After my meeting with Ayo I had to grudgingly accept that there were perhaps people within my sphere of acquaintances who might – for God knows what reasons – consider themselves my enemies.
Actually I was surprised at the two page list of names Ayo meticulously put down for me. It would seem I was the type to frequently enter into altercations with people, but where I tended to forget things when they were over, some people didn’t. How that’s my fault remains a mystery but that’s the conclusion my supposed best friend seems to have reached.
Now I had to figure out who on the lengthy list might have taken my thing and, according to Ayo, I also had to consider an attitude adjustment. Honestly? I’d sincerely have liked to adjust his attitude but whatever…
So – these were the kind of deep thoughts running through my mind that night as I lay in my bed unable to relax enough to sleep or do anything useful like study. Sadly, at my house there was a no internet after 9pm rule so I couldn’t even distract myself with that.
All I could do was worry. It didn’t help that I was used to always checking my thing with my mind before sleeping. It just felt so wrong that it wasn’t there. Like the hole left behind by a missing tooth that you can’t stop poking. In fact, I was so busy poking that I almost missed it.
The clickety-clackety sound outside my window.
I’m no stranger to things that go bump in the night or just stop by to say hi, so I quickly jumped out of bed to investigate.
It was a cloudy, moonless night and the security lights from our house only went so far, but it was enough for me make out the bony figure in the shadows. The lightening colored white of his eyes and of his very long grin gave him away.
He saw me in my window and stepped a little more out of the shadow, revealing a shiny, bald head. In one hand was an old, wooden cobbler’s toolbox with iron handles hinged to the top. He worked the handles together in his hand.
*clickety – clack*
I grabbed a wrapper, secured it around my nightie and flew downstairs detouring through the kitchen and then bursting out through the backdoor which led to the part of the house outside my window.
My hurry was because it had been two life times since I had last seen this character and that time too, my life had been at a weird, changeable place. I just knew that he was here because of my missing thing.
And who was he? He was usually just called the Cobbler. To be honest it’s really hard to say what he is exactly because he’s pretty old. Maybe even older than me. But what he does is appear before people who have a journey to make. Especially if that journey will take them across the in-betweens. The cobbler makes you shoes that will in his words “go very far.” I don’t know why he does it. Maybe it’s a hobby.
I call him Johnny Nevermind and he doesn’t come to me to make shoes. Well, not since the first time – but that’s a different story. The important thing is over the millennia we’ve kind of become friends and he visits me every couple of life times, usually for one reason – gist.
He waited for me just where the light stopped and the shadows began, a gauntly thin, ageless man whose face was always in shadow except for his lighted eyes and grinning teeth. Like the Cheshire Cat. Me and Alice were getting pretty similar, I thought. Except I actually come from behind the looking glass.
“Johnny Nevermind,” I hailed him.
“The little… Fey,” he greeted me back in his hesitant, accent-less tones. Fey. I used to dislike him calling me that though it was once one of our names. But after a while, living in a world that changes as much as this one does, you take whatever unchanging and familiar thing you can get.
I stretched my hand and opened it to show him what I’d picked up from the kitchen.
His grin grew wider if that was even possible. Some found it creepy that he never stopped grinning. Even when he was talking. But like I said about familiar things…
Minutes later we sat cross legged beside each other chewing the bitter fruit after exhausting the subject of who’s been up to what since we last saw ourselves. At last he laced his fingers together and cracked his knuckles so loudly it sounded like he’d snapped his bones.
“Word has it that you may need… a pair of shoes,” he said.
“I lost my thing,” I answered, “But do you think I need to travel? Why? And to where?”
“Everyone is saying you’ll be going… home. To get a new name,” he said serenely, teeth gleaming strangely.
Going home? Home?
Back to the first? To Bo?
“Why the hell would they be saying that? I never said anything like that!” I frowned, “That would mean dying and I’m not interested in dropping this life.”
“You don’t have to die. You can walk. I will make you good… shoes,” Johnny Nevermind said soothingly.
“Thanks Johnny, you know I love your work but – I’m not walking anywhere either,” I said firmly, “I happen to have it on pretty good authority that my thing is being hidden by someone here. I just have to find out who and get it back.”
Johnny Nevermind turned his bald head slowly towards me, ” Really?” he raised long, bony fingers and stroked his chin, “well, that’s intriguing.” His many layers of grey, however, billowed around him serenely like chiffon curtains in a slow motion breeze. Suspicious.
“Hey,” I gave him a narrow eyed look of my own, “What’ve you heard?”
His grin increased manically again. “Only that your siblings are happy because… Bo is happy. He’s in a playful mood. Maybe he thinks you’re coming… back.”
I snorted. “If he thinks I’m coming back then he’s – ” I stopped short of saying insane remembering I was talking about the King of Abiku kind – of course he was several cards short of a full suite. “I have no plans to go back.” I said instead.
“Ah -,” my friend sighed gustily as he said characteristically, “never mind, then. I thought I should… check.”
He reached out and clasped the handles of his toolbox almost lovingly before rising carefully to his feet. “What a lovely, dark night. So right for… traveling,” he said then turned to me, “call me if you change your mind.”
“Good night Johnny.” I said because I wasn’t going to change my mind.
Then Johnny Nevermind passed through the shadows and left, his form disappearing long before the sound of his clickety-clacking toolbox.
I was already in bed before Dolapo’s words suddenly came back to me.
“Maro, it smelled like home.”
Hello! Indigo Radio here! Back when I did this, this was one of my favourite inserts to write because the character I introduced here was based on someone I met in real life. He was an old, old, Malaysian; tall, gaunt, sunburned and very courtly who was a traveling salesman that went everywhere on foot.
He dealt in beautiful Chinese crafts and my Mom bought a lot from him. They really did call him Johnny Nevermind I guess because he said it a lot in his impeccable English. I was six or seven when I met him but I could never forget him.
Hope you liked this insert! Don’t forget to comment, like and share!
FYI: All the chapters for this story can be found HERE on Channel One with the most recent chapter at the top.