacefully?  Why can’t the faerie folk live with us in this reality, they seem very nice.”

“They can’t live with us for several reasons,” said Edith.  “They have too much power for one thing.   They could use their magic on humans and no one would even know.  They feel that we are far less than they are, and if you consider their magick, they’re right.  But humans have things they don’t have.”

“Such as?”

“We can lie,” laughed Edith.  “They can’t.  But they can twist words and make you believe they are saying something they aren’t.  We don’t have Rulers we must answer to but they are gorgeous, graceful and faster than you can imagine.  They don’t like humans except as prey or to use in their games.”

“Ah,” smirked Tilly, “the good the bad and the beautiful.”

“Very beautiful.  Amazingly beautiful,” said Edith. “But more than that, they could take over, use us for procreation, and turn us into their servants and make us like it.  The faeries you have met are under a geas that prohibits them from using magick on humans, or tricking them in any way.”

“So, if there’s war and the faeries win….”

“Yes, Tilly, things will go badly for humans.

You have no idea how badly,” hissed the Cheshire Cat, his smile appearing over the end of the counter.   “I’m hoping they win,” he purred.

Edith placed a pinch of Nip under the smile and watched it disappear.

Edith, my love,” said the cat, coming in to view, rolling in the Nip.  “You spoil me.”

“I spoil everyone Ches,” said Edith, rubbing his ears.”

Did you see the invisible trio last night?” he asked, flopping on to his side.  “I was one of the only ones who could see them.”

Edith and Tilly snickered.  “Of corse you were,” said Edith.

They’re here, you know,” said the Cat, lazily.  “More Nip, pleeeezzzzee,” he begged, his eyes starting to close.

Edith gave him another pinch and said, “Who’s here?”

The Cat looked around and waved her closer with his front paw.  “The Fae.  I saw three of them at the party last night.”

“Free Fae?” asked Edith.

The cat nodded and fell asleep.

“They’re here,” said Edith.  “They got into the Bookstore.  That means they got through the Wards, through the Magick.”

“That’s not possible,” said Tilly, grinning.  “No one can do that, right?”

“MERLIN,” screamed Edith.

 

Edith Olive O’Connor and the Book Lovers Emporium…13

“I do wish he would walk a bit more softly when he paces,” said Edith.  “The shelves are quaking, books are falling to the floor and the tea set in the cabinet is in danger of shattering.”

BOOM, BOOM, BOOM.

“Chicago,” said Edith.  “I think I’d like to send some hot chocolate to him, right about now.  Hot chocolate with the tiny marshmallows he loves so much.  What do you think?”

“I think that’s a wonderful idea,” said Chicago.  “I’ll ask the kitchen to do it.”

“Thank you,” said Edith.  “I have a room full of albino raccoons to care for.”

“They are so darling,” smiled Chicago.  “I saw one in his pajamas this morning and I had to control myself, so that I wouldn’t pick him up and kiss him.”

“Oh, don’t do that!” said Edith, at once.  “They are fully grown and intelligent adult raccoons.  They are here because they are inventors, instructors and scientists.”

“But they are so beautiful with their white faces and lovely ears…”

“Snap out of it,” said Edith.  “Leave them alone unless they speak to you.”

“Fine,” said Chicago moodily.  “I know you’re right.  It’s just that I had a pet raccoon as a child and I just thought…”

“They are not those kinds of raccoons and you know it.”

“I do, but…”

“Please send the hot chocolate to our guest and let’s hope that it has the effect we are all hoping for.”

“Of course,” said Chicago, heading to the kitchen.  “I’ll send some biscuits as well.”

“Excellent idea.  Thank you.  And Chicago…”

“Yes?”

“I’m sorry you can’t pet the raccoons.”

Chicago smiled.  “I know you are.  I’ll make sure he gets the tiny marshmallows, so don’t worry.”

“Tilly and Jerry sent the dragons to another dimension for a few hours.  They can’t handle them while he’s here and that a guy Tim is no help at all.  Maybe you should let them go to him and get it over with,” said the gray cat, sprawling on the counter.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” sighed Edith.  “Just tell Tilly to release them and I’ll take any fallout that may come our way.”

“I think that’s a good idea,” said the gray cat, jumping to the floor.

Ten minutes later there was a terrible roar and the dragons were free.  They disappeared, after making a right turn through the foyer and nearly hooking Edith with their claws but it was over quickly.   After a few minutes, the pacing stopped and piece of paper dropped onto the blotter.  Edith picked it up and smiled.  It said:

Dearest Edith:

Chocolate and dragons.  Aren’t you the clever one.

Yours, M

“Miss Edith.”

Edith looked over the counter and saw a white raccoon.  “May I be of service, Thomas?”

“I just wanted to thank you for all the tree trunks in our quarters.  We do enjoy a soft bed, now and then, but a hollow tree is our favorite place to sleep.  We appreciate your kindness.”

“Thank you.  It’s a great pleasure to have you with us again, Thomas.   I do hope Molly and the children are well.”

“Very well, thank you and Edith, some boxes may be delivered later today.  If you would send them to the lab on the twelfth floor I would be in your debt.”

“It will be done.  Enjoy your time here and feel free to read as many books as you like.”

“Gracious as ever,” he said, taking his leave.

“He’s very nice,”  said Snowball.  “Polite and grateful.”

“Yes he is,” said Edith, writing the titles of books in her ledger.

“Do you think he will make an appearance?”

“I do,” said Edith.  “I think the chocolate and the dragons have calmed him a bit.”

“I met him once,” said Snowball.  “A great man.  Stardust fell from his midnight blue robe as he walked.”

“Oh, that’s my favorite robe,” said Edith, happily.  “I do hope he wears it, if he comes down.”

“Edith.”

“Yes Snowball?”

“I’m happy you’re here.”

Edith choked up and felt tears sting her eyes.  She went to the cat and put her arms around him.  “I’m happy that I’m here too, Snowball.”

“EXCUSE ME, THIS IS ALL VERY TOUCHING, BUT WHERE SHOULD WE PUT OUR LUGGAGE?”

“You need to lower your voice and make yourself visible at once,” said Edith sternly.

“Oh, sorry,” said the Tiger. “My bad.”

“Your rooms are on the ground floor and they open into the forest,” said Edith.  “You know the rules.  NO HUNTING.”

“But stalking is okay, right?” asked the tiger, his tail swishing back and forth.

“I’d rather you didn’t,” said Edith.  “You frightened quite a few of the others when you did that last time.”

“But Edith, we’re CATS and stalking is what we do,” moaned the tiger.  “You’ve seen us…we get all focused, wiggly and tense.”

