2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Potion

"Let me see your hand, Billy Mitchell."

"How do you know my name?"

"Would Mistress Ruth be a Romani wise woman if she didn't?" The gypsy took his hand in hers and blew herbal-scented breath across it. Her finger traced lines across his palm, then did an elegant motion that Billy could have sworn left faint glowing lines in the air. "Now, tell madame what you are looking for." She smiled, the candlelight of the shop glinting off her gold tooth.

Billy blushed and looked down. "Um, I have this problem. Women don't notice me; I haven't had a date in three years."

"Yes, your romance lines have been severed. That can be fixed with a simple potion."

He suddenly looked dubious. "How much is it going to cost?"

"We will discuss that later. It will not be money." She curtseyed and spun, her arms drawing sinuous shapes in the air to the music of rippling bracelets.

"Well, what…"

She placed a sparkling finger on his lips to shush him. "Come over here. I will mix it in this basin, but you must watch." As she sashayed over she tossed her raven hair, looked back and winked.

Billy watched her work. First she mixed a small amount of three different powders, then added a few drops of oil, carefully mixing with her finger. After that three more powders were rubbed into the paste, then a tear from her left eye. Finally she scooped the mixture into a tiny bottle of clear liquid, which turned black as the two joined. The distinctive scent of nail polish remover drifted up, making Billy's eyes water.

"What do I do with this?" Billy dreaded the answer, and got it.

"You drink it. Just a drop on your tongue."

Billy steeled himself, plugged his nose, closed his eyes, and sipped.

His vision went blurry; he had to reach out and stabilize himself. His hands found the only support present: the young gypsy woman. He could have sworn he'd grown a third arm, but that was okay since that gave him two to wrap around her and a third to hold the potion for another sip.

Billy lost track of time after that, lost in a daze of arms, wings, legs, and lips. Mostly lips. When he regained his senses he was sitting naked under a blanket in the back of a police car with his hands cuffed behind him. An officer in the driver's seat was reading out loud.

"Mister William Mitchell, you're in custody in a police car at 34th and Vine. You are under arrest for indecent exposure, creating a disturbance, resisting arrest, public intoxication, and obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties. You have the right to remain silent…"

Billy stopped listening; he was more interested in the police woman seated in the front passenger seat, who was looking back and mouthing "Call me".