The Last Magus

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Schoolboy memories…

Joe and Draco stepped out of the outside door and Joe locked it behind them checking the handle to make sure the door was sealed. He was kind of compulsive in that way, he didn’t have anything worth stealing if he were honest but the thought of someone breaking in made him break out in cold sweats. He and Draco stepped into the road and they both turned and started to walk to the junction at the end. Joe had to admire Draco, in dog form he appeared to be incredibly well trained. Of course Joe then wondered if one ever could train a dragon.

“Only if the dragon is willing to let you magus.” came Draco’s reply silently. Joe raised his eyes to the road ahead and inwardly he groaned. Draco looked up puzzled. Coming towards Joe with his typical swagger was the one person in this small village that Joe truly loathed…Paul! Joe couldn’t remember his surname for the moment, but he hated Paul with a passion. He and Paul had been at school together, it had been Paul bullying him mercilessly every day. Paul was now some sort of stock broker, or was it a commodity trader, either way he was a conceited gorilla with ideas of his own superiority that beggared belief. His whole attitude was that he was the most important person anywhere...every other person should therefore be grovelling at his feet as he passed and feel blessed if he deigned to talk to them. He stood at about five foot six tall, so Joe was a few inches taller than him and Joe had to admit he was somewhat physically imposing. Paul loved his gym membership and would make time in his day to workout with weights. As he approached Joe cast his gaze to the road, even now after all these years he seemed to defer to Paul rather than be bullied again. Paul’s eyes lit up at the sight of the two of them. Another inward groan and Joe shook his head, “Please let this be brief!”

“Well look at what we got a new friend eh Joe? Bugger me that pooch has got some shine in its coat, what you been feeding it? Metal polish?” Paul laughed coarsely as he spat to one side of the road. To say Paul was uncouth was like saying the famous tower in Pisa “leaned a bit!” Paul stepped closer and pressed right up to Joe as if still considering Joe the school boy he could terrorise. To Paul personal space was something only he possessed, “but then what would you expect from you Joe? Joe the loser! You were born a loser, you live as a loser and will die a miserable bloody loser!” Paul said this in a husky voice as if trying to imply menace. This morning though Joe wanted only to laugh out loud. Because for all his perceived menace Joe suddenly saw that Paul couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag! Paul however looked incredibly smug as he drew back, he placed his right hand up to his forehead with his index finger and thumb forming the shape of a capital L, “Bet you can’t guess where I’m going...Loser?”

“Hell would be my first choice? But I’d pity Satan for getting a visit.” Joe muttered under his breath.

“Go on, you’ll never guess, I could give you a million chances with heavy hints and you’d still never guess…because you’re a born loser Joseph. You’d need to buy every bloody vowel and would still get it wrong, you’ve got no style, no panache! No whatever the hell they call it. I mean look at you Joe...” Paul fanned his hands slowly up and down the length of Joe’s body, “how long have you had that old leather jacket? What is it thirty years? Faded jeans, worn out trainers...Joe…Joe…Joe that is all so well eighties! The eighties are dead…”

“I happen to like this stuff and I feel comfortable in it.”

“Oh please spare me, comfortable? You should throw that all out be more like me…this is the information age, everything at your fingertips on the internet moving at the speed of light…and you? You look like something that should be candle powered out of the past! I bet Dickens wore that sort of shit!” Paul being Paul of course had no grasp of history or anything that didn’t affect him directly. “It all just says loser with a big fucking capital L!” There was that hand signal again this time Paul leant forward to emphasise it. Joe counted under his breath, if he reached ten and Paul was still in his face, this morning Joe was going to knock him down! Paul withdrew and looked smug again, it was almost laughable watching Paul’s face twitching between conceit and smug. Paul brushed his jacket with a lazy hand at some unseen blemish, “Now me I made myself a cool hundred grand just yesterday, trading in commodities from home… over the internet, so easy I could bloody do it in my sleep! I doubt you even know what commodities are Joe.”

“Maybe you could tell me sometime Paul when I feel like I give half a shit about it and I don’t want to pummel your face into the tarmac!” Joe thought with a half grimace.

