Tuesday Tidbit: Arthur vs. a Brat

In which Master Saldovado deals with a small but whiny problem.

“Sheesh, over a hundred for a picture? That’s almost criminal,” the young man whined. “Posters at the mall place are a lot cheaper, better buy.”

Lelia pretended not to hear him as she helped Onyx try on a vest. “How thick of a shirt are you planning on, sir?”

He buttoned the front, then tugged a little. “A little lighter than this. I think medium works better.”

“It does if you want a sleeker line, yes, sir.” She took the large back and offered him the medium in the same pattern.

He took it and tried it on as she kept one eye on the new customer. The stranger had left the prints and was poking at the inexpensive jewelry. “That’s too much for earrings. You’re getting ripped off,” he told Mandragorina.

The woman studied him, and replied, “Not for sterling silver, made in the US. If you mean the Chinese or other import jewelry that turns your skin colors and makes you break out, you are quite correct. And I did not ask your opinion, sir.”

The goth lady brought her earrings and a matching necklace to the counter. Tay scooted along the base of the wall, under the lowest shelf of books, and retreated to the work room. Lelia rang up the purchase, keeping one eye on the new customer as Onyx pulled one of the dancing-chicks prints for his niece. Mandragorina handed Lelia her frequent buyer card and muttered, “Poseur.”

No kidding. The young man’s clothes screamed “I shop at the mall store and think Metallica’s dark!” Lelia didn’t like the way he kept fingering things. He reminded her of watching some of the professional shoplifters, except not as skilled. “Do you want to apply your discount to this purchase, ma’am, or wait?” Lelia said to cover her nod at Mandragorina’s comment.

“Ooh, really?” Lelia showed her the bill, and that the earrings and necklace counted as separate items. “This one, please.”

Lelia did as asked, bagged the purchases, and handed her the bag. “Great polish, ma’am!” Mandragorina sported a silver and dark maroon crackle pattern on her nails.

“Thanks!”

“Have a dark day,” Lelia said, than started ringing up Onyx’s purchase. As she did, movement near the work room door caught her eye. She saw Arthur emerge, as Tay pointed with one forefoot. Arthur glided swiftly and silently toward the young man, who had moved close to one of the locked jewelry cases.

Lelia double checked the prices of the vest and print, entered them into the machine, then hit the total button just as a voice whined, “What’re you looking at?”

“The piece of metal that you are trying to work under the lid of the case.” Onyx turned around and cleared Lelia’s line of sight. Arthur stood—loomed—beside the wanna-be, who indeed had his hand on the case and thin something in the other hand.

“This was here already! I was just pulling it out before I got caught. Caught on it,” he added.

Onyx moved to stand closer to the commotion. “You’re the one who got banned from the mall shop for trying to lift a CD and a belt,” the industrial goth observed, arms folded so that his biceps showed through his long-sleeved knit shirt. “I thought you looked familiar.” He nodded to Arthur. “Mr. Saldovado, I was at Hot Topix two weeks ago, little longer maybe, and saw this one get escorted out and banned for attempted theft.”

“Ah. Thank you, sir. I appreciate the information.” Arthur spoke without any accent or inflection, and Lelia wondered if he was about to heave the whining individual out the door or through the door.

The kid’s hands balled into fists and he looked from Onyx to Arthur and back. “Was not! You take that back, liar.” He’d started sweating.

Arthur pointed to the door. “Do not insult my customers, sir. Please depart, or I will be forced to call the police.”

“You don’t wanna do that, you really don’t.” The kid reached for something on his belt, but Lelia and Arthur moved faster. Lelia pulled shadow to her hands and threw a shadow-ball, blocking the charm. Arthur dodged to the side, clearing the way for the spell. Then he grabbed the kid by one shoulder and spun him around. Lelia “caught” the charm’s power in hers, diffusing it in a smooth motion and feeding some of the energy to Tay. Something matte-black dropped from the kid’s hand and slid on the floor. Onyx followed it but didn’t touch. “Leave me alone!”

“That’s one of those charm-clips people are talking about,” Onyx reported. “Saw it on the local ‘net. Supposed to have good luck in it.”

