One of Daniel’s favorite pastimes, when in the city, was to prowl through second-hand stores in search of treasures no one wanted. Becoming lost in the leavings of hundreds, perhaps thousands of people gave an edge to his perspective of the world about him.
Today he decided it would be Maggie’s Thrift Shop on Chestnut Street near Leavenworth in the Russian Hill district. It was an upscale San Francisco junk shop owned by a beautiful, well breed, elderly, and somewhat mysterious woman of European extraction, whose means were somewhat dubious, all of which Daniel found intriguing and shall we say – nefariously attractive.
Her shop was sure to hold the unique treasure he was looking for. He had no idea what it would be but that was half the fun, half the challenge, half the reward of digging through stuff no one wanted any longer. He knew only too well that people threw things away all the time without knowing their true value. It was his hobby to find those treasures and enjoy them, displaying them so others might also enjoy them.
Maggie’s is two stories of unbelievable junk crammed into every available nook and cranny. Daniel had been going there long enough to be on a first-name basis with the owner, Margarette Sandborn, who, Daniel discovered, did, indeed, have a past.
No, they were on more than a first-name basis. They had become unlikely friends. Maggie spoke four languages. It was the English language that gave her the most trouble. She often groaned to Daniel on how it was possible that anyone ever learned proper English. He agreed with her and laughed. “It’s my mother tongue and even I don’t understand all of it.”
Hot tea was always available at the front of the store, but today, as Maggie was about to close the store, she invited Daniel to stay and join her for tea in her living quarters at the rear of the building. He happily accepted.
He was stunned as he walked around a corner and entered her living room. The walls were covered with treasures he only read about. The one painting that caught his eye was the full-length portrait of an elegant woman in a beautiful turn-of-the-century shimmering silver-satin evening gown.
“Ah, you recognize this?” Maggie brought tea into the room.
“It looks like a Boldini.”
“It is indeed. How clever of you,” Maggie smiled with pleasure as she arranged the table.
“I studied art in college and know his work but I don’t recall ever seeing this one. It is quite delightful. The bearing of this lady suggests theatrical training. A dramatic actress, perhaps, with the opera or musical comedy. Do you know this person? It couldn’t be more perfect. ”
“No one has ever seen it except you and me, and a few close friends.”
“Really?” Daniel turned and looked at Maggie with surprise.
“It’s a portrait of my mother,” Maggie sighed and smiled with satisfaction.
“Yes, of course. The resemblance is quite clear. I thought it looked familiar.”
“Boldini painted this portrait a few years before he passed away in … I think it was 1931. When the war came and the Germans were approaching Paris, we hide it away in the attic of the apartment building we lived in and cleverly concealed the entrance. After the war ended I eventually came back to Paris with hopes of finding it.”
“Your mother was a truly beautiful woman,” Daniel turned and gazed at the painting again, “as you are.”
“Thank you, Daniel. You are most kind. The painting is for my old age retirement if you will. When I’m ready, I will advise various museums and they will go crazy trying to obtain it. Come, sit down; all is ready.”
“The only reason I recognized it as a Boldini, is because of a quote I read years ago. It was said that Boldini was the master of swish.”
“Master of what?” Maggie looked up in surprise.
“Swish; his flowing brush strokes. Look at the flowing lines of your mother’s gown.”
“Yes, of course. He is famous for it. I did not know it was called swish.” She chuckled to herself.
Daniel seated himself and admired the offerings before him. “Thanks, Maggie; it looks scrumptious.”
As she reached across the table to pour hot water into Daniel’s cup, he saw the number tattooed on her forearm … paused and then looked up. She smiled when she saw the astonished look on his face, withdrew her arm and casually covered it with her shawl. “It is nothing.”
“I would say it is something, my friend unless you prefer not to speak of it,” Daniel smiled sympathetically as he stirred a tea bag into the hot water.
“It was a long time ago, and not worth remembering.” She sipped her tea. “But, since you’ve seen it, I will tell you a little to satisfy your curiosity.”
“No, no, that isn’t necessary.”
“But it is necessary,” she pushed a plate of scones toward Daniel. “Here, help yourself. I made them this morning.”
Daniel’s expression changed to one of delight at the prospect of the delicacy. “Maggie, what a treat.” He placed a scone on his plate and reached for the butter plate, paused and grinned at his hostess. “Did you make the butter also?”
