After a long break we are visiting Mike Finnegan once more in this, the next installment of the Man in the Cupboard series.
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It had been ages since Mike had ventured out on his own, he’d almost forgotten what it was like to feel the crisp breeze at his back and the warm sun on his face. The tree-lined avenue seemed to welcome him as he walked down its shaded paths.
He turned once more to look at the yellow house down the lane. This wasn’t goodbye, he would return as soon as he found himself a woman to share his life with. However, leaving pained him. Kimberly and little Thomas had managed to find a place in his heart, a place that he didn’t know existed before.
“I’ll be back soon my dears, take care.,” he said as he spun his cane, casting a spell over the house. With him gone there wouldn’t be anyone to keep away undesirables such as rats or those detestable leprechauns. The spell would keep them away, at least for a while. No spell could last forever.
With his face to the sun he set off down the lane. If he remembered correctly there was a lovely park with vast gardens filled with fragrant flowers, arbors heavy with wisteria, and wandering paths, not too far away. He was sure to find a she tinker or two there, they almost always chose gardens over houses.
At the rise in the next hill the park came into view. The garden beds were alive with different hues of reds and yellows from the fall roses. The ancient maples stretched toward the sky, the edges of their leaves beginning to change from brilliant green to gold and red. Tucked among the flowers and trees, couples sat together on the park benches exchanging quiet words and smiles.
Soon, he would have someone of his own to share quiet words and smiles with as well. The thought warmed his heart and he set off down the hill.
At the main gate a tawny cat lounged on the sidewalk, eyes half closed, tail flicking. He stood and stretched as Mike approached.
“What do you want here, Tinker?” The cat sneered.
“None of your business, now let me pass.”
The cat stepped closer, showing his needle sharp teeth. “Oh, but it is my business. I’m Big Tom and you see, this is my park, I say who goes in and who doesn’t.”
“Very funny Tom. Now if you will step aside I have things that I need to attend to.”
“That’s Big Tom and no, I don’t think so. Not until I’m through with you.”
Mike tapped his cane in front of him, his patience was wearing thin. “What is it you want then?”
Just then Big Tom leapt into the air, his claws extended and ready to pounce upon Mike. He jumped back swinging his cane, dodging the blow only by an inch. The cat hissed in anger, and turned to strike again. Mike wasn’t going to let him have the pleasure. With a quick stroke he drew a spell with his cane and sent it flying at Big Tom’s face. The spell struck with an puff of glittery smoke. Tom shook his head, pawing at his nose, then sat hard on the pathway as the spell took effect.
Mike didn’t wait to see if the spell worked or not, he had never cast a confusion spell on an animal as large as a cat before, he wasn’t sure if it would even work. He ran as fast as his little legs would carry him into the dense leaves of a nearby boxwood hedge. Even if it did work he didn’t want to anywhere nearby when the cat remembered what had happened.
Inside the hedge he leaned against one of the branches, and gulped to catch his breath. Something inside the hedge rustled overhead.
“You’d best be more careful Tinker, the park can be a dangerous place,” squeaked a tiny voice.
There above him, crouched on a higher branch, was a field mouse no bigger than a half-dollar coin.
To be continued…
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