The Last Magus

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From visitor to house guest

The next day was a Saturday and Nat after calling in at the garage and paying the servicing bill on her small Fiat, spent the rest of the day and late into the night packing her stuff up into cardboard boxes and bags in her small flat. She thumbed her way through the phone directory and found a removals firm for her furniture, ringing the advert and marking the page for Monday.
Sunday she then spent making sure everything was ready, with her typical efficiency she had a checklist and worked through it. Monday morning she would call the removals people and see if they could do a rush move, normally these people wanted notice. Then she would call her landlord and apologise that she had received an offer of another place to stay and she wanted to accept that offer so wouldn’t be needing her flat any more. Joe had thoughtfully given Nat Monday off, to her obvious delight, she could sort out her move to his little house. Nat went to bed that Sunday night excited to the point she found it hard to go to sleep. Each time she thought about where she would be sleeping tomorrow night she gave a small squeal of joy and huddled down into her duvet.

Monday thus dawned bright and clear, Nat was literally so wired she was up with the sun! She double checked her packing and made sure all of her boxes and bags were labelled then at nine o’clock she picked up her phone and settling herself on her small sofa rang the removals firm.

“Hello Wakeford’s removals can I help you, this is Simone speaking.” A thin reedy voice sounded from the other end.

“Oh hello yes, my name is Natalie Williams and I live in Farbridge House.”

“On the estate?”

“Yes that’s right, I’m flat number six on the ground floor.”

“And you’d like to book a removals call, certainly. When are you expecting to move to your new property?”

“Well that’s just it…today really. I know it is short notice but I was wondering if you maybe could fit in a rush job? I’ve not got much furniture as it’s a small flat.”

“Well normally we do require at least seventy two hours notice madam. If you’ll hold on I can speak to my manager…”

“Yes OK.” The phone line went silent for a moment and then started playing some music, Nat recognised the tune as The girl from iponema, “Must be a standard music track they play when on hold.” Nat thought. She was on hold quite a while and actually got to listen to the music track right through…twice, as it was just one of those tunes that never seemed to end.

“Hello madam are you still there…thank you for holding.”

“Yes hello, what did your manager say?”

“Well I should say aren’t you the lucky one? It so happens that a client we were supposed to be moving today has had their move delayed due to complications in the chain.”

“Chain? Oh yes I understand...”

“So our crew is going to be effectively at a loose end, thanks to that last minute cancellation. Thus you can say a slot has opened…”

“That’s wonderful, I’ve got everything all packed up, it’s just a matter of moving it all.”

“You said not much furniture…”

“No, not really, a living room suite of a two seat sofa and armchair, small coffee table, a couple of occasional tables, my bed. Other than that it’s all fixtures and fittings which go with the flat. Everything else I’ve got boxed up and bagged already.”

“I see so we wouldn’t need our biggest van…maybe a decent sized transit with a two man crew?”

“I’d think that would work perfectly! I’ve only got a small Fiat you see, otherwise I’d move the stuff myself.”

“Yes I understand…” The woman’s voice droned on in her thin reedy way. She went on to layout the costs of moving and after Natalie agreed the price was reasonable and thanked her for being so considerate and able to help booked the removals crew to arrive at eleven. Nat finally hung up the phone with a contented smile. She paused a minute then got up and made herself a coffee, settling back down on the sofa. She picked up her phone again and dialled the number for her landlord.

“Yes, hello, Dmitri Svetlov speaking.” The male voice on the end was hoarse and gruff with an Eastern European accent that Natalie had never managed entirely to place.

“Ah hello Mr Svetlov, good morning to you. This is Natalie Williams in flat 6, Farbridge House, I’m one of your tenants.”

“Oh yes Miss Williams how can I help you today?”

“Well it’s like this, I’ve got a new boyfriend…”

“Congratulations I’m sure.”

“Thank you, but this new boyfriend has asked me to move in with him. We’ve been seeing each other as friends for the past few months…and well he offered me a place with him and…well I’ve accepted his offer.”

“I see…”

“So that means I won’t be needing my flat any more. I was wondering what you wanted me to do.”

“Depends…when are you planning on moving out?”

“Today. I should be gone by midday, one o’clock at the latest.”

“Today? That soon?” Nat could almost see the man’s eyebrows raise, “I see.” he finished cautiously.

