Personal Narrative: The Search For Everlasting

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Chapter Sixteen
The Search for Everlasting

An hour later we were following Sawdust Brains back down the hall, up the elevator, and into the colorful room. I sat down in a chair to the right of Ping-Pong. He looked at me with bloodshot eyes and heaved a heavy sigh.
“Uh-oh, someone is a little pouty,” he said. “Would you like some breakfast?”
I nodded and scooted a little farther away from him because, if there was one thing I had learned while watching nearly every episode of The Rockford Files, it was how to tell when someone had been hitting the happy sauce. If Mr. Ping-Pong was a stranger to liquor, I was the Queen of England.
“Madison, you must learn to answer my questions with words.” He made a tsk-tsk sound. “Use your words.”
“Yes, I
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It was taken directly from our training manual: roaming vapors can make even the most stubborn nut job run from the room.
“So you’re the troublemaker.” Mr. Ping-Pong’s expression darkened with annoyance. “Are you going to test me, boy?”
Seth dropped his eyes to the floor. “No, sir.”
“Good. Because despite my age, I believe that if you did, you’d be sorry.”
I gritted my teeth.
Mr. Ping-Pong smiled at Chance. “In some ways, you are a lot like me. Handsome and clever. I would imagine you’re rather skillful in other ways too.”
“Thanks,” he said.
“I want to show you something.” Ping-Pong rang his silver bell.
A woman wearing a silk dress that was so long it nearly dragged on the floor rushed up and bowed before him—her head stooped, knees bent, toes curled inward—a tiny glass bottle and a piece of Stone between her fingertips. She stayed frozen in her devoted stance until Ping-Pong took the Stone.
“I get a bit tipsy-y-y moments before I drink the tonic,” he slurred, dropping the piece into the glass. “My garbled words are a grave indicator of elixir withdrawals.”
The Stone bubbled until it dissolved—melting into a gold solution. Ping-Pong made a raspy noise that might have been soft laughter and drained the
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Or playing an eternal game of chess while listening to someone pluck at a harp.
“Give me the Stone.” His voice was tinged with exasperation. “Or you’ll be locked away permanently in the little room.”
“I think he’s serious, guys.” Chance chewed his lip. “Maybe we can make a deal.”
“You want to haggle with me, boy? By all means, haggle away.”
“We’ll give you the Stone for a fee. I’ll give the money to my aunt—I’m pretty sure she’ll be okay with that—and then you can release us.”
I couldn’t believe that Chance was actually considering handing over the Stone to Ping-Pong. I mean, the Deadwood Detective Agency’s motto was: We investigate anything, including mayhem and murder. Not bargaining with psychos is our area of expertise.
“Unfortunately, I’ve already paid Bane for the Stone. But if you tell me where it is,” Ping-Pong studied the drapes, “I’ll tear up your aunt’s mortgage note and guarantee that the ghost is gone before you get
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