I knew straight away that once I was in possession of the amulet, everything would change for me. How did I know? It wasn’t a particularly attractive amulet, in fact it was rather plain, but as soon as I saw it sitting on a shelf in the Age UK charity shop on Broad Street, I started to get a sort of vibe from it. When I happened upon the amulet, I was in a state of limbo, my days were all blurring into one. One particularly ailing aspect of my illness is an inability to make decisions, so when I found myself at that rare moment of true certainty, I had to act upon it.
Of course, I had to indulge in a bit of dithering before my purchase, pretending to look at a beige mug with ‘celery’ written on it to give the impression that I wasn’t an impulse buyer. you see, I wanted to bestow an appropriate amount of reverence to the amulet – too little and it might not think me worthy enough to possess it, too much and other people in the shop might notice the amulet and try and take it for themselves. I touched the celery mug gently for good measure and then swiftly picked up the amulet. A smile spread across my face and remained there for the duration of my transaction, due to the fact that I just couldn’t believe I was purchasing a life changing object for the meagre price of £3.99. The man who was processing the transaction didn’t seem to recognise the importance of the amulet – he usually made a little joke about the thing I was buying. Once I purchased an anchovy decanter (for £4.99 – bargain!) and the man at the counter said, ‘this is a good find init, you’re bound to get your omega 3 with this little number.’ I didn’t really know what to say so I just nodded profusely, laughed and said, ‘yes, I’m looking forward to when they release the sardine jug.’ He must not have heard me because he didn’t acknowledge my attempt at banter, but still, looking back on that occasion, he seemed far more jovial then than he was now. His slightly acerbic demeanour worked in my favour – it must have meant that he didn’t notice the power of the amulet, and so I would be able to claim it without anyone trying to challenge me thereafter.
As I walked out of the shop with the amulet in my palm, I felt powerful, like Ivar the Boneless after he conquered Ireland. I couldn’t help but laugh to myself as I walked down the street, aware of an elderly lady giving me a sideways glance as she walked past, but impervious to any feelings of self consciousness that might usually accrue if I had experienced her wry eye sans amulet.
When I got home I began to inspect the amulet closely. It had some sort of ancient rune embossed onto it, in the shape of a spiral. There was a clasp which implied that it could be opened, but when I tried, I had no luck. I didn’t force it because I was worried that It would break, so opted for looking it up online. My search for ‘spiral rune amulet thing’ yielded meagre results, so I decided to contact an amulet specialist and typed ‘amuletist’ into the search engine. I clicked on the first result, which took me to the web page of one Argus Rind – local Amuletist. I thought that it might be best to show Mr Rind the amulet in person as I my initial search online had confirmed my descriptive ineptitude. Besides, I wasn’t great with phone calls anyway – due to my condition, I find the constant pressure to keep saying things rather taxing.
I was a little bemused as I made my way to see Mr Rind because the website stated that his office was in the local garden centre cafe. I walked past the scented candles and spotted one in the shape of a Lenin bust – black rose and yeast. Garden centres sold everything these days, so I guess it wasn’t beyond reason that someone could rent out an office space here. Sure enough, there was a man who seemed to be in his mid-sixties sitting in the cafe with an ‘Argus Rind – Amuletist’ nameplate on the table. I awkwardly walked up to his office, not really knowing how to go about the whole affair. ‘Um, hello, are you Argus Rind?’ As soon the utterance escaped my mouth I mentally chastised myself, ‘of course he is you idiot, what an inane question to ask.’ Mr Rind however didn’t seem to mind and looked up and grinned, ‘Indeed I am, pal. Apologies for all this,’ he said as he motioned towards our environs, ‘I’m between offices so I’m hot-desking at the moment, take a seat.’ I sat down as Mr Rind placed a teacup in front me,
‘It’s not so bad here though, the garden centre knows how important the work I do is so they gave me a good deal on office space – all you have to do is buy a cup of tea and a scone every forty five minutes or so. Here, have a drop of this sage and margoram tea – it really opens you up.’
I watched as he poured the pale viridian tea into the cup and then took a sip as Mr Rind looked on expectantly.
‘…wow, that’s quite… a flavour,’ I said, much to his approval. Honestly, it was like imbibing the dregs of a Sunday roast.
‘So I take it you didn’t come by to sample the exquisite herb tea,’ he said once I’d gulped down the leaf broth. I took the amulet out of my pocket and place it on the table,
‘Well I bought this from a charity shop earlier – it has some sort of clasp thing but I can’t seem to open it.’
Mr Rind picked up the amulet and turned it over in his palm, gently tracing its contours and muttering inaudible words to himself, ‘well this is quite a find…quite a find indeed…’
‘What do you think is inside?’ I asked as he continued to trace a finger over the embossed rune thing.
‘Well I think this might be…if I’m not mistaken…’let’s see, Anglo Saxon runes…,’ he opened the book before him, and flicked through it until he found a picture of the rune on my amulet.
‘If I’m not mistaken, this amulet contains the astral body of Joe Swash.’
I blinked and downed my herb tea.
‘Joe Swash…as in that presenter…the one that was in Eastenders?…but he’s not dead…’
‘One doesn’t have to be dead to have an astral body. It’s something that is both part of a being, and separate from it.’