“I’ve already got the removals guys booked for eleven, thanks to a last minute cancellation…so as I say I’ll probably be out by midday, maybe one in the afternoon.”

“Well you do have a tenancy agreement with me Miss...”

“I realise that thank you Mr Svetlov and I realise that my rent is due today, but since I pay a month in advance anyway I wasn’t sure about where I stood in regards to paying you. That is why I rang you this morning. Could it just be a case of hand the keys back to you…or will there be anything else?”

“I’d really need to check the state of the property Miss, for any damage you understand?”
“Yes, of course, I can promise there is none. If you aren’t already busy you could come over while the removals guys are here maybe? Then as they load my stuff into their van you can check the flat, for damage and make sure I don’t take anything that was with the flat when I moved in.” Natalie tried to sound helpful and positive but she had a sinking sensation that she was probably going to have to pay him something after all.

“Eleven you said?”

“Yes, any time after then.”

“Hmm well I shall have to see, this is very short notice Miss.”

“Yes and I do apologise for it, but I’m really keen to move in with my new guy and his offer sort of came out of the blue on Friday…”

“Well I suppose you have been a good tenant Miss Williams, never missed a rent day, so I’ll see if I can shuffle my schedule and come over. Thank you for ringing me and letting me know.”

“Thank you, I’ll see you at or after eleven then? I’ll have a coffee waiting if you want one.”

“Yes, thank you I shall see you then. Goodbye Miss.” The phone clicked and the call ended. Natalie smiled as she hugged her phone receiver to her. For all of his gruffness her landlord was a sweet guy when you got to know him, rumour had it he could be a terror to anyone who was late paying their rent though, luckily she’d never had to find out.

Her calls done Natalie rechecked her boxes and bags of stuff, everything packed. She looked around her flat, to be honest it was very small but she had been very happy here. Now however the place looked a little dreary and sad, all her belongings piled up and her furniture waiting to be collected. She went into her kitchen area and made herself a hot chocolate for a change. Before settling back on the sofa and just relaxing as she let the chocolate taste wash through her. She had to admit she felt really really good.

At eleven there was a knock at the door and Nat went to it. She looked out through the security peep hole, it was her landlord. She opened the door with a smile.

“Mr Svetlov thank you for coming over so promptly. The removals guys haven’t turned up yet but they are due any moment...” As Nat said this she saw a large red and green transit van with Wakefords removals written on the side pull up next to her Fiat, her small car looked tiny in comparison to the van. Two large men got out of the van dressed in jeans and black bomber jackets, one pulled on a cap and pulled a clipboard from the front seat of the van. Both men then crossed the small grassy area that separated the car parking from the block.

Mr Svetlov turned to face them, “I guess they’ve just arrived Miss. It’s a sad thing when a good tenant like you moves out but inevitable maybe…”

“Mrs Williams?” The man with the baseball cap called as he approached.

“It’s Miss actually but yes that’s me.”

“Wakefords miss you booked us for a removal this morning?”

“Yes that’s right, thank you for coming!”

“Pleasure miss…we’ve been told there isn’t much in the way of furniture so we brought the transit. Is that correct?”

“Yes it’s only a small flat, the rest of my stuff is all boxed and bagged inside, I think it will all fit into your van.”

“OK.” The man turned to his partner, “This is the place Greg, where do you want to start?”

“Let’s get the furniture in first then we can see what space we have left and whether it will take two trips.”

“Bedroom then?”

“Yep.”

Both men smiled as they filed past Natalie, she smiled back warmly. Mr Svetlov also went in, he had a second clipboard with the list of items that had come with the flat when Natalie took out her tenancy. Natalie closed the door and turned inside herself.

“Coffee Mr Svetlov?” she smiled.

“That would be nice thank you.”

“Right this way.” Natalie stepped into her living room and headed for the small kitchen area. She had just filled the kettle and set it to boil when the two removals guys passed the door carrying the mattress from her bed.

“Does the bed break down at all Miss?” Greg asked.

“Err yes I think so, just a few screws to undo really.”

“OK leave it to me.” Greg winked at her, “Is that tea you’re making by any chance?”

Natalie giggled a little, “Coffee, I don’t drink that much tea sorry. Would you like a cup when you’ve got all the furniture out…?”

