The Wandmaker, Part 4

HPFF

Dear fellow wandlore enthusiasts,
I’m beginning my journey. My postings are going to be sketchy at best, but when I do, I’ll have results to share. You’ve all given me wonderful ideas. They’re all on my list of stuff to try. If it all works out, I should have all the materials I need to make a breakthrough.

Sincerely,

Hippoplotamus

Jared logged off the computer and slung his bag over his shoulder. He could have gone home, he knew he could have. It would have saved him the two dollars and seventy one cents that the internet cafe charged just to let him make that one post and like a couple of things online. But, Jared had concluded that to do so would be going back, and he wouldn’t be doing that. Not until he had a wand he was proud to show them.

“Sir, you forgot your print-off.”

The girl behind the counter chased him down with a sheet of paper.

Jared thanked her and looked at the email he had printed off from Professor Nomenclature.

“I’ve arranged a ride for you, since I didn’t see any plans about how you’d get to Colorado, much less where the jackalope farm is in Colorado. I’ve arranged for a fellow member to transport you as far as Cheyenne, Wyoming. I’m sure you’ll find the company enjoyable.”

Underneath that vague but useful paragraph were directions to the Arrowhead farm in Canon City, along with “PS, Prussia says don’t forget about the postcards or she’ll choke you with her hair. I’m sure she’s joking about that, though.

 Jared thanked the girl again and turned to the coffee shop across the street where he was supposed to meet with his ride to Cheyenne. An antique Volkswagen van sat while the driver enjoyed a cup of coffee. That had to be the guy, Jared thought. With a final look at his house he walked the half a block to the drive-thru coffee stop.

“Are you Darrien Cosgrove?”

The man stared at him in bewilderment over the rim of his paper cup. “Oh, yeah, that is me, isn’t it? Everyone called me Gobo so long that I totally forgot.”

“Gobo? You’re Gobo+king, from the forums?”

Gobo pointed at him and made a clicking noise. “That’s the one. BrachialPlexus asked me to give you a lift.”

“Yeah, he told me there would be someone to drop me off in Cheyenne. This your ride?” Jared nodded to the van.

“Sure is.” Gobo boasted. “Went all the way to Montana to find this one. You know,” Gobo leaned in, “not a lot of people know this, but all of the vans they made in 74 had a magic engine in them.” He nodded before continuing. “There was this guy, Norman Kessler, who worked for the Volkswagen plant, mad wizard and all that. He put a hex printer in one of the machines he worked and every single one of them came out like that.”

“What did the hexes do?” Jared whispered.

“Made it so they wouldn’t need any serious repairs. Ever. ‘Bout near killed him to put so much into that many vehicles, but it made them a name ‘round the whole world. And I managed to get one.”

“Wouldn’t that have tipped off the magical law enforcement over there?”

Gobo leaned in so far he clamped a hand on Jared’s neck. “They’re already busy, see? Kessler’s small potatoes compared to the Snorkaks.”
“Right.” Jared pulled himself free of Gobo’s grip. “How about we set off, then? If we leave soon we can get to Cheyenne by dinnertime.”

Traveling with Gobo was something no one could be prepared for. From the record player mounted on the dashboard which played a steady stream of a theramin orchestra, to the airplane control panel Gobo had installed in place of the steering wheel, Jared wondered why Professor Nomenclature had asked this guy of all people to help Jared start his journey.

When asked, Gobo responded with a shrug and said, “Sounded like fun. Never been to Cheyenne before.”

Gobo hummed along with the music and occasionally asked Jared what he thought of using this or that in a wand or why spells don’t incorporate the letter X more often. Using plastic in a wand was clearly a bad idea, but when Gobo wasn’t looking Jared did write ‘hemp’ down on the list of wand cores. There might even be a place in Colorado that could help him with that.

Jared wasn’t sure when he fell asleep, but he woke up to a neon sign advertising a Mexican restaurant, Gobo asking if he was hungry, and a line of drool smeared down both the window and his cheek.

“You hungry, sport?” Gobo repeated.

“Yeah, sure.”

“Awesome. My treat before I see you off on your most noble of quests.” Gobo took off his hat and held it over his heart. “An’ anyways, it’s one of the best places to eat.

The restaurant itself didn’t stand out from the hundreds of other places that served burritos and nachos and little else. The interior bled with hip and trendy furniture with asymmetrical chairs gathered around them.

“Here, let me do the talking.” Gobo brushed Jared aside and strolled up to the counter with a swagger usually reserved for people after they’ve had a couple of drinks.

“Welcome to Rancho Libre, what can I make for you?” A young man in a striped apron paused in front of a stack of tortillas.

“Yes, my good man,” Gobo coughed, “I’d like a two and a half platter, please.”

“Fried or grilled.”

“Grilled.”

Jared searched the menu. “Uhh, what’s the two-and-a-half?”

“Shooting-starfish tacos with lime and cilantro on a mango salsa.” Gobo leaned in.

“Is there a three-and-a-half or something?” Jared scanned the overhead display again in hopes that something would show up.

The guy behind the counter’s eyes widened. “Oh, you don’t want that if you haven’t had it before.”

“I’ll have what he’s having, I guess.”

“Right on. I’ll have it up.”

Gobo paid for the meal and the two of them were soon enjoying the crisp and briny flavor of shooting-starfish.

“How did you know about this?” Jared asked between bites. “I checked the menu, like, twice and didn’t see any meals with numbers, much less a two and a half.”

Gobo winked. It was a sight Jared hoped he would never see again. “You live in a magic society runnin’ parallel but unknown to the most well-known country in the world, going to schools and universities no muggles can access, and you wonder about the secret menu on restaurants?”

“Okay, point taken, but that still doesn’t tell me how you found out about it.” Jared crunched into his last taco.

“Same way everyone finds out everything. By owl.”

Jared refused to talk to Gobo for the rest of the meal, and filled the time by eating every crumb on his plate.

On the way out, Jared plucked a post card from the stack by the door. While he had wished that Prussia would choke him during his travels with Gobo, now that it was over he wasn’t sure the experience would be so pleasant.

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