“So take a look at me Joe only the best see? Suit…Armani cost me a bomb! But worth every fucking thread I tell you. Shoes…err some other Italian shit I forget but again worth an absolute fucking bomb, silk tie and shirt, nothing but finest silk will do for me Joseph…and right now I’m off to get my brand new car!”

“Christ! Paul I suppose you get your bullshit delivered too!” Joe thought with a half smile. “Do they give reductions for repeat customers? Or do you get it for the size of the order?”

“This new car will be a total pussy magnet Joseph, I’ll have the babes just dropping their knickers to ride in it…and I’ll let them too...for a ride of a different kind eh?” Joe shook his head a little, Paul was exactly the sort whose marriage vows meant nothing. Yes he was married, but to claim his wife was a babe would usually get you admitted to a mental ward or at least registered blind. Maybe Darlene had been good looking once but if that’s true then the years had been very cruel to her, now she could crack mirrors at a hundred paces! Paul also believed that the women’s movement was something important...because, as he would shout to anyone in the area usually when he’d had a few pints, “he hated it when they just lay there!” Paul was the most odious, contemptible person Joe had the sorry misfortune to know.

“I put the deposit down in cash too…because unlike you I’m one of life’s winners!” Paul smiled smugly, he raised both hands to his forehead this time forming Vs with his fingers and thumbs, to Joe it looked like he was mimicking demon horns. “Winner see so I just had to trade in the old runabout as it was so last year!”

Joe smiled weakly, “It’s January Paul, last year was last month!” then he added quietly under his breath, “moron!”

Paul obviously hadn’t heard him and just continued, “Didn’t have the quadrophonic sound quality I needed see? You can’t listen to the best music on some clapped out old stereo system got to be quads with a kick ass woofer system.”

“I forgot Draco…Paul thinks he’s a music expert too, smug bastard! Bet he still listens to the stuff he did in school, his best music then was some techno track from a one hit wonder group that no one ever heard of or heard from again.” Draco cracked a smile as his tongue lolled out.

“Now this new car just so happens to be a brand…spanking…new Bentley!” Paul emphasised the words, it was as if he was expecting Joe to fall at his feet in awe, praying like a Muslim to Mecca, reciting I’m not worthy. When he didn’t Paul looked momentarily at a loss, was he losing his touch this morning? Then he continued, “…and it has absolutely ALL the optional extras!” Paul swept his hand across in front of him. “No expense spared see? Nothing is too good for me!”

“God’s teeth don’t elaborate on the extras Paul, I think I’m going to be sick!” Joe thought.

“See Joe? Me winner…you sad depressing loser, it is how it was, is and ever will be! I don’t know why the fuck I’m hanging around you, loseritus might be contagious!” Paul gave a slight grimace and approached Draco, totally unconcerned about the possibility that Draco could part him from his hand. Paul reached a hand forward as if to grab Draco by the scruff of his neck, “Who’s an ugly shiny doggy then? Just as useless as Joe the loser are you?” As if on instinct Draco rumbled a deep guttural growl. Paul withdrew and looked around, “Was that thunder I just heard?” Draco backed up a pace and bared his front teeth in a show of go on try again…I dare you! Paul stared, his eyes wide, “Ooh err bloody touchy your dog! Better not get on the wrong side of him then!” Paul insincerely mimicked fear in a sarcastic show, then beamed a broad even more sarcastic smile, “Mind you…”

“Oh God here he goes…someone shoot me please!”

“I prefer me a big old Rottweiler, one that will bloody tear your arm off if you piss him off…now that’s my sort of dog! Takes your head off and craps down your neck, it’s a shame they banned those pit-bull terriers, I’d have had one of them for sure!”

“Yeah Paul right,” Joe nodded, conceited bastard! “You do know they got banned because they were dangerous psychotic monsters? One tore a five year old girl limb from limb, I remember the public outcry about it. They were dogs that were bred specifically for fighting in a ring. That’s an illegal sport anyway! They were strong enough to tear limbs off but had less intelligence than a house brick! One guy who kept one had to smash the things skull to pieces to get it to release when it bit him!” Then Joe stopped, drew a breath and continued his count again before he continued in his mind, “Pit Bull terriers are dogs that only psychotic mentally challenged numbskulls like you would want.” Joe winked at Draco as he thought it. Today even all of Paul’s bullying wasn’t going to dent Joe’s mood.

