Wygate's Used Books, REAL 3

Fiction By Anna // 5/5/2011

Author's note: This chapter took so long because of that fake chapter I posted. Recall it? The feelings of violence and sudden urges to seize pitchforks that came over you? Well, I realized that chapter was WAY more exciting than everything else I had planned for the story. So now, here's a new version of that chapter with a few SIGNIFICANT changes, so please read it! Also, I'm completely winging the book from now on, so chapters may take awhile, but it's not dead! And neither is Wygate at the end... just so those pitchforks stay in the barn.

~~~~~
 

Despite my resolution, I confess I couldn’t get Seamus Sheehan’s face and letter out of my noggin. Who was Wygate to close shop on a whim and cavort to the rescue of star-crossed lovers?
“May I ask you something, Wygate?” I asked, laying the letter on the desk again.
Wygate shrugged. “It’s not like you to ask to ask. Fire at will, sally forth, I don’t care.”
“Are you from around here?”
He spun sharply to face me, but across the shop it didn’t do much good. “Why would you ask to ask that? What makes you say it?”
I took a step forward. “Stab in the dark. I can’t place your accent.”
“Yes, well, I’m from out of town. Farther than that, to be honest,” he said, steepling his fingers against his lips.
“From worlds away?” I tried.
He smiled thinly. “You’re learning, Merry.”
I started to smile but stopped. “Don’t change the subject before you answer.”
His eyes narrowed. I threw up my hands and muttered, “On second thought, why am I prying into the business of wizards? Curiosity killed the hobbit, you know.”
“Precisely. Don’t bother your head over it,” he said without a glimmer of humor, which was somehow scarier than anything else.  
But I wasn’t finished by far. “All right, I’ll change the subject. Do you think I’m pretty?”
He snorted as if no such consideration had ever dreamed of entering his head (because it hadn’t). “I suppose not outstandingly,” he said.
“Hmm, I thought as much. Do you, then, think me outstandingly ugly?”
“No,” he said warily.
“You are frank to fault, so I believe you’re giving me your honest opinion,” I said, cocking my head with a sugary smile.
“May I ask to what these inquiries tend?”
My smile grew. I crooned, “I simply want to know why the blazes you’ve kept staring at me since you got back from your… trip.”
“You know,” he said, “they aren’t kidding about àillidh.”
“Shut up,” I laughed, waving a hand back and forth to check.
“I don’t know why I didn’t notice it before,” he mused—to himself, it seemed. This actually flustered me into letting the subject go.
Not that I’d ever thought of Wygate like that. Nor he of me, I was sure. He hadn’t even said it in a romantic way—just frankly, as if he meant it literally. As if I’d grown phosphorescent glands.
I didn’t like it, and oncoming winter crept into my soul and transformed me from a half-grouch into why-don’t-I-just-move-into-a-trashcan-with-Oscar-if-that-will-make-you-happy-thank-you-very-much.
A week later, I entered the bookstore impatiently brushing snow from the thick, loooong Fourth Doctor scarf wound around my neck (and face and shoulders). “I hate winter!”
Though I slammed the door behind me, the bell dared to tinkle. I shot it a look of pure wrath, but undeterred it laughed at my foul mood.
“Keep the door open!” I heard Wygate call from the second floor. As I came under the stair rail, he tossed shiny silver tinsel on my head. “You can’t expect me to do all the decorating.”
“Too unmanly?” I shook off the tinsel, dusting it over the nearest stack of unshelved books, and began unwrapping my bundling: scarf, mittens, gloves under my mittens due to my irrational fear of frostbite, ear muffs, and hat. I stopped before I got to my coat. “Wait. Did you say to leave the door open?”
“You heard me,” he said, almost cheerily.
I ignored the joke (assuming it was a joke) and slipped out of my coat. Immediately I shrugged it back on, reaching for my scarf, mittens, gloves, and so on. “It’s freezing in here!” I cried, with no exaggeration. “Turn up the heat!”
“If I do that,” Wygate mock-complained, “you’ll have sent me to my death in the deep, dark, dank basement!”
“Now who’s unmanly?” I snorted.
Wygate rolled his eyes and went into the Employees Only room. Two minutes later, he shouted out wordlessly. Reflexively, I screamed. “Wygate, that is so not funny!” I huffed, my voice carrying over the cut echo of my scream.
His voice was sharp but distant. “I told you to stay away!”
I poked my head into the room. He had rearranged three stacks and two boxes of donated books, thrown back his ugly dime store rug thrown back, and opened a trap door. An old but actually pleasant smell drifted up from the stairwell beneath. “Wygate, you have a trapdoor!” I exclaimed.
“Merry!” Wygate’s voice echoed as it came up. He sounded startled, then concerned. “Stay out, please!”
