Lawyers, Guns & Money

Milham gave me a history on the staff.  He couldn’t confirm if everything Eugenia and Cori said was true, but he could confirm that they probably made it up.  He said that Crane made the staff in New Orleans by way of blood magic sacrifice.  The stuff they said about him killing all the other mages there he thinks is right.

Since every magic artifact I encounter seems to be evil, I asked if blood magic was the only way to make them.  He said no, it’s just the easiest.  “I’ve seen great feats of sorcery in my day Grace, but there’s a price, always a price, and it gets higher every day.  That’s why I hardly bother keeping in practice anymore.  Lawyers, guns, and money, that’s how you shape the world now, not with magic.”  

I told him he was laying on the world-weary old wizard bit a little thick and he smiled and said that he hardly ever got a chance to break it out anymore.  

After Pine and his cronies killed Crane the one of the other Confederate magic families took possession of the staff, until it was eventually stolen by another family – Stella’s family I think – until being stolen again by the Wright family.  There it remained until Laura took the staff from her mother to stop her wicked ways.  

I asked why Raymond Pine didn’t take the staff and Milham said that he didn’t know.  He granted that it didn’t seem to make much sense.  

I asked him if Laura was going to give me the staff and he said that it depends.  He said that if I want it to kill Eterno she wouldn’t.  But if I want it to save Eterno she would.  Then he added that if I decided to take it she wouldn’t be able to stop me.  He said that her talent was never strong and these days she doesn’t have enough juice to do much of anything.

He looked at me with a critical eye and added “Plus magic aside you look like you could just kick the shit out of her if you wanted to.”

I asked him why he was telling me this and he said that he didn’t think I would take the staff from her if she didn’t give it freely.  Which is probably true.  He’s pretty smug about his ability to read people.

The Shine

The interior of Rook Takes Pawnshop was not what I expected.  It’s a big space and most of it is empty.  There are a couple cases with jewelry in them and a lot more swords than I was expecting.  Who’s pawning all these swords?  

Milham walked back to an office that was ridiculously small compared to the size of the building.  It was maybe 5 by 8.  Maybe.  He once again sat down in a battered leather chair and left me standing.  There were boxes of junk, including more swords, stacked all along the walls making the room even smaller.  I stood in the doorway because if I had actually gone into the room, our knees would have been touching.

I don’t love leaning in a doorway but at least you can keep your hands occupied fiddling against the doorframe.  

He said that Eugenia and Cori had stopped by asking about the staff and left once he told them he didn’t know where it was.  I asked where they went and he said that he sold them a bunch of guns, so probably they were going somewhere there was a bank to rob.  Next came this exasperating exchange.  

“Why did they think you knew where the staff was?”

“Because I told them I did.”

“Why did you say that if you didn’t?”

“Because I do.”

“Then why did you tell them you didn’t?”

“Because I didn’t want them to know.”

“Are you trying to piss me off?”

He grinned and I asked him if he was one of those people that enjoys being aggravating.  He admitted that he doesn’t mind when a beautiful woman is mad at him.  It doesn’t happen often, but I hate when people do that.  I’m not an idiot.  I know what I look like.  

I let that pass and eventually he got to the point.  A woman named Laura Wright has the staff and he didn’t tell The NVC about it because he didn’t think they’d ask for it nicely and “Laura doesn’t need to deal with those psychos.”

I said that since he was telling me about it, he must think that I would ask nice.  He agreed that he thought I would.  Then he said that it wouldn’t matter because I could probably find the staff without his help.  He said that he could tell my magic ability was strong for searching.  He also commented that bilocation was a rare ability.  

I asked how he could tell all that just by looking at me and he said “My skills aren’t what they once were, and I was never the most powerful mage around, but I’ve always had a knack for assensing.  You have some good protective wards but you don’t have any for concealing.  You shine.”

Idyll hands

I never know what to do with my hands when I’m having a conversation.  If you cross your arms you seem angry.  If you stick your hands in your pockets you seem schlubby.  So I’m left dangling them at my sides awkwardly.

That’s why I like a Denny’s conversation.  You’ve got food to keep your hands occupied.  Plus there’s always a chance that whoever you’re talking with will pick up the bill.  Downside, there’s the possibility of talking with food in your mouth, but in the circles I run in that’s barely going to be noticed.