They laughed. “No, I didn’t but I know how. Some fresh cream in the churn for a few hours, lots of elbow grease and voila – butter, and buttermilk for breakfast pancakes. A little sea salt with the butter and … perfection.”
The smile on her face faded, “After I escaped, I lived on a farm for a while where we did everything ourselves. Grocery stores did not exist then.”
“Escaped? From where?” Daniel was hesitant.
A half-hour later Daniel sighed and looked at his friend, “You were actually involved in the uprising?”
“Oh, yes, I was indeed.”
“I can’t imagine the fear you must have experienced.”
“There was no time for fear, only to live, to escape. If it hadn’t been for the Russian officers who were captured and put in with us, we never would have escaped and would surely have perished in that place. They plotted the escape, arranged everything. Everyone had a job … even me.”
Daniel looked at Maggie in admiration. “How old were you?”
“I was seventeen and determined not to die in that horrible place. Officially I am dead. Those of us who survived the escape scattered in all directions. I was taken in by a local farmer and his wife, where I learned survival skills and how to cook. They knew what was going on. When they discovered me hiding in their barn, they took me in as one of their own. They helped me get to Denmark where I found a position as au pair with a French family who had escaped from Paris before the Nazis arrived.
“When the war ended we went back to Paris. Like my mother, I had a beautiful singing voice and found work at the Opéra de Paris.”
“But you didn’t stay. Why?”
“I searched and searched for my family but they were gone. No one survived except me. I had no roots to fall back on. I wanted to put the past and the grieving behind me. I was tempted to go to Israel but decided on the United States instead.”
She sipped her tea, “But before I left Paris, I went to find this painting. It was the only connection I had to the past.
“The apartment building I lived in was still there and seemed untouched by the war. The old concierge recognized me and was very kind. She told me the Germans had ransacked all the apartments and taken everything of value. Nothing remained. When my family did not return, the apartment was rented. I told her about the painting and where it was hidden. Her eyes lit up with surprise and the joy that it may have survived. We went to the attic to determine its fate.
The little string that showed through the wooden wall slats had not been touched. It was the trigger for the secret door. I pulled the string and held my breath. Nothing happened. I pulled it again and the door popped open. And there it was. My heart leapt when I saw the package containing the painting just as we had left it.
And, here I am,” Maggie laughed. “Here, have another scone. Aren’t they delicious?”
“They are remarkable.”
“It’s a recipe my protector’s wife taught me, and I never forgot.”
“Did you find happiness here?” Daniel smiled hopefully at his beautiful friend.
“Oh, yes, I did. Soon after arriving in the United States I met Otto Sandborn. He was so beautiful and so much in love with me, I could not say no when he asked me to marry him.”
“But you said you were officially dead.”
“Yes, that is true. So many of the prisoners at the camp were killed when they rushed out. There were land mines everywhere. I was one of the last to leave. It was horrible, stepping over the bodies of my friends, but the drive to freedom was overwhelming.
“After the war, they tried to complete the files of that hell hole. I was long gone by then so they assumed I was dead. My name used to be Maggierude Poppert-Schonborn.” She could see Daniel was disturbed, “It was a long time ago, Daniel. It no longer matters,” she smiled and reached across the table, placing her hand on his to comfort him.
They discussed art and the intricacies of the English language for another hour after which Daniel got up and walked with Maggie to the front of the store. “Oh, my rug! I found this upstairs tucked away and wish to take it with me.”
“Ah, the magic carpet,” Maggie grinned.
“The magic what?”
“Carpet. It’s a magic flying carpet,” she said matter-of-factly, looked at Daniel’s expression of surprise and laughed. “That’s what I was told when it came into my possession in Paris. The dark skinned man who gave it to me spoke Arabic and broken French with such authority, I could not help but believe him. He said only a very special person will be able to make it fly. I guess I wasn’t special enough,” she laughed. “Perhaps you are.”
“Perhaps,” Daniel smiled, “How much do I owe you?”
“Oh, no, it’s yours.”
“But, I can’t …”
“Yes, you can. You must. It was given to me; the man told me it would be bad luck to sell it. He said when someone asked for it, I was to give it to them. So, it’s yours. But let me know if you get it to fly.” She patted the folded rug as they laughed.