Tay trotted over and sniffed, then backed away, ears tipped back. “Right. And people always throw good-luck charms at strangers,” Lelia growled. “How bad, Tay?”

“It’s empty now, we need to neutralize it so it doesn’t catch something else.”

Arthur tightened his grip, based on the whimpering sound coming from the would-be charm caster. “Sir,” he nodded toward Onyx, “if you would be so kind as to open the door?”

Onyx did as requested, holding it open from outside. Arthur escorted the offender out the door and did not leave a boot-print on the seat of his trousers, although he certainly looked as if he wanted to. “And do not return, because I am going to notify the police of your actions.” The two men returned to the shop. “Miss Chan, see to the magic. I will finish ringing up Mr. Onyx’s purchases.”

“Yes, sir.”

(C) 2020 Alma T. C. Boykin All Rights Reserved

38 thoughts on “Tuesday Tidbit: Arthur vs. a Brat

  1. Nice. You can almost see Arthur thinking about “subdue and wait for police? Dropkick?”

  2. Nicely done. I didn’t know Arthur was that nice.

    o/t: Pennsylvania! They’re in PA! And all this time I though they were somewhere in Tennessee or maybe Missouri.

    • Looking at the map to see where geographic features dovetail for a large town or small city, because having a frame of reference helps. The Off-Ramp of Doom fits way too many places, the same as Eternal Construction Highway.

      • Having grown up in Southeastern Pa, they 2 highways that always had construction on them was the PA Turnpike around King of Prussia and the Schuylkill Expressway which was better known as the SureKill Expressway.

      • Ack hit enter too soon. King of Prussia’s claim to fame is its mall which at one time was the largest in the world before Mall of America outstripped it (which got outstripped by another mall).

      • Just finished “Familiar Roads.” Having lived in Southeastern Pennsylvania and Phoenix I appreciate the local color and foods. Makes me want to go back to Phoenix, I’m so tired of snow right now. Not sure if Lelia is following me or if I’m following her. If she shows up in Idaho I guess it’s the former.

        • All you will currently get in Phoenix/AZ right now is overcast, rain, lows of 30 ish and highs of 65.

          • Lows 30-ish high 65, sounds delightful. High today here 36, low mid 20s, snow expected tomorrow. Yeah, I’ve been there when it was 122 and the parking lot asphalt started to get soft. Still, not having to shovel the driveway has its attractions.

          • Having driven home in second gear (5 speed stick) and finding 15 mph quite fast enough, thank you… that doesn’t sound bad at all.
            The morning before, it was good thing I pack jumper cables. While I do not have to shovel cold, cold is not without issue.

      • It got mentioned in Familiar Roads, in the brunch conversation. That’s the first (and only) time (I think) I’ve seen the locale narrowed beyond east of the Mississippi.

    • I thought Missouri too.

      They’re not in a big city–the transit system is too simple–but they are near malls and they are big enough to have a goth subculture and a drag subculture, so I’d say a satellite town outside a city, or else a small city. Not mountainous and near an agricultural area. Winters aren’t too harsh, so probably southern PA. Someplace like York, maybe.

      • Very likely. From Strangely Familiar: “He [Macbeth] threaded his way down the main north-south through route, turned left onto East Road, and passed through two nice neighborhoods before entering what the city manager called ‘a pre-development district.'” The houses and their owners clung to respectability with both hands, but their grip was slipping with age and proximity to the former industrial river-front.” Ruling out cities with no industry on waterfront or wrong roads gives York and Norristown. Both have rail access or connection, and have Off-Ramp of Doom candidates. York is more likely from the descriptions of hills and transient apex predators.

      • King of Prussia would be my guess before the big push out of Philly in the 90’s. At that time the town of King of Prussia was small, had that overly large mall, the eternal construction on the PA turnpike/Schuylkill Expressway (AKA the SureKill) and part of the rural SEPTA train and bus service of Philly. It is also right across the river from Norristown between it and the national park.

  3. I have a terrible mind.

    I wonder what Arthur might do to a “deserving person” if there were no witnesses. 😈

    Not that this brat deserves more than being turned over to the police. 😉

  4. Oh, second thought.

    If I was going to rob or shoplift a store, I won’t do anything to attract attention.

