Garret paced from his living room, through his dining room, and into his kitchen and turned around. One arm wrapped around his body and supported the other arm at the elbow. He chewed on the fingernail of his thumb when his teeth met. With a grunt, he spat the splinter of nail past his lips to land absently on the tiled floor. One his next stride, he switched to his index fingernail.
The ticking of his clock pulled his bloodshot eyes. “Where is that guy?”
He pivoted and continued on his journey. As approached the doorway to his kitchen a crisp single knock sounded on his front door.
“About time,” he said with a low tone as he dashed toward the sound. He gripped the knob, twisted and pulled back.
On the other side of the door stood a man with swept back, shiny, black hair with a widow’s peak on his forehead. Thick, smooth brows floated over the iridescent blue eyes. Next came the beak style nose. His full lips were surrounded by a vandyke with two white stripes running from the corner of his mouth. The well-fitting purple suite completed the look.
“Uhh..Are you..umm..Nuri?” Garret asked.
“Who else would I be?” The man answered in the now familiar scratchy voice. “The Great Zamboni was already taken.” His lips twitched at the corners, making the mustache shift.
“Right,” Garret said. He stepped aside. “Come in.”
Both men moved to the living room. Nuri’s head moved in a slow circle taking in the sights with sparkling eyes. His right eyebrow arched high when he spotted the candle.
“Look,” Garret said, approaching Nuri. “You gotta help me.”
“No,” Nuri said as he brought his eyes around and looked at Garret. “I don’t gotta.”
“Then why did you come here?”
“To barter,” Nuri answered. “Someone will pay me for my services or else I walk out that door.” He nodded to the front door. “Do we have an accord?” His meaty hand flopped in front of him, palm up.
“What?” Garret glanced at the hand. “No. I’m not agreeing to anything, let alone paying you. I don’t have any money.”
“I didn’t ask for money,” Nuri said. “The terms are simple. I help you,” he pointed to Garret with his open palm, “to get your friend, Keith, back safe and sound with all debts forgiven or paid on his part. In exchange, you will, of your own free will, give me that candle.” Nuri’s fingers curled and the index finger extended toward the candle Garret purchased at the garage sale.
“Seriously?” Garret’s face twisted as he asked the question. “All you want is that candle?”
“Yes,” Nuri answered. “Unless you are the rightful owner.”
“I don’t know about that,” Garret said. “I bought it from a lady a week ago. She sold it at her garage sale. She said the stuff belonged to her grandparents and she didn’t have room for it.”
“I see.” Nuri reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a leather bag with a drawstring. Sticking a finger into the bag’s top, he pulled out a large wooden ring. Poking a finger through the hole, he walked to the candle. He laid the hand with the ring next to the candle and muttered something under his breath.
Garret stared at Nuri, the candle, and the ring. A gasp left his mouth and his eyes went to the size of serving trays as the wooden ring turned to gold.
“That answers that,” Nuri said. “You are the legitimate owner of the Candle of Foretelling. Or one of them, at least.”
“One of the owners?” Garret cocked his head to the side. “Who are the other owners?”
“No,” Nuri said waving his hand and looking at Garret. “One of the candles. There are three.”
“Oh,” Garret said. “I wasn’t sure…never mind.”
“So.” Nuri turned to face Garret and put his hand out, palm up. “Do we have an accord?”
“Uhhh,” Garret mumbled, looking at the hand, then the candle, then back to Nuri. “Yes.” He brought his hand down on top of Nori’s with a soft slap.
A shiver darted through Garret and the hair on his neck stood on end.
“Whoa,” he said. “What was that?”
“The bond,” Nuri said. “It’s to seal the deal, so to speak.”
“What do you mean?”
“Think of it this way,” Nuri said. “If you break a contract, the other party can sue you or take money or something, right?” Garret nodded. “This is like that, only, well, more.”
“More?” Garret said, looking at his hand. “What does that mean?”
“If you back out of our deal without my consent, you’ll have to deal with the repercussions,” Nuri answered.
“This is Gypsy magic,” Nuri said. “You might bet boils or have trouble sleeping at first.”
“At first,” Garret’s voice went high. “What the hell?”
“Yeah,” Nuri said. “Don’t break this bond. It just gets worse.”
“Wait,” Garret said. “I don’t want to do this. You can’t have the candle.”
Nuri stared at him for several seconds. His eyes moved to Garret’s forehead. “Son, you might want to look at that.” He pointed to Garret’s head.
Garret touched his forehead and felt the bump immediately. He probed it with his fingers. “What the…?” Dashing to the bathroom, Garret flicked on the light and stared at his reflection. His eyes grew as he saw the thumbnail-sized red bump between his eyebrows. “No no no no. NO!”
“I told you,” Nuri said in a loud voice. “You might want to reconsider.” He let out a low chuckle.
Garret shuffled back to the living room. “Wait,” he said. “You mean this is magic?” Nuri nodded with a tight smile. “But…but…but?”
Nuri gripped Garret by the shoulders and looked him in the face. “Didn’t you get a glimpse of the future?” Garret slowly nodded. “Are you sure you want to keep the candle?” Garret shook his head. “Are you going to keep to the accord?” Garret nodded. “Good.”
Garret felt an itch build on his forehead and dashed back to the bathroom. The mirror showed him the red bump was gone. He rubbed the area with his hand and felt nothing. “Wow.”
“You see,” Nuri said from the other room. “Magic.”
Garret went back to the living room. “OK, what do we do first?”