// WEASLIE HOUSE //

One week ago, BRONALD WEASLIE received a strange letter addressed to him at his home in Saint Louie. The letter was penned in a fine script and was signed from LENARD McCOY. The name escaped the knowledge of the addressee, but his friend FRIDAY PERKINS was aware of the name as a mysterious rival to the Vampire VLADISLAUS STRAUD.

McCOY had a strange request; He notified WEASLIE of an open bid for a job with the quasi-governmental organization known as the NSR. The job concerned electrical work, primarily laying wire promising to bring Internet access to previously unserved rural communities.

WEASLIE felt somewhat… embarrassed. Presumably McCOY was aware of his family as one of the oldest wizarding families in mid-Amerrka. Presumably he was also aware that it had dwindled in representation to solely himself.

Today is Saturday and WEASLIE has no need to leave the house for work.

He shuffles about the house after breakfast, looking for something to busy himself with. The television seems interesting enough. FRIDAY PERKINS is on the computer, puttering about.

WEASLIE had taken to renovating parts of the house after his mother had died – though the place lacked the homey feel present with his mother’s countless knick-knacks and antiques. The first-floor living room now had a generous television, a new couch, and a gaming PC with all the bells and whistles he had thought it deserved. After inviting FRIDAY PERKINS to come live with him, she had slowly taken it over, the computer desk becoming her sort-of station, wherein she tapped away at code and browsed text-based websites. She was like him, he reflected, always keeping herself occupied with some kind of project.

The television is babbling mindlessly, some kind of news, when PERKINS breaks the silence.

PERKINS

SO HOW’D YOU DISCOVER YOUR TALENT, ANYHOW?

WEASLIE turns the volume down so that it just trickles into their consciousness, easing the latent awkwardness between.

WEASLIE

… WHEN I WAS A KID?

PERKINS

YEAH.

WEASLIE

WELL, I LIKED TO PLAY WITH MATCHES.

LIGHT ON, LIGHT OFF. POOF! AND IT WAS OUT.

MOTHER HATED IT. BUT I SUPPOSE SHE WAS JUST WAITING AROUND FOR ME, IN HOPES THERE WAS SOMETHING SPECIAL ABOUT ME.

I DIDN’T HAVE ANY BROTHERS OR SISTERS, SO IT WAS JUST ME.

PERKINS listens in silence, having swiveled around in her chair to face him.

I DIDN’T TELL HER THE FIRST TIME IT HAPPENED.

I REMEMBER… THE FLAME, YOU KNOW, IT TRAVELED DOWN THE STICK MORE QUICKLY THAN I THOUGHT IT SHOULD. I HAD LIT THE MATCH AND WAS STARING AT IT, WHEN IT JUST… DISSOLVED.

IT GOT MY FINGER, SO I DROPPED IT.

AND I WAS SCARED AND FREAKED OUT. I SHOUTED;

‘GO OUT!’

AND JUST LIKE THAT, THE FIRE WENT OUT.

I HAD SEEN STRANGE THINGS AS A KID, THOUGH MY MOTHER DIDN’T WORK MUCH WITH ME WATCHING – BUT THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I WAS SURE I CONTROLLED IT.

‘GO OUT!’

AND IT WAS GONE.

I DIDN’T TELL MOM. I WAS SCARED.

I SUPPOSE I DIDN’T WANT TO AWAKEN.

MOM HAD ALREADY TOLD ME THAT BOYS DIDN’T HAVE THE POTENTIAL THAT GIRLS DID. AND SHE SAID SHE WASN’T VERY POWERFUL HERSELF, SO… WHAT WAS THE POINT?

PERKINS

DID SHE SEND YOU TO SCHOOL?

WEASLIE awkwardly eyes the television for a moment, distracted by its flashing patterns.

WEASLIE

NOPE.

DID YOUR MOTHER SEND YOU TO SCHOOL?

PERKINS

MY MOTHER DIED WHEN I WAS YOUNG.

