A Box on the Seashore
Although spring break was half over, Claude had failed to hook up with any hot chicks. He had been in Cape Hatteras for a week and a half, which his college roommates had told him was loaded with easy women. The trouble was that the roommates had abandoned him the moment they arrived in North Carolina. Occasionally he saw one of them in a bar or on the beach, always with an attractive blonde or redhead on their arms.
As another young woman in a teeny weenie bikini paraded by Claude, he adjusted his thick glasses and blushed. The truth was that he was too shy and aware of his flabby body to speak to most women. It was also true that since he had been on the cape not one had ever glanced his way.
He turned his gaze out to sea and daydreamed of being a reckless buccaneer like Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean." As his toe dug into the sand, it struck something hard. "Ouch," he cried and withdrew it quickly. The corner of something wooden protruded from the sand in the area where his injury had occurred. Curious, he dug it up. Buried treasure? he thought.
It was an ornate wooden box with strange symbols carved into its surface. The largest one he recognized as a pentacle, a five-pointed star within a circle. A witch's box, he thought. Some female into Wicca dropped this. He wondered whether if he learned the owner's identity and returned it, he would be rewarded with a date. He examined it carefully, front, back, sides and bottom. No name appeared, nor did there seem to be any way to open it. He dusted the sand off and brought it back to his motel.
He gazed at the object, wondering how to trace its owner. Perhaps there's a name inside. But how do I open it?. I don't want to ruin it. He saw no lock or latch. He pried at the cover with a butter knife, but it was stuck fast. Becoming frustrated, he cried, "Oh Beelzebub, open, damn you!"
As though a hidden spring had been unleashed, the top popped open.
"Well, I'll be damned. It works by magic words. It really is a witch's box."
There were several small items inside. The first to catch his eye was a silver ring. He immediately thought of the Ring of Power from "Lord of the Rings." He held it up to his eye. On the inside surface was an inscription too tiny to read. He slipped it on the third finger of his right hand. At first it seemed too large, but as it went past his knuckle, it snugged up.
Possibly the inscription would reveal the identity of the owner. As he went over to the desk to get his magnifying glass, he glanced into the mirror. His image was not there. He gazed at the ring. Am I invisible, he asked it. He looked down. He could see his body, legs and arms as always. Yet, his image in the mirror was not there. "I wonder whether other people can see me. I'll need to test this out."
Forgetting about the other objects in the box or finding its owner, he left the motel room. The lobby was empty except for the desk clerk. He banged on the bell at the front desk. The clerk stared at the object with a puzzled expression, peered around the lobby and picked up the bell. He laid it back down, shrugged and went back to the comic book he was reading.
Claude said, "Hey fellow, what do I have to do to get service here?"
The clerk leaped up and glared around. "Who said that?"
Claude chuckled, thinking, I really am invisible. This is going to be fun.
He went back to the beach and pinched a pretty girl in a bikini on her fanny. Without looking to see who had touched her, she swung around and slapped Claude on the face. He staggered back several steps and fell on his keister so hard sand that sprayed up around him. He got up sputtering and spitting out sand. His jaw stung like hell.
The girl gazed around with a puzzled expression. It was obvious that she knew she had hit somebody but didn't know who. She grumbled something under breath and continued to stroll along the beach.
Claude decided that going around touching strange girls inappropriately could be dangerous. As he gazed around wondering what to do next with his new power of invisibility, his eyes alighted on the bathhouse. He sauntered over and followed a woman into the female dressing room. She must've felt his presence, because she turned and started to speak, but then stopped.
Claude took in the dressing room. Women of all ages and figures were donning or removing clothing and bathing suits. His eyes popped at the sight of so much naked female flesh. He went back by the showers and became mesmerized as several pleasing young women were showering. He became so enthralled that he did not see that a heavyweight matron was about to plow into him. She hit him like a bulldozer and kept on going, unruffled by the collision. Claude, on the other hand, was thrown against the wall and almost knocked unconscious. As he sat on the sopping floor, he overheard two college-aged girls talking about him. He recalled seeing them around his campus. Britney, the one with lighter hair on top than bottom, was a cheerleader type with a well-toned body. She said, "I saw one of the nerds from school today. Claude something or other. What a creep. I think he's the type who would peek down women's blouses."