Having a beer in your hand is good too.  Keeps that hand occupied and you can take a drink whenever you don’t know what to say.  Even just sitting in a chair allows you to put your hands on the arm rests.  Standing talking to someone sitting is the worst-case scenario.  I wanted him to offer me a chair, or a White Claw, or get up and go inside.  Instead he just sat there.  Part of me wanted to kick him in the chest and knock him backwards.  Just because I didn’t know what to do with my hands.  I need to work on that part of myself.

He said his real name is Milham.  I’m not sure how to start off most conversations.  But that uncertainty goes double for when I want to talk magic stuff.  Especially when I’m so concerned about where my hands should be.  Reaching for a way to start the conversation, I asked him about Cori and Eugenia.  

He said that they had been there yesterday asking about the staff.  When he didn’t elaborate, I got annoyed and asked him if he was just going to sit there and dole out information in drips and drabs.  I hate when people make me drag information out of them when it’s obvious what I want.  Just fucking tell me.

He laughed and said something like “You don’t mess around do you?”  There are a lot of things I don’t like about wrestling culture.  One of them is that it’s very much a culture of shooting the shit.  It seems like it takes most wrestlers 3-4 hours to get to whatever their point is.  There’s some rule that you can’t just ask someone something without listening to them gas on about nothing first.

He said if we were going to talk we better go inside and headed for the door.  As he walked into the pawnshop he said “Grab that cooler for me would you, oh and the chair too.”


I’m not the one who’s so far away

I’ve never been to a pawnshop before.  I’ve never owned much to pawn.  I drive by them a lot and they never look open.  They never have any parking either.  They seem to be a storefront right out on the edge of the street.

Rook Takes Pawnshop isn’t like those others I’ve driven by, it has a massive parking lot.  One that was entirely empty when I drove in but it was there.  Rook Takes Pawnshop is set off away from other business by itself like a dildo store.  It didn’t look open but there was a guy sitting out front in a lawn chair drinking White Claw with a cooler at his feet.

White Claw drinker had that teak colored skin that makes me wonder if the person is black, Indian, middle eastern, Hispanic, or just a white dude with a tan.  Then I feel racist for not knowing.  And then I feel racist for wondering. 

He was heavily built, had a shaved head, and a deep scar twisting down around the base of his hairline across his shoulder to his chest.  It was an unusual looking scar and I know a few things about unusual scars.  He was barefoot and shirtless both but he did have faded green warm-up pants on as a nod to civilized society’s norms.

I asked if he was open, meaning the store obviously, and he said something about being open to new experiences.  I almost turned and walked away right then because I had a very low tolerance for sarcasm at the moment.   It comes and goes.   I might have done just that if he hadn’t spoken after that.

“You must be the Amazing Grace, sounds like the name of a magician.”

I told him I was a magician. 

He looked at me intently for a moment before taking another drink.  “I can see that.  It’s been a while since I met someone like you.  I didn’t know it was even possible for someone like you to come along anymore these days.  That’s something to drink to.”

I told him that he must be the guy, but that he didn’t look Russian or Voodoo-y to me.

“Voodoo was just my wrestling name.  Kinda stupid and not very PC through the lens of today’s eyes but back then it seemed okay and Godsmack was big at the time.  So.”

The end of the tour

I thought the NVC had agreed to wait for me but they no-showed Lubbock.  I thought that Chadd 2 Badd would have been pissed off about that but he didn’t seem to care.  He said that he was surprised that they bothered to show up at any of the events he booked.  He said the key to booking the Nightmare Violence Connection without losing your mind is not counting on them to actually turn up.  If they do come great, they put on a good show, but don’t depend on it.

Then for no reason I can think of, he confided in me that he and Cori had a “thing” back in the day.  To change the subject I asked him how they make money if they blow off bookings regularly.  He said that they rob banks to make ends meet.  I’m only 60% sure he was joking. 

Things have been chilly with 42561 but the good thing about wrestling is that you don’t have to like someone to work with them.  Now that I say that, that’s probably true of most jobs.  I wonder if there’s any job where you need to like your co-workers to do well.  Hmm.   

At least I’ve gotten a little better at tag team wrestling.  The $75 a show I got paid was almost enough to cover my travel expenses, food, and hotels.  If I keep at this wrestling thing for a few more years, I might start to break even.  Chadd 2 Badd gave me a crisp 100-dollar bill as a bonus so I’ll reckon him a straight edge even though he told me things about Cori and her sexual proclivities I never wanted to know. 