“That would be wonderful miss, I take mine with sugar and milk. Gary the lady is making coffee, you want a cup?” Greg half turned his head looking over his shoulder as he dropped the mattress end to the floor.

“Pick your end up Greg, the lady doesn’t want her mattress all scuffed. And don’t ask stupid questions, have you ever known me not accept a drink?” Gary pushed forward and put his face round the side of the door, “Two sugars and milk please miss.” Gary winked as he tilted up his baseball cap with a broad smile.

“OK coming right up. This is so good of all of you to do this on short notice.”

“No problem miss! You got lucky the other guy cancelled, we’d have been sitting on our duffs the whole day otherwise.”

Greg looked at Gary with a despairing look, “Gary…we would not have been sitting on our duffs, there are other jobs we would have been doing around the company site.”

“Like what cleaning the vans? Please, a few hours work. Lots of coffee breaks though.” Gary smiled a cheeky grin and lifted his end of the mattress with a grunt, “Where you moving to miss? If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Not at all…My boyfriend has asked me to move in with him…”

Gary’s face fell a little in disappointment, “Boyfriend…oh well can’t win ’em all!”

Natalie had guessed about right in terms of time, the landlord made sure that all of the items on his checklist stayed put while Gary and Greg pulled, pushed, dismantled and carried everything else out. Once the furniture was all out and resting in the van Natalie made the coffees and set the mugs on a tray along with a bowl of sugar cubes and a small jug of milk.

“Coffee’s ready!” She called out as the three men came into the living room. They each stood in the space formerly occupied by Nat’s sofa drinking their coffee in a muted silence. “You know, it’s kind of sad in a way…” Natalie began to say.

“Oh yes miss?” Gary smiled as he sipped at his mug.

“Well I guess I’ve had a nice time here, in my own little flat…and now with everything packed up it all looks so sad and lonely.”

“Nature of things miss. They say moving house is the third…or is it the second most traumatic experience in your life. You’re pulling up your roots and leaving see.”

“Well I’m not going all that far, do you know the village just outside town on the way to the coast?”

Gary and Greg looked at one another puzzled, “Would that be the village that they say a wizard lives in?”

“Yes!” Natalie smiled warmly with a slight giggle, she’d never considered Joe as a wizard before, he was just Joe and capable of doing some unexplainable things he called magic, “Not only that…” she gave a little giggle again, “but that self same wizard is the boyfriend I’m moving in with!”

“You what?” Gary’s jaw dropped open in surprise, he almost dropped his coffee mug, “you’re dating the wizard! I guess I’m going to have to learn to do magic if it gets babes like you.” Gary blushed deeply and hung his head, “Sorry miss sometimes my mouth runs ahead of my brain. What was it that he did again?”

“It’s perfectly alright Gary, I’ve been called a babe by others and by many less good looking than you. Joe stopped a bank robbery. They said he cast a magic spell and sent all the robbers to sleep until the Police got there and arrested them. I know he stopped it because I worked in the bank, that’s how he and I met. He paid in a deposit with me, had a chat with the manager and then stopped the robbery. He saved me from looking down the wrong end of a sawn off shotgun that the lead robber was shoving in my face.”

“Bloody hell! You’re OK now though right?”

“Well it was very traumatic, you know they say your life flashes in front of you? Well mine did and being only twenty one it was kind of a short show…”

“So did he really use a magic spell like they said?”

Natalie leaned forward and whispered, “I wasn’t really in any state to know what he actually did, but confidentially…yes!”

“Oh go on Miss, there ain’t no such thing as magic!”

“No really! I can assure you Joe, that’s the wizard’s name, can do real magic. Not card tricks or palmed coins, I mean real honest to goodness magic…real spells. I’ve seen him do them!”

“Yeah? You mean like chanting over some smoking candle and pulling chicken bits apart?”

“No!” Natalie looked shocked, “I mean real spells, he memorises them; takes him hours to do but some of the spells he does are simply amazing! He’s got whole books of them, I even made them for him, I’m quite proud of the job I did and he just loves using them. I then helped him set up as a children’s party magician.”

“Children’s parties seriously?”

“He’s an amazing hit, you should see his bookings. Everyone and I mean just everyone wants Joe the wizard to perform for their children.”