“This is a Convention, Bobby.  Mind your manners and keep the rest of your party in line or you’ll answer to me.  Understood?”

“Understood,” said Bobby.   “But it won’t be as much fun.”

“There’s a new book in your room.  It’s called Tiger by the Tail and it’s about two tigers who fall in love…”

“Oh, don’t tell me, don’t tell me,” said Bobby quickly.  “Thank you Edith.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Did you see him yet?”

“No.  Not yet.”

“I hope he comes down,” said Bobby.  “Claws and fingers crossed.”

“”Claws and fingers crossed,” agreed Edith.

“These are for you,” said Bobby, pushing a brightly colored tin across the counter.

Edith removed the lid and snickered.  “Hard candy in the shape of tigers,” she laughed.  “How ever did you manage it?”

“Snowball knew a guy.”

“I’m sure he did,” she said, popping a red tiger into her mouth.  “Delicious,” she moaned.  “Just delicious.”

“I’m happy you like them Edith.”

“I do and I’m very, very grateful for your thoughtfulness but you still can’t hunt or stalk anyone.”

“It was worth a shot,” said Bobby softly.

“It certainly was,” said Edith, carefully placing the box of candy on a shelf under the counter.  “And Bobby…”

“Yes Edith?”

“Try not to blow anything up.”

“You’re no fun Edith,”  growled the big cat.  “No fun at all.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor and the Book Lovers Emporium…12

The Book Lovers Emporium shook to it’s very foundation.  Well, it would have, if it had a real foundation.

“He’s here,” said Edith, straightening her jacket.

“Ten cases of cheese doodle crisps just arrived,” said Chicago, placing the shipping slip on the counter.  “I had them put the crates in the kitchen.  One of the conventioneers sent them ahead.  They’re for the Unusual Things gathering this weekend.”

“Thank you,” said Edith, as she listened to the racket around her.

Stars are falling into the backyard,” said Snowball, as he walked into the room.  “A lot of them.  So far, no major fires or craters.”

“Things will straighten out as soon as he settles in,” said Edith hopefully.

“The dragons are making a terrible racket and there’s so much smoke in their hallway I can’t even see,” sighed Chicago.  “I put a fan on the floor but all it’s really doing is moving the smoke around, it’s not getting rid of it.”

Edith shut her eyes and snapped her fingers.  “It should be better now.”

“Thank you,” said Chicago, coughing slightly.

“INCOMING,” yelled Edith, as books flew in from every direction and stacked themselves on the counter and on the floor.  A piece of paper fluttered down from above and landed on the blotter in front of Edith.  It read:  Edith dear.  I’ll send for these later.  Meanwhile please let them sort themselves out until I’m ready for them.  Yours, M.

“Look at these titles,” said Chicago, bending over to have a look at the books.  “There’s an awful lot of Grimoires’ here and some of them look positive ancient.  They’re so old they’re falling apart.  And there are books on ancient herbs and birds.  Three books on dragons and mythical creatures and one on submarines.”

“No poetry books?” asked Edith, in alarm.

“Yes, four,” said Chicago, turning sideways to read the spines.

Edith let out the breath she hadn’t known she had been holding.

Tilly half fell through the archway and into the room.  She looked singed, charred, smudged and her hair looked as if some of it had actually been burned off  in places, but her blue eyes were alive with excitement.  “I think we’ve calmed them down a bit.  Large Wings is thrashing about but we’re letting him watch a movie about dragons so, he’s eating popcorn and acting less aggressive.”

“He’s watching a film?” asked Edith.  “And eating popcorn?”

“He is,” said Tilly.  “They’re all watching it and eating popcorn.”

Edith rubbered her eyes.  “They can hear his heartbeat and it drives them wild with the need to be with him, so there’s only so much you can do.”

“INCOMING,” screeched Chicago, as twenty or thirty books sailed into the foyer, some hitting the wall, others knocking down those books that had already stacked themselves.

“How long is he staying?” asked Tilly.  “He can’t possibly read all these books in a couple of days.”

“He doesn’t read them exactly,” said Edith. “They just…share their knowledge with him.  They basically tell him what he needs, or wants, to know.”

“Wow,” said Tilly.

“Indeed,” said Edith, looking at her hands.

“You’re wearing nail polish,” said Chicago, grinning.

“It’s not the first time,” said Edith, busying herself with the things on her blotter. “I’ve worn it before.  I’d wear it all the time but it chips from handling all the books and papers.”

“Is it for him or is it for the Unusual Things Convention Edith,” teased Tilly. “Tell us.”

“It’s for me,” said Edith, picking up a few of the books that had landed behind the counter.”

“Right, then,” said Chicago, trying not to laugh. “Is there anything I can do?”

Just then a baby Roc flew through the wall and crashed into the books, as he tumbled to the floor.

“Are you alright?” asked Edith, looking down at the pile of feathers.

“I think so,” said the Roc.  “He called me.”

“I gathered that,” she said flatly, pointing to her right.  “Go that way, then up.  You can’t miss his rooms,”

“Thank you,” said the Roc, straightening a few feathers with his beak.  “The war,” he said, shaking his head.  “He’s tired.”

“Well, we’ll try to keep things quiet,” said Edith.  “At least until this weekend.”

The Roc nodded and took off, barely missing the crystal chandelier glittering in the center of the room.  The wind from his wings knocked books and several people, one of them Leonardo, to the floor.

“Okay, then,” said Tilly.  “A Roc, right?”

“Yes, a Roc,” said Edith.

“What do you think he’s going to do with a Roc?”

Edith shook her head. “No idea but help me move some of these books away from the front of the counter, please.”

“Will we get to meet him?”

“It depends,” said Edith.

“On?”

“His mood.”

Tilly nodded.  “My brother’s like that.”

“I sincerely doubt that,” said Edith, putting a book that suddenly burst into flames, out with her bare hands.  “You better get back to the dragons.”

“If you need me, just yell or send Gray to get me.”

“Yes, yes, now go.”

“Those won’t fit in my basket,” said the white dog, looking at the enormous piles of books.

“You don’t have to deliver them, love,” said Edith.  “They’re for him.”

The dog nodded and walked away.

As the dog left, there was a true moment of silence.  Edith closed her eyes and fell into a deep sleep that refreshed her completely.  When she opened her eyes, she could still see the white dog leaving through the doorway.  “I love my life,” mumbled Edith.  And at that very moment a bevy of albino raccoons walked through the front door.

“Are we too early?” asked the smart looking raccoon, wearing a black tuxedo.  “For the convention, I mean?”