I LIVED WITH MY GRANDMOTHER FOR A WHILE, BUT WE DIDN’T GET ALONG WELL.

IT WAS NOT A GOOD TIME.

SHORTLY AFTER I MOVED IN WITH HER, MY ABILITY WAS STARTING TO SHOW ITSELF.

I DIDN’T KNOW IT AT THE TIME, I THOUGHT I WAS JUST VERY UNLUCKY. THAT THE UNIVERSE HATED ME OR SOME NONSENSE.

I HAD TROUBLE WITH ELECTRONICS. SHE TOLD ME NOT TO TOUCH HER TELEVISION, BUT ONE DAY WHILE SHE WAS OUT, I THOUGHT I’D TURN THE THING ON.

I FRIED HER RABBIT EARS.

SHE WAS PI-SSED!

WEASLIE chuckles a little.

SO ONE DAY SOON AFTER, AN OLD WOMAN SHOWS UP AT OUR HOUSE.

MYRTLE MARSCAPONE.

CLAIMING SHE RAN A GROUP HOME FOR WAYWARD YOUTH.

GRAMMA WAS ALL TOO HAPPY TO SEND ME AWAY.

WEASLIE

I HAD TROUBLE TOO. ALWAYS SETTING THINGS ON FIRE.

WE DIDN’T HAVE MANY ELECTRONICS IN THE HOUSE; NO TELEVISION IN THOSE DAYS, SO IT’S HARD TO SAY HOW MANY TVS I MIGHT HAVE SIZZLED TOO.

PERKINS flashes a wide smile, a strange complement to her intense, red eyes.

Going out of the house, WEASLIE had gleaned, she usually wore shades to blend in more effectively. But inside the house, as she’d become comfortable, she’d taken to wearing a pair of large-framed clear glasses in a pale Easter green.

SHE EVENTUALLY JUST FORBADE ME FROM EVEN ENTERING THE KITCHEN IF SHE WAS COOKING SOMETHING.

SO INSTEAD IT WAS MY JOB TO FEED THE PIGS.

PERKINS

PIGS?

WEASLIE’s voice takes a serious tone.

WEASLIE

YEAH, MOTHER KEPT PIGS. TERRIBLE THINGS, PIGS. LOUD, CLUMSY.

I HATE PIGS.

PERKINS

DID SHE MAKE YOU KILL ‘EM?

WEASLIE’s face crinkles in disgust, a scoff.

WEASLIE

LORD NO, THANK GOD.

NO, SHE DID THAT ALL HERSELF.

PERKINS

WHENEVER I HEAR OF FAMILIES THAT KEPT LIVESTOCK I ALWAYS GET THIS OL’ YELLER VIBE.

WEASLIE

THAT WAS A DOG.

PERKINS

BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN. KIDS DEALING WITH DEATH BY LOSING THE ANIMALS AND WHATEVER.

The conversation hangs. PERKINS has stuck her foot in her mouth.

DID YOU PUT IN THE BID FOR THE JOB?

PERKINS has been waiting to bring it up for as long as she could. In the awkwardness, she’s given in to her impulse.

WEASLIE

YEAH, I DID.

I FEEL LIKE IT’S FOR A BIGGER OPERATION THAN OURS BUT WHAT THE HEY.

IF SOME OLD WIZARD THINKS I SHOULD GO FOR IT, THEN I’LL GO FOR IT.

PERKINS is chomping at the bit.

THEY’RE PAYING TRAVEL, TOO. JOKE’S ON THEM.

He pauses for a moment, trying to gauge her reaction.

THEY WANT US TO LAY REPLACEMENT NETWORKING WIRE. I GUESS THEY’RE TAKING BIDS FROM GENERAL CONTRACTORS BECAUSE IT’S MORE ABOUT DIGGING HOLES THAN IT IS ADVANCED ELECTRICAL WORK.

She’s trying to contain her interest.