“Yeah but children’s parties are easy to fool aren’t they?”

“You’d be amazed, I’ve been to a few and you hear the kids, even the little ones trying to explain his tricks. They never get it right though, I’ve seen the parents looking stunned. But when he gets going they just fall silent. Because with Joe they aren’t tricks, they are real spells, mostly illusions but real magic illusions. For example he does this one with a seed, it’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen...”

“But it’s a trick isn’t it?”

“No...that’s what I’m saying. He takes a seed, an orange pip or a lemon pip, he even did an apple once. Puts it in this small pot of earth that he got one of the kids to fill from the flower bed. And then he waves his hands, says a few magic words and that pip, I swear, grows into a tiny plant...like a bonsai version of the tree it’s supposed to be right? It grows to about six, maybe eight inches, I think the apple went to about twelve but you get the point, then it blooms.”

“Right…”

“The flower isn’t normal either, it is just amazing, all different colours and it changes colour as it blooms. The petals of the flower then drop off one by one and in its place it grows a single fruit, apple, orange or lemon. It’s an amazing thing to watch.”

“And you’re saying there’s no trickery he’s genuinely growing a miniature fruit tree.”

“He picks the fruit out of the family’s fruit bowl or asks if they have any fruit. If it was a trick how could he predict which fruit they’d take?”

“Well maybe the trick is in the pot.”

“That he got one of the children to fill? I think they would notice. But anyway once the fruit grows on this little tree he picks it and usually passes the fresh picked fruit to the parents to examine then cuts it up. If it’s an orange or apple he cuts it into segments and will give every child a piece. He does a thing with dancing lights too, all different colours like Christmas fairy lights but these start circling and dancing in the air to music sometimes. The height of the show though is his pet…but I shouldn’t go into too much detail.”

“Pet? What’s he got?”

“Well…he’s not really a pet and he’d be incredibly upset to hear me calling him that. Plus he’s the absolute highlight of the show so I don’t want to spoil anything by telling you too much. A lot of Joe’s spells though can be really dangerous, it’s genuine magic see? He doesn’t use those spells for his shows obviously but he’s got a special room where he practises them anyway.”

“I’ve got a sister with little kids, her daughter is having a birthday soon. I think they’d get a real kick out of a magic show. Do you think he could do the business for her?”

“Well you’re in luck, you could call me his agent, his personal assistant, his girlfriend…I handle all his bookings and his mundane stuff, as he calls it, word has spread like wildfire about him though! But once we get to his place I can check his diary and see if he’s available when you want him, then book you in if you like Greg?”

Greg looked thoughtful for a moment, then nodded, “If he’s really that good, yeah why not! Hope it’s not too expensive though…We’re not made of money sis and I.”

“Well Joe’s prices are negotiable Greg, we do a standard show at a hundred and fifty but Joe isn’t mercenary about money…if it’s going to cause you hardship he can lessen his charges, heck he might even do it for free. He visits children’s hospital wards and old people’s homes too, does shows there for nothing! If you want anything particularly flashy or extra then we add to the price. He has ingredients he needs and some of them aren’t cheap. Joe’s latest addition is he’s learning how to do fireworks.”

“Fireworks? I can get them in the corner store.”

“Not like these Gary...” Natalie shook her head with a smile, “these are very very special utterly mind blowing fireworks that no one with a bit of gunpowder could ever recreate. Joe’s firework display is not just a few Roman candles and a rocket display.” Natalie sipped her coffee she had almost finished it, “Mostly Joe does the shows so he can practise his magic without interruption, I came up with that idea, plus it gives him some money. You should see his face after a show he gets such a massive kick out of watching the children’s reactions…You know the TV companies are looking into getting him on TV too?”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, one of the parents last week turned out to be a programming executive and asked Joe whether he’d consider doing a show. It blew the poor guy’s mind so he thought Joe would be a hit on the TV too. Joe is a little reluctant though…all his magic is real, so he thinks it will be written off as camera trickery. Joe believes in his magic…and I guess I believe in him!” Natalie drained her coffee mug with a little shrug and a smile. She packed her mug away and as the others finished their mugs she packed their mugs too. “I can clean them up at Joe’s.” she said.

“Well Miss Williams I’ve checked everything on my list and everything seems to be fine. No damage, you’ve been a model tenant. That’s why I am so sorry to see a good tenant like you go, I guess we’re done.”