 

 

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor and the Book Lovers Emporium…11

“Edith’s not at the counter,” said the gray cat.

“What do you mean she’s not at the counter?” asked Chicago.

“I mean…just what I said…she’s not there.  No one is there.  Edith’s not there.”

“Where is she?”

The cat shrugged.  “I have no idea but she’s NOT at he counter.”

Word of Edith’s disappearance spread through the bookstore like wildfire.  Books fell from their shelves and made there way to the foyer, piling on top of each other until they could see over the counter.  The cat was right, Edith wasn’t there.

The entrance to the shop was instantly jammed with people, cats, dogs and a rabbit or two.  Agatha Christie rubbered her hands together and said, “Ah, I love a good mystery.  I think this will be a case for Miss Marple.”

Chicago did a quick Tarot reading, fanning the cards across the counter and flipping them back and forth.

Jerry, a dragon on his shoulder, wanted to know what all the fuss was about and Tilly, pale as a ghost, asked if  anyone thought that Edith may have been kidnapped.  That silenced everyone and brought the temperature in the room down to where ice started to form on the windows.

“Good heavens,” said Edith, walking up to the counter, rubbing her arms.  “Why is it so cold in here?”

A giant cheer went up from the crowd and everyone patted Edith on her back or hugged her tightly and said they were glad that she was back.

“I was only gone for a few minutes,” said Edith.  “I had to take a…call.   Out back.”

Except for Hemingway readjusting the rifle strapped to his back, there was dead silence.

“Who was it?” asked Chicago nervously.

“Yeah, Edith.  Who was it?” asked the gray cat.

Edith shuffled some papers and moved a few things around, then folded her hands in front of her and looked at the crowd.  “It seems we are to have a visitor.”

No one spoke, they simply waited for her to continue.

“He will be arriving late tonight and will be staying for a day or two.”

Silence.

“A room is being added for his convenience and we are being asked to respect his privacy.”

“Merlin?” asked the chipmunk.

“Yes Peter, Merlin,” said Edith.

A collective gasp went through the crowd.

“Well, that’s it, now everyone get back to whatever it was you were doing and Earnest, please do not leave that gun unattended.  You won’t have to shoot anything while you’re here, so please, put it away.”

Hemingway nodded.  “Is he in a good mood?”

Everyone stopped in their tracks and waited for Edith’s answer.

“That is yet to be determined,” said Edith, rearranging her stapler and notepad.  “We won’t know until he gets here.”

“Can I take his picture?” asked Tilly, as a horrified gasp ricocheted off the walls.  “Does that mean no?”

“Do not seek him out.  Do not make eye contact or speak to him, Tilly.  Do NOT, under any circumstances, take his picture.  If he wants company, he will let us know.”

“Wow,” said Tilly.  “What’s his problem?”

The chipmunk tugged at Tilly’s sock.  “I’ll tell you later,” he squeaked.

“You’re quite beautiful,” smiled Tilly, dropping to the floor.

“That’s what my mother said.  But I’m rather small for a chipmunk.”

“That’s because you’re special,” said Tilly happily.

“No I’m not.  That’s just what people say when they’re trying to make someone feel better,” said Peter.  “But thank you anyway.”

“Your stripe is a rich brown and your eyes are perfect in every way.  I can feel your sweet disposition and if you would like to help with the dragons, you can ride in my pocket,” said Tilly

“I can?” gasped Peter.

“Definitely,” said Tilly, holding out her hand.

“I have to ask my mom but I know she’ll say yes,” said Peter, shyly.  “Can I tell you tomorrow?”

“Of course.  Just let me know when you’re ready to begin.”

Peter climbed up Tilly’s shoe and hugged her ankle.  “Thank you.” he said.

Tilly reached for Peter and kissed him softly.  “What’s with Merlin?” she asked.

Peter looked around and then jumped to Tilly’s shoulder.  “Sometimes he’s really crabby,” he whispered, “especially if he’s coming from a war zone.  Last time he wasn’t happy several rooms vanished, books and all, and no one has seen them since.”

“How long ago wast that?”

“Years and years,” said Peter, “at least that’s how the story goes.”

“Interesting,” said Tilly, putting Peter on the floor.  “Don’t forget to ask your mom about the dragons.”

“I won’t,” said Peter, who waved and then dashed away.

“Its been thirty years, almost to the day,” said Edith.  “Stay away from him if he’s unhappy.  I mean it.”

“What if he’s in a good mood?”

“Then there will be a LOT of parties and magick.  Costumes and uh, strange guests.”

“Do you think he’s coming because of the Unusual Things Convention?” asked Tilly.

“I doubt it, but you never know with him.”

“He’s arriving this evening?” she asked excitedly.

“He’s arriving whenever he gets here,” sighed Edith.  “Now go make sure the dragons are settled.  They will fight to be with him, so you need to keep them calm.”

“Are they his to call?”

“Everything is his to call,” said Edith, rubbing her temples.

“Maybe we can get Gandalf to…”

“Go away Tilly,” said Edith, not unkindly.  “I have a lot to do.”

Edith Olive O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium 10

“I heard you kept one of the rabbits,” said the gray cat.

“Yes, I did,” said Edith, taking a bite out of an enormous brownie. “If the Magician’s are going to teach classes on how to pull a rabbit out of a hat they should learn to be more careful.”

“What did you name her?”

Edith moved a few things around on the counter, “Miss Lucy Fuzzy Paws.”

“Nice,” said the cat.  “I’ll just call her Lucy, if that’s okay.”

“That’s fine.”

“There’s a lot of smoke in the hallway outside Jerry’s room.”

“It’s from the dragons, nothing to worry about.  They have plenty of fire extinguishers,” said Edith.

“The new guy…”

“His name is Tim,” said Edith.  “Tim Johnson.  He’s a writer, among other things.”

“Among what other things?”

“He said he’s a dragon trainer.”

“Do you believe him.”

Edith shrugged.  “I don’t have any reason not to believe him but it seems…”

“Unbelievable?” asked the cat.

“Yes.  I mean where would he find dragons?  It’s not like they’re flying around everywhere.”

“Maybe he Hopped,” said the cat, licking his paw.

“It’s possible, I suppose.  People do Hop dimensions, so he could have gone someplace where  dragons are plentiful.”

“Let’s go with that,” said the cat.  “He seems like an okay guy.”

Edith nodded distractedly and gave the cat a handful of treats.  “I could only get two Dodo birds for Saturday night and the Griffin said he can’t be here until nine.  He has another engagement before that.”

“That’s not bad,” said the cat, stretching on the counter.  “Griffins are popular guest speakers.”