‘Oh…right. So what exactly does it do? How do you open it?’
‘Well, it basically opens when its owner is in a time of need. So I guess you won’t know until that happens.’
So it was confirmed. I knew that the amulet was special, and what’s more – it had chosen me.
‘Well, thank you for the information. How does this work then? What do I owe you?’
‘Ah well, just being able to hold this particular amulet is a pleasure in itself. But yeah… that’ll be £5.’
I handed over the money, somewhat astounded at what a bargain a life changing realisation such as this could be.
‘Thank you very much – I think I’ll get a tea cake with this,’ he said. I thanked Argus Rind again and made my way home.
I spent the afternoon drinking tea and looking up information on Anglo Saxon runes – I even sprinkled a bit of dried thyme into one cup in a bid to encourage a more ‘open’ style of research. I think I was beginning to come round to the whole herb tea thing , because I did feel like my research was really coming along. I managed to find out that the rune on the amulet went as far back as 625 AD – amazing how something so ancient could be intertwined with the astral body of a TV presenter turned soap star in the 21st Century. Good Morning Mercia indeed.*
*An attempt at a joke – Joe Swash is a presenter on Good Morning Britain, and Mercia was what the midlands was referred to in the 7th Century.
I finished my now tepid thyme tea and got ready to leave for a party that I didn’t want to go to. My illness often causes me to be dragged towards a horizon that I am completely indifferent to, and I simply just allow myself to be dragged like some sort of zombie. I of course took the amulet with me, for it would seem that I had finally acquired a purpose. To possess a purpose that is both tangible and intangible is a rare thing indeed, so I was going to hold onto it. I resolved to always be known as ‘the guy who always has an amulet.’
Unfortunately, my newfound resolve seemed to dissipate as the evening went on. Some of it dissolved when I got trapped in the cross fire of the various conversations taking place upon entering, and now a further amount of resolve was corroding away due to a conversation with a man who was really into playing the bongo drums. ‘As soon as I get back from work, I just have to play them,’ he said, not for the first time. I was searching the deepest recesses of my brain to find anything to say in response, perhaps a rosemary tea would have been a better choice than the can of warm lager I was drinking. With the lack of a mind opening herby beverage, I was only able to reply with,‘Oh..cool…. so what um… what kind of songs do you play?’
‘I’ve been banging out a lot of Flo Rida at the moment,’ he said whilst appearing wide eyed and miming the motions of hitting the bongos to ‘Where Them Girls At?’
I was floored. There was no point in even trying to think of something to say, because there was just nothing I could say. At that moment my mind was a desolate field in 7th century Wessex with nothing in it but dried grass. It felt like I was experiencing eternity, but as I looked up at the grey sky I felt a sort of rumbling beneath. The sensation of something vibrating in my pocket jolted me out of my mental void – I grasped the amulet, holding it tight lest it jump out of my palm. The bongo guy seemed non-plussed with the fact that my clenched fist was shaking rather violently, ‘I play a lot of Pitbull too; you into Pitbull?’ He asked as he cracked open another can of warm Carling, yeasty foam spraying onto his ‘Paul Blart: Mall Cop’ t-shirt.
Just before I could embarrass myself by asking what Pitbull was, I was saved by the clasp of the amulet snapping back and opening up in my hand. An ethereal figure shot out of it and remained hovering in the kitchen.
‘I am the astral body of Joe Swash,’ it proclaimed in a manner that contained both conviction and resignation. The bongo guy finally seemed to emerge from his bongo hip hop reverie to look up incredulously.
‘Mate, that is mental. How did you get Joe Swash to come?’ He asked, mouth agape.
‘I am the astral body of Joe Swash. I am both the same and separate entity to the person you recognise as Joe Swash,’ it replied so I didn’t have to explain.
‘I also transcend time and space,’ it added flatly.
‘Mate, I can actually play the Eastenders theme tune on the bongos – wait, let me go get my kit!’ Bongo guy ran out of the kitchen and into the hallway to rummage in his bag, and I kneaded a knot of pain in my left temple, formed from the notion that he had brought his bongos with him. That, combined with the prospect that I would have to hear him play them, was a recipe for an oncoming brain haemorrhage.
Luckily, Joe Swash’s astral body came to the rescue once more,
‘I harbour no interest in such follies. As previously stated, I can transcend time and space, and am thus beyond anything of the nature.’ Bongo guy stood in the threshold holding his ‘kit,’ looking not so much hurt, but more like he couldn’t quite comprehend that someone wouldn’t want to hear bongo drums being played. He simply shrugged and walked out and into the lounge where I could hear him sing the refrain, ‘Shawdy got low, low, low, low, low…’ before a vaguely rhythmic thumping.
This was obviously eclipsed by everyone congregating in the kitchen to stare in awe at the astral body of Joe Swash. One girl shouted, ‘oh my god do Mickey from Eastenders!’
It stared blankly at her and said, ‘I do not concern myself with such trivial demands. I will however present an excerpt of Good Morning Britain whilst taking the form of a cairn.’ And with that, the astral body of Joe Swash transformed into a pile of rocks and presented the weather in a humorous manner. There was a ripple of applause throughout the room and I was subsequently always referred to as ‘that guy with the amulet.’