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by Frank Duff

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559 Nathan Abbott Way


Johnny woke up to the sound of typing. His first thought was the same as his first thought every morning: "Where am I?" In my room, good. Now who's typing on my computer? The events of the previous night replayed quickly in his mind. Tinka. He opened his eyes: "Whatcha doing?"

She was sitting naked at his desk, the second bottle of wine half-empty between her knees: "Reading your Internet history files."

Like a shot, Johnny was bolt upright in his bed: "What?!"

"Don't get your panties in a bunch," Tinka laughed, "Best way in the world to get to know someone, saves us a lot of trouble. You shouldn't talk about drugs on MSN though, and you certainly shouldn't track your drug-dealing profits in a spreadsheet."

Defensive now, Johnny said: "It's not like I labeled the columns Cocaine and Marijuana."

"Yeah, but what else could it possibly be. Four hundred units at two dollars fifty purchased. Thirty-one units overhead. Three hundred and sixty nine units at five dollars sold. Eight hundred and forty-five dollars gross profits. Good luck convincing a judge you're talking about magazine subscriptions."

"Listen," Johnny said, "I know what I'm doing."

He picked up his pants from the floor and retrieved his cell phone from the pocket, "If I call the phone number for this room..." He did so as he was talking and the phone on the desk started ringing. Tinka reached for it automatically but Johnny stopped her: "Don't answer it"

The phone rang three times and then an answering machine picked up. "I'm not here. You know what to do." said Johnny's voice.

"You hear that?" Johnny said, "That's the computer. The computer answers the land-line and takes messages like an ordinary answering machine, but if I enter an access code," he punched fifteen digits into the keypad of his cell-phone and the computer emitted a single DING, "I get remote access to a special command mode. From this point I can wipe out every file on my hard disk by pressing three buttons." He pressed three buttons and Tinka's eyebrows shot up.

"Those weren't them," Johnny said with a laugh, "that was the exit code."

"Very clever," Tinka congratulated him, "unless the enemy fucks you and then reads your files while you're sleeping"

"It's Canada," Johnny shrugged, "no-one goes to that much effort to put someone like me in jail."

Tinka suddenly started rummaging around on Johnny's floor until she found her handbag. "Here" she said "I'll cast a spell for you. What do you want most in the world?"

"Right now?"

"Yes, right now."

To have a fucking clue what's going on for once, Johnny had to bite his tongue to keep himself from saying. Giving the question a bit more thought he realized he didn't have a clue what he wanted. If he had been answering the question honestly the day before, he might have said sex. That morning though he felt that there was very little he was actually wanting for. Excepting, of course, money. He had known from the day he enrolled that his savings wouldn't carry him through more than a few months. He had been trying out a few leads on some easy money and though promising, they weren't delivering at the rate he had hoped. Right then, Johnny had a lot more than he cared to admit riding on the possibility that he could get back into the acid game. If that fell through, he would find himself in the position before Christmas of having to, for the first time in his life, get a real job.

"It's crass," he admitted to Tinka at last, "but probably money."

Tinka was in the process of pulling things out of her handbag and placing them on Johnny's desk, She stopped and narrowed her eyes at him: "I thought you were a drug dealer."

"You assumed," Johnny said, happy to have some evidence that he wasn't the only person in the world who could be caught off guard.

"Whatever. How much money?"

"Not much. Not like the lottery or anything, you know, just like a steady supply of cash I don't have to work too hard for."

She ripped a sheet of paper out of one of the notebooks on Johnny's desk and began to doodle with a pencil for a few minutes. When at last she was satisfied there was a simple yet evocative glyph drawn in the centre of the page.

"Give me your hand," she said in a suddenly commanding voice as she poured a small pool of white paint onto the corner of his desk from out of a jar that must have come from her bag.

Before he was even aware he was doing so, Johnny had stretched his left hand out towards her. She grabbed a hold of it and slashed across the palm with a knife he hadn't realized she was holding. "FUCK!" he shouted and tried to jerk his hand away but her grip was like iron.

"Jesus," Tinka said, "Don't squirm. It doesn't hurt that much". She was squeezing the blood out of the gash into the pool of paint. Soon there was as much blood as there was paint. She was right. After the shock of being cut, it didn't hurt much at all; it almost felt good. Tinka squeezed a few more drops from his hand and let go. She began stirring the paint and the blood together with a tiny paintbrush she had produced seemingly from thin air. As she was doing so she picked up Johnny's black binder from beside the desk. "Do you usually carry this with you?" she asked.

"Yes" Johnny said almost absentmindedly as he held his left hand in his right and stared absorbedly at the wound. The blood started to run down his arm and he groped around on the floor until he found a sock with which to stop the flow.

"Good" she said and she painted the same glyph she had drawn on the paper onto the front of his binder. The brush strokes looked like Chinese calligraphy and the glyph itself was in a pink-brown colour that was strangely vibrant, as though the blood had brought it to life. When she was done Tinka placed the binder on the desk to dry, leaned back and looked pleased with herself.

"That's all there is too it?" Johnny asked "Don't we have to dance around like electric monkeys, burn a bunch of candles or chant some incantations or something?"

Tinka shot him a look that refused to even acknowledge what he had just said: "The spell is ready. This glyph is your hope, your desire, and its potential fulfilment. Now you must memorize it. Learn its every feature. Notice every detail of every brush stroke."

Unexpectedly, Tinka's handbag beeped. She smiled and swept her possessions off of Johnny's desk and back into her bag, Standing up, she retrieved her evening gown from off the floor and slipped it on over her head, leaving the zipper up the back undone. She crammed the hat into her bag with the rest of her stuff, mangling it horribly in the process. "Ten o'clock," she said, "I am needed elsewhere." She glanced briefly at her reflection in the tiny mirror on Johnny's wall and frowned. Plucking his Doors shirt from off the floor and putting it on over her dress she asked: "mind if I borrow this?"

Johnny hardly had time to say "go ahead" before, with a smile and a wink, she was gone.

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