“That you, Death?” The Haitian calls out in response to the clink of the bell over the door. “You’re a little early.”
Marley smiles. Sunday is perhaps the oddest man she has ever met, which means she has an awful lot of time for him.
“Just me,” she replies, “sorry to disappoint.”
Sunday chuckles from behind the shop counter and spreads his arms wide, gesturing to his little kingdom.
“And how can I assist such a beautiful disappointment today?”
Marley casts her eye over her surroundings. They are eclectic to say the least. The walls are lined with shelves, which are themselves laden with books, candles, figurines and carvings of just about every pagan deity one could imagine, beautifully coloured glass jars which hold less pleasing contents, and in one corner she even spots a small animal skull.
“You’ve redecorated,” she exclaims in mock surprise. “Where did the wall hanging of the goddess Kali go? I was looking forward to getting another eyeful of her blood-stained boobs.”
“Alas, somebody bought good old Kali,” Sunday shakes his head. “I’m going to miss that woman. Anyway my lovely, what brings you here?”
“My roommate. She’s convinced our house is haunted. I told her I’d come get some good vibe incense.”
“What makes her think it’s haunted?”
“Well, she’s highly strung and more than a little superstitious. So, that. And she says she’s not been sleeping too well lately.”
“Ah!” Sunday vanishes under his counter and reappears a moment later. “Here,” he hands Marley a small frame which vaguely resembles a spiderweb, adorned with feathers. “Dreamcatcher. Native Americans swore by the things. Pleasant dreams and restful sleep assured.”
“Fantastic,” Marley digs into her purse. “How much?”
“On the house.”
Her blue eyes widen.
“Are you sure?”
“Sure as syrup.” He grins and instantly looks younger. Marley has never heard that expression before, and it makes her wonder just how old Sunday is. She has never been so bold as to ask. She imagines he would go all coy on her.
“Well thanks,” she tucks the dreamcatcher carefully into her battered handbag. “You just made my roommate’s day.”
“Anything for a pretty thing like you,” he says, in a way that manages to sound not at all lecherous. “What does the rest of the day have in store for you?”
“I’ll be heading straight to work now, the new girl called in sick.”
“She has a hangover,” Sunday says.
“I guess so...” Marley nods slowly, unsure what to make of this. He didn’t sound like he was guessing, or making a joke. He just... knew. She is about to probe him on this, when her eye catches a particularly phallic statuette, and her question turns into an embarrassed stammer.
“Well, thanks again, Sunday.”
“And once again, you’re welcome my sweet.” This too sounds innocuous, fatherly and not sinister. Sunday, she decides, is the world’s strangest gentleman.
Once the door has closed behind her, Sunday’s genial expression sags somewhat. That is the third dreamcatcher he has felt compelled to give away in as many days. Bad for business, for sure. But he also fears it is a sign. A portent of something malign settling in Bellevue, making its home here. This evening he will make an offering to Baron Samedi and pray for the safety of Marley and her friends. Something in that girl brings out his gentler side.
“By the twiddling of my thumbs,” he sings out loud, in an effort to lift his spirits. “Something wicked this way comes!”