Peels of laughter assaulted Huff as he leaned up against the wall, one knee bent, one boot sole pressed against the store’s bricks. His well-rehearsed, devil-may care persona was as firmly in place as the wide-brimmed hat sitting on his head.
The children squealed again and joyously clapped at the puppet dancing before them.
The puppet with no strings.
It twirled as it pounded its hands together to clang the tambourines tied to its tiny, wooden lifeless hands.
The children cheered louder.
Now it marched around the circle, its stick legs shooting straight out into the air only to be slapped into the dust before shooting out again.
Behind all of them was the puppet master, the magician. He weaved his hands in the air, smiling, laughing as he used the power. His expression was no less gleeful than the children’s, perhaps even more so.
Huff stuck a long straw between his teeth, tightening his jaw. He resisted the urge to spit.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Hacking Horace making his way through the square. His torn, dirty brown cloak and scraggly grey hair, sharply contrasted the well-oiled, leather sheathed strapped to his side.
Hacking Horace pulled his sword from its sheath and hacked at the air above the puppet. It continued its dance. "See," Hacking Horace proclaimed. "No strings."
He then turned to the magician and hacked off his head.
Huff swallowed the straw. The puppet danced on.
"See?" Hacking Horace said. "No magic. It's just a dancing midget."
The children wandered off, muttering things like, "Ripoff" and "Con artist" and "Bullshit scam."
Opening: vkw.....Continuation: Evil Editor