The Alchemist By Tyler Steele
Amongst the greatest of cities, six blocks from Main Street where the traffic lights flickered to the beat of the street performers, is a crooked alley. It may seem abandoned but once, not long ago, down this alley in a rickety old storefront, resided TheS Alchemist. His store was made from worn birch wood. The old rings and patterns had aged heavily till they appeared like tears streaming down the warped beams. The Alchemist worked mostly in silence, sorting his flasks and elixirs by color and size. His worn old hands flickered back and forth from shelf to shelf with speed of one much younger than he.
Whether from bravery, stupidity, or sense of adventure, it is unknown, but occasionally pedestrians wondered down the crooked old alley and discovered the shop. The first of this rare bunch was a man in a suit. He was tired from a long day and started down the alley by mistake. His body was tense and his face sunk forming dark circles that drifted beneath his cheek bones. He walked with his head held high. His phone vibrated and so he removed it from his pocket only to shut it off, shaking his head as he did so. He carefully counted his money and placed it on the table. The Alchemist nodded and turned around to grab a rounded vial with white liquid inside. He placed it on the cracked wooden table with a bright, toothless, smile painted on his face and directed at the man. The man removed the cracked red cork and sets it down on the table.
"What is this?" He spoke in hushed tones.
“It what you want.” Alchemist nodded his head in excitement. He gestured for the man to drink.
The man tossed his head back and allowed the glowing white liquid to slide out of the vial and into his mouth. His throat pulsed as he swallowed. The air around the man seemed to glow with a warmth. A grin crossed his face.
"Thank you so much sir!" He said with a grin matching that of the Alchemist’s. The Alchemist nodded and turned back to the organizing of his store.
The second wonderer to drift down the alley was young girl. Her short skirt revealed torn stockings that attempted to hide her quickly aging legs. Her heavy makeup was smeared around the eyes. A single tear navigated this mess, eventually finding its way to the edge of her jaw, only to hang on due to its intense fear of falling.
She approached the counter with caution.
"Hello..." she squeaked.
The Alchemist nodded and a slight smile crept across his lips.
"What do you sell?"
He turned to reach for a pink tonic from the shelf behind him. He slide it across the counter with incredible precision as it stopped right next to the woman's hand.
"I don't have a lot of money..."
The Alchemist shook his head and gestured for her to drink.
She slowly pressed the glass near her face. The pink liquid rushed through the small purse in her lips and she swallowed.
The tear fell from her chin and she began smiling and crying all at once. The makeup was dragged away from her eyes revealing her freckles. She giggled to herself, one knee now pressed against the asphalt. She gathered herself quickly, wiping the tears from her face. The Alchemist grabbed a handkerchief from under the counter and handed it to the girl, his face now flat. She wiped her tears and excess makeup off her face, kissed the worn hands of the Alchemist before leaving, skipping gracefully as she did so.
On a day where the sun set and the light hardly poked above the tall buildings of the city the third wonderer came to the shop. With the flickering of the traffic light slowed from the saxophone players and the night owls about to depart for their evenings. A drummer, fresh off his afternoon concert stumbled down the alley. He carried a bucket in one hand and a pair of wooden sticks in the other. His toes poked through the holes in his shoes. They cracked a bled upon the pavement. His short, gray hair and beard gave him the appearance of a hermit, with or without wisdom it was not obvious. He walked forward and noticed the storefront where the Alchemist worked.
"Hey man, can you spare some change? Maybe a meal?"
The Alchemist turned to face him, his face was still but he nodded as he always did.
"Oh bless your heart sir" said the drummer.
The Alchemist wrapped his hands around a large vial, diamond in shape. The Royal purple liquid appear thick as it sloshed from one side to the other when the Alchemist limped to the counter.
"You're too kind my friend, too kind"
He popped rusted metal cap from the vial and consumed its contents in one motion.
As he swallowed he froze.
Laughter, pure and genuine laughter erupted from the deepest depths of the man’s throat. His laughter echoed off the walls in the alley and escaped into the air interrupting the smooth pattern of the flickering street lights.
The man then left grinning ear to ear still laughing as went. A single tear dropped from the Alchemist’s eyes. It slid from the corner of his eye and crossed the small valleys that littered his experienced face.
Another visitor came as the sun said its final goodbye to the horizon and the moon took up its post in the sky. A man dressed in all blue, his hair cut short with a badge stapled onto his chest that gleamed as it caught the light peeking into the alley. His steps were purposeful and long. The dull thud of his boots echoed softly off the walls just loud enough to cause the Alchemist to peer up from his work. The man caught sight of the small shack and started towards it, increasing his pace.
"Sir, do you have a permit to own this shop?" He said, a stern look on his face.
The Alchemist shook his head. A slight frown adorned him
"What do sell exactly sir? Are you distributing drugs and related goods? I've gotten calls!"
The Alchemist stopped. He hobbled toward the counter and gazed through the shades resting on the tip of the man’s nose.
"I give, or sell, perhaps even barter, for what everyone wants most" his voice little more than a whisper but with enough force to echo in the man’s ears.
The man looked stunned.
"And what exactly is that sir? If you don't give me a straight answer I'm going to have to take you downtown."
"You want it too. I can tell, I've even made you some."
He placed a glass bird on the table filled with an olive liquid that appeared permanently on the brink of evaporation.
"Are you trying to bribe an officer?" He shouted.
"No, I am giving you what you want more than anything else, what everyone wants."
"And what is that?"
He motioned for the man to drink, several tears now streaming down his face.
The man clicked the battered iron stopper open. The liquid seemed to blow like a gentle breeze into the man’s mouth.
The man was still for a few moments.
A smile broke across his face and his body began to shake with excitement.
"Thank you sir... Have a fantastic day! I'm sorry to bother you, I won't do it again." He embraced the Alchemist over the counter, bending his back awkwardly to do so, but too distracted to care.
The man sprinted off punching the air with his tightly clinched fist, leaving the Alchemist behind tears streaming down the old face.
The final visitor came when the moon was high in the sky and filled it like a brilliant pearl casting it's warm, laced glow down upon the great city. It was late when the boy, bandana in front of his face, tattoos littering his arms, with two guns latched to his hip, wondered down the ally. His steps were careful, almost predetermined as he made his way through the twisted path. The long chains around his neck rattled together and he quickly pressed his hand to his chest to stop them. He caught sight of the dark store front and immediately straightened up. His stride more confident as he added increasing and decreasing levels of swagger to his step until he found the right balance. He pulled out a gun as he walked up to the counter before immediately dropping it.
The Alchemist hung from the ceiling of his apothecary. A worn rope wrapped tightly around his neck which was twisted at on odd angle. A small green potion sat on the counter with a note attached.
"What everyone wants more than anything?"
The boy still shocked by the sight of the dead Alchemist attempted to grasp the potion with his shaking hands. He drank the potion as he backed slowly away from the sight. He had not made it more than three steps before removing his bandana, tossing his chains on the ground and disarming himself. After he shed the excess, he dropped down to his knees a smile gripping his face, and began to pray.
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