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