Tales from The Side is an epic story told from the multiple perspectives of the townspeople of Switch, a small magical city in the fairy world known as The Side. The most powerful and least powerful weave together a story rife with adventure, death, mystery, and romance that ultimately changes their lives forever. Come, sit, and read their most secret thoughts.
"What do you want, Puck?" I say. I use the wrench to tighten a bolt on the motorcycle.
Puck spits a little ball of tin at my head.
"You've got a customer."
I glance around the empty garage. It’s just me, the goat-man, and the drone of old-timey trumpet music coming from the boss's office.
I walk over to the window above my workbench and wipe away the grease with my sleeve. I peer out onto the cobblestone street. Someone is pacing in front of a bicycle. I turn back to Puck. He smirks.
"I fix motorcycles, not bicycles." I say.
“Same thing,” Puck says. He spits another tin ball my way.
“Why don’t you go?”
“I’ve got a three-hour nap in the spare tires calling my name.”
“Are you half-human-half-goat or half-human-half-sloth?” I say.
"Just, go! Wouldn't want to tell the boss you turned away a paying customer."
I slam the wrench down on the workbench. Puck’s lucky I’m off tomorrow; otherwise, he’d be having wrench sandwich for lunch.
The daylight blinds me as I step outside the garage doors. I use my arm to shield my eyes, but I quickly notice it isn't the sun, it's my customer. He rises like a skyscraper with wild orange hair that glows like a setting sun.
"Are you Tommy?" He says.
"That's me. Tommy Powers."
“Frances Drake,” He says. We shake hands.
“I’m afraid my bike is having a bit of trouble. Could you take a look?”
I examine the bicycle. The chain dangles like a sagging telephone wire.
"Can you fix it?" Frances says.
"Sure," I say, but as I take hold of the chain, I realize I don't know a damned thing about bicycle repair. I improvise.
"I tried fixing it myself, but no luck," Frances says.
"Kniad Mercury owns all the luck in Switch." I say.
"Is that a person?" Frances says.
"Yes. Let’s hope he lets us borrow a little to get this bike fixed.” I loop the chain back around the gears and nearly slice my fingers off on the rim of chain ring.
“Voila! Fixed,” I say, staring down at my handiwork. Sometimes I surprise myself.
Frances hops onto his bike and rides a circle around me.
"This is great. Thanks. How much do I owe you?"
"Nothing. You’re new to Switch, aren’t you?"
"Yes. We just moved here from Candlewick. How’d you know?"
“Switch is a small town of about 500 people. You get to know everyone and their brother-in-law after a while. Where are you staying?"
"The Gardens, number 9."
"I live with my family at number 3. You’ve probably seen my brother dragging out the trash. He’s got big ears, buck teeth, whiskers.”
Frances brakes and stares at me.
“He's a mouse."
Frances gives me a curious eye. His pupils are thin like a lizard’s.
"Aren't you a mortal?" Frances says. “I can smell it.” He starts circling me again like a hawk.
"I don't have any magic, if that's what you mean."
"That's what I meant. How did you end up with mice?"
I try not to let the lizard pupils and hawk circling concern me, but I feel the tempo of my heartbeat quicken. "They rescued me from strangers."
"Do you often find yourself at the mercy of strangers?" He circles faster. I wish I still had that wrench.
This always happens to me. I don’t know why. He mentioned smell. It’s like this world is full of wolves, and they can smell my meat from miles away. Normally, I’m not bothered, but with Puck acting like an ass, it’s been a rough day—and I’m not willing to play along.
I step forward as Frances circles in front of me and grab the handlebars. He slams on the breaks. The bicycle nearly flattens me as it screeches to a halt. I stare up into his lizard eyes.
"If you’re looking to cook me, kidnap me, or kill me, there’s something you should know. I’m like a cockroach. Step on me, and I’ll come back. I’ll crawl all over you, and make your life a living hell. So, don’t mess with me!” I release him from my stare and hope that worked.
His eyes narrow, and my heart leaps up into my throat. This is the end. I really wish I had that wrench.
“Does the trick. Oh, and it helps that my boyfriend likes decapitating people who try to hurt me.”
“Good to know,” Frances says. "My family is in the business of banks not black markets for mortal flesh. You can trust me, Tommy Powers." He holds out his hand, and we shake again. Then he rides off.
I take a deep breath and exhale. I'm sweating so hard, I might need a jumpsuit change. Puck grabs me by the arm as I walk back into the garage. His fuzzy fingers give me rug burn.
"Did he pay?"
"You're useless. I knew you'd screw it up."
"I told you, I fix motorcycles, not bicycles." I grab my wrench and get back to work. Puck hovers. I turn to tell him to beat it, and he shoots a tin ball right into my eye.
I rush to my workbench. Puck runs off laughing. I stare out the window, holding a wet cloth to one eye. The pain slowly subsides.
Just get through today. I tell myself. No need to go to jail.
I catch a glimpse of orange hair across the street. Frances is watching. I try to get a better look, but a car passes, and he disappears.
Everyone in this town has it out for me.