By the light of the gibbous moon, KEVIN MARSCAPONE has left his mother at RINDLE ROSE, her small pink house that has served for years as her now full-time retirement home.
It’s just barely NEW YEAR’S DAY, though the sun has yet to rise. The MARSCAPONES spent the evening at the home of ANGELA PLEASANT and her sister, LILITH, who live in a two bedroom apartment in MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS.
Twenty-twenty-one, here we are.
Never thought I'd make it this far.
YOU ALWAYS SAY THAT.
I do. It's true.
My New Year's resolution is to reduce the number of times I repeat myself. It's not a good way to keep friends.
The night stretches out before him. Perhaps it had been overly formal to leave ANGELA’s home shortly following the turn of the year. It was certainly true he could have sent his mother home in a cab. But something had pushed him to leave. And this time it wasn’t his father’s voice ringing between his ears.
It was incredible how quickly the city’s motion faded into suburban silence in the outer boroughs. Even on this the most celebrated late-night affair, the street was devoid of people and only a few cars rushed by on adjacent streets.
If any a time to drive back east would be free of traffic, now would be it. He enjoyed driving with such lunar illumination; moon shadows were something special. And yet, he was dragging his feet.
He gets in his car and waits, watching, until his mother’s light goes out.
I don't think she sleeps much anymore.
IS NOT SLEEPLESSNESS A COMMON AFFLICTION OF THE OLD?
AT THE VERY LEAST, RESTLESS SLEEP.
Most magic-users spent their lives developing a potion of immortality. There was no known silver bullet for the potion. Each individual had to find the special mixture that fought their own unique aging process. Each step toward success was small and almost imperceptable. It was a day-to-day process; each wizard needed to hone their attention to detail regarding which ingredients made their bodies work better, or at least, no worse, than they had the day before.
There would never be a bell’s toll letting them know they’d succeeded. It required patience and undying faith: two qualities never particularly strong in the witch MYRTLE MARSCAPONE.
AT THIS POINT, SHE JUST REFUSES TO BE CAUGHT AN OLD WOMAN FOR THE REST OF HER DAYS.
And yet if she refuses to work, she'll let the rest of those days slip through her fingers.
SHE’S ALWAYS HAD A PARTICULAR EYE ON THE MORTALS, AN ENVY, FOR WHATEVER REASON.
As if any are without worry.
Even a cat worries when her master may return, having only the sun's motion to measure her guesswork.
KEVIN inserts the key into the ignition and turns. The car sputters gently and rumbles to life.
I’M NOT GOING BACK TONIGHT.
You should have stayed with Angela.
She won't look kindly upon your departure.
Your mother would have been fine on her own.
But KEVIN had not wanted to stay with ANGELA. The night’s obligatory alcoholism had formed within him a pit of defiance and regret. He wanted only one thing:
To return to the MARSCAPONE SCHOOL OF MAGIC.
His childhood had been spent in a small bedroom filled to the brim with books. He’d often return here in his dream-wandering, remembering fondly the hours he’d had alone with his thoughts.
Alone. Always alone.
Father had taught him to read but he’d largely been left to his own devices once he’d been able to sound out the words. He’d sought the assistance of dictionaries and encyclopedias, often leaving with more questions than he’d entered. Mother was busy with the children, and Father? Father had slowly been harder and harder to find.
He’d quickly learned asking was of little help. It was better to simply wait.
When the books had become dull, he played board games with dust bunnies. The plastic and pewter tokens were afterward lined up on his windowsill to simulate a captive audience.
And then, he returned to the books.
The drive to the MAGICADEMY is quick. He often wondered if his father was at work in his mind, erasing the pain of boredom. When he arrived at a place, he often felt as if he’d just appeared there, his eyes bright and his mind ready.
Exiting the car into a snowless night, the school stands near abandoned.
He slips the keys into the door and the simple locks to the school flip open. He is accosted with the stale odor of extinguished candles. And yet, there’s something else…
I know that--
“Scent”. KEVIN is sure he means to hear the word “scent” but his mind seizes to attention when he hears the low growl of a dog emanating from down the hallway, from the unlit kitchen.
The growl is possessive.
KEVIN interrupts his father’s trail of thought and yells into the house.
The growling ceases immediately and the kitchen is quiet.
KEVIN walks toward the kitchen. He waves his hand to light a candle on the wall, sending a dim amber light through the foyer.
In the kitchen is a large black dog, tense, with lips retracted to reveal shining white teeth.
He holds out his hand to allow the dog to inspect him.
IT’S ME, GEORGE HENRY.
But KEVIN is well-aware that his scent is very different than what it was years before. GEORGE HENRY hasn’t been at the homestead for over a decade. In the time he’s been AWOL, KEVIN had cleansed himself of the Addiction.
The dog fills his nostrils with the offered smell.
GEORGE HENRY disappears in a cloud of dust that quickly collapses into the form of a familiar friend.
WHAT DID YOU DO?
His voice crackles as if just breaking a period of disuse.
IT’S ME, GEORGE HENRY.
And suddenly, the man seems to believe him. He startles his compatriot, wrapping his arms around his blue coat in an awkward embrace.
GEORGE HENRY is about half-a-head shorter than KEVIN and gives him a last searching glance into the eyes as he breaks off the hug.
I’M… I’M SO SORRY, YOUNG MASTER…
I DIDN’T RECOGNIZE YOU.
I SOMETIMES DON’T EITHER.
They stand together in silence before GEORGE HENRY breaks eye contact, finally noticing his shame.
I THOUGHT YOU’D ABANDONED THE HOME.
FEARED THE WORST.
I’M SO GLAD YOU’VE RETURNED.
IT IS GOOD TO HAVE YOU BACK.
GEORGE HENRY had been a long-time ally of VINCENT MARSCAPONE.
I COULD NOT BEAR TO ABANDON MY DUTIES ANY LONGER.
I CAME TO OFFER MY SERVICE.
WHEN I DID NOT SEE EVIDENCE OF YOUR RESIDENCY…
MY MOTHER IS STILL ALIVE.
SHE’S CONTEMPLATING RETIREMENT.
GEORGE HENRY was a polite man who never voiced his opinion openly, but the truth was that MYRTLE was far more fond of GEORGE HENRY than he was of her.
STILL NO SIGN OF YOUR FATHER?
An empty moment hangs between the two.
NOT IN THE FLESH.
‘NOT IN THE FLESH.’
I THINK HE’LL RETURN, BEFORE THE END.
GEORGE HENRY pulls down on the bottom edge of his jacket.
I’VE COME TO OFFER MY SERVICES TO YOU, YOUNG–
But he stops himself mid-sentence.
I WILL NEVER REFUSE YOUR ASSISTANCE BUT UNTIL MY FATHER IS TRULY GONE FROM THE REALM…
YES… OF COURSE.
I ALWAYS CONSIDERED YOUR PLEDGE…
YOU ARE A PART OF THE FAMILY.
YOUR PLEDGE IS TOWARD US ALL.
AND ALWAYS WILL BE.
I’M GLAD YOU’VE RETURNED.
MY FATHER IS GLAD TO SEE YOU AS WELL.
MY DEBT WILL NEVER BE FULLY REPAID.
I HOPE HE CAN FORGIVE ME.
THERE IS NOTHING TO FORGIVE.
PLEASE. MAKE YOURSELF AT HOME.