The last installment of this year’s One Thousand Word Challenge is once again based on a photo sent by my friend Missie. She is the basis for the character of Minerva, and Matt (her husband) is the inspiration behind parts of Minerva’s beau Tobias. So, as Matt is above, I immediately thought that this would be a great chance to squeeze an August and Minerva story into the month of August. I hope you enjoy, and thank you to Sarah, Missie, and Derrick for entering photos for this event!
“The more of this cake I eat, the further I get from wanting to be here. Because, really, that cake is the only thing keeping me here right now.” said Tobias flatly. Minerva had roped him into helping with the yard sale, guaranteeing an unhealthy supply of cake as a thank you. He regretted making the joke that it should be a “Yarrrrrrd” sale, and that he and everyone else trying to sell there would wear pirate costumes, as the eye patch he was wearing made his left eye sweaty. After tending the sale for an hour, the customers were all ready recycling their jokes.
“How’d you guys end up with so much stuff?” asked Malcolm, adjusting the tri-corn hat that was slightly too small for his head.
“Don’t ask me. This is all August and Minerva’s stuff. They needed more room for more stuff, so I guess the old stuff had to get bumped down the ladder.” responded Tobias, wiping the sweat from his eyelid. Meanwhile, inside the squat ranch house, August looked like the saddest pirate ever to walk a plank. He had been moping drearily since Minerva had convinced him to sell off some of the old tools and books. Standing by the window and peering through the gauzy curtain, he watched as a round woman bobbed amongst the small crowd, holding up an old Zuni fetish doll and yelling for her husband to take a look at it.
“I thought you were okay with this.” Half a statement and half a question, Minerva patiently waited for August to open up. She had known him long enough to realize that she couldn’t pry anything out of him.
“I was, but now that I see it happening, I have my doubts. Everything out there was something I used to either save a life or exorcise a devil. It just tugs at me; these people just think they’re buying random crap, and most don’t care about what the story is behind any of it. Most of them will probably bring what they buy to be appraised, hoping they found something worth more than what they paid for it.” Minerva saw that August was feeling morose, and wanted to try to cheer him up.
“But think about what we’ll be able to do now. With the money we make here, we’ll be over the amount we need to get our hands on that ratty copy of the Necronomicon you’ve been eying. I have to admit, even I’m curious about what’s in it.” said Minerva. There were few copies of the Necronomicon in existence, and August happened to find one in a used bookstore. The strange fact was that the particular copy he found was unbound from its original cover and spine. It was then rebound, and hidden inside of a leather bound antique copy of Lord of the Rings. The owner had just assumed that there was a printing mistake and upped the book’s price.
“You are right, but it still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth.”
Outside, Malcolm and Tobias were inspecting a cross made out of wood and covered in rust colored stains. Turning the cross over, Tobias sniffed it.
“It can’t be.” said Malcolm warily, “They wouldn’t put something like that out.”
“Oh crap!” yelled August as he sprinted from the door, nearly knocking over a doddering old man.
“It is.” said Tobias dramatically. “Cherry preserves.” August arrived, flustered and breathing heavily. He pulled the cross from Tobias, who grinned knowingly. Each tooth was a word, forming a humbling paragraph; the cross had been once driven through the heart of the famous vampire called Orlock, and was not an object to be sold at a pirate themed yard sale. As Malcolm walked away, Tobias almost spoke, but before he could let a word fly, the old man that August nearly knocked down was asking a question.
“Is Minerva here?” he asked, his accent denoting a Slavic origin.
“I’ll go get her.” volunteered Tobias. August studied the man closely, noting his deep green eyes. They looked like the eyes of a younger man; as he studied him, his wrinkles seemed to start to smooth out.
“You can see through my illusion. Impressive.” congratulated the man. Once August’s concentration was broken, he saw only the illusion again.
“Who are you?” asked August.
“I am Minerva’s grandfather, Adrian. There is an important family matter which I must speak with her about.” replied the man. August felt uneasy, until Minerva appeared, hugging the man with delight. The two spoke quietly, away from the crowd. August tried to listen, but felt ashamed every time he caught a word. When the conversation was over, August had sold the Zuni doll to the round woman and was answering the questions of a college aged man wearing a sombrero.
“Sorry to butt in August, but the sale is over.” said Minerva with a grin, “My grandfather has bought the whole collection.”
“What!” exclaimed August. The sombrero clad man’s face became somber as he walked away, disappointed.
“He wants to help us build the business, but he doesn’t want to be too overt about it, so he’s buying everything we have here. He’s incredibly generous.” gushed Minerva gleefully. When Adrian left, driving a minivan with a UHaul attached, August couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.
“That was anti-climatic.” said Malcolm, still trying to adjust his ill-fitting hat. “Just comes in, buys everything, then leaves.” The four looked at the remains of the yard sale and shared a sigh.
“At least this is good for the business. We’ll be able to pick up some new books for research, maybe even start advertising more.” Minerva was beaming and August didn’t want to ruin her mood. Seeing her happy made him happy, and her smile drained away much of his uneasiness. August tried to convince himself that he was just being paranoid. In their business, it was difficult to remember that sometimes, just once in a while, someone could be genuinely nice. So, while August let the joyful tide take him, he kept an eye out for any sharks that might be prowling around.