The blood rushed to Claude's head. Shame overwhelmed him as he realized the truth of what she was saying.
Modena, her dark-haired friend with the tattoo of a pentacle on her breast, stared in Claude's direction as though she could almost make him out. She replied, "Wouldn't most men if the could get away with it." She slowly stretched in a manner that made Claude's face burn with fever.
Ashamed, Claude beat a hasty retreat from the bathhouse and back to his motel. He took off the ring, tossed it back into the box and changed out of his sopping clothes. Being invisible wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
He examined the other items. The stone had the word Blarney marked in green on its surface in some way that it appeared to be part of the stone's natural coloring. "Isn't there a legend that if you kiss the Blarney Stone, you'll get the gift of gab. I'll try that out at a bar tonight."
There were two bottles, one was marked "Love Potion" and the other, "Male Pheromones." He figured the love potion might come in handy. He didn't think the other stuff would be of much use. Nonetheless, he put both bottles in his jacket pocket. The only item left was the wand, which he left in the box.
That evening he went bar hopping. The first place was so crowded he barely able to squeeze in. That wasn't to his liking. It was difficult to discover who was with who. He didn't want to deal with jealous boyfriends.
The second place, although filled, wasn't quite as densely packed and had a dance floor. He went to the bar and ordered his usual Scorpion for courage. He glanced around and noticed that the two women he had viewed in the bathhouse were at a table by themselves. The blonde wore a revealing halter top and miniskirt. The brunette had on a similar outfit in black. Steeling himself by downing his drink, he kissed the Blarney Stone and approached the blonde. Suddenly, he knew exactly what to say.
"I noticed that the two most beautiful women in this bar don't have escorts. May I join you."
Britney opened her mouth and started say, "Beat it cr..."
Modena interrupted her. "Sure why not. You go to New Paltz too, don't you? You're in my ancient history class."
"Yes. I remember you too. I could never forget such rare beauty. I'm Claude Bingler."
Modena introduced herself and Britney. Afterwards, Claude, who normally became mute with shyness in front of women he was attracted to, began to dominate the conversation. Mostly what the words out of his mouth were outrageous compliments such as "I never saw such gorgeous eyes," "Your hair is like spun gold," "I believe I've gone to heaven, hearing the angelic chorus of your lovely speaking voices," and so forth. Modena seemed to be enjoying his blarney, but Britney looked more and more disgusted with each utterance.
Finally, she said, "Hey Claude, cork the bull for a while."
Seeing that he was not making an impression on the blonde he favored, after the waitress took their drink orders, he turned away for a minute and sprinkled a few drops from the bottle of Male Pheromones on his hand and rubbed it on his chin. It had an almost immediate effect. As the stench of it wafted through the murky air of the nightclub, every female in the place sniffed the air and glanced in his direction.
Britney gagged and said, "What kind of cheap after shave are you wearing, Nerd? It smells like the inside of a dirty sneaker."
Modena said, "I don't know. I kind of like it."
As the scent spread throughout the joint, several unattached women wandered over and brushed by Claude, giving him come-hither glances. A couple even asked to join their party, but were discouraged by Modena's evil eye glare.
Claude felt that even with the blarney and the male pheromones he was not getting anywhere with Britney. He pointed at the bandstand. "Look. The music's about to start." When the women turned their heads, he poured a couple of drops from the bottle labeled "Love Potion" into Britney's drink.
Modena saw him out of the corner of her eye. Before Britney could take a sip, she grabbed all three glasses, each of which contained the same powerful drink mixture, and moved them around the table like a three-card monte con man.
