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A Trickster's Tail - Part 7

Copyright (c) 1997 Phaedrus; All rights reserved

I apologize for the delay. For some reason, my muse has gone on vacation lately; this is the seventh draft of this part--I'm still not very happy with it, but it'll have to do for now.

A few people have asked me how much farther I have in mind to go with this. I have enough raw material in mind for at least ten more parts, and I plan on writing them whether you like it or not. :-) (Most people seem to be liking it, though I plan on pissing off a few people in part 8 or 9...)

At this point, I don't plan any interactions with anybody else's stories, other than those I've already discussed with people (and I'm not counting on those, since anyone who plans a crossover with me seems to mysteriously vanish :-) )

The sun was setting in the west, behind the downtown Seattle skyscrapers. A few boats still sailed across the lake, but most seemed to be heading for the docks. To the south, cars streamed across the floating I-90 bridge; to the north, they crept across 520, drivers slowing to gawk at a jet-skier in a Santa suit buzzing alongside the westbound lanes and waving.

Out of sight in the weeds near the edge of the lake, a seal floated lazily on its back, watching the seagulls circle the sky.

{So, what do we do now?}

{{Hopefully, we eat.}}

{I was sort of thinking a bit longer-term than that.}

{{I've found that a full stomach does wonders for long-term thinking.}}

{Why did I expect that answer?}

{{Because you're getting the idea.}}

{If you mean that I'm starting to think like you, can I shoot myself now?}

{{Well, you'll need a gun and some opposable thumbs.}}

{Technicalities. So, what do seals eat anyway?}

{{Who cares? Where's a good restaurant?}}

{Ummm, is going out in public really a good idea right now? I'd rather not have our friends show up again.}

{{Don't worry. I have a rule; I never let anyone kill me more than once a week. It gets boring after that, and frankly, it's just plain rude. I've got a few tricks I haven't used yet. From now on, nobody recognizes us.}}

{Cool. How does that work?}

{{I'll explain it over dinner, which we're having in the next fifteen minutes or somebody's getting hurt.}}

{Oooookay. How are we paying? And giving people money that's going to disappear in a few hours is not an option.}

{{I never would have dreamed such a thing. Well, I would have, but I would have let you talk me out of it. Besides, why magic something up that you already have piles of?}}

{Now let's see; which pocket did I leave my credit card in? Besides, I imagine our friends may notice if the prisoner starts making withdrawals...}

{{Not to worry. It'll be real money, it'll come from you, and nobody will notice.}}

{How does that work?}

{{That's the beauty of magic. I don't have to give a rat's ass how it works. It just does.}}

{I can't tell you how reassuring that isn't.}

{{Yes, you can. At dinner. Now.}}

A few minutes later, Keith stood in the Outback parking lot, looked down at himself, fingered his cloak nervously, and took a deep breath.

{Is this really going to work?}

{{Sure. It's not what we see that counts; it's what they see. Besides, would you rather spend the whole night itching?}}

{But what if there's another magic-user in here? Aren't they going to notice?}

{{Of course not. What do you think I am, an incompetent? Don't answer that.}}

Keith sighed. {Well, if it doesn't work, at least I'll get a chance to practice running on these legs...}

He opened the door, stepped in as confidently as he could manage, and waited for the explosion.

Nobody batted an eyelash.

{{Told ya so.}}

"G'day! Just yourself tonight?"

{If only it were so...} "Yeah, just me."

"Right this way, sir."

{{And will you be sitting in furry or non-furry?}}

{Waiter, can I have a table away from myself?... Wait a minute. You know, I just realized something. For once I get to eat in this place without worrying about fat and cholesterol...}

{{Finally. Something we can agree on.}}

But the agreement stopped almost as soon as Keith sat down.

As always, there were two kids who just wouldn't stop yelling at each other, and one set of parents who just wouldn't do anything about it. In this case, they happened to be at the next table. Keith tuned them out. So did Kickaha... for about two minutes.

