[Greetings citizens! As promised, this is the second of the four free chapters of the ALLEN TOMBES novella that I’m giving away. I mentioned yesterday that there are 37 chapters in total in this story, and that this tale has never been published before! (Exciting!) For those who want to read the whole serialized business, all you need to do is head on over to the Primitive Patreon page and become a patron for a minimum of a buck per month! I’ll be posting the last two free chapters in the next two days, then after that the rest of the chapters will only be available to contributors! Meanwhile, enjoy this second FREEBIE! —RFY]
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 2)
In the last few years, basically since his Mom and Dad had decided that he was old enough to walk home from school by himself, Allen had spent most of his free time, and allowance, at Chaz’s Vintage, a collectibles shop on Broadway, only a few blocks from his school. It was a short walk from Bradbury High to Allen’s house, and the detour to Chaz’s only added about fifteen minutes to the walk, but the looking, that could take until dark. The owner of the shop—whose real name, Allen suspected, was probably Charles—had gotten to know Allen’s taste pretty well over the years, and he now tended to save the really good stuff that he got in behind the counter so that Allen could have first crack at it.
Allen particularly liked old movie posters, old sci-fi and fantasy novels, old horror comics, that kind of thing, but Chaz also sold vintage clothing, records, and assorted antiques. Allen was particularly taken by a display of ancient weapons, which Chaz said he couldn’t sell to him until he turned eighteen. He had three more years to wait, and then the jade handled samurai sword would be his.
Allen pushed open the door to the shop and a big, hollow bell strapped to the inner door handle clanged loudly against the glass. After a few seconds, Chaz’s grey head leaned out of the door to the back office.
“Hey, kid! What’s shakin’?” Chaz said then bopped back into the office. Allen heard him clunking around and digging through boxes over the sound of an old psychedelic tune playing through the speakers hanging from the ceiling in the corners of the main showroom. “I had too much to dream last night,” the voice sang. Allen recognized the song, but couldn’t remember who it was by.
Chaz’s showroom was actually pretty small. T-shirts and posters hung from the walls and any exposed beams near the ceiling, and his storefront window display pushed several feet into the front aisle. This week, Chaz had two mannequins wearing shiny, green pin-striped “pimp” outfits, with huge shoulder pads and big, floppy hats with foot long colored feathers sticking out of the hatbands. One of the mannequins was holding an official Flash Gordon ray gun from the 1950s, and the other was holding a Buck Rogers lunch box out like a shield to ward off the attacker’s blast. Allen always loved Chaz’s window displays.
“Wait ’til you see what I found for you this time, kiddo!” Chaz said as he hustled out of his office, past piles of unopened boxes stacked behind the counter, and around a display of vintage Pez candy dispensers. Chaz was not very tall. Allen, at fifteen, was almost nose to nose with him. He was a bit thick set, but always moving around. Allen wondered why, with that much nervous energy, he wasn’t skinnier. His face was lined with wrinkles, he usually had two or three days worth of stubble, and although Allen had never actually seen him outside, Chaz seemed to have a permanent tan.
Unfortunately, Chaz was also partial to wearing the most hideous Hawaiian shirts that he could find. Dizzying patches of colored flowers or boats or animals always flashed before Allen’s eyes in Chaz’s shop, some of them so ridiculous that they physically hurt to look at. Allen suspected them of having hypnotic powers, but couldn’t prove it. Despite his disastrous fashion sense, Chaz had always been good to him, so Allen had to forgive him.
Allen set the old Doom Patrol comic that he was flipping through back onto the counter as Chaz navigated his way through the clutter toward him. Allen couldn’t imagine how much money Chaz had to give to the Fire Marshal to overlook the obvious safety hazard that this room represented. Eventually, Chaz carved his way up to the front counter and held out a necklace on a thick leather string. He dropped the charm, about the size of a silver dollar, into Allen’s palm, and Allen was surprised at how heavy it was. The charm was a dull, reddish metal, and the back was covered in odd geometric forms that Allen didn’t recognize. Allen flipped the charm over, and on the front was a monstrous gargoyle-like face with red crystals set in the eyes.
“What d’ya think?” Chaz asked, a dark and sinister smirk on his face.
“It’s terrifying!” Allen said, smiling. He turned the charm over and then back again, studying the eyes, the blunt nose, the fangs hanging just below the lips of the mouth. “How much? I’ve got to have it!” Allen shivered, just a bit, with excitement. He was certain that Rose was going to die from jealousy when she saw it.
“For you? Sixty-five. Anybody else, three hundred.”
“Seriously? Awesome—but I didn’t bring that much today. I was only planning on buying the rest of the Lovecraft comics. But now…” Allen rolled the charm in his fingers, completely taken in by the weight, the look, the feel… He could have sworn the thing actually felt warm in his hand.
“Tell you what,” Chaz laughed, “you buy the comics today and pay me for the necklace this weekend. I know you’re good for it.”
“Seriously, dude? Oh, that is sweet!”
Chaz laughed, then said, “Just, please, don’t call me ‘dude!'”
Allen paid for his comics, slid the leather string of the charm around his neck, and waved at Chaz over his shoulder as he clanged out the door and headed toward home.
[That’s Chapter 2 down! Don’t forget that Chapter 3 comes out tomorrow! As I said, I’ll post four chapters over four days, and those will be completely FREE! However, to read all of the exciting, serialized chapters beyond four, you’ll need to sign up as a Primitive patron for at least a buck a month. I’ll most likely post a few chapters of the novella per week at the Patreon page until the entire story is up! Head over there now to see all the exciting benefits of becoming a Primitive Patron! And don’t forget to check back tomorrow for the next exciting chapter of ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER!!!]
—Richard F. Yates
(Commander in Cheap of The Primitive Entertainment Workshop)