Doctor Jenkins Magical Powders
by P.S.Gifford
forum: Doctor Jenkins Magical Powders
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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Doctor Jenkins Magical Powders


          "Well, I suppose I better see what happens then," Jerry Thomas muttered as he shuffled his way over the chipped kitchen floor tile, skillfully using a well worn wooden cane for support. "One of these days I wont be able to make it by myself at all; it seems to take me longer and longer each day."

          Upon arriving at the sink, he balanced his cane against the stove-top and rested his wrinkled, tired hands upon the cracked countertop. Gradually Jerry caught his breath as he gazed out through the window to a cat contentedly playing in the disheveled back garden. "Looks like Mrs. Gibson, the kook next door, has adopted yet another stray. She must feed at least a dozen of them by now," he thought to himself. He looked at disgust at the abundance of weeds. Once he had been able to tend to it regularly and nurture it and it was always impeccably manicured, but it had been years since he had had the agility, or stamina, to do so. These days he simply paid a local teenager twice a month to trim back the lawn and pull the weeds, but he never did a very good job and always wanted far too much money for the effort he put in. His eyes glazed over as he harked back to being a young man, remembering how he used to love the feel of cut grass against his bare feet as he gaily raced through it in the early evening. As a teenager he used to cut his neighbor's lawn for free, just because it was the decent thing to do. And that was back in the day before there was any gas or electric mowers. How times, and people, had surely changed. Back in his day people used to care and have respect for the old folks These days he could barely manage even to make it outside to the back garden due to there being two oversized steps in the way, and the last time he had tried he had fallen.

          He stared at himself in the cracked mirror above the kitchen sink. The eighty-three-year-old eyes stared directly back at him with a remarkable sharpness belying their age. However, the rest of his features betrayed the truth. In fact, it was amazing he was still alive, he considered with a bittersweet chortle. He gazed once more at his reflection. The bald wrinkled head, with the remnants of the four-inch scar over his right eye, where he had gotten into that bar fight forty-seven years previous. He smiled as he remembered why he had gotten into the fight. Jessica Wilkins, a fiery, green eyed red head eight years his junior, she had been attracting the wrong kind of attention at Mulligan's Bar, and naturally he felt it was his place to sort it out. She was the prettiest girl he had ever met—her hair was such a peculiar radiant shade of red, and on the left side there was a single natural streak of blonde hair. He had loved her the day he first set eyes on her, but never dared to tell her so. She was far too pretty to be bothered with the likes of him—and she ended up marrying Robert Walker, the geekiest bloke in school, and he never felt the desire to ask anyone to marry him. So many regrets, Jerry sighed. He studied the hearing aid in his wrinkled hairy ears framing his bald head. His hearing had once been so acute; he then focused his gaze upon the multitude of varieties of birds flocking in his garden. He used to love hearing their delicate, cheerful song. Jerry could not quite recall precisely when his hearing had finally gone. He supposed it had happened gradually over many years. Jerry just remembered waking up one morning to a silent world. The hearing aid offered him some assistance, yet it was never quite the same, as everything sounded unnatural.

          Heaving another heavy sigh, he pulled out a paper packet from his dressing gown pocket and read the colorful label out loud.

          "Doctors Jenkins Magical Powders—Guaranteed to remedy the most important things that ail you."

          As he keenly examined the packet, Jerry thought back to the previous afternoon. It had been just after two when the curious salesman, dressed in a grey pin-striped suit and bowler hat that would have been the height of fashion when he had been a young boy, had rung the doorbell which made the red light flash.

          "Hang on, I'll be there in just a minute or two," Jerry yelled much louder than he realized, as he unhurriedly negotiated his way along the corridor. Upon opening the front door he saw a pleasing, gregarious man standing there beaming at him. The man was of an unusually average build and height and promptly introduced himself as the internationally famous Doctor Jenkins. Jerry, as hard as he tried, could not determine how old the gentleman was. Maybe thirty, perhaps even sixty? He did know, however, that he did not want to purchase anything from him. In fact, he had never in his entire life purchased anything from a door-to-door salesman, for he had never seen fit to trust them. Despite Jerry trying to tell him he wasn't interested, Doctor Jenkins persisted in informing him all about his incredible magical powder that he had recently developed. He exclaimed with elaborate hand gestures and how it dramatically improved all those fortunate enough to imbibe it. As Jerry still attempted to shake his head to dismiss him, the doctor stated that he could try it entirely and absolutely free on approval. Adding, as he shook his hand again, that he would be back in exactly one week and only if he was entirely happy with the product would he have to pay him the very modest sum of ten pounds. All that all he had to do was to write a check and date it one week ahead. What did he have to lose? What's more, there was something reassuring in that hand shake, Jerry considered thoughtfully. It was an old-fashioned sort of hand-shake, not like the types that the young men exchanged today. It was firm, genuine and honorable. And besides, the man spoke clearly and looked directly at him, allowing him to easily read his lips. It was almost as if he could properly hear what the salesman was saying... Before Jerry realized what precisely had transpired, he had agreed, written out the check, and placed the peculiar packet in his pajama pocket. With that, dapper Doctor Jenkins had thanked him, informed him to follow precisely the simple instructions on the packet, had abruptly turned about and had begun to stroll back down his driveway, whistling cheerfully as he went.