“Your shaggy golden retriever, if that’s what the fuck he is…is not even fit to share a lamppost with one of them!” Paul sneered, “Bet Goldie there is about as useful as bicycles are for fish…not that you’ve got anything worth the effort of nicking Joe! I mean is that decrepit pile of yours still standing?” Paul was starting to get on Joe’s nerves and Joe knew that if he didn’t extricate himself from this meeting pretty quickly one of them was going to be flat on the road.

Paul had actually got wind of a local land deal through a friend. A deal that was just too good to pass up, the promised returns were awesome and it was going down really soon, he wanted in on the ground floor. If it came off Paul would be rolling in money…Paul had therefore sunk literally every penny he had into it, he’d even borrowed heavily from less reputable sources without Darlene’s knowledge. In fact as far as Darlene was concerned Paul had kept everything from her about this deal. There was just one stumbling block, wasn’t there always? And only after committing every penny, Paul had found out about the block. Paul was in fact looking at that block right now, Joseph loser Winstanton, the inconsiderate bastard! If Joe would just leave his archaic stone pile of a home and let it be demolished then the land could be redeveloped. With the redevelopment Paul would make millions and the site would look a hell of a lot better than it did at the moment. Instead Paul sneered again at Draco, “So is golden boy there house trained yet? Or is he going to piss up my leg as I pass? Wouldn’t want him taking a crap in your hovel either would we Joe? You’d never know the difference, consider it an ornament maybe. Ha ha ha! Going to be moving out to a new swanky place soon as I get the deposit…like tomorrow!” Paul eyes lit up and he laughed raucously.

Joe just smiled thinly, seven….eight, he wanted to continue walking. Hell he wanted to beat Paul’s brains out if he got to ten leaving him sprawled on the tarmac gaping like a fish gulping its last. But it was cold and he didn’t want to hang around. He therefore didn’t even bother to break his stride as he walked past Paul, even Paul couldn’t undo his mood this morning. Draco padded along beside Joe perfectly at heel no lead required. Joe wished he could summon that firelight spell right now, just a little fire, set a nice smoulder in the backside of that precious suit, instead he just smiled and thought, “Draco let me introduce Paul, the most useless, worthless, utterly vacuous waste of human life on God’s green Earth!

“…Paul is a prime example of one of those people you just feel like strangling when you meet them…then he opens his mouth and shows what a vacuous, puerile piece of shit he really is! He’s arrogant, self opinionated, ALWAYS right even when he’s wrong. A cross I have had to bear since school, so probably the biggest pain in my life I can think of…He may as he say look the business but there’s absolutely nothing to back it up! He’s also got a loud mouth cow of a wife, so his pussy magnet car is probably going to be just as useful as he is…and as if one of him isn’t bad enough he has a son. A Mini me named Ashley!” Joe tried to build a level of sarcasm into his thoughts as he thought about Paul’s boy, “Ashley is…if you can credit it an even bigger pain in the rectum than his dad! He is just as smug, conceited, self centred, arrogant and frankly thick as a brick! He needs to take off his shoes and socks to count beyond ten…believe me the fruit doesn’t fall too far from that tree!” Joe didn’t want to engage Paul in conversation any more and as he counted nine he knew that if he said ten he would launch a fist in Paul’s direction. Joe’s valour was therefore the discretion to get out of this. As he passed Paul he was sorely tempted to ask if Ashley, had been kicked out of school yet. He had heard that boy wonder had been hauled in front of the school principal and was facing expulsion. “I usually have to control my temper around Paul…let me tell you it gets very hard! Normally he just browbeats and bullies me but today it feels like the worm is turning...” nine and half... “I just want to beat him to unconsciousness if only to get him to shut the hell up! He never stops with that smug bullshit, it’s all me this and me that. He’s been the bane of my life since we were boys in school, I hate…no I detest him! The smug bastard is always belittling me and making me feel inferior.”