“Well, it’s the best I can do,” said Edith.   “Unless I ask Snowball for help and I’d rather not do that.”

“I saw two First Editions of Alice in Wonderland, sneaking toward the backdoor early this morning.  When I asked them where they thought they were going they said they wanted to look for a Rabbit Hole and have an outdoor Tea Party.”

“What did you tell them?” asked Edith.

“I told them to get back on their shelves or I would have them put behind glass.”

“Harsh,” said Edith.  “You could have just told them that they’re First Editions and have to take better care of themselves..”

“I said that last time,” said the cat, starting to doze.

“HI EDITH,” yelled Tilly, leaping into the room.  “Can anyone go to the Unusual Things Party this weekend?”

“Uh….”

“I want to go,” said Tilly excitedly,  “I reallllllllly want to go Edith, pleeeeeease say that I can.  I’ll take a million pictures.”

“Hey, I’m trying to sleep here,” said the gray cat, unsheathing his claws.

“That’s all you do is sleep,” said Tilly, kissing his tummy.

The cat curled into a ball.  “I told you I’m ticklish and that you are not to kiss me on my tummy.”

“Yeah, I heard you,” said Tilly, trying to kiss him again.

“I’ll scratch you,” hissed the cat.

“No you won’t,” said Tilly.

“No you won’t,” said Edith.

“Okay I won’t, but I’m thinking about it,” said the cat dropping to the floor.  “I’m going to find a lap.”

“I saw Walt Whitman in the Poetry Room.  You might want to try him,” said Tilly.

“Thanks,” said the gray cat, swishing his tail.

“Edith,” said Tilly, taking a deep breath.  “We’ve been letting some of the dragons out at night.”

“You’ve been WHAT?”

“Just for a little while.  Jerry thought it would be good for them.  I mean they’re BIG animals and they need exercise,” whined Tilly.  “We felt sorry for them. All they were doing was flying around in the ceiling, if there is one.  Please don’t be angry with us.”

“You have to return any jewels or gold they brought here and do it at once,” said Edith immediately.  “And you can’t let them out again.  Not unless you open another dimension where they will be safe.  DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

“No, but I’m sure you’ll keep talking until I do.”

Edith came around the end of the counter and stood in front of Tilly.  “You must protect the dragons at all costs and if anything happens to even one of their scales you, my dear girl, will be held responsible.  Do….you….understand….me?”

“I do, but I don’t know how to open another dimension.”

Edith returned to her position behind the counter.  She pulled out a crystal bowl and poured some strange looking liquid into it.  She added a few herbs and then lit two cigarettes, threw them into the mix and stirred counter clockwise until the mixture caught on fire.  She waited until the flames died out then poured the remaining liquid onto the counter.  She blew on the mixture until numbers appeared.  She wrote the numbers down, snapped her fingers and watched the counter clean itself.  She then put on dark blue glasses and punched the numbers into  a small handheld device, which glowed so brightly that Tilly had to shield her eyes.  Once the light had gone out, Edith removed the glasses and handed the device to Tilly.  “Push this button once when you want to let them out,” she said, showing her a large red dot.  “Press it twice when you want them to come back into the room.”

“What are you Edith?” asked Tilly, in amazement.

Edith shrugged.  “To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what I am anymore, Tilly.  I belong to the shop now and I become whatever it wants me to be.”

“Wow!” said Tilly,  “I want to be just like you, when I grow up.”

Edith smiled.  “You can go to the Unusual Things Party on Saturday night but only if you promise to behave yourself.”

“Oh thank you Edith,” said Tilly lunging at her.  “You’re the best.”

Edith stood there and let herself be hugged.

“I have a feeling this is going to be a very long weekend,” she whispered to herself, as Tilly bounced out of the room.

“Miss Edith,” said a very small voice.

Edith looked down and saw a fat chipmunk.  “Yes?  May I help you?” she said kindly.

“Um, there’s a call for you.  In, um, uh, the back,” he said, pointing with his tiny arm.

Edith paled.  “Thank you kind sir,” she said, handing him several kernels of corn.  “I understand.”

The chipmunk nodded, shoved the corn into his cheeks and raced for the door.

“Who could be calling at this time of the day,” muttered Edith, as she ran her fingers through her hair and straightened her blouse.  “Might as well get it over with,” she sighed as she walked toward the backdoor.

 

 

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor and The Book Lovers Emporium…9

“Have you seen the room?” asked Chicago excitedly.

“No, I haven’t been able to leave the counter since yesterday,” said Edith.  “The Convention of Unusual Things is this weekend and I’m swamped with requests for, well, unusual things.”

“I know Jerry didn’t want anyone to see it until he was finished but I just happened to be walking by when Tilly came out to get something.   Edith, it’s absolutely amazing.”

“What did you see?” asked Edith.

“It’s all blue and black night sky, from the floor to as high up as I could see, with stars,  billowing clouds and different size dragons coming out from the walls.  Some of them are huge.  It’s incredible and shockingly beautiful.  It’s a masterpiece.”

“It certainly sounds like it,” said Edith, running her finger down the page of a telephone book.  “Where do you suppose I could get three Dodo birds and a Griffin for Saturday night?”

“No idea,” said Chicago.  “But Edith, the room is more than we could have ever hoped for.”

“The shop always knows how to get what it wants.”

“Do you think Jerry will go home when he’s finished?”

“I have no…”

“WHAT THE…” shouted the man in the tan raincoat as he smashed through the front door and rolled across the floor.  “Oh great,” he said, slowly sitting up,  rubbing his hand over his shirt.  “I just bought this.”

“Your shirt seems to be covered in ink,” said Chicago helpfully.

“YES, IT DOES,” said the man, picking the empty India Ink bottle off the floor.  “My shirt is ruined and the ink is gone.”

“Not true,” said Edith pointedly.  “While your shirt may be beyond help, your INK is not gone, it’s busy staining my wooden floor.”

“Oh, right,” said the man.  “Sorry about that.”

“Edith will fix it,” said Chicago.  “Don’t worry about it.”

“Thank you so very much for that vote of confidence,” said Edith, glaring at Chicago.

“Well you can fix it,” said Chicago stubbornly.

“Okay sir, who are you and what do you do?” ask Edith.

“What a warm welcome,” said the man, looking around.

“Are you in need of a book?”

“A book?”

“Yes, a book.  A stack of papers, bound on one side, with printed words on each sheet.  A sheet is called a page.  You read what’s on one page then turn it and read what’s on the next one.”

“Is she always this mean?”  asked the man, staring at Chicago.

“Pretty much.”