{{Oh, enough already.}}

As the younger of the two kids picked at his salad, his fork suddenly twisted in his hand; a tomato slice caught Dad right between the eyes. "THAT'S IT! Get in the car!", Dad shouted, and moments later they were gone, Mom stopping just long ehough to pay the bill and beg forgiveness to anyone in range.


{{What?? At least they'll be leaving in a second... if they can't shut up in public, then they shouldn't be in public!}}

{That goes for you too! The kid deserved a lot of things, but he didn't deserve what he's probably getting for that! Couldn't you have just calmed them down or something?}

{{I couldn't think straight with all that screaming going on...Look, I'm sorry, okay? Can we just eat?}}

{Can we do it without turning anybody else into a newt?}

{{Yes, daddy.}}

About an hour and two innocent plates of appetizers later, Keith was digging into the biggest steak on the menu (rare), and for the first time since the party, he was starting to feel relaxed. Maybe this was all going to work out after all. Or maybe it was just that big mug of Foster's.

{So, how long do you think it's gonna take for all this to blow over?}

{{Hell, I dunno. It's your world.}}

{Yeah, but I'm not used to getting chased around. I get the feeling that this is business as usual for you.}

{{I get the feeling it is too. But my memories are so fucked up that I'm not sure. Besides, why would we want this to blow over? This is kind of fun.}}

{Oh, yeah. Imminent death is always heaps of fun.}

{{Hey, imminent death is great. It lets you know you're alive. It's the actual death part that's a pain. And that's not gonna happen.}}

{And what makes you so sure of that?}

{{Because death is boring. And I'm no good at boring stuff. Of course, we may have to do something about you...}}

{Hey! Are you saying I'm boring?}

{{No. Just kinda...mundane.}}

{If I'm mundane, what was I doing at a costume party getting turned into you?}

{{That shows you've got potential. That's where I come in.}}

{Kickaha... I am not your little reclamation project. I was doing more than all right before you came along, and I was pretty damn happy with myself. This is my body, no matter what it looks like, and I'm not going to change just because you want me to!}

{{And you're saying that you don't want to?}}

A long pause. {Of course I do. If I didn't think the whole idea was kinda cool, I wouldn't have been at a costume party pretending to be you. But I don't want to be you. There's gotta be something in the middle here. If I'm going to work on not being 'mundane', you've gotta work on thinking before you pull damnfool tricks like that last one...}

{{Look. I'm just not good at being responsible. Can't that be your job?}}

{I don't work for free. If that's my job, then what's the pay?}

{{Pay? You've already gotten my good looks and my sense of style; what more do you want?}}

The mental silence was deafening.

{{Welllll... You're smart enough, and you've already done a little magic. How about if I show you the fine points?}}

{Why do I need to know magic with you around?}

{{You don't need to know how to fly with me around either; but it was a lot more fun to do it yourself, wasn't it? Besides, if I go poof, then it'd be nice to still be able to go swimming once in a while, wouldn't it?}}

{Kickaha, I... I need to think about that one.}

{{Fine. Eat. The steak's getting cold.}}

After finishing off the steak, two slabs of cheesecake, and two more mugs of Foster's, Keith was finally ready for the check. He groaned silently when he saw the Visa card Kickaha had magicked up--the name on the card was Paul Bearer, for crying out loud--but the waitress didn't blink, and apparently, neither did the computer.

A leisurely and slightly erratic flight over the lake later, Keith checked into the downtown Hilton; this time the name on the card was Peter Pan, and again the clerk didn't notice in the slightest. The suite included a very nice television, and a well-stocked "honor bar". Kickaha seemed fascinated by the whole concept of TV; and after a few more drinks from the bar, Keith was seeing a deep inner meaning in the Dukes of Hazzard that he had never appreciated before. During his third attempt to explain to Kickaha how Roscoe P. Coltrane represented the danger of physical power without a corresponding moral imperative, the two of them finally drifted off to sleep.

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