“Thank you Mr Svetlov, do you want me to pay anything?”

“No that’s alright, keep the money, buy yourself something nice, as you said this morning you are a month in advance. I’ll advertise the flat as free when I get back to the office. If you’re all packed…” Natalie looked up at Gary and Greg who nodded in agreement. “Then once everyone leaves you can just give me the keys and our business will be concluded. I hope you’ll be happy with your wizard boyfriend, he sounds like a curious fellow…and if it doesn’t work out, come back and see me OK?”

Natalie nodded, her hand went to her right eye to wipe away a small tear, she had enjoyed her time in this flat and was sorry to be leaving…at the same time she was excited to be going to live with her new boyfriend…to live in a magic house with a wizard and his pet dragon!


The drive to Joe’s place was familiar to Natalie, she’d been making the journey there each morning and back to her flat in the evening for about three months now. The transit with all her belongings followed in her rear view mirror. She pulled up outside Joe’s little house to see him standing at the top of a ladder clearing the gutters of the winter leaves and gunk that normally accumulated.

“Hi Joe!” She called out. Joe half turned and waved a handful of sodden brown leaves before dropping them into a plastic bucket. The van pulled up immediately behind Natalie’s small Fiat and Gary and Greg got out, stretched and started making ready to unload. “These two are the removal guys Joe, they’ve got everything I want to keep in the back of the van.”

Joe waved again and smiled broadly, he descended the ladder. He placed his feet outside against the sides and slid down much to Natalie’s alarm. After landing he almost danced across the road to Natalie, he hugged her tight and gave her a huge lingering kiss, “Hi Nat, I take it everything went alright then?”

“Sure, the landlord is a sweetheart really and these two are just so efficient…I got a surprise cancel for the removals firm so they fitted me in.”

“Well that makes two then as I’ve got a surprise for you too…”

“A surprise? Joe what did you do?”

“Not so much what I did as…well what the house did. When you said yes on Friday to moving in here with me. Well it sounds stupid…but I was so overjoyed.” Joe whispered in her left ear, “I explained it to the house on Saturday morning!” Natalie laughed covering her mouth with her fingers. “I know crazy huh? It’s the way you make me feel Nat. I want to tell everyone, hell I want to shout it. But I told the house and said that I wanted a room just for you…I promised you your own space after all.”

“Oh Joe you didn’t have to…I’m happy to share!”

“Look, no arguments, I want you to be comfortable with a place to keep your stuff around you. Cramming all your stuff in with mine I don’t think would work. Besides, it would give you somewhere that was your space, I said I’ll only come in with your permission and you can do with it literally whatever you want. I’ll help of course with anything but it’ll be your space OK? Here’s the thing though…” Joe dropped his voice to barely a whisper again, “the house must have heard me! Come and see what it did!”

Joe escorted Natalie across the road to his front door and let her in. They traversed the front room in a few strides with Joe pushing her with his hand in the small of her back. He opened the door onto the landing pushing Natalie, a look of pleased puzzlement on her face, what had Joe done? “OK Nat now just like you did with the bathroom, pick a door and say Natalie’s bedroom.”

Natalie looked at Joe as she smiled, “Natalie’s bedroom!” she said clearly then opened the door. Natalie stood at the door looking into the room, her jaw slowly dropped open in surprise, “Oh Joe!” Inside was clearly a large room, larger than it should be for inside the rear half of the house, thick pile carpet ran wall to wall while a big picture window gave her a panoramic view onto the back garden. The room felt light and airy while it was easily larger than her whole previous flat. “Oh Joe, it’s too much space really, I could fit everything I have in here!”

“Then watch this…ahem…Partition…please house!”

As if in answer to Joe’s request three partition walls began growing out of the floor, they rose up and grew subdividing the room into three smaller areas. Doorways appeared with simple wooden doors, it was as if the whole area were somehow organic and accommodating itself to Natalie’s wishes. The carpet accommodated the walls without the sound of tearing. Steadily the walls rose and spread until they connected with the ceiling and stopped. “See now you’ve got three rooms!”

“What? Joe…how…”

“It’s amazing Nat, you can have a whole separate apartment if you want, I think a whole separate house maybe. If you don’t want the partitions there just say, they’ll shrink back and move to where you want them. If you prefer the one big area, kind of open plan, then forget the partitions.”