Edith closed her eyes, counted to ten and said, “Forgive me.  I’m sincerely sorry.  Is there anything I can get for you?”

“Water?”

“Besides that?  This is a bookstore after all.”

“Do you have any books on dragons?” asked the man.

Tilly chose that moment to run into the room and knock the man to the floor once again.  “Oh, sorry,” she said, offering him her hand.  “Didn’t see you.”

“I’m over six feet tall and weigh two hundred and sixty five pounds, I’m covered in ink and  you didn’t see me?”

“How about if I say that I wasn’t paying attention, so I didn’t see you?”

“Okay,” said the man, straightening his trench coat.

“Who’s he?” asked Tilly, reaching for a donut from a plate that wasn’t there a second before.

“I don’t know yet,” said Edith, offering the man a donut.

“Where did that plate of donuts come from?  It wasn’t there a minute ago,” said the man, edging toward the door.”

“Sure it was,” said Tilly.  “I saw it when I walked in here and just grabbed one. Hey, do you know anything about dragons?”

The man looked at her, his eyes suddenly sparkling with tears.  “I do,” he said softly.  “Quite a lot, actually.”

“Great,” said Tilly brightly.  “Come with me.”

“Your neckless is beautiful,” he whispered.  “It reminds me of a Green Dragoness, I used to know.  May I touch it?”

“Not a chance but hurry up, we have a lot to discuss,” said Tilly, pulling him by the sleeve.

Chicago and Edith watched them walk down an aisle, Tilly chattering and walking backward, the man following silently with his head down and his arms at his side.

“Did he tell you his name?”

“No, he didn’t,”  said Edith, watching books pile up in a nice neat stack on the counter to her left.

“He knows about dragons,” whispered Chicago.

“That’s what he said,” agreed Edith. “I wonder when he’s from?”

“I’d say the future but his clothes look more like the 1940s.”

“You know how some of those future people are,” said Edith.  “They pick a look and go with it.”

“That’s true,” muttered Chicago.  “They make the silliest mistakes.  Remember the girl who was supposed to be from the eighteen hundreds but wore a T-shirt with John Lennon’s face on it?”

“It’s all in good fun,” smiled Edith.  “They’re like big kids at a costume party.”

“But dragons?”

“He smelled like dragons,” said the gray cat.

“Have you ever actually smelled a dragon?” asked Edith expectantly.

“A couple of them,” he said, scratching at his neck with his back foot.

“Well, then,”  said Chicago, eyes sparkling.  “He must be in the right place.”

“HAH!” shouted Edith.  “Dodo birds for rent,” she said, happily.  “Oh wait, they need a three month advance notice so they have time to catch them.”

“I know a guy,” hissed the white cat.

“I’m sure you do,” said Edith, her back suddenly straight.  “But I’ll only use him if it’s necessary, thank you.”

“Have it your way,” said the cat, jumping off the counter.  “I’m going to find a lap to sleep on, you coming Gray?”

“Not now,” said Gray.

“I’ll be in the Writer’s Room, if you want to chase string later,” said the white cat.

“I’ll find you.”

“White has a rather seedy bunch of friends,”  said Edith.

“Snowball’s okay,” said the gray cat.  “He had a rough kittenhood. He was raised in an alley, the only white cat around.  It was tough.  His mother was a little thing.  Pretty, but small.  A family finally took them in and gave them a home, but Snowball still carries the scars.”

“I didn’t know,” said Edith sadly.

“Neither did I,” said Chicago.

“Yeah, well, Snowball doesn’t like to talk about the old days.”

“How about you Gray?”

“My mom left after we were weaned.  My dad, a big gray Tom, expected us to grow up fast.  I had two sisters and a brother but I don’t know where they are now.  He taught us how to steal fish and food from behind restaurants. But people put poison out, so we had to be careful.”

Chicago bent down, lifted the gray cat into her arms and started kissing his face.

“Normally I  would scratch you and say something like, ‘yeah, yeah,’ but you smell good and you’re really soft, so….”

“Lovely moment,” said Edith. “Now, if we could all get back to work.”

The white dog came into the room, wearing a harness attached to a lovely wicker basket.  He stopped in front of Edith and waited while she put the books from the counter into basket.  “Take these to Jerry and Tilly please.   Here’s a lovely bone for your trouble,” she added, tucking the bone in with the books.

“Hey Gray,” said the dog, looking up.  “I keep asking for cash but Edith keeps giving me bones.  I should get bones for doing nothing.  I bet she pays you in catnip.  How are we supposed to invest bones and nip?”

“I feel your pain,” said Gray.

“My client is just about here,” said Chicago, putting the cat on the counter.  “Just send her in Edith.  Thank you.”

“Has she read your cards?” asked the dog, watching Chicago walk away.

“Yeah,” said Gray.  “She said I would never have kittens.”

“Did you tell her you were a guy?”

“She knows that,” said Gray,  “I’m just not sure she knows where kittens come from.”

“Got it,” said the dog, snorting with laughter.

“Ah, what can I do for you Mr. Dali?” asked Edith warily.

“Edith, the wall in my room is melting again.”

“I’ve told you a thousand times, you can just think it back into place.   Remember last time?”

“I do, I do.  Thank you,” said Dali.  “Did the clocks I ordered arrive?”

“They’ll be here tomorrow,” said Edith.  “Now why don’t you take this lovely bottle of wine and go and fix your wall before it’s too late.”

“Until tomorrow, then.”

“Yes, yes, until then,” said Edith sweetly.

“I never go into his rooms,” said the small mouse gnawing on a donut.  He scares me.  I always feel as if I’m melting whenever I’m around him.”

“You’re looking well Loretta,” said Edith merrily.  “How are the mouselettes?”

“They’re fine, thank you.  And thank you for the lovely cheese.  We all enjoyed it very much.”

Edith held out her hand and the mouse jumped into her palm.  “You are a dear friend,” said Edith lovingly.  “If you ever need anything just let me know.”

“Thank you,” said the mouse.  “You are most generous.  I must get back to the babies, I just wanted you to know that we named one of the girls Edith in your honor.”

Edith was speechless, a knot formed in her throat and she nodded gratefully.  The tiny mouse wrapped her tail as far around Edith’s finger as she could, and squeezed.  “I know how hard you work,” she squeaked.  “You make it look so easy but I know how tired you are and how heavy the load is.  I want to thank you Edith, for making all of our lives so much better.”

Edit lifted her hand to her face and kissed the mouse on her side.

“Get some rest Edith,” said the mouse. “And I love you too,” she said, scampering away.

