Grace’s first thought is to jump back in the car, fire it up and peel out Fast and Furious style, but the road (such as it is) only leads down to the farm or towards the approaching headlights. In theory a Rav4 should be fine for going off road but it’s barely capable of holding itself together on the highway, so she discards that idea quickly. When your car is also your home you take a lot fewer risks. She turns to ask Sanaa what they should do, but she finds herself standing out in the darkness alone.
With a curse, Grace hides (poorly) in some brush off the road as the lights from the approaching vehicle crawl closer. She watches a grey and tan Chevy Express van slow to a stop with the lights shining on her abandoned Rav4. After a moment the driver steps out, a skinny death metal looking dude with a black and purple jacket and a pistol shoved in the front of his too-tight pants. Which is just asking for trouble. He walks up to Grace’s Rav4 and immediately starts rooting around in the back, grabbing Royale’s trunk of magical delights like he knew it was there. Grace is already starting to move when he drags it out the side door and it falls heavily on its end with a thud into the dirt.
The man turns and smiles into the dark “Are we playing hide and seek, Grace?”
With a start Grace realizes that she recognizes him. He’s one of the men from the hillbilly private club in Havana (Florida not Cuba) and more specifically one of the two men from that group that later broke into Kim’s apartment where she was staying to ineffectually threaten/recruit her into joining their drug addict torturing black magic bullshit society.
Grace doesn’t like him one bit, but she’d like him even less if she knew people called him “Baby”. She’d hate that. She also has no idea that he’s been associated with the Rock Machine Motorcycle Club since he was a teenager. Becoming a full member at 18 after doing 2 years in adult prison for selling meth. Nor does she know that he’s suspected in the murder of a Hell’s Angels lieutenant and has close connections with the Dixie Mafia. If she had known that, would she have done anything differently?
Hard to say, she’s an unpredictable one that Grace.
Baby fondles the trunk like a high school gym teacher pushing up on the girl in class who developed too soon “Come on out Grace, don’t be a tease.”
Being a tease is not in her nature so Grace does come out, sneaking around the back of the van and coming up behind Baby with a punch to the left side of his neck just below the base of the skull, knocking him out instantly. It’s one of the few ways to render someone unconscious like they make seem so easy in the movies, the only caveat being you should only do it if you don’t care much if the person dies because there’s a decent chance of that happening as well.
Grace grabs Royale’s trunk to put it back in her car but another movie classic follows close on the heels of the knock out punch – the old “click”, turn, oh shit there’s a gun at my head scene. She forgot about the guy in the passenger seat. Or never noticed him. Grace gets a one-track mind when it comes to protecting Royale’s effects. Baby’s partner is a guy they call Meat, and if that name isn’t bad enough, he’s got giant 70’s glasses on his face and a bolo tie around his sweaty neck. Meat likes people to think that he’s Afrikaner but the truth is that he’s a dude from rural Oregon who learned a couple words in Afrikaans in the hope that this would lead to him having a shot with Charlize Theron. So far it hasn’t worked out.
He’s about to say something to Grace, probably something smarmy or threatening, the kind of cool shit someone would say in a movie when they have a gun on someone, but we’ll never know what because before he can push the words out of his sloppy lips he drops the gun and lunges backwards, clutching his face and neck. Why? Because his head is melting. The effect happening is similar to what you see with a massive cellular die off from radiation or necrotizing fasciitis, and if you don’t know what that looks like please don’t Google it, you don’t want to know. He collapses to the ground without a scream because his vocal cords were gone before he could make a sound. Sorry Charlize, it’s never going to happen between you and Meat now.
Grace spies Sanaa walking up with her hand outstretched and clenched in the classic “I’m doing some magic stuff” gesture. You can tell it’s magic and not psychic stuff because she doesn’t have her other hand pressed to her temple like the telepaths have to do. Grace shoves Royale’s trunk back in her car and shuts the door quickly, giving Sanaa a “WTF” look.
“What did you do?! I thought witches were just about dancing around naked and nature and getting your period and shit. What the fuck was that?!”
Sanaa walks over to the prone form of Baby “Those who cureth, can also maketh ill.”
“Is that from the Bible?”
Sanaa looks up at Grace as she kneels beside Baby “No, Seinfeld.”
Grace helps Sanaa turn Baby over, despite an irrational fear that Sanaa is going to dissolve him like a drunk peeing on a urinal cake. Sanaa reaches underneath Baby’s “Kid Rock for US Senate” shirt and puts her hand over his heart. She closes her eyes and then after a few moments, she nods to herself and then stands back up. She makes a face and wipes her hand on her dirty jeans.
“I think this guy was covered with baby oil or something.”
“Where the hell were you? I thought you said you couldn’t turn invisible. I turn around and in one second you’re gone.”
“I can’t turn invisible, I’m just good at hiding.” She heads for the car. “Come on, I know where we need to go.”
Instead of following her, Grace heads around the back of the van and opens the door – revealing half a dozen people stripped naked and zip-tied to rails along both sides of the bottom of the van with ball gags in their mouths. Their heads snap around to bore into her with eyes filled with stark animal fear.
“Well . . . shit.”