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Charmed, I’m Sure
by Lynda Simmons
Laugh Out Loud Funny…With Just a Touch of Magic
One minute Maxine Henley is the happy bride-to-be and the next she’s the girl who gets dumped over the phone. Max has never believed in magic and fairy’s tales, but if wearing a love charm can warm her fiancé’s cold feet, she’s happy to stuff that little wooden heart next to her own and wait. The charm came with a promise that the right man will find her, guaranteed, but how can that happen when her teenage crush Sam O’Neal keeps getting in the way!
The Ballad of Jimmy James
A Serialized Novella by Lynda Simmons
“Tom,” I call, my heart beating fast and hard as I hurry toward him. He’s not moving and his left leg is twisted unnaturally beneath him. “Tom?” I kneel down, touch his face. Warm. Thank God and Guardian Angels and lucky, lucky stars. “Tom, can you hear me?”
He moans and relief floods through me. “It’s Jimmy.” I lean closer. “Can you move?”
“Jimmy James,” he whispers and opens his eyes. “Am I glad to see you.”
It’s what he says every time I come through the door. The greeting of a man who has been my friend since kindergarten, the only one who found ways to keep in touch after I left school, and a Godsend all of my life. It was Tom who explained the benefits of automatic payroll deposits when the company I worked for offered them. Tom who encouraged me to take them up on their offer of a retirement fund and Tom who helped me open an account for the transfers. An account in my own name that no one else would ever know about.
For years I would stop here every day on my way home from work if only for a few minutes. Cueing favourite albums on the turntable or reading forbidden books a page or two at a time. Learning about computers and cell phones and more importantly, leaving anything of value in the drawer under the cash register; knowing it would be there when I returned. When I retired, I was sure I’d never find a way back to this shop, this man, who has been my lifeline, until those lucky stars gave me Fridays. And I’m grateful his fall wasn’t worse, knowing full well that without Tom, Friday would be just another day.
He tries to raise his head, groans and reconsiders. “Fell off the ladder,” he whispers.
“How long have you been lying here?”
He takes a slow breath. “Don’t know. When I felt myself slipping, all I could think was, I’ll be okay. Jimmy’s coming.” His eyes flutter closed. “Call 911. And promise you won’t leave.”
“I promise.” Racing back to the desk, I push the old ginger cat off the phone, realizing I should have called as soon as I spotted Tom on the floor. Alerted someone who could actually do him some good. “I need an ambulance,” I say, watching Ginger make her way across the desk to the chair and finally the floor while the operator inquires as to the nature of my emergency. I give her the address, Tom’s name, a brief rundown of what I know and hang up when she assures me emergency crews are on the way.
“They’ll have to come in from the alley,” I tell him. “I’ll go open the back door.”
He doesn’t answer and I realize his breathing has grown shallow, his skin turned grey. Tom is the same age as me, and I can only imagine what the shock of the fall is doing to him right now. Hauling my sweater out of the bundle buggy, I cover him up before making my way to the back door; stepping carefully around unopened boxes of books and records, and wondering briefly if anyone ever regrets dropping them off. Ever tries to buy them back, only to find someone else has beaten them to it. Someone like me, who would buy every book and album in the place if I could, and never let a single one go.
After unlocking the door and checking the alley for signs of the ambulance, I shove some boxes to the side, making room for a gurney and hoping the door into the shop isn’t too narrow.
“They’ll be here soon,” I assure him and sit down. Tuck the sweater closer around him and fight the urge to call 911 again.
“Jimmy,” he whispers. “You need to stay.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
“No.” He slowly opens his eyes. “You need to stay after they take me away. Keep the shop open.”
I can feel my face growing hot. “I’ll call your son, tell him to come.”
“He’s out of town. Won’t be back until noon.”
“His wife then.”
“She’s got the kids.” He slides a hand along the floor, closes his fingers around mine. “Jimmy please. I know how difficult this is, but you have to promise me you’ll keep the shop open until noon.”
I know what he’s saying. The festival brings in people looking to spend money. His shelves are stocked, the window has been updated and the Loonie Bins are brimming, all because these next three days can be bigger than Christmas for him. But he knows I have to be home by noon. And I still have to get to the bank, the bakery, the grocery store where the checkout clerks move so slow it’s painful.
“I have to be home—“
“You have to be here.’ He squeezes my hand. “Promise me you won’t leave until noon.”
The bell above the door tinkles, saving us both from an answer he doesn’t want to hear.
“Who’s there?” I call.
“Just looking,” a female voice answers.
A flash of red dashes past the aisle, followed closely by the cat. I start to rise, but Tom’s grip tightens ever so slightly. “Promise me, Jimmy.”
I hear the back door open, a man calling, “Emergency services. Is anyone here?”
“In the front,” I yell, and try to pull my hand away, but Tom won’t let go.
“I know I’m asking a lot,” he whispers. “And I wouldn’t if it wasn’t important.”
The floor vibrates as heavy boots thump in from the back. Three people in uniform arrive at the end of the aisle. “I’m going to have to ask you to move, Sir,” one of them says as they advance with a stretcher and medical bags. “We need access to the patient.”
Two men and a woman. All young and earnest and exactly what both Tom and I need right now.
“You’re in good hands,” I say to Tom, getting to my feet, backing away toward the end of the aisle.
“Promise me,” he says before one of the men places an oxygen mask on his face.
“I promise,” I say and keep moving back; knowing I’ve just lied to the best friend I’ll ever know.
Author Bio and Links:
Lynda Simmons is a writer by day, college instructor by night and a late sleeper on weekends. She grew up in Toronto reading Greek mythology, bringing home stray cats and making up stories about bodies in the basement. From an early age, her family knew she would either end up as a writer or the old lady with a hundred cats. As luck would have it, she married a man with allergies so writing it was.
With two daughters to raise, Lynda and her husband moved into a lovely two storey mortgage in Burlington, a small city on the water just outside Toronto. While the girls are grown and gone, Lynda and her husband are still there. And yes, there is a cat – a beautiful, if spoiled, Birman. If you’d like to read the legend of Birman cats click here. If you’d like a link to allergy relief, click here.
When she’s not writing or teaching, Lynda gives serious thought to using the treadmill in her basement. Fortunately, she’s found that if she waits long enough, something urgent will pop up and save her – like a phone call or an e-mail or a whistling kettle. Or even that cat just looking for a little more attention!