The Fairy of Infinite Possibilities

Willy activated the flamethrower and a gout of incendiary plasma blew the alien monster into gobs of steaming meat and smoking chitin. “Watch your back!” he yelled as he swung around the corner and triggered another blast blindly. More bugs, more smoking bug corpses. Another dropped from the ceiling. It was too close to torch! He ducked a poison covered claw and shattered the thing’s head with a butt stroke. Then he was running out of the city and into the cooler shadows of the trees in the park.

It had been great fortune to find the flamethrower. He had discovered it languishing between two refuse cans on the curb. Someone had used the last of the wrapping paper off of it and tossed it in the trash. Miraculously the careless garbage men had neither folded it nor crushed it. The cardboard tube had served as a magnificent pirate sword for two blocks before it became the bane of the hive.

Moving out onto the grass his flamethrower became a shotgun as Willy rolled and came up prone. “On the ground now!” he shouted and payed absolutely no attention to the surprised glances of some of the nearest adults. His goal was the fountain. He could see several of his friends already there. A couple were in the water. Hanging out at the fountain was not the necessity it had been during the recent blistering heat, but it was still a great place for a young boy on summer break.

Willy waved as he trotted past the fountain and plopped down on a bench on the far site in the shade. He carelessly tossed the now thoroughly floppy cardboard tube down the the bench beside him. It had fared only slightly better than the nemeses he had faced.

Juan had his silly yellow plastic ball again and a complex game of catch was evolving in the fountain. Smelly Frank was holding down a bench. Willy looked around and contemplated his options. There were some older boys playing touch football on the sward. They would would welcome him; he was small and skinny, but already wickedly fast. He was hard to catch. The guy ranting on the milk crate and the “performance artist” held no interest for him.

Willy’s forehead scrunched up a little in concentration. His bike, skateboard, and scooter were at home. There were the dog walkers. Someone was always willing to pay an enterprising kid to play pooper scooper for them. But it was not too hot and he was not thirsty. And, Bingo! He had candy so he did not really need any money.

He had two pieces of candy: a peppermint and a butterscotch. He had grabbed them and a couple of those nasty red wrapped cinnamon ones from his Aunt’s candy dish last night as he left. He was not supposed to, but she and his Mom had been animatedly engaged about someone’s new baby and neither had spared him enough attention as they made their way out. His Aunt kept it filled up from a five pound bag that she bought at some super club warehouse place. It had peppermints and butter scotches and lots of stuff that he did not even know how to name. It certainly was not candy that any self respecting eleven year old would buy, but candy was candy. Especially when you did not have to scrounge for change to get it!

Willy hiked himself up on one hip and shoved his hand down in the opposite pocket. His questing fingers found two small round items wrapped in crinkly cellophane. A grin of anticipation stretched the edges of his lips upward. The cinnamon candies were gone. He did not really like how they burned his mouth, but then again they were candy. So he had eaten them already to get them out of the way. He had saved the good ones. Peppermint or butterscotch? He loved the way the peppermint filled his mouth with a tingly coolness when he pursed his lips and inhaled. But then again he loved the rich, heavy sweetness of the butterscotch. They felt the same.

He decided to let chance surprise him. He reached all the way down and grasped the one deepest in his pocket. He slowly pulled his hand out to the edge of the pocket and then jerked his arm up in front of his face with the closed fist hiding the treasure. He had done well. Even the wrapper was hidden. That would have given it away. He knew the butterscotch had a dark yellowish wrapper, but not even an edge peeked from behind the clenched fingers.

He played a fanfare in his mind and opened his fingers. There nestled in the palm of his hand was…a little man…with wings? Willy frowned. The man stood up and straitened his tights. Willy smirked and it was the little man’s turn to frown. Willy’s first concern was for his candy. He slapped his free had across to his pocket and found two lumps. How had he pulled out a tiny man with wings when he knew he had grabbed a piece of candy?

“Why were you messing with my candy? And who are you?” Always address the most important issue first.

“I am the Fairy of Infinite Possibilities.” The reply sounded big for such a small man. Someone with a larger vocabulary might have uncharitably thought it sounded a bit pompous.

Willy snickered. “You certainly look like a fairy. Do you dance in the ballet?” Eleven year olds have notoriously poor social skills to begin with and public school offered myriad of opportunities for corruption. Willy did not miss much school.

“Fairy with a Capital F!” the little man said with a chuff. Willy was suddenly reminded of Mrs. Perez’s chihuahua with its ruff up. He giggled.

The man rose from Willy’s hand on a blur of diaphanous wings. They caught a shaft of sunlight filtering through the trees and scattered it in a rainbow of sparkles all around him. He hovered in his cloud of shimmering iridescence in front of Willy’s face. “I am magic. I am the Fairy of Infinite Possibilities.” he repeated.

And then time stopped. The sounds of the busy park cut off in mid clamor. The only sounds were a silvery-purple hum from the Fairy’s wings and the rustle of Willy’s clothes as he shifted on the bench. He looked around. A penny glinted in suspension over the basket of a merwoman. Willy’s eyes held there just a little longer than anywhere else and a quick smile crossed his face. The mouths of the fishes, merpeople, and various aquatic creatures still spouted water, but the streams were frozen ropes of fulgent diamond interspersed with drops of lustrous pearls arching down to churn a choppy mirror of aquamarine glass. The flight of a yellow ball was captured, motionless in its reflection..

Willy looked past the fountain. A football frozen in mid-spiral. A dog caught soaring an improbable distance from the ground, his jaws within a hairbreadth of closing on a scuffed Frisbee as a sparkle of saliva broke free. A stream of liquid joined a thermos and cup. A baby carriage popped a petrified wheelie, its back wheels on the grass and its front wheels hanging suspended over the sidewalk. A shopping cart filled with plastic grocery bags stilled in mid-ruffle. A spray of pigeons in suspended scrum as a piece of popcorn hovered over them. A knight taking a pawn.

“I can offer you anything you want.” the Fairy said with a wave of his arm.

“And what does it cost?” Willy asked.

“Absolutely nothing.” the Fairy replied.

Willy had learned a little more in school than the things his Mother would have preferred him to know. He had learned much more from her than she might have dared to hope. “I don’t think so.” And time crashed back into place. The penny made a plinking sound as it dropped into the water filled basket and the tourist turned to go to wherever tourists went after the fountain and Juan was no longer buried to his knees in shimmering glass.

Tyler caught the perfectly thrown football in stride and promptly tripped. A college student picked up the disc dropped by the dog and sent it sailing away again. A laughing girl took the offered cup from her beau and he reached into a basket for a couple of sandwiches. The doting Father carefully levered the back wheels of the carriage up onto the sidewalk. Smelly Frank snored on with his cart and bags of worldly possessions next to him. An old couple tossed another piece of exploded maize to the ravenous rats with wings. An old man continued beating or being beaten at the chess tables by another old man.

“Why ever not?” the Fairy asked.

Willy just reached down to the bench beside him and grabbed his Louisville slugger and brushed the Fairy away. He stood and swung for the bleachers. As he rounded third base to the roar of the crowd he made sure that he grabbed the butterscotch this time.


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