Edith stood behind the counter and took a deep breath. “I’m the luckiest person who ever lived,” she said to herself.

“RABBITS ARE IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM,” someone yelled.  “THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!  RABBITS ARE IN THE LAUNDRY ROOM!”

Edith started to giggle.  “I’m the luckiest person ever.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor and the Book Lovers Emporium…8

“Where can I get really good pizza?” asked Tilly.  “Thin crust, crispy, cheese, mushrooms, spinach and scalding hot?”

“In the kitchen,” said Edith, not looking up from her work.  “You can get whatever you like.”

“Can’t I just order out?”

“Just think about what you want and the kitchen will have it ready for you.”

“Did I die?” asked Tilly suddenly, staring at her hands.

“No.  I would have noticed, believe me.”

“But this has to be heaven.”

“I suppose it might seem that way to you,” said Edith, checking things off one of her many lists,  “if getting pizza is your idea of heaven.”

“Jerry’s drawing up plans for the room Chicago asked him to paint.  I’m taking pictures from start to finish, so it will be documented.  I took quite a few photographs of Hemingway and Fitzgerald together, before they started fighting.  Hemingway can be mean.  I don’t know why Scott hangs around with him.”

“They’re friends,” said Edith flatly.

“You’re not really interested in much are you Edith?”

Edith put down her pencil and looked at Tilly.  “I am responsible for the running of this shop.  Caring for The Book Lovers Emporium is a task bigger than you can imagine.  It’s a job that crosses time and space and then some.  I can’t afford to spend hours bouncing around.”

“I’m sorry,” said Tilly, patting Edith’s hand.  “No wonder you’re no fun.”

“Excuse me?”  barked Edith.  “I certainly AM fun.  I can be a lot of fun.”

“If you say so,” said Tilly, looking skeptical.

“I can be,” said Edith, once again, but the energy she had previously put into her words had faded.

“Can we have a dance?”

“This is a bookstore, not a dancehall.”

Please, can we have a dance?”

Edith actually laid her head on the counter.  “Fine.  You can have a dance when Jerry finishes painting the room.  We can celebrate then.”

“You’re the best Edith,” said Tilly, leaning across the counter, her arms outstretched.

“I don’t do hugs,” said Edith, pushing Tilly away.

“Why not?”

Edith shrugged.  “Go get your pizza.”

“Are you happy here?”

“I am,” said Edith, smiling a little.  “It’s just that there’s always so much to do.”

“I can help,” said Tilly. ” Tell me what you want me to do.”

“I’ll think about it,” said Edith softly.  “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”

“What’s that?” asked Edith, pointing at Tilly’s arm.

“Smoke,” she laughed.  “My dragon tattoo started breathing a little fire last night.”

“Yeah,” hissed Gray.  “Almost singed my tail.”

“She did not,” said Tilly. “Not even close.

“INCOMING,” yelled Edith, as two large books flew through the air and landed on the counter with thuds.  Their covers sprang open and the pages started fluttering and flipping back and forth until suddenly, they just stopped.

Tilly pulled one of the books toward her. “Look at these dragons, Edith.  Jerry was stuck on a main magical creature for the largest wall in the room and this just might be it.”

“It’s beautiful,” whispered Edith, running her hand over the page.  Smoke came out of the dragons nose and Edith pulled her hand away.

At that moment, Tilly’s tattoo started wiggling on her arm.  “Whoa, where do you think you’re going?” she asked, in amazement.

“Hold on,” spit the dragon.”

“Amanda?” gasped Tilly, staring at her arm.

“Do you have another dragon who answers to that name?”

“What are you doing?”

“I’m becoming real, Tilly,” sighed the dragon.  “Get with the program will you!”

“Real?”

“Yes, real, as opposed to NOT real,” said Amanda, in a voice that made it quite clear that she was talking to a two-year old.  “Now hold still.”

Tilly did as she was told and looked at Edith.  Edith looked back and watched as Amanda, using her front arms for leverage, pushed off of Tilly, dragging the rest of her body with her.  Once she was free she shook, flapped her wings and then stretched.  “I’ve wanted to do that for a long time.  You have no idea what it’s like to live on someone’s skin.”  With that, Amanda flew to Tilly’s shoulder, walked around her neck three times, curled around her throat, said, “If you need me just yell,” and went to sleep.

“Edith?”

“Yes, Tilly.”

“What just happened?”

“I think your dragon tattoo isn’t on your arm any longer.”

Tilly looked down and saw that the spot Amanda had once occupied was now empty.  “There’s a real dragon on my neck,” said Tilly, her eyes wide.

“I can see her.”

“OMG HOW COOL IS THAT????” she yelled, waving her hands in the air.  “I’m going to go show Jerry,”  she said, taking off at a run.  The she stopped, turned, and ran back to the counter.  She grabbed the books, kissed the cat and was gone.

“I love it here,” said the gray cat.”

“I do too,” said Edith, scratching his chin.

“What do you think is going to happen next?”

“Next  I’ll send pizza to the Artist’s Room.  I’ll send some fries, a couple of drinks  and maybe some ice cream as well.”

“You’re starting to like her Edith.  Admit it,” purred the gray cat.

“What’s not to like?” asked the White cat, leaping rom the railing behind the counter to the blotter in front of Edith.  “Right Edith?”

“I guess she’s not that bad,” smiled Edith, and the two cats  chuckled softly and began to wash up for dinner.  “Truthfully,” she sighed, “I don’t know why Scott hangs around with Earnest either,”

 

 

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor…The Book Lovers Emporium 7

“What was that?” asked Tilly, walking up to the counter.

“Thunder,” sighed Edith.

Tilly went to the front door and opened it.  “It’s sunny outside.  Blue sky and white fluffy clouds.”

“I didn’t say the thunder was outside.” said Edith.

“No, you didn’t,” laughed Tilly.  “Where’s it coming from?”

“The weather room.”

“There’s a weather room?”

“Sometimes.”

“I LOVE this place,” shouted Tilly, dancing around.

“The things you asked for have arrived.  I had them put into your workroom.”

“I have a workroom?”

Edith signed again and said, “Yes, you have a workroom.  Where else would you work?  It’s to your left.  Go past the statue of the angel with one wing, then turn right.  After that, go through the red door on your left.  Go down three flights of stairs, go through the blue door, then up seven flights and your room is at the top.”

“Why does she only have one wing?”

That’s what your asking me?”

“What do you want me to ask you?”

“Something about the directions,” said Edith, eyeing her suspiciously.

“Oh, got it,” she said, repeating the directions perfectly.  “So, why does she only have one wing?”