“Thank you, Maggie. I shall treasure it. And I promise never to sell it. I just hope no one asks me for it.” He kissed Maggie on the cheek, hoisted the carpet onto his shoulder and left the shop.
When he arrived at his apartment, he spread the rug on his living room floor, stood back and admired it. The intricate design and brilliant colors surprised him as did the texture of the pile which looked like the finest silk. He wondered why Maggie chose not to use it in her living quarters.
Rather than run a vacuum cleaner over the surface, he used a gentler hand vacuum; clearing the years of dust from the surface. The design began to shine.
Daniel was so pleased with the result, he went to the cupboard and brought out the spray carpet cleaner. A light mist of the cleaner and a gentle brushing perked up the nap. With each cleaning step, the carpet took on a new and lovelier appearance. Daniel imagined it glowed.
He stood back when he had finished his home-restorative and decided the rug was going to hang on a wall. But which wall? He wanted his guests to see this treasure, ever mindful that he would have to give it away if someone asked for it. He laughed to himself at the thought and decided he would lie if anyone asked him for it.
He could not get over how beautiful the carpet looked now that it had been freshened. He knelt down and ran his fingers through the silken pile, then sat back on his haunches admiring his newly acquired treasure until he yawned. It was late. He would decide tomorrow where to hang it.
Dawn had broken when he opened his eyes. He remembered the carpet as he stretched and threw back his bed covers. As he stepped out of bed, his feet retracted with a jerk when they touched the floor. Daniel looked down and was startled to see his carpet lying next to his bed. He did not remember bringing the rug into the bedroom. Perhaps he did in his drowsiness and had forgotten.
He stepped barefoot onto the carpet and stood up, “Ok, Mr. Magic Carpet. Tell me how you got in here.” He went into the bathroom to get ready for the day. When he stepped into the bedroom he stopped in his tracks. The carpet was gone.
He rushed to the living room and stopped in the doorway. The carpet was just as he thought he had left it the night before. He shook his head and rubbed his face. Was he dreaming?
He walked on the carpet and examined it from all angles. He concluded it was a dream as he walked into the kitchen to prepare his breakfast. As he buttered a piece of toast he looked up, dropped the toast and let the knife he held clatter onto the table top. “Holy mother of God,” was all he could say as he watched his rolled up carpet treasure float through the kitchen doorway. It settled on the floor and unrolled next to him. He froze as he stared at the specter. He had not been dreaming after all. The carpet looked more alive and beautiful than he remembered. Finally, he got up and cautiously stepped onto the carpet, hurrying across to the other side of the room where his cell phone was charging.
“Maggie. I think you better get over here as quickly as possible. I’ll explain later.” He laid his phone down and stood wondering what he should do.
He felt a little foolish but decided to talk to the carpet, “Mr. Carpet. Would you please go into the living room and stay there.” He held his breath. The carpet quietly rolled itself up and floated into the living room. “Jesus H. Christ, what is going on?” Thank God, Maggie would be here soon.
When the doorbell rang, Daniel practically flew to the door, “Maggie, thank you for coming.”
“What is it? You sounded so funny over the phone.” She looked past Daniel. “Oh, how beautiful,” she walked into the living room. “I’d almost forgotten how beautiful it is. You did a splendid job of cleaning it. I’m afraid I lost interest in it a long time ago.” She turned to Daniel, “What was it you called about?”
“Follow me.” They walked into the kitchen and sat down at the table. Maggie watched Daniel, wondering what he was up to.
Daniel looked intently at Maggie, “Watch.” He turned his head toward the kitchen door, “Mr. Carpet, please come here.”
Maggie laughed, “What in the world are you do …?” Her words caught in her throat as the rolled carpet floated into the room and unrolled in front of them. She gripped the chair she was sitting in and looked slack-jawed at Daniel.
“I know. That’s exactly how I felt when it first happened to me.” He smiled at his friend, “Now what am I going to do?”
Maggie began to laugh, “I haven’t the faintest idea. Have you tried riding it?”
“It’s obviously going to take orders from you, and it is, after all, a flying carpet. What else would you do with it?”
“I was thinking of hanging it on a wall.” Before his words finished, the carpet floated off of the floor and positioned itself on the kitchen wall.