    This brat was stupid as sell as bratty.

    • He was justifying his actions to himself. “These people charge too much. Therefore it is okay for me to commit a felony.”

      Yeah, just like Robin Hood. So pure of heart.

    • Whatever/Whoever he is (besides a retired one), I think he’s very much older than he appears to be.

      That “what are your intensions toward Lelia” line seemed to be more than “playing a role from another time”.

      IE It was something he might have said to a young man courting his daughter (or niece). Not something a man his apparent age would say.

      • This excerpt is from the book where Arthur takes a major role in sorting out the problem. And yes, he is, in many ways, from a different place and time. Even André treads warily around Arthur. And Arthur’s older brother . . .

        • There have been “hints” about his nature from Andre and from the familiars and yes He May Be Good But Not Nice. 😉

        • Oh, I found the scene in Eerie where Arthur “turned on the Predator in front of Lelia” (after Andre went missing) and then turned to her saying basically “Why do you fear me, you’re not my Prey” very interesting. 😉

      • Indeed. The entirety of Arthur’s interactions with Lelia seem indicative of possibly pre-victorian-era age.

      • I wonder if that’s his older brother’s name? 😈

        Oh, IIRC Alma said that his “kind” may be the origin of stories about vampires.

          • In one scene (in Eerie IIRC) Lelia thought his hands seemed to have claws so I wondered if there is a connection with his kind and legends of werewolves (and other shifters).

      • I also got the impression that those of his clan or pack, were safe, along with fellow hunters who allied or associated. Just an old-fashioned gentleman from Eastern Europe, eh?

        The book sounds fascinating.

  5. Shower thoughts:

    Something about the scene bothered me, and it took a bit to pin it down.

    The kid is obviously being set up to act as the vector for something nasty (good work sketching out a character I loathe and despise that efficiently, btw), and Arthur is being set up tti reveal hidden depths. All good.

    The problem I have is that when caught, the kid commits:
    1) Assault (threat of bodily harm)
    2) Battery (attempt at bodily harm)
    3) With a weapon (a thing designed to cause harm)
    4) And a deadly weapon, at that (one likely to cause death or serious injury–elfshot would still fit, despite being non-lethal/slow death).
    Letting that part fly, makes Arthur seem much less savvy than I expected him to be.

    • On the other hand.

      Arthur may be the type to “hand problems himself rather than involve the police”. Both because he’s able to deal with most problems and perhaps because he’s lived in a time & place where police weren’t available.

      Second, Arthur may “read” the brat well enough to know that physical action on his part may work better than involving the police & legal system. IE The brat has had dealings with the police before and really doesn’t “fear” the police & legal system.

      Third, Arthur doesn’t want the bother of going to court with him, Lelia & his customers bearing witness against the brat. Not knowing the local courts, he may suspect that the brat would get off easy.

      On the gripping hand, I could be wrong. 😉

      • Fully agree with this analysis, just wanted to add following:
        All of the above charges except #1 (assault) depend on the charm being harmful and potentially lethal in nature. The only thing the assailant actually said was “You don’t want to do that”, which is sufficiently vague that one familiar with the criminal justice system might be able to escape a charge of assault on the grounds that there are no specific threats of any kind attached. If the charm could not be identified, as mentioned by the author below, then you only have a maybe-charge of assault, which would further encourage dealing with the situation without including the vagaries and whims of the law. Most especially relevant given that Arthur’s primary witness to the nature of the charm is Lelia, who has had negative interactions with the law previously and would be much easier to impugn as a witness.

    • Ox slow. Appreciate analysis. Somewhat disagree with Arthur as lesser in savvy. Sometimes it helps to be.. misunderestimated.

      Do wish to know more of those “good luck” charms. Just, not first-hoof thank-you.

    • In the rest of the scene, Lelia tells officer Macbeth that she couldn’t read the second layer of the charms, so all they have is the surface good luck element. That’s not enough to prove a weapon, yet. The slim-jim* is still in the jewelry case.

      *For those not familiar with the term, it is a thin piece of metal that is used to pop open locks. Older cars used to be vulnerable to them.

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