You May Never Know

“You sure is ugly,” Jerri mocked. “Why are you so ugly?” She sat down the grimy fortune teller toy on her counter and returned to her box of treasures. Rainbows from the dozen chandeliers hung from her ship’s ceiling played across the vintage windup. When Jerri left HR to open an antique shop she hadn’t counted on so many early mornings or so many spiders. Carefully avoiding the annoyed wolf spider in the crate, Jerri unpacked the last jadeite tea cup. Doing a skippy scaredy-cat dance, She carried Mr. Spider in the box to her shop door and tossed him into the planter. Quizzically Jaime, the bookseller across the street, looked up at her from lounge chair.
“Morning,” Jerri said.
“Salutations to you Sister Moon and your insect friend.” Jaime drew on his vape and gave her an authentic Cheshire grin. Jerri

blushed and then hurried back into the safety of her store. Ugly soothsayer toy smirked from her counter.
She shook the toy. No rattle, it’s probably rusted solid, Jerri thought. Maybe I can find an online buyer. Gingerly she turned the red metal handle. Smooth as butter the handle turned and the red and green checkered box vibrated in her hands. It reminded her a wiggly puppy but not in a good way. She dropped it. A slip of paper fell out.
We all can’t be as beautiful as you sweetheart at least that’s what your hot neighbor thinks.
Jerri read the fortune four times. I’m being pranked she thought. She checked for other people and hidden cameras.
“You’re not a magical fortune teller demon doll are you?” She wound it.
A paper slipped out of the grimacing clown’s chest.
I love Rod Serling too. Name’s Padriq. But don’t drop me again it hurts my butt.
Jerri hid in the bathroom. After the nausea past she considered her options. If this was madness at least it was imaginative. After googling sudden onset schizophrenia Jerri plunged her pop culture vault. She ventured back to the windup with a plunger, the only weapon in the bathroom.
“Have you come here to trick me into losing my soul in some kind of poignant trick ending? And what’s tomorrow’s lottery number if it won’t doom me?”
Jerri stared at the clown and clown stared back. Jerri was convinced he looked pitiful. She remembered to turn the handle.
Paper: You should get out more. And sugar lips if I knew the future why would I be stuck in a box.
Her knees shook. Jerri sank to the floor and rocked. Titaba, the shop cat she inherited when she leased the antique store, strolled over and nuzzled her chin. Jerri exhaled and pulled her hair into a bun. She got a pen a paper and pour the cat some kitty milk.
“Are you a cursed item set to destroy the balance of good and evil?”
Paper: do you write fan fiction? Girly, I’m wearing a pom pom hat get hold of yourself.
“Why are you here?”
Why are any of us anywhere. Seriously doll face you picked me up yesterday from an estate sale bargain table. Bargain table!
“Describe your worst trait?”
I’m careless. I used to be an artist but I was …instead of working I was quite the merrymaker. Whatever you do buttercup if you date a warlock don’t make out with his sister.
“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
The clown’s crestfallen face touched her. The paper came out so slowly.
Outlook unclear
Jerri sighed. Gently with swabs and QuixKleen wax paste she cleaned his face. As she buffed Jerri asked, “is there anyway to free you? I know what it’s like to be trapped.”
Paper: not unless you know a good witch
Titaba mewed from the front door. “Use that perfectly fine litter box in the back,” Jerri called to her. The plump calico looked indigent and pawed at the glass door. Jerri looked across the street at the bookshop. Bell, Book, and Candle in gilt letters shimmered on the bookshop glass window. On a hunch, Jerri tucked Padriq under her arm opened the door and headed across the street to have the second weirdest conversation of her life. Titaba preened in the windowsill and fell asleep paws up belly warmed by the sun.

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