          So here Jerry Thomas stood, at the kitchen sink, with the peculiar packet in his hands.

          He looked at the instructions and read them out loud.

          "Simply add to a cup of water, no more and no less. Then wait exactly one minute and drink whilst holding your nose."

          Jerry took a bright yellow chintz teacup from the sink. Turning on the cold-water tap, he rinsed it out several times and placed it on the draining board. Taking a deep breath, he ripped open the packet of magic powder and poured it carefully into the cup.

          "Looks like bloody baking soda," he grumbled. "Still, I do have a bit of a sour stomach."

          He turned the tap on to a slow trickle and placed the tea cup under its flow and watched it closely. As soon as the water came into contact with the powder, it began to hiss, sputter and fizz. Jerry watched on through squinted eyes, shaking his head in distrust.

          "I reckon I have just been conned for ten quid. Oh well, if nothing else it might be able to give my old dentures a good clean." He chuckled.

          When he decided it was precisely a cup, he turned the tap off and began to count out loud

          "One biscuit, two biscuits, three biscuits, four biscuits… Fifty-eight biscuits, fifty-nine biscuits, sixty biscuits."

          Placing the teacup to his mouth with a trembling left hand, he held his nose with his right and tipped the cup. The liquid tickled as it entered his mouth, and it continued to tickle as it made its way past his tonsils, down his throat and down into his stomach.

          Jerry was not quite sure what happened next; for a few moments, everything went blank. When he came to again, he felt strange, very strange indeed... He did not feel bad, in fact, far from it. He felt bloody amazing, energetic and full of life. Looking about him, he was unsure of where he was. Then, as he spun about, he was startled to discover that he was sitting in his sink next to the now empty and very large yellow chintz teacup.

          What has happened? Jerry thought. I have shrunk? Jerry pulled himself up on the side of the sink, amazed at his own agility. Boy, do I feel good though, he realized. Getting himself into position, he looked at himself in the mirror and recoiled back in horror... A strange yet enchanted furry face stared directly back at him. However there was something very familiar in the eyes; they were his own. I am a cat! My God—those magic powders have turned me into a bloody cat! His mind began to reel. What sort of an existence is this going to be? Then he happened to gaze once more out of the kitchen window and into the back garden. He immediately saw her: the most beautiful red-coated feline he had ever seen slinking sultrily across his freshly mown lawn. She seductively turned and met his astonished, jaw-dropped gaze. It was when he could have sworn she had actually winked at him that he noticed that she had a distinct blonde streak in her glorious coat.

          Jerry adroitly darted out of the sink, with astonishing speed and pushed his way out into the beautiful spring day to meet his new companion. As he made his way onto the grass, he could smell all the scents of an English spring day and hear the birds.

          All at once Jerry Thomas knew, without any doubt, precisely what true happiness was.


          One week later.

          As the two cats friskily gallivanted in the blades of grass, they failed to notice a particularly well dressed gentleman making his way up the side of the house whistling cheerfully as he went. Doctor Jenkins peered over the garden fence and gazed through a space in the overgrown hedgerow. Upon seeing the two contented cats frolicking happily together, he nodded and turned around.

          As he made his way back down the street, he pulled two checks out of his pocket.

          "Time to make a deposit!" he said out loud to no-one in particular. "And then I have two more packets of my very special powders to sell."



copyright 2007 P.S.Gifford.

P.S.Gifford is a transplanted Englishman who now calls California home. His first book, "The Curious Accounts of the Imaginary Friend," is currently on sale. For more details, please visit his website, aptly named,