“Pretty good for free,” she said, traces of a smile still there.
I buttoned my shirt, thanked her again, and was about to leave when she said, “Sleep well“. Exiting the shop I heard loud uncontrollable giggling which made me pause once I was outside.
After 2am I awoke. Eyes opening with encouragement, they wandered down from greyscale walls to the white sheets: blinking, awakening. Something small and black raced across the end of the bed and hit the floor. It was about the size of a tarantula I’d once held as a child at what was termed a ‘petting zoo’ by my parents.
Sitting up, feeling sudden 7am alertness with a double espresso, heart in a quandary on whether to get excited or not decided it would wait. I put the bedside lamp on. Leaning over the side of the bed on both sides I looked for it, whatever it was.
I put my feet on the floor, the coolness pleasant, stood up and began searching, kicking and prodding at piles of clothes, searching for some proof I hadn’t hallucinated. Then I walked past the wardrobe, the mirror door reflecting me. But it was wrong! How could a mirror be wrong? A mirror was always truthful. I stood next to it and twisted. Underneath the see through wrap, I saw her name once more. And the wizard? The wizard was gone…or!? – looking at me from the floor behind me, the eyes lit up in blue, the crystal ball glowing orange and the wand…was raised up as if electrified and was swinging down, aimed at me, as I stood helpless as if made of stone.
Every night for the next three weeks until I had to call in sick to work from exhaustion, that fucking wizard woke me up once I fell asleep. I thought I was going crazy. Maybe I was crazy before anyway. So crazier? Even five diazepam couldn’t keep me asleep. In the depth of night the wizard appeared and began destroying things. The damage he inflicted was usually minimal due to his size, but have you ever taken a thunderbolt to the temple? Or been temporarily blinded by a crystal ball? Once he found his way to the kitchen glasses began to break, walls and cupboards became like ancient castle walls, peppered with dents. I’d tried capturing him. I’d tried everything. And when I eventually fell asleep once more he was there by my side, as if nothing had happened. Maybe I hadn’t tried everything?
I spent an afternoon going through the phonebook, of calling up and being hung up on, being asked if it was a prank, or hearing sarcastic responses, some of them even putting the call on loudspeaker and clowning me without remorse. “Hi, I’m looking for a tattoo removal service…yeah, but literally…from my apartment.” Maybe I needed to change the angle.
Only as I lay on the sofa in my second week of sick leave, my face more resemblant to a panda by the day, did the obvious slap me across the face. I’d have to get a third tattoo. And hope.
Honestly, if it wasn’t Margaret Thatcher, it was a wizard. Glancing down in my shirtless malaise, I pulled the skin to look him in the face. My very own gremlin. “Your days are numbered!” I said. There was no recognition, no movement, just beautifully crafted shades of black.
*For any that don’t know Margaret Thatcher is a much hated one time Prime Minister of the UK.