Neither Eugenia or Cori answered when I called but they said their Peruvian-Russian Voodoo man is at the Rook Takes Pawnshop in Lafayette so that’s where I’m headed.  Even if nothing pans out there, I can visit Doug the Disco Biscuit.   

The best ability is availability

Once I told them I was interested, the NVC wanted to leave immediately to meet with their Russian-Peruvian Voodoo man.  Why did it have to be FTF?  Why couldn’t they just call him?  Unclear.   

I told them that I had a couple more bookings with Longhorn Wrestling and their response was that they did too, and we should blow them off.  I told them that I don’t ditch bookings and they looked at me like I said I believed in Santa Claus.  They went on an epic rant about how promoters are all crooks and that Chadd 2 Badd specifically was a piece of shit.   

I told them that Chadd 2 Badd had never done me wrong and I wasn’t going to screw him over.  They were astonished.  It was like they couldn’t believe I wouldn’t do what they wanted just on their say so.  I asked them what the rush was, they had already waited 20 years, hadn’t they?  Their answer, once you get past all the bullshit, was that they were bored and wanted to go RIGHT NOW. 

When I first met them I was a little bit in awe of the NVC.  There’s a lot that I can admire about their approach to life.  But their act is starting to get old.  There’s a thin line between being a person who doesn’t take any shit and a shitty person.  There is no clear line maybe.  They’ve been wrestling for over 20 years and I never heard of them.  There’s a reason for that. 

I told them if they wanted to wait a couple weeks, I’d love to go on a magic mysterious road trip with them.  If not, that’s a bummer, and I’d try to catch up with them. 

Rejected again

When we had a moment to ourselves, I asked 42561 what she thought of the NVC’s story.  Her response was that she didn’t believe any of it.  She said it in a way that made it sound like she also didn’t care.  I told her about Obaluaiye and Dennis “Scrap Iron” and what the old man in the wheelchair had told me about Eterno. 

She gave me a funny look and asked why I was telling her about it.  I told her that I knew we weren’t exactly friends yet but that I was hoping she would help me anyway, work together to resolve this.  “This” being Eterno.  Either freeing him from a curse or killing him or whatever needs to be done.

She expressed that she was not interested in this proposition by getting very angry. 

I apologized.  Then I asked her why she was so upset.  Which undercut the apology, I bet.  She said that she had already exposed herself too much.  That she shouldn’t even be talking to me about this kind of thing.  I asked her what the point of having magic was if you weren’t going to use it for exactly this kind of thing. 

Up until then, 42561 had been pretty stoic, or reserved would be a better word, but at that moment she blew her fucking stack.  She said that I was going to get her killed.  She said that she wished she never met me.  That she would give anything in the world to never see me again. 

That didn’t feel great.  I told her if she didn’t want to ever see me again, all she had to do was ask. 

I understand where she’s coming from.  Keeping your talents hidden can seem like the best strategy for survival.  I thought about telling her that I knew for sure that the government already knew about magic.  But I didn’t.  That could send her off the deep end of paranoia.   

Why do some wizards have staffs and some have wands? And is there a word that doesn’t also mean penis?

The NVC told me a similar story to the one that Stella (RIP Stella, sorry I got you murdered) did about how a Confederate guy learned magic to try and win the war but the war ended before he could pull it off, so then he and all his Confederate sorcerer friends got killed by Raymond Pine and his railroad tycoon wizard friends. 

The difference is when they told the story there were way more decapitations, graphic sex scenes lovingly described in detail, and violent wizard battles with blood and gore and shit.  Some of what they said was obviously from Game of Thrones.  I know that and I haven’t even watched that show.  I kept my mouth shut because I’ve learned it’s best not to question their obvious lies, but occasionally 42561 would say about the more outrageous claims “Even if that was true, how would you know that?” and whichever one of them was talking would get pissy and say “This is the story, you want to hear it or not?”

One new wrinkle that Stella didn’t mention was Crane’s magic staff.  You see it started out as a piece of a stake from the Salem witch trials (no one was burned at the stake in Salem, they were hung) and then was used as an actual stake by a vampire hunter (that’s not how vampires work) before ending up in Crane’s hands who ritually murdered all the non-Confederate mages in New Orleans and captured their power in it. 

42561 said “A stake and a staff aren’t even the same size”, Cori scowled at her and said “it’s magic”. 

They said that after Kane (not the one you’re thinking off) was killed by Eterno they cornered him in an alley and blasted him with a shotgun.  Revenge.  Only problem being not only did a shotgun blast to the back of the head not kill him, it didn’t seem to even hurt him.  Seeking answers for how to kill the unkillable man (because of the revenge), they were told about Crane’s staff and how it was the only thing magic enough to kill Eterno.  Who is also full of magic.

