Ethel walked down the steps from her upstairs apartment; each step creaking underneath the soles of her moccasins. She walked up to the desk of The Feathered Peacock where Fran was finishing with a customer. She bagged their items—to ward off vampires—and handed it to the nervous couple. It was as if they had just been given a sack of squirming snakes.
“Fran, I’m going to see Father Murphy and ask him a few questions. I’ll be back later,” Ethel said, watching the skittish customers leave the store as the shopkeeper’s bell rang above their heads.
“As long as you’re back in time for the class tonight,” Fran said, leaning on the counter.
“Don’t worry, I won’t be gone that long.” Ethel adjusted the hobo bag on her shoulder. “By the way, have many people signed up for the class?”
Fran chortled. “Are you kidding? It’s already just about full. Everyone who comes in here signs up for it. Needless to say, there’s been a big response to it.”
“I’m not surprised with all the craziness going on around the island; especially around Maryville.”
“That’s for sure.” Fran looked toward the door when the jingle of the bell signaled that more people were coming inside. She straightened her posture and reached for the pen lying next to the sign-up form. “I’m glad you came here to help educate the citizens of our quaint little island village about what to do to protect themselves.”
Ethel nodded in agreement and gave a quick wave goodbye as the telephone rang and Fran picked up the receiver.
Fran waved back and then spoke into the mouthpiece, “The Feathered Peacock. This is Fran. How may I help you?”
Ethel overheard Fran inform the caller that there were only a few seats left and that they were filling up fast as she walked through the store to the entrance. She could have walked out the back door of the shop, to the parking lot, but Fran liked to keep the door locked so that no one could sneak up behind her.
Colorful flags waved gently in the breeze along Maryville’s main street, bringing with it the delicious scent of grilled hamburgers from the nearby pub. She stopped next to a planter filled with purple petunias, debating whether to drive to the Church or to get some exercise and walk. While she stood there deciding what to do, a big man, who reminded Ethel of a linebacker, walked up the alley and slowed his pace as he looked into the store window.
“It’s a pretty unique store,” Ethel said, smiling. She could tell it was not the type of establishment he normally visited.
Her sandpapery voice startled Sammy. He turned to her and blushed, embarrassed he was caught looking at such crazy things. “Yes, ma’am; it is quite unique.” He stepped to the side as two women walked past him and into the store. “It looks like a busy place.”
“It has been lately,” Ethel said. “Are you a resident of the island or a tourist on vacation?”
“Oh, I’m just here temporarily. I’m helping a friend.”
“Well, if you’re interested, you might want to attend the class tonight. It’s always a good idea to get acquainted with the happenings of the locale.” Ethel pointed toward the sign.
“I was thinking about that.” he said, looking away.
“I’d go sign up right now because the class is almost full. Our little store can only hold so many people.”
“Thank you, I think I will.”
“I’ll see you tonight,” Ethel said. She adjusted the green scarf on her head and began walking down the sidewalk toward the Church.
“Yes, ma’am,” Sammy said, watching her colorful skirt billow around her legs as a momentary gust of wind swept down the street. The gypsy woman was as unique as the store.