Between the border of the magical and muggle worlds, there is a park. In that park are scads of pigeons. These winged rats are experienced beggars, following and harassing morning walkers to drop a crumb here or there on their way to work. Occasionally, the birds disappear. These birds are too smart to hang around the three cats that accompany the old woman who comes to the park once a week or so. The cats, a calico, a marmalade tom, and a white tom, are bigger and smarter than your average cat. And the woman is more magical than the average old woman with a shopping buggy.
She had seven different walking routes. One for each day of the week. Since today was Monday, she would go through the park and then towards downtown. The calico Jack rode in her buggy, perched atop the odds and ends that were too important to leave home. The marmalade, Jim, was draped laconically around Hilda's shoulders. He was a heavy bastard, but he was warm. This early in the morning, that made all the difference. Johnnie, with his blue eyes and feathery tail alert, walked beside the Crone as stately as a king.
The woman herself was bent with age. Her elbows rested on the handle of the buggy and she thumbed through a deck of cards. Her head hurt too much to do an actual reading. Hangovers were the worst. Well, not the worst, she amended. Customers who didn't pay were the worst. If she could curse them with the liver pox, she would. Probably twice. Hangovers, however, were her own fault. And as much brandy as she had last night, she probably had the liver pox from it too. Maybe, she thought with a sly grin, even twice.
Rheumy blue eyes traveled over her cart and took inventory one more time. She wasn't sure she didn't take anything out last night and she didn't trust herself to have done a proper inventory earlier in the morning. Water bottle, check. Water bottle full of vodka, check. Wand, hidden under the cat. Cats, one two three check. Cat toys, check. Cat food, yep. Crystal ball, check. Ebony ball, check. Tarot cards, yes. tea pot and tea leaves, yes. Lamp, yes. Pillows, yes, and blanket too. Hat if it gets much colder, umbrella when it rains this afternoon, and the bag of bones she'll need for the two faced gentleman later this morning. Or would it be evening? Hilda's step faltered and her brow furrowed. Did it matter when he'd show up? No. Stop trying to be Miss Fancy, or you'll pay for it during your nap, missy. She often chided herself using her mother's terms. Her mother was long dead and good riddance. Now where was she...oh yes, the comic book for the boy on the corner...and muggle money to buy a biscuit later. That was everything, wasn't it? No...there was the cardboard box with the knick knacks. Must never forget the knick knacks, dear....
Inventory done, she resumed her slow pace and kept thumbing her cards. Jack of hearts...jack of hearts, why was he so important? Was it the Ace that ruled that house? No it was the queen. The king of hearts was dead, the joker had run off, and the ten was just another, smaller queen lurking...but these were just playing cards, not people...
Maeow! Johnnie issued a challenge to a person, demanding in his cat way to be petted. Hilda stopped so the cat wouldn't be left behind. She was courteous like that sometimes.