“Joe, how did you…do this? Is this your magic? I love it, but how?”

“I didn’t…” Joe made a small cross over his heart and pressed his palms together mimicking the look of a saint with an angelic halo, “I swear to you…the house did it on its own! I simply told it you were moving in and I needed a room for you. I thought it would just give me a blank room then we could decorate it as a bedroom…I never planned on all of this though.”

“It’s stunning! So now we have interior design by magic! I think I could have some fun with this…” Natalie’s eyes glittered with mirth.

“Do you like the colour scheme?”

“Well the walls look a bit drab, plain white is OK but it’s a bit sterile.”

“Pick a colour then and ask for it!”

“What? Are you saying we don’t need paint any more?”

“Go on just try it!”

Natalie coughed to clear her throat, “Err…thank you for the room…house, it’s lovely!…” she looked sideways at Joe, she felt a fool talking to an empty room, “but could you make the walls a bit more rose than plain white?” Natalie drew in a gasp, her hand flying up to her mouth again, “Oh my God!” she said. The walls of the room had started to change colour, a soft pastel pink colour wash was covering over the white walls in a gentle rippling wave, starting in a top corner and moving to the opposite bottom corner.

Nat looked at Joe searchingly, “Not me!” he shrugged. “I guess the house must like you. I think it wants you to be comfortable too!”

Natalie coughed again, “Thank you house, that’s err wonderful for now.” She looked puzzled for a moment, “You think the house likes me Joe…come on tell me you did this and you’re just pulling my leg.”

“No Nat, I swear, as I stand here with you now! The house did it. I don’t know why I felt like telling it you were coming to stay, but I did, and there’s the result!”

“Well look Joe I don’t think we should shout about this OK? Especially with Gary and Greg around. Are they going to be OK coming back here with my stuff or should I get them to drop it in the front room?”

“No, should be OK, the room will stay for a little while, as long as you don’t change the room to another.”

“Ah OK I need to check your diary.”

“Why?”

“Greg has a sister with small kids and I may have mentioned your magic shows, so he’s interested in booking you.”

“You may have mentioned them?” Joe’s eyebrows raised, “You may have mentioned them? If I know you Nat you’ve been singing my praises from the rooftop. Sure if I’m free book him in…”

“He mentioned the cost,” Natalie leaned closer to Joe and whispered, “I think he may be worried he can’t afford your show! I mentioned your fireworks too and I think he’d like them.”

Joe smiled and turned his head, kissing Nat on the nose, “My price is negotiable Nat you know that, I do it for practise, not the money! Look if I’m free and he does a good job moving you in here…well he can have the show as a thank you! What about the other one Gary, I think you said, I don’t want to reward one and not the other.”

“Didn’t mention anything.”

“Ah, OK then maybe a sizeable tip might be called for eh?” Joe winked, “don’t worry I’ll see them right!”

It took Gary and Greg a couple of hours to move everything back in. Natalie had changed the room back to one big single area and explained she’d move things about as she wanted them if they could leave the furniture in the room for her. She kept a wary eye on the room just in case the house spontaneously decided to start changing things, like adding walls of changing colour but everything stayed quiet. As the last of her furniture was being put in she stepped up to one of the other doors and said “Office” quietly. Opening the door she saw her office, exactly as she had left it on Friday evening, it felt odd that the room was orientated in exactly the way it always was even though she was using a door at ninety degrees to the one she usually used. She picked up Joe’s appointments diary and a pen and brought them out with her closing the door behind her with a soft click. Natalie then went to her new room, Greg was shuffling around trying to reassemble her single bed.

“No need to do that Greg, I can do that or get Joe to...”

“All part of the service Miss, besides I took it apart so I feel I should put it back together for you.”

“Well that’s very nice of you, thank you. Look I’ve got Joe’s diary with me, you said you might be interested in booking him for a show?”

Greg looked up, “Err yeah if he’s available…”

“When would you need him?”

“Well it’s my sister’s youngest kid really but her birthday is the nineteenth of May if that’s OK?”

Natalie flicked through the diary to May and then page by page to the nineteenth. “Joe does have an appointment on that day but it’s not until the evening. Would midday be OK with your sister?”

