The Wizard’s Way

Wolf\'s Favourite Old Den

day. Give me a steak sandwich, fries, ale. ”

”Ungh, ” Mac said.

He opened a bottle of his ale and began to pour it warm, staring past me, into the middle distance.

He does that with everyone. Considering his clientele, I don blame him. I wouldn chance looking them in the face, either.

”You hear about what happened at the Madison? ”

”Ungh, ” he confirmed.

”Nasty business. ”

Such an inane comment apparently didn merit even a grunted reply. Mac set my drink out and turned to the stove behind the bar, checking the wood and raking it back and forth to provide even heating for it.

I picked up a prethumbed newspaper nearby and scanned the headlines.

”Hey, look at this. Another Three Eye rampage. Jesus, this stuff is worse than crack. ”

The article detailed the virtual demolition of a neighborhood grocery store by a pair of Three Eye junkies who were convinced that the place was destined to explode and wanted to beat destiny to the punch.

”Ungh. ”

”You ever seen anything like this? ” Mac shook his head.

”They say the stuff gives you the third sight, ” I said, reading the article.

Both junkies had been admitted to the hospital and were in critical condition, after collapsing at the scene.

”But you know what? ”

Mac looked back at me from the stove, while he cooked.

”I don think thats possible. What a bunch of crap. Trying to sell these poor kids on the idea that they can do magic. ”

Mac nodded at me.

”If it was serious stuff, the department would have already called me by now. ”

Mac shrugged, turning back to the stove. Then he squinted up and peered into the dim reflection of the mirror behind the bar.

”Ryan, ” he said, ”you were followed. ”

I had been too tense for too much of the day to avoid feeling my shoulders constrict in a sudden twinge. I put both hands around my mug and brought a few phrases of quasi- Latin to mind.

It never hurt to be ready to defend myself, in case someone was intending to hurt me. I watched someone approach, a dim shape in the reflection cast by the ancient, worn mirror. Mac went on with cooking, unperturbed.

Nothing much perturbed Mac.

I smelled her perfume before I turned around.

”Why, Miss Rodriguez, ” I said.

”Its always pleasant to see you. ”

She came to an abrupt stop a couple of paces from me, apparently disconcerted. One of the advantages of being a wizard is that people always attribute anything you do to magic, if no other immediate explanation leaps to mind.

She probably wouldn think about her perfume giving her identity away when she could assign my mysterious, blind identification of her to my mystical powers.

”Come on, ” I told her.

”Sit down.

Ill get you a drink while I refuse to tell you anything. ”

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