There must be a Magic Shop.
That’s a rule inscribed upon the firmament just a few degrees from the Hennaed Hand of Cassiopeia. Next time you’re away from the bright lights of the city and the night sky is clear, just look up and you’ll see it.
You may have to squint.
We take this a bit like the constitutional requirement for the United States government to have a post office – that once there is anything else, there must also be a Magic Shop.
Certain enthusiasts, however, will tell you – with their usual breathless fanaticism, that it is not just a matter of a mandate, but rather an intrinsic property of, well, everything. They claim that there has always been a Magic Shop – that when darkness shrouded lips first whispered, “Fiat Lux,” one of the things they illuminated was an already dusty storefront in whose windows lurked wonders.
That’s not quite true. We take license. Whatever that ancient Shop looked like, it probably wasn’t of the Victorian model immortalized on Oxford Street by H.G. Wells and Joseph Bland.
Such shops are notoriously both inconstant and iconoclastic so who’s to say whether the radially symmetric denizens of ancient Fomalhaut might not have appreciated some nice wallpaper? By all accounts, our own unwashed hide-wearing ancestors enjoyed the Edison bulbs and fine oak joinery.
The point is merely that we can’t really take credit for the shop. We’re merely the latest inheritor of this deeply improbable archetype. You’ll need to go over our heads to management if you have complaints about the inconvenient hours, unreliable stock, absurd prices, and eccentric storekeepers.
We suspect, though, that you wouldn’t want it any other way. Incense carried by camel along the Spice Road from Samarkand might never arrive, but how much wizardry is left in a thermoplastic wand after it’s traversed the global supply chain connected to one’s portable telephone? Which sort of talisman would you rather rely on if you’re being stalked by a thing with skin of inked parchment and eyes of guttering candleflame?
Contractually, we can’t claim their endorsement; however, between you and us, we can tell you that the grey cloaked Agents of the Dead Letter Office won’t shop anywhere else.
Also, we have to remind you that, of course, none of this is real.
Magic doesn’t exist. A Magic Shop is an absurdity for children and fools. No giant immortal catfish swims beneath the Roebling Bridge, and the stone lions of Mutter Gottes are immobile even in moonlight.
Still, absurd or not, there must be a Magic Shop, which means there must be proprietors. It has all taken much longer than expected, and this particular Shop’s birth hasn’t been without trauma. That was probably inevitable. Things that matter demand sacrifice.
So, please forbear us the delay.
We are looking forward to seeing you when the plague dogs depart. We think you’ll like the wallpaper.