“She gave one of her wings to her lover, to save him and let him know she would wait for him forever.”

“Wow, that’s dedication.  So she can only fly in a circle, right?”

“What is wrong with you Tilly? That story brings tears to the eyes of most people who hear it and all you can think about is that she’ll be flying in circles.”

“Well, I’m a problem solver.  She’s severely handicap without her other wing. How long will she be waiting?  Where did he go?”

“You are…” stammered Edith.

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” smiled Tilly, leaping onto the counter.

“OFF!” yelled Edith.  “NO ONE SITS ON THIS COUNTER.  EVER!” she said, hitting at her with a handful of papers.

“Kay,” laughed Tilly,  jumping down.  “You shouldn’t get so upset about things Edith, it’s not good for you.  You’re all red and lumpy looking.  And the cats sit on the counter all the time.”

“Don’t you have somewhere else to be?”

“I do.  I’m just waiting for Jerry.”

“You met him?”

“Well, that’s kind of obvious, isn’t it?  How could I be waiting for him if I didn’t know who he was?”

“Go stand over there,” said Edith wearily, shooing her toward the door.

“Now that was a loud thunder clap,” said Tilly, brushing plaster off her shoulders.

Edith picked up a broom with a long handle and started pounding on the wall. The thunder stopped immediately.

“I think you scared the thunder.”

Edith glared at her.  Now if I could only do that with you,” she snapped.

“Really? You want to hit me with a broom?” asked Tilly.  “I thought we were getting along pretty well.”

“Well, you thought wrong.”

“Um…”

“You are out of control and you don’t follow any rules.  You just do whatever you want, whenever you want to do things and you don’t…”

“And I don’t what?”

“Behave.”

“Sure I do, Edith.  I just don’t behave the way you want me to behave.”

“Hello Jerry,” said Edith weakly.

“Hi.”

The gray walked into the room and rubbed against Tilly’s legs.  “I slept great last night,” he said.  “You were so warm and toasty.  Keep using that Lilly of the Valley shampoo, it reminds me of a garden I once hunted in when I was a kitten.”

“I promise,” said Tilly sweetly,  petting his back.

“So, will you take pictures of the walls before I start painting?” asked Jerry.

“That’s what I’m here for,” said Tilly.  “Let’s do it,” she snickered, grabbing his arm and pulling him away, skipping as she went.

“I still like her,” said the White cat.  “They make a cute couple.  Now feed me, please,” he meowed, licking his front paw.

“She’s like a wild thing,” grumbled Edith.  “Untamed.”

“Lighten up Edith.  You were wild once yourself,” said the cat.  “Don’t you remember?”

“Not like that, I wasn’t.”

“I think she’s exactly what we need around here.  This place has been stuffy far too long,” purred the cat.  “Uh oh, here comes Michelangelo and I don’t want to hear about how his back still hurts from painting the ceiling in that chapel again.   I guess I’ll get my own food.  And, by the way, Puss and Boots is not on it’s shelf again.  If you find it please let me know.   See ya Edith.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor…The Book Lovers Emporium 6

“What did Jerry say about the room?” asked Edith.

“He’s looking at the ceiling,” said Chicago. “I think he’s intrigued but wary.”

“Oh Scott,” said Edith brightly, “Hemingway is looking for you. How’s Zelda?”

“She’s fine,” he said. “She’s dancing in a ballet this evening. Is Hemingway in the Writer’s Room?”

“He is,” said Edith.

“Chicago, Edith,” said Scott politely. “Always a pleasure.”

“He’s such a sweet man,” sighed Chicago. “I like Zelda too, when she’s not drinking.”

“So true,” agreed Edith. “By the way you have two appointments tonight, a Mr. Ian Backster and a Ms. Mary Bell Moore.”

“I’ve read for both of them before,” said Chicago, nodding. “Nice people, difficult lives.”

“Yes, well, living can be difficult,” sighed Edith.

“Jerry is asking a lot of questions,” said Chicago.

“I don’t blame him. He floating in time, never knowing who he’s going to see or where he’s going to be.  It’s exciting, once you get used to it, but it can be a little disconcerting in the beginning.  I wonder if he has a girlfriend.”

“He did but they broke up three months ago. It was mutual but I think it was more mutual for her than for him, if you know what I mean.”

The door flew open and a young woman with short bleached white hair and tattoos running up her right arm, fell through the doorway. “Wow, what was that !” she shouted, getting to her feet.

“Can I help you?” asked Edith?

“How should I know?  I was walking down the street and something threw me through the door.  “I’m Tilly, by the way,” she said holding out her hand.

Edith made the introductions then she and Chicago watched as Tilly turned in circles, looking around.

“This is a totally cool place,” she said, rubbing her arm.  “I feel like I just came home.”

Chicago and Edith looked at each other.

“Do you know anyone named Jerry?” asked Edith

“Uh, no, should I?”

“No of course not, I was just wondering,” laughed Edith. “What is it that you do?”

“I’m a photographer of strange places,” she muttered, reaching for the gray cat, who was busy shredding her tights.  “You are a beautiful cat,” she said, kissing his face.  “I bet you have a lot of stories to tell.”

“You have no idea,” said the cat.

“Hey, your cat talks,” laughed Tilly.  “How cool is that?”

“Pretty cool,” said Edith, rather taken back by Tilly’s easy acceptance of the things that were going on at the moment.

“Why do you think I’m here?” asked Tilly, looking at Edith and Chicago.  “This can’t be an accident.  So what’s up?”

“They don’t always know what’s going on,” said the cat.  “Sometimes not until the last minute.”

“That’s only true some of the time,” huffed Edith.

“So this is a strange and fantastic bookstore.  I love it here and I’m ready to do whatever it is I’m supposed to do, we just need to figure out what that is,” she said, pulling a camera from her back pocket while putting the cat on the floor.

“You can’t just start taking pictures in here,” said Edith sternly.

“Why not?” asked Tilly, snapping away.  “Oh this is great,” she whispered.  “Wow! Look at that.”

“Ms. Tilly,” said Edith, moving to stand in front of her.  “Until we know the reason you are here I wish you would stop taking photographs.”

“Why?”

“Yes, Why?” asked Chicago.

“Fine,” said Edith, going back behind the counter.

“Oh look, Jim Butcher,” said Tilly, jumping up and down.  I love him,” she squealed, taking more pictures.

“It’s Urban Fantasy night,” sighed Edith, “Simon Green will be here shortly, along with a slew of other writers.”

“OMG, are you kidding me?” whispered Tilly.  “I think I know why I’m here.”

“You do?” asked Chicago, Edith and the Gray cat all at the same time.”