Maggie threw him a curious glance. “It’s you I’m more interested in than the carpet. I owned it for half a century and never once did it wiggle for me. Now you come along and voila, it’s all over the place.”
“I don’t know, Maggie. I’m no different than I was yesterday – I don’t think.” Daniel paused and looked at the carpet hovering on the wall. “Mr. Carpet, please lay on the floor.” Obediently, the carpet floated to the floor and settled down. “Now what?” Daniel asked in exasperation.
“I suppose you need to take a ride on it and see what it will do?”
Daniel chuckled, “Maggie, you have to be kidding? They will lock me up if they see me riding that thing.”
“Perhaps, but only if they can catch you,” Maggie smiled at her astonished friend.
“I won’t do it alone.”
“Of course not, I’ll be standing by until you feel comfortable riding it.”
“Stand by, my foot. You’re going to be standing on it along with me.”
“I think we should probably begin by kneeling,” she laughed. “Are you game?” Maggie appeared as excited at the prospect as Daniel.
He stared at Maggie, then looked at the carpet, “Are you game, Mr. Carpet?” Immediately the carpet rose a few inches from the floor and rippled its surface.
“It’s game, Daniel,” Maggie raised her eyebrows and laughed.
“Let’s take it to the courtyard.” The carpet rolled itself up and followed Daniel and Maggie.
They took the freight elevator down and walked into the courtyard. The carpet unrolled itself and lay quietly on the grass.
“Rise up a few inches, Mr. Carpet.” The carpet rose and hovered.
“Maggie, what makes it do this? Did the man who gave it to you tell you anything?”
“Yes, he did. As best as I can recall, it has something to do with the clay used to make the dyes for the silk used on the weaving loom. Something about anti-magnetic qualities.”
“But it hears. That’s the mysterious part.”
“The man who gave it to me didn’t say as much, but he suggested the rug may have been cursed and the apparent intelligence is that of someone who bears the curse. Who, I don’t know. However, it seems to know you,” Maggie beamed with delight at Daniel.
“But why didn’t it respond to you, that’s the big question. Why me?
“Who knows? It may only be a matter of the composition of the carpet responding to something within you. Like a radio that is tuned in properly. I don’t know. I’m just guessing. But it works, so why question it.”
“Let’s take a ride.”
Several children scampered into the courtyard. They noticed the hovering carpet immediately and ran over to investigate.
“Is this a flying carpet?” asked a little girl.
“Yes, it is. How did you know?” Daniel smiled at her.
“My mom read me a story about a flying carpet in Arabia. Are you from Arabia?”
“No, I’m not,” Daniel laughed and glanced at Maggie, “Who knows, maybe I am.”
“Can we have a ride?” the children moved closer.
Daniel looked a Maggie, “What do you think?”
“I don’t know. I suppose if we all got on and held the children. You decide.”
“Thanks, Maggie. You’re a big help.” Daniel thought for a moment. “Okay, we can have a short ride here in the courtyard. Just a few inches off of the ground.” Daniel stepped on the carpet and knelt down. “Come on Maggie. I can’t do this by myself.”
Maggie obliged and knelt next to Daniel.
“Okay kids, climb aboard. But stay close to me and Maggie. The four children jumped on the carpet and huddled close to the two adults.
“Okay, Mr. Carpet let’s go for a slow low-level ride around the courtyard. Slowly the carpet rose a few inches and moved forward. The children squealed with glee. Daniel felt like squealing with them.
The carpet circled the courtyard and began again. Daniel looked at Maggie, “Now what?” She just smiled and shrugged her shoulders. “I guess we could go higher,” The children agreed and shouted to the carpet to go higher. It did not respond to them.
“Okay, Mr. Carpet, you may go higher. Kids, hang on.” The carpet rose several feet.
“Make it go faster,” one of the children yelled.
“I don’t know about that,” Daniel replied. “Well, I guess a little faster. Okay, Mr. Carpet, you can go a little faster.” The carpet picked up speed and then began to gently swoop back to the ground and up into the air again like a roller coaster, much to the delight of everyone.
A woman walked into the courtyard and began calling, “Michael, time to come in. Michael, where are you?”
