DUBIOUS GIFTS FROM THE MAGIC SHOP
William J. White
Petey stood by the front door, looking out the screen as his Uncle Sully squeezed his kind-of-round body out from under the steering wheel of his vintage ‘clunker’. Sully was assisted in that endeavor, no doubt, by the use of some words seldom heard in Petey’s household. As his Uncle waddled his way toward Petey, the boy checked the lock “Hello, Uncle Sully,” he said, wishing he could have went along with his mother to the store. As Sully reached for the doorknob, Petey really wished that he had gone with his mother.
“Hey, Petey,” his uncle remarked, trying to twist the knob with his stubby hand, “Ain’t you gonna let me come in?” His wide grin showed an uneven row of tobacco-stained teeth, causing Petey to shiver nervously.
“Can’t do it, Uncle Sully. Mom’s orders…”
“So she’s still mad, huh?” He wiped the sweat drops from his balding forehead, with an equally sweaty, and hairy forearm. “Boy, ‘neph’, for a widow raising a nine-year old kid, it must be the ‘rancid pits’, but… well, she just doesn’t know how to forgive. And I don’t know why.”
“Well, for gracious me, Uncle Sully,” Petey remarked, attempting to hide his sarcasm. “You don’t think it might have been the fountain-pen from your Magic Shop that you gave her; that shot black ink all over her new white rug…nah, couldn’t be. Maybe because you couldn’t stop laughing…”
“My sis-in-law,” he said, shaking his head slowly, “ just doesn’t have a sense of humor.”
“You know, Uncle Sully…I think you might be right. When you gave her that stick of gum that made her mouth turn green for two weeks, she didn’t like that a bit. From the Magic Shop?”
Uncle Sully and his yellow teeth grinned down at Petey. “One of our best sellers.” He wiped his head with a nasty-looking handkerchief, and said: “Sure is hot today, Petey. I guess since you won’t let me in to cool off, I’ll just have to take my Magic Shop’s gift to you back home and put it in some water.” He wrapped his fat fingers around the ‘kerchief’ and squeezing out the sweat, replaced it back into his hip pocket. “They need lots of water,” he said, turning to leave.
Petey waited until his uncle was near his car, then shouted: “Uncle Sully… What kind of gift?” The boy opened the door, leaving it to slam shut while he ran to his uncle’s car. “Can I see it?”
Sully reached through the open car window and retrieved a shoebox, which he held toward Petey. With a wide smile on his face, he pulled it back, opened a corner, and peeked in. Turning to his nephew, he said, “It looks thirsty, Petey. Why don’t you go fetch that wash-tub hanging against the house, get the hose, and fill it up…”
“Can I see it?”
Placing his sweaty hand on the back of his nephew’s head; tousling his hair, he said, “Not only can you see it, but when you’ve filled that tub, I’ll let you hold it.”
Petey was away in a flash, with his uncle waddling behind him.
While filling the tub, Petey looked up at his Uncle Sully. “It isn’t a snake, is it? Mom would never let me keep a snake…”
Peeking into the box, Sully replied: “Not a snake…”
“She might let me keep a goldfish, Uncle Sully. I’ve never had a goldfish before.”
“Petey, I think you have enough water, it’s about to run over…No, kid, it’s not a
Goldfish. Come over here and take it out of the box.”
Rubbing his hands on his pants, Petey reached for the lid, hesitating for a moment to ask Sully: “It won’t bite, will it?”
Smiling down at his nephew, he replied: “Oh no, kid. He won’t bite…He might lick you with his tongue, though.” With that said, a few chuckles burst from his wide mouth. “Go on now, nephew. Reach in and grab him. When you have him tight in your hand, bring him out and put him in the tub, and hold him against the bottom.”
Reaching into the box, Petey felt something moving against his hand; something that tried to evade his searching fingers. “Gotcha!” Petey shouted, removing it from the box. “Oh, it’s a bullfrog, Uncle Sully… Oh, I’ve never had a bullfrog before… thank you oh, so much…!”
“Hurry, nephew!” Sully said harshly, pushing the boy against the tub. “Get him under the water… Keep him there until I get to my car… I don’t want to scare him.”
While holding the frog--Which seemed to be getting bigger…and stronger, Petey turned to watch his uncle scurrying to his car.
Over his shoulder, Sully shouted out some final instructions: “No matter what, kid, don’t let go of him.”
Even before Sully was able to manage himself between the car seat and the steering wheel, Petey’s hands were beginning to lose their hold. His pet was, indeed, growing at an enormous rate. By the time Petey’s hands were no longer able to encircle its body, its head was protruding above the tub; water was being sloshed all over his clothes. In desperation, Petey grabbed his pet around its fat neck. In an instant, he was dragged off his feet, and finally losing his hold, fell backwards onto the ground from where he could see large dark eyes blinking at him and before he could move, the huge flat mouth opened wide, and he was snatched up by a long pink tongue so sticky he was unable to unwrap himself. He only had time to scream before he was whipped into darkness.
While good ‘ol Uncle Sully was speeding away, he was laughing so hard, the tears were spraying from his eyes. “Okay, Sis,” he said aloud, “I bet you’re gonna love that gift from my “Magic Shop!”
William J. White was born and raised in Cincinati, Ohio. He graduated from High school, served four years in the US Navy, and then went to work for the city of Cincinnati. After retiring, he worked for Edgecliff College in Cincinnati for five years, retired again, and moved with his wife to Monticello, KY where they built their home adjacent to huge Lake Cumberland.
William started writing short stories in January of 2010, four of which are still trying to find a home with some lucky publisher. Lark Magazine has published: DON'T MESS WITH LILLY 7/10/11
DUBIOUS GIFTS FROM THE MAGIC SHOP 3/21/11
WISDOM SITS ON A PARK BENCH will be published 11/6/11