Today I got a squishy cargo. A six feet tall sack of saggy white meat. If you’re curious, it’s a human. A human for tonight’s Moonlight Market, an astrologer, and seer. A rare offer for the market, really. It’s more of a custom request than anything else. I’m going to cash up nicely.
My name’s Vespa. I may not look like it, but I’m far older than you may suspect. Since I’m part-part, my body obeys different laws. Today, some idiot calls me a twelve-year-old saucy bitch. No one calls me that, or anything else. Luckily, I don’t need more than fifteen seconds to cast a nasty curse. Don’t be surprised if you meet a five feet tall rat in Central Park.
Ah, magic! You gotta love it! It’s a big improvement since it’s allowed to cross the borders. Stretching and bending the frame-laws of one world to its benefit, makes me curious. The living is so much easier and so much more interesting.
What I do for the living? I’m a merchant, a businesswoman. And the only law I follow is the one of supply and demand. Besides, I’m an expert, a professional collector of humans. So when Aunt Nancy requests a human seer, I deliver.
You name it, I supply it to you. Only the best, only quality goods. I’m proud of my reputation, so is Aunt Nancy. I get you anything. What you want: dragon breath, unicorn tears, mermaid scales, dried lightning flowers, seedpods from the Tree of Life… That is if you can pay for it, cause I’m not cheap.
Aunt Nancy gives me two men, my first two minions. They keep me company and protect me, not that it would be necessary… But you never know, and Aunt Nancy is one worried spidermom. She always takes good care of me, treats me as if I was family. I even owe her my life. I won’t be the one to reject her kindness, I’m not suicidal.
So she gives me Ulysses, my weasel. A midget blessed with a fast mind, fast-moving limbs, and a wicked jaw. He’s always good for a laugh. And there is Izanagi, my elephant. Reliable, quiet, calm like a stone and annoyingly overprotective. I suspect, Aunty made them herself, judged by the charms that are seemingly woven into their skins. Branded property of Aunt Nancy.
My carriage is disguised as a rusty black minivan. We stop at the entrance to the Moonlight Market. That is, for tonight, Teardrop Park at the shore of the Hudson. At sunrise, the market will move.
Usually, I let Isanagi drive. He looks better behind the wheel. As we stop, my package, even if bound and gagged, stirs, believing he has a chance to run. Ulysses is faster, he always is. He hits the man with his staff on his left shoulder, hard enough to make him whimper. That’s gonna be a bruise, but he’ll lay low. From the driver’s seat Isanagi growls.”Hey! Damaged goods are bad goods.” Ulysses rolls his eyes.
“Stop pissing. He’s thinking payback and escape. And more…” Ulysses throws me a submissive look. I caught that other thought too, but I’m not that worried. The little human pick me as his hostage-to-be in his petty escape plan. Which is stupid by the way. I’d never give him anything sharp. No way he can bribe me with money either. Money! Dirty paper. He has nothing I could use, nothing he could offer. Plus, I don’t need to rely on my staff or my strength. The magical currents of the river, the moon, and the morning star are on my side.
As long as we do not enter the market, I got every right to turn my goods into whatever I please. If he’s annoying, I’ll turn him into a hot dog and feed him to the watchdog.
“Cut it out. Aunt Nancy is waiting for us.” I won’t allow any disturbances. I got to maintain a reputation, so I take away the human’s pain and heal his bruise. “Be polite. Show respect.” I advise the man, “speak only when you’re asked. Be honest, it’s ridiculously obvious when you lie.”
“Yes, Miss Vespa.” Weasel and elephant answer together. I cut the man loose, and let him stand up. He’s staring at me confused.
“Do you understand?” I ask him. The man nods then shakes his head. “Fine! Off we go.” Izanagi shoves the human out of the carriage and Ulysses and I, we follow them. At the entrance, the watchdog greets us.
“Welcome to the Moonlight Market, Miss Vespa. Password. Please.” She flashes her fangs, as polite as she can, and wags her tail. I nod a friendly nod.
“I stole my shoelaces from the president.” Instantly she gives way. The human stares me down, and at my shoes. He notices the lack of shoelaces and shakes his head. Ulysses and Izanagi let the watchdog sniff their hands.
“Aunty is already in, the usual spot,” she says, scratching her ear with a hind paw. I thank her, and we proceed further into the park. The stalls sit neatly side by side, snuggling up with misty darkness, that blurs their outlines, some basic privacy charm. In the Moonlight Market, you have to know what you’re looking, to find it. Muffled laughter and singing seeps to us, probably from the river. The market is always a big party.
The human stops. He’s terrified. I lean with my mind unto his thoughts, to make him move, to make him numb. Izanagi pushes him forward. The stall we are heading for is nearly at the center of the market. Aunty Nancy is the center of nearly all magical events. It’s a natural place for her to be.
pic by the author; Moon Pine, Ueno Shrine, Ueno Park, Tokyo, Japan
I think this is going to be continued