Finnley just stared at Henry. He had not, in fact, come to this conclusion at all. He was still muddling through what little he knew of the antique shop, trying to figure out how everything could fit together. The words "not stationary" echoed around and around in his head.
"Well, perhaps that isn't exactly the best way to put it," Henry reconsidered. "There's only the one shop, and I suppose it stays in place somewhere. But the doors... they open anywhere they're needed. Nearly everywhere." Finnley didn't think this further explanation helped much. His head was hurting a bit. He searched behind him for a chair and fell into it. It wasn't the first strange thing he'd seen here, but still. Couldn't just one thing be normal for once?
Finnley heard the clattering of boots on the stairs before the wild haired woman swept down them, a steaming mug clasped in her hands. She briskly nodded to Henry and Finnley, and he hardly had time to blink before she had whisked out the door. Mr. Vaughn descended the steps much more slowly, as if some fresh weight had been added to his shoulders. He took one look at the pair, and the weight seemed to get heavier.
"Come here and let me get that music box all sorted out for you, Henry," he said, sitting down heavily into the chair behind his desk. It let out a creak of protest. Henry turned around and set the music box in front of him, pulling his wallet from his pocket.
Finnley tuned out of the transaction. Inside, he was a torrent of questions and possibilities. He couldn't think of any way to explain the store, not in all the endless knowledge he'd learned from school and libraries and hard studying. No scientific explanation, at least. It shouldn't have been possible, and yet it was. Then, a single word whispered up from the depths of his mind: magic. That word seemed to cover it all, but what did it truly mean?
Having paid for his fiancé's gift, Henry headed for the door. "I do hope we meet again, Finnley. I'm certain that we will if you continue to frequent this shop; I come back here often, and now, perhaps, more frequently than before." He had already pulled open the door, but he looked back briefly at Finnley, and his eyes were soft. "Take care of yourself, Finnley. Things are changing." Then he left, leaving Finnley in the wake of his words, which seemed to echo the past few weeks of his life. Mr. Vaughn sighed, snapping his attention back to the man.
"I didn't want to tell you any of this at first," he started, then rubbed his face with a rough hand and sighed again. "But I'm an old man, and not nearly as subtle as I used to be. Henry's never been subtle at all. When you came into the shop, I could see it in your eyes- the need. The need for a job, for the money to help your family, for a scrap of normalcy and consistency in your torn up life. I truly wanted to give it to you, but this isn't exactly the right place for any of that.
"The woman who just came in was my sister. She watches things in places I can't always be- this shop is my home." Mr. Vaughn's gaze was a bit unfocused, as if gazing into some past or future that Finnley couldn't discern. "She didn't have good news. Things are stirring, and not just here. Some creatures have been around for centuries, existing in the subconscious and being passed off as a mystery or trick of the mind. You've met at least one of them, I believe, in that Wyoming forest. It's unusual, that forest; I'd almost call it an epicenter- but the point is, there are creatures that have been slumbering for an age, and they begin to awaken."
Finnley stared blankly at Mr. Vaughn, trying hopelessly to process everything he was hearing. Mr. Vaughn had seen these creatures, he knew about them, there were more and they were waking up. And it was a traveling store. He let out a short, incredulous laugh. Of all the things...
Mr. Vaughn pulled himself back to the present and leaned forward. "Look. You can have the job right here and now- I'll pay you twenty dollars an hour and you can work whenever you can; I'd like to have you most weekdays, but we can negotiate. You can pretend that nothing is going on, but whatever to believe, something is going on and this job will never be normal."
The job could still be his. He could do something interesting and make enough money to supplement his mother's pay and support them. He could unravel some of the mysteries that had begun to plague him, but it would mean accepting a great deal of insanity that he hadn't even thought existed before, and some part of him still rebelled every time he thought about these impossibilities.
"There's no way I can ignore the fact that something's happening," Finnley murmured to himself. "Not when Mia and I are already so caught up in it." He locked eyes with Mr. Vaughn and was surprised to find a small piece of himself looking back at him.
"I can come in every day after school except Mondays, and I can work most Saturdays," Finnley declared, but it was more decisive than pompous. "And if you would, sir, I'd like to know some more about all of this business of creatures and moving stores too."
Mr. Vaughn smiled. "I thought you might say that. Be aware, though, that although this information won't be confidential, you shouldn't have a loose tongue. There are some who would abuse such information, so don't share it with anyone unless quite necessary- I understand that your friend Mia would, of course, need to know. Do we have a deal?" He held out his calloused hand, eyes searching through Finnley's soul.
He shook Mr. Vaughn's hand. "We have a deal."