Draco smiled and looked up at Joe, “Want a hand? I could teach you a few minor plagues or curses?”
“I thought you didn’t indulge in black arts magic?”

“Not as a rule, but I know a few basics magus…just a few basics.” Draco winked.

Paul feigned looking at his watch, of course it was the latest, most disgustingly over the top, chunky gold Rolex…actually like Paul it was a worthless fake that he’d bought from some cheap Chinese knock off website. Oh it looked like the genuine article but that’s all it was good for looks. The diamonds on the face were zirconium and extremely cheap chips at that, while the face which should have been metal was gold lacquered cardboard. In truth this watch was only right twice a day, because try as he might Paul could never make it run for more than five seconds at a time. And to add to its hideously cheap tacky nature if Paul got the wristband wet it would turn his skin a sickly green colour for days afterwards. However with Paul everything was about image, like a puddle that disappears when the sun comes out he was just as shallow. Didn’t matter what it stood for or what it was worth, for Paul as long as it looked the business he couldn’t give a toss about the rest! Joe could have taken some consolation in the fact that Paul had practically everything he owned on finance now. He’d mounted up his debt right to his credit limit and beyond, it was somewhere up past his eyeballs, he had multiple bank loans that he was keeping very quiet and one huge loan with a local loan shark. All of the money sunk into the land deal. His conceit wouldn’t let him be worried, if the land deal paid off he’d be settling all of it with plenty to spare...plenty! The one thing he was desperate not to allow happen was that Darlene find out. Because that plenty was going to give him his break. Without his trading money though, he’d be even more flat busted than Joe.

“Well got to run Joseph it’s been a real blast from the past…just like you! Eighties boy! Ha ha ha! Seriously get some new clothes you look a bloody disgrace! Got a new car to collect did I tell you? Bentley with ALL the trimmings…it is the dog’s bollocks! I am just going to cruise with the sounds on and wave at all the ladies.”

Joe grimaced and before he could stop himself he said sarcastically, “Ha! Now would that be with or without Darlene and Ashley in the car?” Paul’s face dropped like someone had kicked him. He stepped right up to Joe’s face snarling, right to the point that would have had the tips of their noses touching. Paul’s voice rumbled huskily as he turned on his menacing growl.

“You don’t get to bad mouth my wife and boy Joseph…like ever! You have no right...eighties boy. When was the last time you had a woman huh? Like ever? So shut the hell up!” Paul withdrew again, slamming his open palm against Joe’s shoulder as if shoving him out of the way. Paul then stood adjusting the collar of his jacket with a tug and straightening his tie. “So let me guess where you and the Dulux dog are off to…”

“Tosser!” Joe thought, “the Dulux dog was an old English sheep dog, Draco is for now a retriever… you should see his real self Paul, fancy facing a four hundred foot long dragon?”

“I’d imagine…you’ve got to catch a cold…right?” Paul laughed raucously at his own joke, he always did, “if you run fast enough you might just do it…Loser!”

Joe counted nine and three quarters, one more step and he’d be past Paul, he wanted to shout, “You smug bastard! You wait I’ll give you a lesson in a few weeks you won’t forget in a hurry!” instead he just smiled to himself and continued walking. Ten! Paul deliberately tried to shoulder barge him as he strode past. Joe however deftly side stepped making Paul swerve like a drunk.

Joe was enjoying the fact that he wasn’t in much pain at all now. “But just once…just once let me get the upper hand and I’ll shut that fat stupid mouth of yours properly Paul…and permanently too!” Joe watched over his shoulder as Paul resumed his swaggering walk and continued along the road, thankfully in the exact opposite direction to that which Joe was taking. Joe counted quietly to ten again under his breath then let out a drawn out sigh. If Joe ever wrote out a list of people he disliked intensely enough to consider murder, Paul would get pride of place at the top of the list with his bank manager coming in a very close second. Both men were smug, arrogant and thought so little of Joe that they thought of themselves as having stepped in something nasty when they met him...but from now on that was going to change!

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