“Oh, shit, Austin.”
“Get the light,” I whispered.
Robby flicked the switch, but Johnny McKeon’s office didn’t go dark.
The glass globe with the pulsating black shit in it wriggled and burned with a blue light. It was like writhing cobalt embers trapped inside the sphere of the glass. The thing in the sphere, whatever it was, obviously responded to light.
Hiding was our only option, but there was no place inside Johnny’s office that was very suitable. Robby pointed at the desk. We pulled Johnny’s chair out and huddled together, hugging each other in the small rectangular space below the desk.
We were just like that poor two-headed boy floating in fluid in the jar.
We didn’t even think to lock Johnny’s office door behind us.
Why would anyone have thought to do such a thing?
Because it would have been smart, I told myself.
The knob on the door squeaked and turned. There were footsteps. Someone came into the office. I put my face down on the floor and looked from under the desk. There were several sets of feet there.
Someone said, “What the crap is that?”
The shoes were positioned so whoever was inside with me and Robby was looking at the mysterious globe.
“It’s alive,” another voice concluded.
“People always said Johnny McKeon kept weird shit in here. Maybe it’s a alien or something.”
Robby’s fingers squeezed around my arm. We both knew the
voice. It was Grant Wallace. He and his boys had somehow gotten into From Attic to Seller.
“Let’s take that shit,” the kid named Tyler said.
“You’re carrying it. It looks heavy,” Grant said. “I don’t want that shit. I came for the booze. Let’s go.”
The Hoover Boys apparently found their way into the back room connecting Tipsy Cricket with the secondhand store. They probably broke into the abandoned foot doctor’s office to do it.
It was a simple matter.
For all anyone knew, Grant and his boys may have been planning their theft from Tipsy Cricket for a long time. It probably had everything to do with why we ran into them in Grasshopper Jungle earlier that day.
Technically, our encounter with Grant Wallace happened the day before, since it was solidly past midnight in our time zone, which was located under the desk in Johnny McKeon’s office.
“Is that a dick?” one of the boys asked.
“It’s a dick,” another concluded.
“Johnny Mack has a dick in a bottle in his office,” Grant affirmed.
“Maybe it’s his,” one of Grant’s friends said.
“Let’s take it,” another of them said.
“I’m not touching it. It’s a jar with a dick in it.” I think Tyler said that.
“Oh yeah,” someone else said. “And balls, too.”
“That’s sick. I’m not touching it. Hang on. I’m going to take a picture of that dick in a jar with my phone,” the videographer decided.
“Text it to me.” One of the Hoover Boys laughed.
I desperately wished they’d stop talking about the penis in the jar, but Grant and his friends were like lonely parakeets in front of a mirror.
Finally, after they’d exhausted all speculation and conversational rhetoric on the topic of penises in jars, the boys stood there numbly for a moment, apparently unable to detach their eyes. I heard the sound of something heavy and solid sliding on one of the shelves.
The blue shadows in the room swirled.
Tyler had lifted the globe.
It was not a good idea.
“Let’s go. I’m thirsty,” he said.
They left the door to Johnny’s office standing open.
The blue light danced away into the darkness of the back room, and then faded entirely.
I grabbed Robby’s wrist and pulled him out from our hiding place. Then I led him back through the shop and up the ladder to the roof.