Somehow it didn’t occur to me to, I don’t know, listen. The please made it too unlike Wygate. “A real trapdoor,” I murmured, lowering myself in. I paused before my feet touched the first stair. “Were you talking to the rats? I hate rodents.”
“Rats? What? Merry, are you coming down?”
“Patience, fraidy-cat. I’ll be down in a second. Is there a light switch I can flip?”
“DON’T COME DOWN!” he bellowed.
The world fell silent. After holding my breath, I tiptoed in. “Yes, Wygate; always, Wygate; whatever you say, Wygate.”
“Why did you return?” he hissed.
I froze, thinking he was talking to me, but he was actually talking to himself. He didn’t hear me creep closer.
“I drove you away.” A pause. “You can’t have her! Do you know how much of my life I’ve devoted to keeping her safe? Not even your send-in-Edwin-to-get-Arthur-out-of-the-guardian-aura worked. She’s too smart for you.”
I could see Wygate’s broad back now. His shadow stretched behind him; he was pointing his flashlight at the corner where a rafter met a bare, grimy brick wall.
“It’s colder down here than outside,” I muttered.
Wygate whirled. “Merry!” Then back with the light. “Oh, no, you don’t!”
I stared. “Wygate, you do realize there’s noth—”
“I don’t care if she’s on your turf. I don’t care if she grovels at your feet, which she won’t.” Despite the ridiculousness of the situation, a shiver ran up my spine from his cool, dangerous tone. “I still stand between you two, and you can bet your slimy scales that that will never change.”
He looked over his shoulder, keeping the light pointed on the wall. His eyes were red as if he had been battling nothing for nights on end, instead of a couple of minutes.
I took an involuntary step backward. His face held more expression now than it had the last few months together.
“You idiot girl,” he whispered. “So much for ‘too smart.’ Why don’t you ever do as I say?”
“Bluntly, Wygate,” I said, “you’re talking to a wall.”
“You can’t see it?” he asked.
“The wall? I can see that.”
His shoulders slumped. “Of course you can’t.”
Worried now, I brushed his shoulders with my fingertips. “Wygate, you’re staring at a ghost.”
He looked up, a spark of hope in his eyes. “Yes, exactly!”
“No,” I said, distress growing. “A specter.”
“I know!”
“Of your imagination, man!” I cried, clutching him.
“Are you insane?” he asked incredulously.
“Are you?” I shrilled.
A roar ripped from his throat, but at the wall again. “You cannot twist her meaning! I name you to banishment from the aura of the aura, Vespertilian!”
He flung the flashlight at the wall. I shrieked when it exploded. Wygate wrenched my arm nearly out of socket and up the stairwell, slamming the trapdoor shut and throwing me to the ground. I sobbed in pain.
Wygate stood over me, eyes ablaze. “Why did you do it?”
“Me?” I cried. “You hurt me!”
His eyes widened, and he stepped back. “I didn’t mean to—”
“Snap out of it.” My voice trembled. “If I had known you would go ballistic, I never would have recommend David Tennant’s ‘Hamlet’! Are you just trying to freak me out?”
“You don’t get it,” he said desperately, so different from the composed man I knew. “That basement could have meant death.”
I lurched to my feet. “I can’t watch you like this.”
“Merry,” Wygate yelled as I fled, “you need to stay with—”
I slammed the bookstore door behind me.
I couldn’t sleep that night. My eyes were filled with nothing but Wygate’s bloodshot eyes, my ears with nothing but his gasps.
My walk to the bookstore the next morning seemed to take a half hour longer than usual—I couldn’t get my feet to pick up. I buried myself in my scarf as thin layers of snowflakes drifted and tried not to cry. The shop was dark and cold, but the door was unlocked, so I went and began organizing books and decorations without a word. I neither saw nor heard Wygate.
Of course, my soul was worlds away. The sweet smell of old books did nothing for me. The last months had been the loveliest time of my life, but I could never remember feeling as miserable as now. The hope that Wygate would come out any minute, see my distress, and say, “Sorry about yesterday—I had no idea you would take my shenanigans to heart” grew unreal.
I shelved Smith of Wooton Major so forcefully that the little book rocked the shelf. Wygate, I’m going to help you! I determined. If I was Eowyn, he was Faramir; if Lucy, Peter or Edmund. I have to purge these ghosts.
Then I sank to my knees against the second story railing. “But how?” I whispered, vision blurring.
“Hello, àillidh cailín,” a familiar Anglo-Irish voice said as the doorbell tinkled.
I bolted upright and slid down the banister in a moment of blissful, forgetful delight. I landed clumsily at the bottom of the staircase, nearly on top of Seamus Sheehan and the unfamiliar auburn beauty holding his hand. She was dramatically stunning, a film-starry dazzle. I knew I had met Nuala.
“Mr. and Mrs. Sheehan?” I asked breathlessly.
