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3 - Appointment Part 2

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Phillens had to sit down. What had he been thinking about listening to Montarion of all people? This bunch were more interested in moving scenery than him; with odd front doors to match.

“Oh, we haven’t forgotten about you, Mr Martens,” said Jo, hand outstretched as the golf-ball-sized crystal Phillens had been holding flew into it.

“Have to use the Firmament-gazer, I’m afraid,” Jay added, motioning to a spot to Phillens’s right. “The rocker’s in use.”

Phillens sniffed. Firmament-gazer? More like a sculpture dentist’s flying chair that had gone to the wrong destination. Only he couldn’t remember seeing a lilac couch in the surgery he didn’t visit unless he had to. Neither had it ever had snow, honeycomb and jade-decorated balloons. Besides, it was better than nothing, so he eased himself onto a side, feet in touch with the sand.
“Don’t stop halfway,” said Jay. “Put your feet up and have a drink. A Marzentini?”
“A water, thanks,” Phillens coughed. Not one of those. One sip and he’d be giggly. A second a little woozy. And sip number three - he didn’t want to think about it.

“A bit early for a Marzentini, Jay,” said Jo, balancing the crystal on a palm.

“Never too early for a Marzenvio,” said Jay as a jug and glass of mist-seeping water cruised over to Phillens.

“Marzentini,” Jo exhaled.

“That’s what I said: Marzenvio. It and Plumtastique just make me want to dance on the shore, or in the water.”

“You said Marzentini to begin with,” said Jo. “Which is more sunset-to-sunrise than lunchtime.”

“That round-the-back-of-the-canteen mind-slower from the far side of Promrumsey?” said Jay. “I would like to sleep tonight.”

“Please, the water will be fine,” said Phillens. A good night’s rest would be more than welcome, something Marzentini was not known to aid.

“Wish granted,” said Jay, leaning back in a chair with a dots and semi-circle-decored glass of plum and cold-wisp velvet. “Might want to give us some details about your problem next.”

“Is that why you’re here,” his sapphire-shaded and blue-grey haired comrade added. “Can’t sleep.”

“Dispensary across the road should be open,” yawned Jay. “Has an excellent record of sending folk off to voluntary or involuntary dreamery.”

“I almost wish that it was insomnia,” Phillens replied. “At least I could go back into the fruit aisle.”

“Don’t tell me you want us to do some shopping,” Jay giggled. “Since the sight of all that fruit sends you bananas-.”

“Not funny,” said Phillens.

“I’ll second that,” said Jo. “Especially over the inventiveness.”

“It’s not all the fruit,” Phillens began, causing Jo or Jones — it had to be him — to rest the crystal on a mauve doric plinth. “Just apples…”

The two men looked at each other then back at Phillens. “You’re going to have to give us a bit more if you want us to be able to help you, Mr Martens,” said Jo.

“Might as well call it quits now,” Jay leaned back. “We can’t stop shipments of apples to every store in town, and we’re not the kind who can help you through phobias.”

“I don’t want you to destroy every apple in town,” said Phillens. “Or come with me on my next trip to the grocers.”

“So, what’s with the apple introduction?”

“I was wondering if you could look after something for me,” Phillens continued. “Nothing that would raise any eyebrows; just a keepsake.”

“Then why start off with being frightened of a display of Golden Delicious?” said Jay, putting a hand to the side of his head. “Unless you’ve got a patent for a high-frequency device that makes cox, braeburns’ and granny smiths’ explode, I don’t see how we can-”

Droplets of light twinkled as Phillens took it out. Danced on points of blossom cut from a lunar gem. Splashed across a glaze-green and melon pink centre-piece. Flowed over the white gold ribbon with a script picked out with amethysts.

“Delcorf,” said Jo, lowering his shades to reveal eyes rich as gahnospinels’. “What does that mean?”

“Never mind that,” said Jay, getting up and lowering his shades to reveal eyes like mint-flushed emeralds. Or was it turquoise-sheened jade? “It’s like an apple surrounded by blossom,” he added, taking in the curved shape of the centre-piece and the honey topaz stalk. “But what does the fruit shop have to do with it?”

“I need some time to think,” said Phillens. “Clear my head for a bit. Montarion said that for a fee, you would be able to look after it.”

“Wouldn’t a jeweller’s safe be better,” said Jo. “A palace. Or a museum.”

“There’s even a diamond-starred crown,” said Jay. “This is way out of our league.”

“It’s not hot if that’s what you’re getting at,” said Phillens lowering the pendant. “It was given to me, and I - in turn - can give it to whom I choose.”

“I don’t know if the Insure will cover this,” said Jay. “We had all that trouble when we notified them about Lady Sisteron’s…apparatus.”

“That wasn’t hers,” said Jo. “It belonged to the chap you got the headscarf idea from.”

“Tarantula?” Jay blinked, “It’s giving me the shivers.”

“Y-y-you kept a spider and the insurance wouldn’t cover it?” Phillens twitched. “What were you keeping — a Lime-banded Banshee.”

“The item was called Tarantula,” said Jo. “Although the crosstrees did add up to eight and the way Jay could dice up apples - no pears - with it, probably had a bite like one too.”

“Besides which, I’m not into folk of the eight-limbed variety…” Jay whispered. “Why couldn’t they have six, like bugs, or four like a cat?”

Phillens had to check his mouth in case it was open. What in all the Patchwork had Montarion been playing at by suggesting this pair of Illusionists Incorporated? One was in need of a holiday. The other could have been captain of any of the loot-chasing vessels that made a nuisance of themselves between Felamay and Proport.

“At any rate, we would have to let the Insure know we’d be keeping a piece worthy of Mirienattes XVII on the premises,” said Jo. “They will want to do some research of their own; meaning that we would not have an answer for you until later this afternoon, Mr Martens.”

“Montarion said that you have a place called the Void”, said Phillens. “He said that it would be safe there.”

“Oh he did, did he?” said Jay, as Jo’s mouth opened like a draw-bridge. “Did he also tell you it’s so low-profile that he got stuck in there the other week and it took us most of the day, and a quarter of the night, to find him?”

Phillens shook his head.

“We don’t go in there,” said Jo, taking off his shades. “Not if we can help it. Things might go in. They might be secure in there. But it’s not so straight-forward getting them back out.”

“Believe me, Mr Jones, this would not leave my person if I wasn’t in my current situation.”

“Unless you went to the place very, very, very few people come back from,” Jay grinned.

“Not what I had in mind, Jay,” said Jo whilst Phillens put a hand to his head.

“It was a joke,” Jay grinned again until he spied the not-so-smiling faces of Phillens and Jo.

“Whilst the Void’s out of the question, I can present the offer that you return in forty minutes, Mr Martens,” said Jo. “We’d have had a reply from the Insure by then, on whether we’d be covered.”

“You don’t need the cover, Mr Jones,” Phillens said, shifting in his seat. “I’m giving - it - to you.”

“Half-an-hour; just for our peace of mind.”

“I’ve got to be at home in half-an-hour. This is my last hope.”

“Eh?” said Jay. “No one else will take it? Sounds warmer than kettle steam to me.”

“Twenty-five,” Jo continued. “I’ll throw in a cake, ice cream and a latte at the end of this block.”

“It’s not hot, check it out for yourself!” said Phillens, standing up and throwing the pendant at Jo; who had just enough time to take his head out of its path, and bring an open palm into play. Only the momentum from the pendant did not stop in his hand but continued onward; taking him across the lounger and over the sand with more than a reverb thud.

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