Looking at our staffing needs for the upcoming weekend I determined that we could use a bit of gift wrapping help. Some bookstore owners might have solved this problem through traditional means, such as hiring someone. Others. like Elizabeth, might have asked a former co-owner, none other than our old ShelfTalker stalwart Josie, to pitch in.
I considered the first option too mundane, and the second option impossible, and therefore cast my mind back to favorite childhood books for inspiration instead. I was rewarded with a resolve to follow a course charted by a character I absolutely loved as a child, The Toad from Mary Nash’s Mrs. Coverlet books. You see, in the second book, Mrs. Coverlet’s Magicians, The Toad ordered a dark magic kit from an advertisement on the back of a comic book, and he used the kit to great effect, sidelining the odious Miss Eva Penalty when she moved in as caretaker during the absence of the Coverlet children’s’ father. Not only that, but he even used the kit to draw forth a snow storm on Christmas Eve. Sure, Toad’s older siblings, serious Malcolm and practical Molly, were appalled by The Toad’s methods, especially Malcolm who had a complicated conscience after all. You see Toad had created a crude wax image of Miss Penalty laying peacefully in bed, which is just what happened for real as she stayed happily in the guest bed during her whole stay and never wished to leave it. Now some might consider Toad’s sorcery a dubious course of action, but I felt that his methods had worked splendidly and were not at all to be written off.
Another remembered instance of productive dark sorcery came back to me as I considered the source of Toad’s magic kit: a comic book. Thinking of comics I recalled a scene from Frank Miller’s Daredevil in which The Hand resurrected a mighty warrior, Elektra, to serve them. At first blush this might appear to be an unsound practice to follow, given that the Hand were evil, but I further recalled that Daredevil, in his desire to bring Elektra back himself, had unintentionally purified her of the taint of the Hand so that when she rose she was free of evil. A very positive outcome.
Thinking of all this I resolved to use dark magic to summon a mighty wrapper from the past, to resurrect someone who I knew from photographic evidence to have once wrapped a giant shark. None other than retired bookseller supreme Carol Chittenden.
With that resolution in mind I turned to the store’s resources and decided to employ our Flying Wish Paper for the summoning. The idea of Flying Wish Paper is to write down your wish on the magic paper, making sure no one else is allowed to see what you wrote, and then make a cylinder, light it on fire, and, if the ember hold together as it floats in the air, and you catch it as it floats down, your wish comes true. I had done this countless times and my wish had come true 100% of the time* so I was confident this would be a fruitful approach.
First I wrote down my wish taking great care that no one, neither my assistant Eliot nor my camera person Hannah, could see what I wrote down.
And then lo, strange forces were at work…
Floating down gently into my palm.
Eliot suggested that I make double sure by casting a summoning spell with the store wand on our wrapping paper, which I promptly did assisted by Hannah.
* I always write down “please work” when demonstrating to customers.