“You said you were a Knappheit? That’s German? I didn’t catch your name.”
“Quite right, it means shortage, lack of. But in our case it means famine. My name however, is just Edith”
“That’s some name to give yourselves.” Edith stood over the map waving a curved wooden stick over it.
“Unlike the more outgoing of the cursed we didn’t get to make a choice. Ours was branded into our history, due to those of us who made some bad decisions.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t mean…”
“I know you didn’t. I’m sorry David and Isaac are a little bit short sighted and haven’t told you much. It comes with the age. Let me give you some simple points that you’ll want to follow if you want to survive as long as they have. Don’t assume anything about the cursed. Don’t trust anyone that’s cursed until you know what that curse does to them. Don’t trust any soulless, ever. Don’t make deals with demons, beware of deals with anything else. And above all else, trust your gut, if it thinks something is wrong, leave.”
“I’ll do my best.”
The stick shot out of Edith’s hand and slammed into the map. Her hand followed, grabbing it and holding it in place.
“He’s a three streets over, closer to the center of town. I think there’s a small bar on that street. I’d say he was there.”
“Thank you Edith. You’ve been a lot of help. Let me know if you need anything from the magic shop and I’ll try to give you a discount.”
“Oh I know you will dear. Now go.”
From the end of the street you wouldn’t know that it had a bar on it. There were no other stores, only family sized houses. Whiskey wondered how they got a license to serve alcohol in this area until she realized it wasn’t exactly a legitimate enterprise.
It was a small house on an even smaller lot that had been renovated to be mostly exposed with open windows to the outside. A small neon sign was temporarily held above the windows, it seemed to be easily taken down in the event of police intervention.
Whiskey didn’t see any sign of Han, she hoped he was just using the bathroom. The bar wasn’t packed but it was definitely well used. There were several guys sitting by the window, some still in their suits having not changed after work. Three young couples near Whiskey’s age were standing nearby, they paid no attention to Whiskey.
“Hey, can I dark spirit with a dark mixer?”
“Rum, whiskey or bourbon? Coke?” The bartender was much grumpier than Whiskey had anticipated
“We both know it doesn’t matter.” She mimicked his attitude.
“That’s a good price, I’m really not in the city anymore huh?”
She took her drink and sat and the far edge of the lot facing the door to the toilet. A thin line of light surrounded the door, she reasoned that it meant he was inside.
Her glass was empty now. It had only been a few minutes but she really didn’t want to wait around all night. Getting up in the middle of deciding what to do her train of thought dropped off. Sitting back down she took in what she saw.
Han half stumbled half stepped out of the toilet holding a girl against him, mouths trying to get inside of each other. They were very loudly sucking on each others faces. Whiskey noticed one of the couples tsk at them.
She couldn’t help but laugh, at least quietly. The girl Han was holding onto was all dolled up and wearing barely anything. Han probably only needed some money to get this one, love potion was overdoing it.
They finally unstuck, taking a breather. Han swung one of his arms around almost drunkenly. He almost hit one of the women that was standing with her partner. She snapped around ready to verbally destroy him.
“You want in on this?” Whiskey froze, she felt like all of her blood ran into her face. The woman seemed to go limp, her face suddenly happy instead of angry.
“What?” Her partner didn’t know what was real anymore.
Whiskey jumped out of her seat and found herself between the woman and Han in a second.
“Oh… It’s you. I guess you…” Her stomach flipped over. “… want some too?”
Her fist connected with the side of Han’s temple. She hadn’t realised that he was actually shorter than her. Han toppled over like a plank of wood, the other side of his head hitting the ground, knocking him straight out.
“Huh, wha?” Both women Han had wooed shook their head. The spell, a tablecloth on their minds, ripped away.
“Sorry about my brother.” Whiskey wasn’t sure how believable that was, but hopefully they wouldn’t think about it till much later. “When he gets too drunk we have to put him down or he becomes insatiable.” She knelt down and pulled his arm over her shoulder.
Dragging him past all the bewildered faces she realized how far she would have to drag him. “Fuck it.” She slipped her hand under his legs and pulled him onto her back.
No-one said any real words to her on the way out, they just made short noises as though they were trying to ask a difficult question.
He was light enough that she could walk him to the end of the street. But she had to lay down with him on the grass for a moment to catch her breath.
Edith made hurried steps out of her house when Whiskey had finally made it near her house.
“Bring him inside!”
“Okay.” She huffed with as much air as could bring in.
“Was this caused by the defective stock?”
“…It… wasn’t… not caused by it…” ‘I need to get fit if I’m going to work like this’
“He’s got nasty bruises on his head, I don’t think I know what could cause that.”
“A fist and a floor.”
“Someone hit him?”
“Well, basically the potion did exactly as advertised.”
“Makes people hit you? Why would he want that?”
“I’m going to let him tell you. But just let him know that I’m sorry when he wakes up. Also that he can pick up his correct dosage tomorrow.”
Whiskey stumbled out of Edith’s house. She thought about going back to the bar very briefly. After being depressed about sobriety for a couple of steps she remembered that she had several bottles of wine at home.
‘Oh, it’s like they’re calling my name.’ she paused for a step. ‘Must remind myself to never give wine bottles a consciousness.’