“I’m up here, Mom,” a little boy next to Maggie hollered. The woman continued to call. Maggie looked at Daniel, “She can’t see us. And I don’t think she can hear us either.”
The woman shouted once more as she moved back into the building, “Michael James. I’ll count to five and if you’re not in here, I’m going to give you what for.” She disappeared into the building.
“We’d better cut this ride short. Mr. Carpet, please go to the ground and stop.” The carpet slowed down and settled on the ground much to the annoyance of the children.
“We want more,” they shouted.
“Not today, my friends, and you, Michael James. Get yourself inside.
“You’re right, Maggie. That woman didn’t see or hear us.” He paused and grinned. “Wanna go for a little ride?”
“I’d love it.” Maggie’s face lit up at the prospect.
Maggie thought for a moment, “How about Golden Gate Park. It should be interesting to see it from above.”
Daniel smiled, “Okay Mr. Carpet. You heard the lady … Golden Gate Park.” The carpet rose, paused and then rose higher and higher and kept climbing higher until it was above the apartment building. “Hang on, Maggie.”
“To what?” Maggie laughed.
The carpet moved forward with ever-increasing speed, sailing over apartment buildings. “Mr. Carpet, let’s take a look at Golden Gate Bridge first.” The carpet changed directions and sailed across the Presidio toward the bridge.
“Oh, Daniel, how beautiful.” Maggie was mesmerized at the sight of the bridge from their elevated view. The carpet sailed under the arches of the bridge, circled around and headed out into San Francisco Bay. It crossed over Alcatraz Island and turned toward San Francisco. As it passed over the Financial District, Daniel exclaimed, “Listen, Maggie, can you hear a cable car bell ringer?”
“Yes, I can. How wonderful.” The carpet moved across the Sunset District providing a starboard view of Golden Gate Park. It continued out over the Ocean, circled and entered the Park over the Beach Chalet, continuing over the golf course.
“Look! I didn’t know there was a golf course here.”
The carpet continued over North Lake, then turned right and circled back over the equestrian field, slowing down and flying close to some horseback riders.
“How beautiful!” Maggie exclaimed. The carpet glided slowly next to the riders.
“The riders can’t see us,” Daniel observed, “but the horses are acting up. Evidently, they can see us. We better get out of here. Mr. Carpet, go higher and take us somewhere else.” The carpet obeyed and soon they were gliding over the polo field. As they passed Hellman Hollow, they heard a scream.
“What was that?” Maggie cried.
“I don’t know. Sounds like someone in trouble. Carpet take us to the sound of the scream.” The carpet moved quickly to a lower altitude.
“There, Daniel. Over there,” Maggie pointed to the right.
Daniel saw a woman running across the meadow with a man in pursuit. “This doesn’t look right. Let’s get involved. Carpet, let’s help that woman.”
The carpet moved down and slightly ahead of the distressed woman.
Maggie yelled, “Over here!” she reached out over the edge of the carpet. The woman ran toward them.
“Carpet slower. Get on lady,”
The woman took Maggie’s hand and was pulled onto the carpet.
“Go carpet!” The carpet quickly rose and left the woman’s astonished pursuer standing alone in the meadow.
The woman clung to Maggie, “Oh, my God, you saved me.” She looked around and panicked.
“Don’t be frightened. We’ll take you to safety. Did you drive into the park?”
“No, I walked in. I live at 12th and Fulton. What is this thing?”
“It’s a flying carpet. It’s quite safe. Who was that man chasing you?”
“I have no idea. I saw him lurking in the bushes and tried to walk away. But I was alone. There was no one near me. He got closer so I ran out into the meadow screaming, hoping someone would hear me.”
“Well, we did. You have quite a set of lungs on you. I’ll bet they heard you in Oakland.”
“I’m a singer.”
“Well, no wonder. We’re over Fulton. Do you see your home?”
“Yes, it’s the building on that corner.”
“Carpet set down on that corner over there.”
The carpet slowed and settled down on the corner of 12th and Fulton.
“What’s your name?” Daniel asked with a friendly smile.
“Got a last name?” Daniel continued to smile.
“Pretty name, Myra Benson. Are you married?” Daniel laughed.
“No. Are you?” Now Myra was smiling.
“No. Got a phone number?”
“Yes.” Myra waited.
“May I have it?”
