Interview with a Witch
In the back of a used clothes store stood two figures, one tall, the other short.
The short one snapped her fingers to produce a bright, blue light, bringing it up to the mouth of the taller man. As the man sucked on a cigarette, he entered a small coughing fit before steadying himself before the blue haired lady, donning bloomers, a corset, stockings and a small tiger-print jacket.
Before the man could explain himself, the lady inquired, “C, did you really have to go to all the trouble of getting kicked out to catch a smoke break?”
C smiled, as only an eternal idealist with no dignity to lose could. “It’s been a while since I was a talented chain smoker.” C inhaled. “I used to know all the ways to strike a match before a pleasant chat.”
“So talented, you needed a beautiful witch to do all the hard work of lighting up in this dusty space?” The witch gave a toothy grin.
C exhaled, not missing a step. “I meet lots of characters in my work. Most people’ll give you a light if you ask.”
“Oh, you have a real job?” The witched sized up C’s wardrobe, not entirely sure that a salaried worker could willingly piece together the homeless bum look.
“I don’t know.” C looked up introspectively. “I’m given a shopping list of chores nobody else wants to do, I come home. Sometimes, there’s money in my account.”
Looking down at her hand, the witch rubbed the apple on the hem of her dress before taking a bite. “Well as you’ve seen and heard, Vivian and Ain aren’t big on the smell of cigarette smoke. They say that customers don’t really appreciate the finer details of flames and exhaust.”
She proceeded to ignite the ends of her other hand with a larger blue flame, a menacing grin on her face. “But I do.”
C looked into the fire while puffing away. “Eleanor, is this where I’m supposed to tell you ‘can I interest you in a smoke?’ and then you say ‘certainly’ while adding to your air of mystery?”
“Mind your business, smartass.” Eleanor snorted. “Smoking isn’t something I do.” She winked, ”My voice is deep enough as is.” Her gaze trailed off to the moon, “Besides, what would your robot girlfriend think about you chain smoking with pretty ladies when you could be spending the night with her?”
“Oh, I’m not worried about Mem. She sees everything eventually.”
“Your robot’s not the protesting type?” Eleanor had nearly finished her apple. “I’m shocked.”
“Not like that, she’s really pushed me to set a schedule for my life. She has access to all of my memories before they’re wiped out.” C took the moment to light up another cigarette with Eleanor’s blue flame. “So, in that sense, she’ll know more about you than I ever will.”
“Charming. Maybe someday, I’ll get to meet her.”
Eleanor shrugged and took off her jacket. It was fairly clear that C was a decent man, through a combination of his idealist nature along with living under threat of painful death, from any of the ladies in his life, if he ever stepped out of line. This time, Ain’s sensibilities weren’t far off.
She looked up into his eyes. “You wanted help with a case?”
C adjusted his jacket. “I’m told you’re the resident H E double hockey sticks expert, like it’s your hometown.” He showed Eleanor a photograph projected from his wetware. “And I’ve got a demon that needs to be moved without hurting them.”
“An idealist and an altruist.” Eleanor rolled her eyes. “You ever get anything done?”
“Not without help!” C smiled to himself.
“Well, I’m a girl that prefers the flashy, bloody way.” Eleanor’s eyes narrowed. “I’ll bet that your girlfriend, Mem, wouldn’t disagree with my methods.”
“Regrettably, I’m here to tell you that I’m not the violent type.”
“Uh huh. Well, I’ll need more payment than this.” Eleanor extended a ringed finger to the apple core, surrounded by tiny remnants of gouged apple flesh.
C pushed a finger to his device, showing a payment app on his phone. “How would you feel about 30,000 hryvna?”
“If you can put on an outfit that’s not from Colombo’s wardrobe, and take me out to dessert with Mem, I’ll consider it.“
C fumbled through his list of locations, trying to consider a place that was upscale enough but not too family friendly for his companions. “How does the Woodmark sound?”
“Is cherries jubilee on the menu?” C nodded. “I’ll hold you to that. Payment up front, mister.”
C pulled out his phone, and a few swipes later, he could observe the sorrowful state of his bank account, yet he paid it no mind. This time, he had good credit, and as Mem would insist, he could use more friends.
“It’s okay with me.”