Sharon’s note: The magic pawn shop series is a great outlet for plugging in all the little miscellaneous ideas I’ve had over the years. This one came about purely because I was looking for a place to use this title. And because I wanted to say, never stop looking for a happy ending. There may not be a way, but you won’t know that for sure if you stop looking. Warning: Optimism in fiction.
Magic can’t fix everything. It’s an unfortunate truth that everyone who wanders into the world of the supernatural learns. Usually the hard way. Sometimes when people come in to the shop, they’re looking for a magic bullet. Sometimes we even have them. I knew what desperation looked like. I saw it a lot.
The young man who walked in the second I unlocked the door was at the highest level of desperation. His pupils were dilated and his hands were shaking. He just rushed past me, head whipping back and forth as he scanned all my shelves.
“I need you to do that thing that you do.” His words were so rushed they nearly tripped over each other.
“What particular thing are you referring to?” I sighed and walked past him to my counter.
“I’ve done my research. You do this thing where you find people what they really need. Do it for me now.” He ran up to the counter as I walked around it. With knuckles going white, he gripped the counter. I understood why as he started to sway. This guy was at the end of his tether. Physically and emotionally.
I shook my head. “That’s not how this works. You are the one who finds what you need. I just broker the transaction.”
He slammed his hands on the counter making the glass rattle and me jump. “There’s no time! I need something to help me find a dragon and I need it now!”
“A dragon? Why?”
“I need to slay one if I want her back. I was told if anyone had a way to find one, it was you. I. . . AH! I don’t have time to explain! Can you help me or not?!” Hands shaking worse than before, he pulled a lighter and a pack of cigarettes out of his pocket, but slammed them both down on the counter when he couldn’t hold them still enough to light. Poor guy. Someone had set him an impossible task with precious stakes. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen this, and it wouldn’t be the last. Sometimes people could be so cruel.
I took a deep breath and said slowly, “You can look around the shop. Maybe you can find something else that could help, but there is no way to find a live dragon. There aren’t anymore. They went extinct a long time ago.”
The young man didn’t even speak. He just stared at me with disbelieving eyes. I reached over to pat his hand, but he pulled them away. I didn’t hold it against him. There’s no real words of comfort in these situations.
“Look, I don’t know the situation, but whatever, whoever set this deal knew it wasn’t a fair bargain. . .”
“Repeat what you just said.”
“I said whoever set the deal knew this wasn’t fair.” I peered at him with my head cocked to one side, wondering where he was going with this.
He was going the slow building, slightly unhinged laughter rout. “Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha ha ha! He knows it isn’t a fair deal! That’s it! That’s the loophole!”
“Ok.” I sat down on my stool and watched as a fresh, manic energy filled him.
“A fair deal of equal trade. He knew it wasn’t fair! I got him. I got him!” The young man turned on his heal and bolted from the shop, sending the bells over the door swinging.
I sighed heavily, but had to smile. I had no idea what was going on, but I wished him luck. I chucked the pack of cigarettes, but picked up the lighter. It was an old fashioned silver one with a wick. Simple, but classy. No wonder he couldn’t light it. I put it in the display case without even checking the register.
One piece of life changing information for one cool old lighter. That sounded like a deal to me, and if the shop didn’t like it . . . well, it would let me know about it, I was sure. I didn’t care about it today, though. Today, I just wanted to hope that out there, somewhere, someone was getting a happy ending because someone else had taken the time to slay all the dragons.