“I’m going to archive your clientele.  I’m going to organize the data you probably don’t even know you have and I’m going to publish a book of all the writers, painters, poets, well, basically everyone who comes in here, so they will be remembered forever, or until the sun turns into a Red Giant and everything’s destroyed.”

“You are?” asked Edith. “Red Giant?”

“I am,” said Tilly, ”  I already started.  I need a printer, and everything that I’ll put on the list I’m going to make.  Where can I crash and put my stuff?”

“Follow me,” said the gray cat.  “I might sleep with you some nights, but that’s okay,” he said, as they walked away.  “I’ll just lay on your pillow, snuggle up next to you and purr.  No big deal.”

“Sounds go to me,” said Tilly happily.  “I’m a cat person.”

“Spotted you a mile away,” nodded the cat.  “I can always see it in the eyes.”

**

“Our family is growing,” said Chicago.

“Who was that?” asked Edith.

“Someone who knows who she is and what she wants to do.”

“She didn’t even look surprised when the cat started talking to her.”

“She seems open to everything that comes her way,” laughed Chicago.  “I was like that when  I was young.”

“I’ll be interested to see how she gets along with Jerry,” smiled Edith.

“Poor Jerry,” snickered Chicago.

“Poor Jerry, indeed,” laughed Edith.

“I like her,” said the white cat.  “We should keep her.  Now will someone please feed me?”

 

 

Edith Olive O’Connor…The Book Lovers Emporium 5

“Well now that you’re awake,” said Edith, looking at Jerry, who still appeared to be a bit dazed, “what’s new?”

“Funny,” he said rubbing his face with his hands.  “What day is it?”

“Now that’sfunny,” smiled Edith.  “Oh, wait, are you serious?”

“Is it the same day it was when I walked in here?”

“Yes, but it’s nighttime now.”

“If it’s nighttime, why is the sun still coming in through that window?”

“I told you, it’s all done with mirrors.”

“No, it’s not,” said Jerry, staring at the sunshine falling across the floor.  “I can see the blue sky and trees are moving in the breeze.”

“Hungry?” asked Edith, pushing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich toward him.

Jerry took a bite of the sandwich and groaned.  “This tastes exactly like the sandwiches  my mom used to make.”

“Imagine that,” sighed Edith.  “I’m glad you like it.”

“Where’s Chicago?”

“With a client.”

“Did a dog bring this book to me?” he asked, laying the book on the counter.

“Yes, Toby is a carrier.”

“A terrier?”

“No, he’s a carrier,” said Edith pointedly.

“A carrier of what?” asked Jerry, licking his fingers.

“Books, of course,” said Edith.

“Of course,” nodded Jerry.  “How silly of me not to know that.”

“Indeed,” said Edith, giving him another sandwich and a glass of cold chocolate milk.”

“Where are we?”

“In the bookstore.”

“No.  Where ARE we?”

Edith walked to the door, opened it and said, “I think we’re in Paris.  There’s the Eiffel Tower, well most of it anyway.”  Then she closed the door and returned to her position behind the counter.

“Did I see Edgar Allan Poe?”

“Yes.”

“Can I talk to him?”

“I don’t see why not but he can be very depressing, so don’t chat too long.  And, if I were you, I’d bring a treat for his raven, otherwise he’ll peck at you for being thoughtless.”

“Maybe I’ll look for him later,” said Jerry.

“Good idea.”

“Who else is here?”

“Who would you like to be here?”

“Uh, how about Albert Einstein.”

“Go up that spiral staircase and knock,” said Edith, pointing to her right.  “It may take a while before anyone answers the door because they’re usually writing on the blackboard or arguing about something.   Just be patient and someone will get to you sooner or later.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes, seriously,” said Edith.  “Can I call you Jerry?”

“By all means.”

“What kind of art do you do Jerry?”

“Fantasy.”

Edith started laughing so hard that Jerry joined in and one of the cats fell off the counter and rolled around on the floor.

“Perfect,” gasped Edith.  “Just perfect.”

“What’s so funny?” panted Jerry, brushing tears away from his eyes with his fingers.

“Nothing really, I guess,” sighed Edith, “it’s just that this is a fantasy bookstore of sorts.”

“I don’t think there’s much sorts about it.  And how did we get to Paris?  We were in London when I walked in.”

“There must be a reason we’re here,” said Edith, watching the gray cat drag half of the sandwich to the edge of the counter and disappear. “There’s always a reason.”

“How do I get home?”

“Why do you want to go home?”

“I LIVE there, all my stuff is there.”

“I can have your things brought here, if you like.”

“How?”

“Is that really important?”

“YES!” shouted Jerry. “IT IS.”

“What’s all the noise about?” asked Hemingway, as he walked past the archway.  “Did I ever tell you what it was like living in Paris without any money.  Having a baby and a wife, who wasn’t very bright?   Sylvia Beach used to lend books to me and Gertrude Stein, well, she thought she was something.  Hey, do you know when the bulls are running?”

“Lovely stories,” said Edith kindly.  “I’ll check the schedule for the Running of the Bulls and let you know.”

“Well then, I better get back to the typewriter,” he said, walking away. “Books to write. And tell Fitzgerald to find me the minute he arrives.”

“I’ll do that Earnest,” said Edith sweetly.  “The minute he arrives.”

“Really?” said Jerry.  “Papa comes here.”

“You just saw him, so what would you like me to say?”

“What year is this anyway?  All these people are dead.”

“Not all of them Jerry and do they really look dead to you?”

“No, they don’t, that’s what’s kind of freaking me out.   I’m from 2015 and you’re dressed like your from the 20’s or 30’s.”

Edith smiled at him.  “Oh look, here comes Chicago.”

“Jerry,” said Chicago, hurrying to his side.  “You look…better. How do you feel?  Did Edith tell you about the room?  Your paints are already in there, waiting for you.”

“What room?”

“You didn’t tell him?”

“Not yet,” said Edith.  “But why don’t you do it, now that the words have been released.”

“Walk with me Jerry,” said Chicago, leading him away, one arm around his shoulders, the other one above her head, her hand fluttering toward the ceiling.

“How do you think this is going to turn out?” asked the gray cat, licking the last of the peanut butter off his paw.

“I’m not even sure what’s going on,” said Edith, “but it’s quite exciting, isn’t it.”

“For a human maybe,” he said starting to hack up a fur ball.

“Oh no, not on the counter,”  said Edith, picking him up and rushing him to the kitchen.  “On the paper.”

“Humans,” hacked the cat.  “Everything….bothers…hack, hack…gak…them.”

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