And who told them about the staff and its Eterno-killing abilities?  Another wrestler, from this probably mythical Florida wrestling company, who was “a Russian voodoo priest from Peru.”  Eugenia added “You should have seen his fucking valet, total smokeshow.”

Lethal Weapon 8 : Die Hard VS Fast and Furious – Rise of the Transformers

I’ve noticed that when they make an action movie with a female main character, it’s always very serious.  Her husband gets killed by drug runners or her car breaks down and she gets gang raped by hillbillies or her kids get blown up by terrorists.  She’s out for bloody revenge.  If an action movie has a female lead, something horrible is going to happen to her, probably a bunch of stuff, and she’s going to be grim and gritty and hack people with a machete and use her sexuality as a weapon sexy style with sex.

There’s never a stupid popcorn action movie with a female lead.  You’re not going to see a movie like Crank 3 – Exponentially More Fucked Up with a woman lead character.  I don’t know what that means.  It seems like it means something.

I bring this up because I’ve changed my mind.  Cori and Eugenia aren’t like the characters from Freaky 2 – The Freakening.  They’re more like buddy cops from an action movie.  Only women.  I’ve never seen anything like it. 

When I told them that I was also interested in confronting Eterno but was too chickenshit to go to Mexico and do it, Cori asked me if he had killed a friend of mine also.  Before I could answer, they launched into their story.   In stops and starts and breaks for fifteen minute, arguments about how whichever one of them was talking was telling the story wrong, they told us why they had it in for Eterno.

As they tell it, 20 years ago they worked for a wrestling company in Sueno Bueno, Florida.  They claim that the owner of this company was involved in laundering money for the Medellin Cartel.  When the owner was rumored to be skimming from them, Eterno was brought in to clean house.  They claim Eterno killed three wrestlers, including their friend Kane (not that one, a different one) who was thrown off the roof of the arena they worked in. 

Very little about their story makes any god damn sense.  First of all, there is no city called Sueno Bueno as far as I can tell.  And the company they describe is nonsensical – how could a tiny Florida promotion no one has ever heard of run monthly PPVs?  The Medellin Cartel was defunct by the early 90s so the timeline doesn’t match up.  Not to mention that a wrestling promotion would be a shitty way to launder money.  Especially for the hundreds of millions that were being made off the drug trade in Miami. 

It sounded 100% like the kind of bullshit old veterans like to spin.  I wouldn’t have believed it even a little, but 42561 asked them about the staff they mentioned, and Eugenia said “It all started with these civil wars guy called Jedidiah Crane and Raymond Pine”. 

The Change-Up 2 : Freaky Friday 5 The Hot Tub Time Machine

I figured it out.  Cori and Eugenia, aka Nightmare Violence Connection, act like they’re characters in one of those stupid movies where people switch bodies.  They’re dude bros that grabbed a witch’s ass so she put a curse on them.  They’ve been gender swapped so they can learn respect for women.  Except instead they woke up, felt their own tits, then shrugged and said “I guess I’m a chick now” and went on living their lives just like they did before.

I thought it was an act at first but I think this is just how they are.  I drink, but I never go out drinking.  42561 doesn’t drink at all.  She’s very uptight about what she puts in her body.  Yet somehow after the show, we ended up out at the bar with the NVC.  They have a weird way of asking something and you say no but then suddenly you’re doing it.

After we got asked to leave Spanky P’s and we ditched Fat Bosses Pub because, as Eugenia said, there was “no beef in the freezer” and we got the last call at The Ugly Lime, we ended up in the hot tub at the Comfort Suites.  I’m only 50% sure that’s where they were staying. 

This is where things got weird.  And not the kind of weird you might want for 4 drunk women in a hot tub after dark.  I noticed that amongst her many other tattoos, Eugenia had ink that was a bunch of words and symbols that included the words “Eterno Corazon Inmortal”.

I asked her if she was a big fan or if he had trained her or why did she have his name on her body and she said “Nah, that’s just a guy I’m going to kill.”

Cori added “Once we find the staff.”

Eugenia nodded “Yeah, once we find the staff.  I like to get a tattoo of all the immortal parasites I’m going to kill.”

Cori laughed “They’re hardly immortal since we kill them.”

Then they started bickering about what immortal means.