GFP 009: Yes, But What Have You Done Lately?

The scrawny, coltish book dealer grimaced. He held Edvard’s book with suspicion, far away from his body, peering intensely at it over his brass half-wire-rim eyeglasses.

He snorted.

And then he lifted his head higher and stared at the book from a more acute angle, as if this strange posture would scry further insights from deep within the thick tome in his hands.

Edvard doubted this.

In fact, he figured him for an idiot. And yet, here he was, in the dim backroom of an alleyway pawnshop near Pioneer Square.

Edvard sighed deeply. Half out of resignation, half out of desperation, half out of impatience and another half out of resentment. (He was an alchemist. This math made sense to him.)

The book dealer laid the volume down.

“Edvard,” he finally said, in what were to Edvard’s ears, the most condescending and patronizing tone he has suffered since his third wife. “I cannot take this.”

“Why not?” Edvard ask, feigning patience, but doing a terrible job of it.

“Well. First off,” he gestured with his hands. “The foxing. It’s as if a small colony of brown spots were carelessly imported into your book here, and they mated like bunnies, ate every letter in sight, and then mated some more. They are everywhere.”

He paused and drew a deep breath.

“The binding. It is cocked. Cocked.” He hocked the “c” sound as if he was grounding up phlegm. “I had no idea it was even possible for a spine to be bent like a Chinese gymnast.

“And Edvard, my friend, the bowing. The bowing, my dear Edvard. ‘Bowing’ is a generous word for what has happened here. It is far more accurate to say it is irretrievably deformed. So much so that a team of surgeons at Harborview and Virginia Mason, together, could not save it.”

Edvard seethed. “Anything else?”

“Yes, Edvard. Your marginalia. It does not add color, or value, or what-have-you. Why would you even…”

“Listen. Bill Westcott told me you were a man of distinguished comprehension in rare artefacts, books of the occult, esoterica and codices. Surely, you recognize what you are in the presence of.”

The book dealer leered at Edvard. “Yes. Of course I do.”

“Then, you must also know, that this is one of thirteen volumes left in the whole of our plane of existence. And any magi worth his salt, serving at the highest levels of government, military and the corporate world has, at one point or another, intensely studied what you hold in your hands.”

“I’m quite aware of that as well,” the book dealer said firmly.

“And you’re telling me, you cannot purchase this book because of its condition??


Edvard rose his voice. “Do you know who the I am?”

The book dealer rolled his eyes. “No. I don’t know you from the millions of long-horned beetles infesting Seattle right now. Who are you?”

“Who am I?” Edvard said incredulously. “Who am I??? I am Edvard von Hohenheim, first magus, Order of the Crimson Twilight.

“I practiced my craft with Ahmad ibn ‘Ali al-Buni in Egypt and secretly co-wrote Shams al-Ma’arif with him. I apprenticed under John Dee whilst he served Queen Elizabeth the first, not the second, the first fucking Elizabeth. And to be utterly frank with you, I taught Aleister Crowley everything that little snot knows!

“And you’re telling me, my marginalia… my centuries of wisdom poured into this tome, every single day for the last eight-hundred years… is worth nothing???

“OK, Edvard. Tell me. What have you done lately?”

At this, Edvard summoned all his strength, called upon the infinite powers of djinns long past forgotten, drew the electric energy from an nearby intersecting ley line, plumbed the depths of hell convoking the most malicious of demons and cast the darkest, most depraved and devastating blackest spell in his vast arsenal of magick at the book dealer.

Abī, Matrisfututor!” Edvard screamed.

Blinding rays of vermillion light shot out from the tips of Edvard’s fingers, streaks of lighting aimed at the book dealer.

The lanky man’s eyes bulged, his entire body recoiled in fear, wrapping his arms around his head in a neat bow.

With tremendous force, the volatile beams smashed into… the book dealer’s protection field?! They were absorbed, fizzled, died.

The book dealer unwound himself, dusted off his pin-stripped vest, and grinned. Then he chuckled, and then he chortled. “You’re kidding, right?”

He then boldly outright laughed at Edvard.

“You magi and mystics are all the same. Did you think I wouldn’t have layers upon layers of white protection spells on my body and the premises?”

He took off his glasses, and cleaned them with his Oxford shirt.

“Now, begone. Évānēsce!

Edvard felt his arms and legs fold in on themselves like origami, then his neck curled into his torso until his entire being was balled up.


And just like that, in the briefest of moments, Edvard next found himself lying on the wet, cold dirty ground of an alley in a foetal position, shivering uncontrollably. ☣