PERKINS

SOUNDS LIKE A WORTHWHILE CAUSE. CAN’T IMAGINE WHY IT GOT THE ATTENTION OF SOMEONE LIKE McCOY.

WEASLIE

KEEPING TABS ON WHAT’S LEFT OF THE WEASLIES, I GUESS.

PERKINS

WORKED FOR ME.

Each fights their need to pay attention to their respective device.

But WEASLIE breaks the silence.

WEASLIE

SO.

D’YA THINK I COULDA GONE TO THE MAGICADEMY?

I WAS ALRIGHT AS A KID. WAS ONLY LATER I GOT LAZY.

ALWAYS WONDERED IF I COULDA BEEN MORE IF I’D GONE TO SCHOOL.

I LEARNED ON MY OWN A BIT AFTER MOM PASSED… BUT I STARTED THE BUSINESS INSTEAD.

I DIDN’T STRICTLY NEED THE CASH BUT KEEPING BUSY FELT LIKE THE RIGHT THING TO DO.

MOM WAS ALWAYS BUSY.

He pauses.

MET A LOT OF PEOPLE.

PERKINS expresses discomfort at the change of conversation.

PERKINS

ORDINARY PEOPLE.

ANY PIG FARMERS?

He eyes her with irritation, though maintains a certain reticence to chide her rudeness.

She seems aware that he’s insulted, but continues talking.

WHEN’D THE PIGS GO, ANYHOW?

WEASLIE

I SOLD THEM AFTER MOM DIED.

PERKINS

NO BACON, HUH.

He throws up his shoulders.

WEASLIE

CAN’T SAY WHAT HE DID WITH THE MONGRELS AFTER I SOLD ‘EM.

WEASLIE hates thinking of the pigs, and tolerates speaking of them even less.

I ASSUME IT WAS AT THE MARSCAPONE SCHOOL THAT YOU LEARNED OF MY FAMILY.

PERKINS

GOSSIP ABOUT THE OLD FAMILIES IS A FAVORITE PASTTIME OF ORPHANS.

ALWAYS LOOKING TO CAPITALIZE ON ANY WEAKNESS IN THE ESTABLISHMENTS FROM WHICH THEY’VE BEEN DENIED.

MOST OF THE KIDS WERE ORPHANS, ANYWAY. SOME WILLINGLY ABANDONED LIKE I WAS.

I ALWAYS ASSUMED THEY WERE LOOKING FOR FAMILIES TO MARRY INTO.

WEASLIE

GIRLS?

PERKINS

MOST, BUT NOT ALL.

WEASLIE’s tone turns wistful.

WEASLIE

I CAN’T IMAGINE BEING ABANDONED OVER HAVING ABILITY.

But PERKINS is anything but sad about her past.

PERKINS

IT TURNED OUT OKAY. I GOT TO GO TO SCHOOL. MORE THAN I CAN SAY FOR YOU.

I’M SURE THERE ARE PLENTY OF KIDS WHO DON’T KNOW ABOUT THE SCHOOLS OR THE FAMILIES AND JUST HIDE THEIR GIFT FOR THEIR ENTIRE LIVES.

SOME PROBABLY DON’T BELIEVE IN MAGIC AT ALL, AND JUST THINK THEY’RE CURSED BY GOD.

WEASLIE

THEY PROBABLY DON’T GET VERY FAR WITHOUT GUIDANCE.

PERKINS

SO WORSE YET, THEY CAN’T CONTROL THEIR POWER.

IF I WERE STILL THE POSTER CHILD OF STATIC…

Interrupting their conversation, in bounds DEXX, suddenly aware of an unwelcome visitor. He runs into the living room from the first-floor master bedroom in which he’d been sleeping. He barks and barks, insisting that his keepers be made aware of something, somewhere.

WEASLIE, PERKINS follow him outside, where he bolts and runs about the yard, sniffing his usual spots with vigor.

But their investigations turn up empty.