The Isle of the Lost (Page 22)

Nothing did.

“Nice pajamas.” Jay smirked. The trick with his father was to keep moving, to stay on your toes, and above all else, to avoid answering the question, because none of the answers were ever right. When you couldn’t win, you shouldn’t give in and play. That was just setting yourself up for disaster.

I mean, my dad’s best friend is a parrot.

Enough said.

“Nice pajamas!” Iago squawked. “Nice pajamas!”

Jafar was wearing a faded bathrobe over saggy pajamas with little lamps printed all over them. If twenty years of being frozen could turn a raven cuckoo, twenty years of life among the lost had done just as much to diminish the former Grand Vizier of Agrabah’s infamy, along with his grandeur and panache (at least, that was how his father thought of it). Gone were the sumptuous silks and plush velvet jackets, replaced by a uniform of ratty velour sweat suits and sweat-stained undershirts that smelled a little too strongly of their shop’s marketplace stand, which was located, rather unfortunately and quite directly across from the horse stalls.

The sleek black beard was now raggedy and gray, and there was the aforementioned gut. Iago had taken to calling him “the sultan,” since Jafar now resembled his old adversary in size; although, in all fairness, Iago himself looked like he was on a daily cracker binge.

In return, Jafar called his feathered pal things that were unrepeatable by any standard, even a parrot’s.

Jay hated his father’s pajamas: they were a sign of how far their once royalty-adjacent family had fallen. The flannel was worn so thin in places you could see Jafar’s belly roll beneath it. Jay tried not to look too closely, even now, in the shadows of the early morning light.

His father ignored the pajama insults. He’d heard them all before. He wolfed down his midnight snack with relish without offering Jay a bite. “Come on, come on, get on with it. What’d we get? Let’s have a look.”

Jay eyed his carpet roll at the end of the room, beyond the table—but he also knew there was no way of getting past his father now. He reluctantly unpacked his pockets. “Broken glass slipper, got it from one of the step-granddaughters. With some glue, we could get a good price for it.” The cracked, heel-less slipper shattered into a pile of glass shards the moment it hit the table. Jafar raised an eyebrow.

“Um, superglue?” Jay kept going. “One of Lucifer’s collars, Rick Ratcliffe’s pistol keychain—and look, a real glass eye!” It was covered in lint. “It’s only a little used. I got it from one of the pirates.” He held it up to his own eye and peered through the glass—then jerked it away, wrinkling his nose and fanning his face with his hand. “Why don’t pirates ever bathe? Hello, it’s called a shower. It’s not like they’re even out at sea anymore.” With that, he rolled the eyeball across the table to his father.

Iago squawked curiously while Jay waited for the inevitable.

Jafar waved a dismissive hand over the items and sighed. “Garbage.”

“Garbage!” Iago shrieked. “Garbage!”

“But that’s all there is on this island,” Jay argued, leaning against the kitchen sink. “This is the Isle of the Lost, the Isle of the Leftovers, remember?”

His father frowned. “You went to the De Vil place, and you didn’t score a fur coat? What were you doing in there all night? Slobbering over Maleficent’s girl?”

Jay rolled his eyes. “For the ten-thousandth time, no. And it’s not like I was the one locked in the coat closet.” As he said it, he wondered why he hadn’t thought of that.

“You need to try harder! What about that princess? The one who’s just come out of the castle?”

“Oh yeah, her. I forgot.” Jay dug into his jeans pocket and brought out a silver necklace with a red poisoned-apple charm on it. “That’s all she had on her. I’m telling you, even the castles around this place are dumps.”

Jafar put on a pair of spectacles and examined the jewelry, squinting first with one eye, then with the other. His eyesight was going, and his back ached from the extra work of carrying around his own sweatsuited belly; even villains were not spared the perils of aging. “Paste and glass. In my day, a servant wouldn’t have worn that, let alone a princess. Not quite the big score we’re looking for.” He tossed the bauble aside, sighing as he stopped to feed Iago another cracker.

“Score,” said Iago, gleefully spitting cracker crumbs. “Big Score!”

Jay’s shoulders slumped.

The big score.

It was his father’s dream: that one day his only son would find a cachet of loot so big, so rich, so laden with gold, that Jafar would no longer have to preside over a junk shop, ever again. No matter that the Isle of the Lost was a floating rubbish heap; somehow Jafar believed the big score was always right around the corner—a bounty that could transport him back to his rightful place as a sorcerer, with all its power and trappings.

Talk about delusional.

Even if it did exist, could such a treasure take any of them back in time to a better day, or free them from a lifetime of imprisonment? As if an object or a jewel or any amount of gold coins could fix the mess that people like Jafar had gotten them all into, in the first place?

The big score. His father was as crazy as Mal had been tonight. Jay shook his head.

And then he just shook. Because he’d thought of something.

Hang on.

What had Mal told him tonight? That the raven believed Maleficent’s scepter, the Dragon’s Eye, was hidden somewhere on this island? If Diablo was telling the truth, and Jay was able to find it, it would be the biggest score of the year. Of the century! He thought it through. Was it possible? Could it be that easy? Could his father have been right to hold on to the faintest hope for something better, even after all these years?

Nah.

Jay rubbed his eyes. It had been a long night. There was no way that thing was on the Isle of the Lost. There was nothing of power here—not when it came to people, and not when it came to their stuff.

And even if it was here—however unlikely that might be—the dome over the island kept out all magic out. The Dragon’s Eye was just a fancy name for a walking stick now. Like he’d told Mal, it was a useless enterprise. They were better off trying to hijack a boat out of the Goblin Wharf back to Auradon. Not that any of them would want to live there.

Maybe we belong on the Isle of the Lost, Leftover, and Forgotten. Maybe that’s how this story is supposed to go.

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