“Err yeah sure the girl’s only little, you know she started primary school this September last so she shouldn’t be up late anyway.”

“So she’ll be six on this birthday?”

“Yeah you got it. I think she’d get a real kick out of a magic show for her birthday party.”

“Well Joe’s show is something else…would you like any extras?”

“Such as?”

“Well Joe’s fireworks for example.”

“Oh yeah now that would be great, although at midday seems a bit of a waste.”

“Well I said these are no normal fireworks. OK, now I’d usually ask for two hundred pounds, pay on the day by cheque or cash. What’s the name and the name of the birthday girl?”

Greg’s face fell, “Oh that much? Not sure I can make that much in one go like.” he said.

“I sort of guessed that Greg…I had a word with Joe, before you started unpacking everything. He said that because he uses the shows for practise he will be willing to gift you a show as a thank you for helping me so much today.”

“Really?” Greg’s face lifted and his mouth broke into a beaming smile, “that’s very generous of him…very generous! My sister is going to get such a buzz, especially if it can all be a surprise!”

“Well I’ll say it this way OK, his spells can be expensive so if you can pay then please…”

“I’ll have to see.”

“Pay what you can afford alright? So I’ll put you in for the nineteenth of May. What’s the name and the name of the birthday girl…so he can personalise the show for her.”

“Err yeah, the name is Tasker and the birthday girl is Vanessa. Beautiful little thing, bright eyes, blonde hair looks just like a fairy from the Christmas tree.”

“Fine.” Natalie lifted the pen and wrote 12:00 (midday): Tasker, birthday party girl’s name: Vanessa. Fireworks appreciated “And the address?”

“Well she lives in Farbridge House actually, flat number twelve so she would have been your upstairs neighbour.”

“Oh my God!” Natalie stopped her pen poised just above the page. She smiled showing her teeth, her eyes glittering, “your sister isn’t Maria Tasker is she?” Greg nodded, “Yes, I know Maria well and little Nessa, we were or rather are good friends. I’m Natalie, Natalie Williams, say hi from me when you see her OK? Tell her I’ll call her soon as I get settled in here. Guess I’ll have to invite her round here some time for coffee.” Natalie smiled broadly as she penned in the address. “OK that’s all set then, if you want to cancel let me know otherwise Joe should be there on the nineteenth to celebrate your niece’s birthday. I hope she has a really wonderful day, I’ll try and come along I think, it’ll be good to see Maria again. Believe me Greg they will be absolutely blown away with Joe’s show…seriously!”

“Well thank you Natalie, Maria does talk about you quite a bit. I hadn’t realised you were that Natalie though. That’s very kind of you and your friend Joe I’m sure they’ll love the show too. I’ll let my sister know this evening…but we’ll keep it a surprise for little Nessa.”

“Of course.”

Thus it was that Natalie was effectively moved in by three thirty that afternoon. She made Greg and Gary another mug of coffee each and Joe handed each of them a fifty pound note as a thank you. Greg of course confirmed with Joe about the show and Joe reassured him that as long as Nat had recorded it in the diary he’d be there. With waves and smiles Joe and Nat then said their goodbyes and as Greg and Gary took their seats in the transit, Joe and Nat went back inside the house with their arms wrapped around each other.

“Here Greg, how old do you reckon that Joe is?”

“What does it matter?”

“Well it just don’t seem fair that a beautiful young babe like her should be hanging out with a guy his age that’s all. He looks old enough to be her dad.”

“Yeah I suppose but it’s none of our business Gary, maybe she likes the older guys or maybe there’s just something about him in particular. Remember he saved her in that bank robbery.”

“Yeah I suppose, but that was months ago, still seems a shame though.”

“You can’t pick who you fall in love with mate, or who falls in love with you. As long as she’s happy that’s all that matters, and I think that guy Joe makes her very happy. Fancy a drink at all?”

“No sorry mate the wife is expecting me this evening, we’re talking holiday destinations of all things.”

“Ah well, never mind then. We made fifty quid each which ain’t bad for four hours work, and I’ve got a big surprise for my sis.”

“He agreed to the show?…cor aren’t you the lucky one?”

“Yeah and if he’s half as good as Natalie paints him my sis and little Vanessa are going to be absolutely blown away.”

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