by Eric J. Krause
Esmeralda snapped her fingers over the broom and it flew straight into her outstretched hand. Nice. She ran her fingers over the shaft and found a few small gouges, but nothing she either couldn't buff out or live with. It wasn't like the broom was splinter city or anything. And the price was reasonable, much more so than what she figured from a used broom lot. If it gave a smooth flight, she wouldn't bother haggling. This would be her new ride.
Just as she was about to walk in to ask for a test drive, a well-groomed, neatly-dressed warlock strolled out of the office. He flashed a dazzling smile, and his teeth gleamed as if fresh from the final touches of a polishing spell. She didn't need magic to tell he was a salesman; it oozed out of every pore.
"I'm not going to lie to you," he said as he advanced on Esmeralda. "She's a beaut. One of the best models we have in stock."
"I'd like a test drive, if you don't mind," she said.
"Of course, of course. But I'd consider myself a terrible person if I didn't at least show you a few better options."
Esmeralda tried to squeak out a protest, but the smarmy warlock pushed her towards the pricier models. She saw right away that these were each more broom than she needed. And, truth be told, all in much worse shape than the one she liked.
"I can tell by your expression that you're impressed," he said. "Why don't you go ahead and start one up?"
Esmeralda tried to back away and head for the first broom. "No, I . . ." But the warlock wasn't having any of it. He nudged her towards a beat-up jumbo broom that wanted to infect her with splinters just by looking at it. And was it being held together by batty tape?
"Just a quick go," the warlock said. "Wait until you feel the power in this baby."
She sighed, put her hand out, and snapped her fingers. The broom rose a few inches, sputtered, and dropped back to the ground. She tried again, and this time it rose halfway to her hand before petering out.
The warlock gave a nervous chuckle and kicked the broom aside. "Guess it's a bit more than you're used to. Why don't we go look at something a bit more your size."
"But I just want . . ." Esmeralda tried to say, but he wasn't listening.
"Now these over here. These are sleek, lightweight, and can outmaneuver almost any other broom enchanted to fly."
She could see why; they were nothing but glorified toothpicks. She wouldn't want one of these new, let alone in whatever shape this guy would sell it in. And a quick glance around proved them all to be in horrible condition indeed. Besides, even if one flew brilliantly, there was no way she could get her shopping home on it.
"Try this one out. I know it'll be the perfect fit."
Esmeralda sighed, stretched out her hand, and snapped her fingers. The broom jumped up and smacked her palm, where it promptly cracked in two. The warlock gave another nervous chuckle as he kicked both pieces away.
"No worries," he said. "I have plenty more I can show you."
"I'd really like to go back to the first one," Esmeralda said.
"That one wasn't right for you," the warlock said. He glanced to the front of the lot. "Besides, looks as if someone just bought it. But no worries. If you had your heart set on it, I can sell you one in almost as good of shape for just a bit more. You'll love it."
Esmeralda clicked her tongue, and the warlock disappeared, only to be replaced by a toad. "I'm sorry," she said as she bent down to pick him up. "I don't usually lose my temper like that. But if you can manage to go through an entire day without telling a lie, you'll revert back to your original form. Understand?"
The lying toad in her hand could only belch out a croak.
"Good. I'm glad we're on the same page." She set him down, and he hopped into the bushes. She sighed and headed back to her old broom, which would hopefully hold on for a trip to another used broom lot. As she kicked off into the night sky, she muttered, "Fucking used broom salesmen."