“We were never properly introduced,” Seamus began, smiling for the first time since I had seen him weeks ago.
“You are Meredith McCarthy?” Nuala finished.
I blushed, if you can believe it. The way she made my name sound, who wanted to be called Merry? “Yes. I… I trust you two…. are very happy?”
They glanced at each other as if to check. Both beamed.
I had always wondered how in movies, people who loved each other could say the most commonplace things, and others would know.  (“Wear a scarf; it’s cold.” She loves him with all her heart. “No clouds today.” He would die for her.)
That was Seamus and Nuala Sheehan. They didn’t even have to speak! “Never mind, I see it,” I laughed.
“We have come to ask Mr. Wygate’s assistance again,” Nuala said. “It’s a bit urgent.”
“Mr.” Wygate. He won’t like that, I thought just before my happiness crashed like an old computer. “Wygate is in no shape to assist anyone,” I whispered. I wouldn’t have if I could have stopped myself.
“What do you mean?” Seamus asked, releasing Nuala’s hand. Then he said, “You have tears on your cheeks.”
I reached up to scrape them, but Nuala forced me onto Wygate’s desk, startlingly strong. “Sit down, Meredith. You are unwell.”
I leaped back up with a yelp. “I’m fine! Wygate—he’s—he’s crazy. Mad. It started yesterday.”
Seamus and Nuala exchanged looks. “Is he seeing ghosts?” Nuala asked.
My increasing shock, by which I mean panic, told them all. I was nearly hysterical when Nuala took charge, gripped my shoulders, and said, “Meredith, go to him at once. You can’t waste a moment!”
I stumbled toward the Employees Only room, fearing wringing my gut. “Why? What do you know?”
Seamus steadied me and got to the door first. He wrenched it open and froze.
I pushed forward and saw his body on the floor. “Wygate!”
His journal lay open on his unmoving chest: “I’M SORRY, MERRY.”
I finally realized something, if my prediction of “Hamlet” was true: Hamlet’s ghost was real.

Comments

!!

You must thrive on leaving us with cliffhanger endings until you get around to posting your next chapters, dear. An admirably nefarious practice. 

Sarah | Thu, 05/05/2011

"Sometimes even to live is courage."
-Seneca

Blogging away!
busyscribbler.wordpress.com

... I don't know what to say

... I don't know what to say in response to this...

Kyleigh | Fri, 05/06/2011

What...wait...David Tennant

What...wait...David Tennant plays Hamlet? Are you kidding?!? He's my favorite Doctor. ;)

BTW, Wygate reminds me a bit of the Doctor--not explaining, cheery and joking one moment and dealy serious and angry the next. I recently started watching Doctor Who and I think I'm in danger of becoming a Whovian... ;0)

Heather | Fri, 05/06/2011

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
And now our hearts will beat in time/You say I am yours and you are mine...
Michelle Tumes, "There Goes My Love"

Two-replies

@Heather--Yeah! I love Whovians, even if we turn into Whooligans on occasion. Eleven is my favorite, but I like Ten too!

@Anna--You added a reference to Four! He's my second favorite Doctor! And this chapter is coming along nicely...Except for the cliffhanger. Annoying cliffhangers.

Julie | Fri, 05/06/2011

Formerly Kestrel

Ahhh, I've missed this

Ahhh, I've missed this story!! It was thoroughly enjoyed. Consider yourself lucky that you added the author's note....I was getting ready to grab that pitchfork ;)

Erin | Sat, 05/07/2011

"You were not meant to fit into a shallow box built by someone else." -J. Raymond

I agree with Heather, the

I agree with Heather, the entire time I was reading this I was thinking how much Wygate reminds me of the Doctor, especially fresh off of watching an Eleven episode. I am loving this story, though I'm not quite sure what to make of it.

Tamerah | Sun, 05/08/2011

Sarah: Oh, honestly. What

Sarah: Oh, honestly. What would you have done? :P :)

Kyleigh: Yeah, I know. :Z

Heather: No way!! You're in too?!! David's my first and favorite Doctor, although I didn't mean for Wygate to be like him... Oh well. :D And I'm sure you'll find Hamlet brilliant.

Kestrel: Uh, heh heh, I actually haven't watched any Four, but I hear so highly of him - and I do love that scarf - so I decided to reference a little prematurely. (If I knew more of what was going to happen next, I wouldn't have ended the chapter there.)

Erin: Don't worry, he's alive. D'you really think I could kill him and leave him dead? It's unthinkable.

Tamerah: AND YOU! *glomps* Whovian love! :D

 

Anna | Tue, 05/10/2011

I have hated the words and I have loved them, and I hope I have made them right. --The Book Thief

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