Claude stared in horror at her actions as he had lost track of which glass had the love potion in it.
Britney cried, "What the hell you doing, Moe?"
"Oh, just a little game I thought up. Let's try to guess which drink is our own."
"Count me out," Britney said. "I'm not taking a chance of drinking from a glass with his spit in it."
"Oh, don't be a partypooper. Claude, I'll give you the honor of grabbing the first glass."
Claude looked the glasses over. He thought that his own glass had a little chip in it. So, he took the one with the chip. Modena took another and pushed the third in front of Britney. Modena raised her glass and said, "Cheers."
As Claude clinked his glass against hers, he noticed that hers had a chip in it too. Britney merely folded her arms and looked away. Modena and Claude downed a gulp each of their drinks. As soon as Modena set her glass down, she grabbed Claude's arms and said, "Look at me."
He did, staring into her lovely brown eyes, which grew wider and wider until he felt he was drowning in love with the woman. She smiled triumphantly. She said, "Did I tell you that I lost something on the beach today?"
With lips trembling with desire for Modena, Claude asked, "What?"
"My Wiccan box. You know, Britney, the one where I keep my potions and spell-casting implements."
Britney replied, "I know. Your witch stuff. Are you still into that silly nonsense?"
Claude said, "I-I found a box buried in the sand today."
"You did? Did it have a pentacle engraved in the top?"
"Yes. It's in my motel room. Do you want to see if it's yours?"
After Modena and Claude entered his motel room, instead of looking at the box, Modena immediately began kissing and hugging Claude. Because of the love potion and his horniness, he joined in with gusto. In moments, they had their clothes off and were making hot love.
Afterwards, Modena said, "Did you enjoy that, Lover Boy?"
Claude gazed longingly into her dark eyes. "It was the experience of a lifetime. I-I love you, Modena Darling."
"Enough to be my absolute slave and do whatever I tell you?"
"Absolutely. Your wish is my command."
"Wonderful. My love potion worked perfectly. Go fetch the wand from kit."
Claude did as he was ordered. He wished only to obey his adored one.
Modena tapped him on the top of his head with the wand three times, saying, "Cool tool, change the fool."
Claude felt strange, as though he were shrinking and growing fur all over his body at the same time. He sank down on all fours. After a few moments he had changed into a calico cat.
"Delightful," cried Modena. She bent down and stroked the back of her new pet. "Don't worry, Darling, every once in a while I'll allow you to become human again, so that you can worship me." The cat that was Claude rubbed against her leg.
When she returned to her own room with Claude under her arm, Britney said, "Not another cat. I suppose you're going to say it followed you home. You're incorrigible. How many does that make now? Seven?"
"Yes. But this is the last. Now I have one for each night of the week. They all have different personalities, y'know. And I love each one in a different way." She winked at Claude and said, "And you're my little shy one, aren't you, Claudey."
"Claudey? Don't tell me you named it after that drip. By the way, did you get your witch stuff back?"
"Oh, you bet I did."
© 2006 by Joe Vadalma
Papa Joe says, "I'm a former technical writer retired from a major computer manufacturer. I've loved science fiction and fantasy from the time I learned to read. I've had several short stories published in E-zines. My hobbies, besides writing, are adventure game playing and do-it-yourself projects. I've also sold a series of dark fantasy novels ("The Morgaine Chronicles"), an SF novel ("Star Tower") and a short story collection ("The Sands of Time") to Renaissance E Books. Delingers Publishing has published my science fiction novel, "The Isaac Project", and Mundania has accepted another fantasy novel, "The Book of Retslu", for publication in the near future. My web site (see link below), The Fantastic World of Papa Joe, contains samples of my SF, fantasy and horror stories, serials and art.
E-mail: "Papa Joe" Vadalma
Website: The Fantastic World of Papa Joe
Comment on this story in the Aphelion Lettercol
Or Return to Aphelion's Index page.