“How did you get a number like that?”
“I asked for it.”
“May I call you sometime?”
“Hey, you two. Traffic is beginning to back up. We need to get out of here.” Maggie grabbed Daniel’s ankle. “Come on, let’s go.”
“Gotta go, Myra. May I call you?”
“Yes, and thank you, Daniel – for rescuing me.”
“All in a day’s work.” Daniel smiled as Maggie rolled her eyes. “Okay carpet let’s go.” Myra backed up as the carpet lifted off and climbed above the buildings. Daniel looked over the side of the carpet and waved.”
“Daniel, be careful. You’ll fall off.”
“No, I don’t think so. I feel perfectly safe riding this thing. Where to now?
“Take me back to your place. This has been more than enough excitement for one day.” Maggie smiled at David who was smitten by the damsel he rescued.
The magic carpet settled down in the courtyard. Maggie stepped off and looked at Daniel, “All in a day’s work. Who do you think you’re kidding?” Maggie could not contain a grin. “You’re up to something – what?”
“I’m going back to the park and try and find that guy. I’ll call the police if I spot him.” He smiled devilishly at Maggie. “Ok, Mr. Carpet – back to Golden Gate Park.”
The carpet rose quickly above the apartment building and paused. Daniel waved to Maggie as he and his flying carpet moved away. Maggie smiled and shook her head, “Philo Vance lives again.”
The next morning Maggie placed the San Francisco Herald on the table and settled into a chair with her cup of coffee poised for a sip. She unfolded the paper and almost spilled her coffee when she saw the headline.
The article by Cris Lombard told the story of how the mystery man contacted the police; guiding them to the location of a known rapist hiding in Golden Gate Park. Once the police apprehended the suspect, the mystery man and his flying carpet disappeared.
The article continued to speculate on who the mystery man was and the technology he used in the vehicle he traveled on.
Maggie could not keep from laughing. She put the paper down and reached for her cell phone. “Philo Vance, is that you?”
“Yes, it’s me. Have you seen the Herald this morning?”
“No, I haven’t. I don’t get the paper.”
“Well, you better go get a copy. You and Mr. Carpet are headlines.”
“There’s a front-page story on how you assisted the police in apprehending the man who pursued Myra.”
“I did, but I didn’t hang around long enough to give a story to anyone. I got out of there as soon as I was sure the cops spotted this guy. I did give them Myra’s phone number. Gosh, I better call her and explain. The cops probably gave the Herald reporter her number. Oh, boy, I’ll bet she’s pissed at me.”
“Maybe not. It will be good publicity for her singing career. And, she might be looking forward to hearing from you. Bye.”
“What do you mean? Maggie?”
“Hi, Myra. Am I in trouble?”
Myra laughed out loud when she realized who it was, “No, you’re not in trouble. I’m glad you called. We need to meet so you can fill me in on what happened. That reporter from the Herald has been on my heels, trying to get more information about you. I told him I didn’t know anything but he wouldn’t believe me.”
“Why don’t I drive over to your place; we can walk over to the de Young Café. We should be safe there from that reporter. I’ll explain everything from the moment I laid hands on the carpet. Maggie, the gal who hauled you onto the carpet is calling me Philo Vance.”
“Never heard of him.”
“He’s a fictional detective character from the 30s – I’ll explain later.”
“Sounds like a perfect name for you.”
“I’m on my way. Bye.” Daniel grabbed his car keys and headed out the door.
“See ya,” Myra smiled to herself and prepared for Daniel’s visit.
Two hours later Myra set her coffee cup down and looked at Daniel, “That’s the most incredible story I’ve ever heard. It’s straight out of the Arabian Nights.”
“I know, but I’m not sure what to do about it. I did like being able to help you.”
“Why don’t you keep on helping? It’s not as if the rug is going to run out of gas.” They laughed at the idea.
“No, I guess not. Hey, how about taking a walk. I know it’s getting late but there’s still some light.”
“I’m for it. Let’s go.”
“The Japanese Garden is close by. And if there’s still light, we could climb Strawberry Hill. Ever been up there?”
“Let’s do the Japanese Garden and save Strawberry Hill for another time. Okay?”
“Sure.” Daniel thought about taking Myra’s hand as they walked away from the de Young Café but decided against it.
