Leslie watches me warily as I lead the way to the kitchen. “Kelly, can you please give me some idea-” She stops short as I stand aside to let her see Johnny’s sleeping body. The boys are sitting beside him, tongues hanging out, tails softly brushing across the floor. Since he’s clearly no immediate threat, they’ve decided to give him a chance.
“Leave him alone,” I hiss, as Buddy Love sniffs experimentally at Johnny’s neck, who sighs and shifts restlessly, but doesn’t wake.
Leslie grips my biceps with an iron clasp and says, “Please tell me that’s not who I think he looks like.”
There’s not much I can do but shrug helplessly.
“Sonuvamotherfuckinbitch,” she swears under her breath. “Kelly, you have to stop watching Practical Magic. Life’s not a movie. What do you think he’s going to do when he wakes up?” Again, I can only shrug, though I can feel the tears starting to well up behind my eyes. “You think he’s going to be happy about this? You think he’s going to fall in love with one of us? He’s not a character in a movie - he’s a person with a life. You can’t just - hijack - people.”
She shakes her head. “You know, I went along with it last night because - well, because I never in a million years believed you’d actually be able to physically manifest his body.” She pauses. “How can someone who would even dream of doing anything like this call herself an ethical witch?” She snaps out a cellphone, punches a single number, then stalks back down the hall, the echo of her heels hollow as death knells.
Do not ask for whom the bell tolls. My mother’s voice rises ominously out of my memory. It tolls for thee. Shut up, mother, I think, as Leslie speaks into the cellphone, “Amanda? Yeah, it’s me. Look, you’re going to have tell Rahim he’s got to cover the Henderson deposition this morning. Something’s come up. Something big. Yeah, I’m involved. Yeah, it could be bad. Yeah, I will. Thanks, you’re a peach.” She flips the phone closed. “You know, it would be bad enough if it were just some - some nobody off the streets of some podunk town east of Bumblefuck. But, oh, no, you had to go and conjure up someone who’s only known to millions of people. What do you think’s going to happen when he wakes up? You don’t think he’ll be amused, do you?” She passes me shaking her head. “We have to call Clarice. She helped you with this, didn’t she?”
“Not specifically. She just gave me some ideas. Pointed me in the right direction, so to speak.”
Leslie is standing at Johnny’s feet. He’s flat on his back now, a slight smile on his face. The merest haze of a beard is on his chin in the white wash of light, and he clutches a corner of the quilt with one hand. “How much do you want for this quilt?” she whispers.
“The quilt. I want it.”
“Just help me get out of this and it’s yours.”