Don't Read The Autograph

Sometimes mage’s work is drudgery – that’s what it was tonight. Molly and I were down in my lab, figuring out what ingredients I was low on. That meant knowing what ingredients I do have. Hence, drudgery – I can’t afford an apprentice and a stock boy.

Then Molly pulled a dusty cardboard box from under a shelf. Someone had written “Books for Bob” on it, and I knew the hand. I quickly pulled the box away from her young eyes. I knew even at her age she’d seen worse, but I was still embarrassed.

“Bob?! Since when have you got Billy picking up your trashy Harlequins?”

Bob’s reply was calm. Quiet. “Yep. Trashy. Just put it back.”

My ears pricked up. Compared to his usual banter, he’d just shouted at me to drop it.

Right. Now.

I pulled the box flaps open. The box was mostly filled with ribbons of newsprint. The only book was a large hardcover book with a dirt finish and kitschy art.

Handbook For The Recently Deceased

Bob’s voice was still calm. “Put it back, Harry. It reads like stereo instructions.”

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