“I love this park but haven’t spent much time here. Today was a good example.”
“I’ll be happy to come along anytime you like,” Daniel smiled at Myra.
“You move right along don’t you, Philo – was that his name?”
Daniel laughed, “Yes, Philo Vance,” he paused, “I meant no harm.”
“I know. Just kidding. When would you like to see Strawberry Hill?”
“Would tomorrow be too soon?”
“I have rehearsal tomorrow. How about the day after?”
“Suits me. What opera are you rehearsing?”
“We’re not sure yet. We’ll be doing highlights, not the entire opera.”
“If you consider Scheherazade, I’ll let you use the carpet. Wouldn’t that be cool?”
Myra looked at Daniel.
“That’s a great idea. I’ll suggest it. We’ll be performing at the Temple of Music in the Park. Having the carpet part of the play would be super.” Myra’s expression changed.
“You don’t like the idea.”
“No, it’s not that, but how would I explain it?”
“I know, we’ll take everyone in your group for a ride.”
Myra laughed. “I’ll suggest it but I don’t think they’ll go for it. There are some old fuddy-duddies that would never agree.”
“When is the performance?”
“Six weeks from now. It’s on a Sunday afternoon. You’ll come won’t you?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” After a pause, he added, “You didn’t seem afraid when you were on the carpet.”
“Daniel, I was so grateful to be away from that man, I was fearless for the moment.”
Daniel stood still.
“I’m not sure. This may not work.” He looked up, “Mr. Carpet, I need you.”
“You don’t think …?”
“I don’t know. Probably not. Just a thought. Come on let’s explore the garden.”
Half an hour later, as they walked toward Myra’s apartment, Myra gripped Daniel’s hand, “What?”
“Don’t look now, but we’re being followed.”
Daniel turned around. “Oh, my God, it heard me.” He began to laugh. “Wanna ride the rest of the way to your place?”
“Sure, why not.”
“Over here, Mr. Carpet.” The carpet moved slowly to the couple and settled in front of them. They climbed aboard and knelt down, “12th and Fulton, Mr. Carpet.”
The carpet gently rose over the treetops and moved toward Myra’s apartment.
“Daniel, you should give the carpet a real name.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Mr. Carpet is kind of corny. Got any suggestions?”
“Not off the top of my head … well, maybe.”
“How does ‘Jack’ strike you?”
“I don’t know. Let’s ask. Hey, Jack. How do you like your new name?” The carpet circled around and rippled its surface. “I think he likes it.” They laughed.
The carpet settled on the corner of 12th and Fulton. Myra stepped onto the sidewalk. “Thank you for a very unusual and enjoyable day, Daniel; and you too, Jack.”
“We could go to the wine country someday.”
“Yes, of course, how wonderful to view the vineyards from the air.”
“Bring some pillows along and we could float along the coast. Maybe stop off at a secluded beach. What do you think?”
Myra smiled. “Goodnight, Daniel. See you day after tomorrow.”
“Right. Ok, Jack, take me home, please.” He waved to Myra as the carpet lifted off, circled once then headed for Daniel’s apartment.
“I have a surprise for you.”
“I’ve renamed the carpet. I’m calling it Jack.”
“Have you tried the new name?”
“Yes, and the carpet loves it. Believe it or not, I was in the Park with Myra and called for the carpet which I had left in my apartment.”
“Half an hour later Myra spotted it following us.”
“That’s most interesting. I wonder if thinking a command will activate Jack. You need to experiment.”
“So, what are your plans with Jack and Myra?”
“Other than fighting crime?”
Maggie laughed, “Yes, other than fighting crime.”
“I’m taking Myra to the wine country one of these days.”
“Oh, I’m so happy for you. She seems a lovely young woman.”
“I agree,” Daniel laughed.
“I’m also thinking of contacting that Herald reporter and see if he’s interested in fighting crime with me. Kind of like a partnership. What do you think?”
“I think it’s a grand idea.”
“What was his name again?”
“It’s … wait a minute, I’ve got the paper right here. His name is Cris Lombard and his email is cris f lombard, one word, all lower case, at gmail dot com.”
“I’ll drop him a line and see what he thinks. I know he’s chafing at the bit to find out more about me and Jack. I’ll keep you posted. Ciao.”