Madame Pele's Fire
by Taryn Hook
The child extended her palm towards Harlan. “Is it really a bad rock, Mister?"
Harlan laughed and patted his protruding belly. “Of course not, Honey. Would I give you a bad rock, cutie pie?"
The girl’s mother laughed. “Nicole’s heard about Madame Pele’s Curse."
Harlan waved at the air as if swatting some insignificant bug. “Oh that. It’s asinine really. The local people here worship Madame Pele. She is the one and only Hawaiian Fire Goddess of the volcano on which we now stand, Mauna Kea. According to the curse, if you’re into this type of nonsense, Madame Pele believes the lava rocks are her children. Therefore, anyone who takes one home is cursed, their lives forever ruined with bad luck. But it’s all hogwash.” Harlan smiled displaying a piece of a smashed Bugle snack on his grey front teeth. “Lame story. Totally lame.”
Harlan closed the girl’s fingers around the rock. “Take it home, my dear, with our compliments. It’s not bad luck to take a rock home at all. Not at all. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s good luck.”
The girl’s eyes widened. “It’s so shiny."
“The shiny ones are particularly good luck," added Harlan.
“But I thought it was illegal to take lava rocks home," said the girl’s father.
“We sometimes make exceptions," said Lester who was standing in the corner stuffing his face with Pringles.
Harlan glanced at Lester and gave him a funny look, which seemed to say, “Shut up you idiot, I’ve got this."
“Yes…er…Yes, my associate is right. As Mauna Kea Information Kiosk Officers, we have the power to make exceptions.” He winked at the girl. “In special cases. And you my pretty little morsel are quite the exception. Now run along. Lester and I have work to do. And enjoy the rock. Put it somewhere where the whole family can see it and remember the fun you had on your trip to Hawaii. Your mantelpiece might be an excellent place to display it, if you want my recommendation. Good luck is sure to follow."
After the family left, Lester, with difficulty, managed to successfully swallow his mouthful of Pringles. He wiped off the crumbs with the back of his sleeve. “So, you’d cheat a little girl, Har," he asked. “This is a new low, even by your standards. We agreed that our trusty 3D Copier usage is restricted to icky newlyweds or to fat tourist types from the Midwest. Not children."