It Only Takes A Drop

The sorcerer sits in the brand-new DeSoto, fiddling with the knobs, waiting for something good to come on the radio and for Ronald Feathercane.

He'd seen Feathercane leave the old building with the witch Aulia in tow, smiling, talking. He'd smelled the smoke, the ash, the burn, even from inside the car. He'd wondered if they could taste the water, feel it in the air.

Manhattan is an island; they probably don't even notice it anymore.

He hadn't needed to follow them: Feathercane has to return. His things are here, his asbestos books, his talismans. And it isn't time for them to move, yet, they aren't ready.

There are kids playing on the sidewalk, an uneasy alliance of Irish kids and Italian kids, kids from the same building as Feathercane. They have a hopscotch grid scratched onto the concrete in white chalk and glass bottles of coke with straws stuck in at careless angles.

He wonders if the kids know, have seen, have realized about Feathercane or his witchy redheaded caller. Kids notice things: they haven't learned not to. They haven't been taught to avoid seeing the things it's too uncomfortable to have seen.

There is a bodega across the street that sells him a box of saltines. The North African working there makes him for what he is, but says nothing. People who've lived in the desert respect the power of water.

The sorcerer returns to the car and resumes his stakeout. He keeps watch: there is a rear-view or side mirror reflecting every approach. He eats the crackers. It is a long comfortable afternoon sitting in the parked Desoto. The police drive by twice but don't notice him; there are negro kids to roust from stoops. The police have their priorities.

He finds baseball on the radio. The new play-by-play guy, Scully, isn't bad. Jackie Robinson has learned to hit fast balls. It looks to be a good season.

Eventually Ronald appears: hurrying down the sidewalk, glancing behind him, nervous, harried, doomed. He fumbles with his keys, but eventually makes it through the security door. He doesn't take the stairs; he feels secure now. He pushes the call button and waits for the elevator. He steps in and the doors close with an as-yet-unknown finality. He's making it easy.

It only takes a drop — called down from the rainwater collection tank on the roof, applied judiciously to the right circuit — to stop the old Otis on its track, kill it dead.

He lets Feathercane sweat it for a full minute before calling down the rest of the water, pouring it into the elevator car to slowly rise towards the man's nose. The car isn't airtight, doesn't need to be; there's enough water to fill it thrice over. Poor Ronald will have time to drown before it starts to drain out. He can't flame in the enclosed space, he'll just scald himself to death with steam.

The sorcerer hopes he tries it anyway, out of panic. It'll hurt more.
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Jan 18, 2013