The Townhouse in Mt. Adams
“Bart, this is your mother.” Blanche’s disembodied voice seeped through the speaker system embedded in every room of the three-story townhouse. Echoing throughout the sparsely decorated spaces, her tone was calm and rational with a tinge of caution—which sounded pretty normal for Blanche Babington. “Your sisters and I are planning on seeing you this weekend for the Samhain festivities in Rabbit Hash. Let me know when you expect to transport. Seems Betsy and Betty have some big plans for you again. You better call me back.”
Bart stepped out of the shower, wrapped a bath towel around his waist, and strode to the sink. Tussling his auburn hair with his hand, he spoke to his reflection in the mirror. “I know what my sisters are up to. They do this shit every year. No more.”
Bart tapped the left corner of the mirror and a ripple of waves moved from the corner of the mercury backed glass across the once still and solid surface, “Amelia, call Reggie and Sparky.”
The mirror answered in her distinctive AI rhythm, “calling Reggie and Sparky,” and emanated an old-fashioned ring of a corded phone. With a plop, Reggie appeared in one corner of the mirror and Sparky in another. Amelia displayed the trio of friends in a single line across the elegant mercury backed glass, which hung above a sleek marble double vanity in Bart’s master bathroom and doubled as a smart screen. “I have your BFFs, Bart. What else would you like me to do?”
“That’s all. Thanks Amelia.” Bart dismissed his smart assistant and smiled. “If only all women were like Amelia.”
“Yo, brother, why you got to be showing up on my Copy Reveal screen half naked?” Reggie grimaced.
“He’ll say it was unintentional, but we all know the truth. He didn’t get enough attention as a child.” Sparky chimed in.
“Shut up. It’s go time. Are you boys ready for The Lemon?” Bart stretched on his shirt.
“I’m not sure The Lemon is ready for your look, bub.” Reggie grimaced and looked away.
“What?” Bart looked down to see his emerald green towel still tightly wrapped around his waist, topped off with a navy-blue pima cotton, boutique brand, polo. “Oh hell. I’m going to grab some jeans.”
“Don’t forget your tightie-whities, Marky-Mark.” Sparky yelled.
“Rightfully so. Who wears tightie-whities, ever? Even back in the day, when he dropped his drawers to impress Miss Mona Lisa Giorgio—who was not feeling the vibrations—the tighties were not a good look.” Sparky grinned and straightened his ball cap.
Reggie nodded. “True. No matter how good the package, sometimes it’s all about the wrapping.” The two friends gave each other a virtual high five that spawned an undulation of swells in the mirror.
Bart returned clad in jeans and his polo. “Fuck off, both of you. I looked good. It wasn’t my choice of underwear she didn’t like. Miss Mona Lisa was into rich Italian guys. She wasn’t into young, just starting out, witch doctors.”
“Whatever makes you feel better, man.” Sparky waved him off.
“I’ll feel better when I pull this weekend off. I’m ready to get this plan started. I’ve got to find a witch worthy of hanging out with for the next three days, and that’s willing to play along like we’re a real couple. I’m determined to put an end to the ‘set-up Bart’ bullshit my sisters pull every Samhain. It ruins the whole weekend. Besides, it's gone on long enough. Time to move on. I've moved on. Everyone else needs to, too.”
“No shit. Last year was ridiculous. I thought Betsy was never going to quit introducing you to all those models.” Sparky shook his head, and his silver and black hair dangled over one eye. “It was like a line of Wictoria Angels walking the catwalk just for you.”
“You poor asshole.” Reggie scoffed. “You could help a brother out and throw some of your misfortune my way, you know. I am a single warlock now, too.”
“Trust me, none of those witches were your type. They weren’t my type either. Besides, you and I are not the settling down kind. Not anymore. That’s why your three-year shit-show with Brigette didn’t work out Regg. I mean, how the hell did you expect to settle down with a hippie witch? You’re mister conservative?”
“She wasn’t a hippie witch.” Reggie rubbed his chin. “She was crazy.”
“Crazy witch. Definitely.” Sparky agreed.
“Well, whatever. Good riddance. You’re better than that, man. We don’t do crazy because crazy witches just up and disappear for no reason what-so-ever.” Bart leaned on the counter and eyed both of his best friends. “We do this. Us. Brothers.”
“Yeah. But don’t forget Misty.” Sparky’s eyes lit up at the mention of his wife.
“Of course, I always include Misty in our crew. Hell, she’s a better wingman than you are Sparky. Just something about a female fox Shifter that witches love.” Reggie waggled his bushy eyebrows, licked his thumb and forefinger, and slide them across both unruly strips.
“Is she coming out on this little manly adventure to get Bart a weekend play date? Or are we rolling with the homies only?” Reggie asked.
“She’s sitting this one out. Something about getting all our crap together for the Samhain festivities. I think she’s been plotting and planning with your sister’s, Bart. So, frankly, we need to keep your plan to trip up their matchmaking on the down low Or, Misty might blow your cover.” Sparky looked over his shoulder toward a shadowy door in the distance. “Hence, why I’m hiding out in the basement? I didn’t want her to sniff us out.”
“Good luck with that. Misty’s got a better sniffer than you do, man. And I’m bummed she’s not coming out with us. Like Reggie said, she’s the best wingman we got.” Bart thrust his hands in his pockets to straighten his jeans
“You lookin’ to find the next Mrs. Darington, Regg?” Sparky asked.
“Could be? You know, the third times a charm.” Reggie mussed his dark hair and smoothed his pale green button down.
“Charm my ass. I never believed in that crap. The two previous witches should have taught you a lesson. Love and Reginold Darington don’t mix. You’re free and clear, bro. Enjoy that freedom.” Bart bobbed his head and stuck out his chest.
“Don’t do that. Whatever that ‘trying to look badass’ thing you’ve got going on there. You look real silly.” Sparky laughed.
“Shut the fuck up, Sparky, before I ask Amelia to vape you out of this conversation.” Bart blew out a long breath. He was already worried enough about this whole fiasco he'd cooked up. But he was so tired of everyone trying to make him forget Samhain was associated with the worst day of his life.
“Go ahead, buddy. I’ve got my woman. I don’t need to help you one bit.” Sparky crossed his arms and leaned back in his desk chair.
“Alright you two, just cool it with the machismo shit. Time’s a wasting, and I don’t even know what that plan is for this hairbrained scheme Bart’s got us doing. But we better get to doing it before the evening gets away from us.” Reggie looked at a glowing watch-like contraption on his wrist.
“You’re right, Regg. We need to get a move on. My plan is to start out at The Blind Lemon here in Mt. Adams. I’m thinking there’ll be a healthy crowd of witches there on the eve of the two biggest nights in the witch world. Samhain always brings the ladies out. So, all I have to do is find the one that will be cool with playing a little game of pretend with me.” Bart shrugged. “Easy peasy.”
“The Blind Lemon. Don’t you go there all the time, man?” Reggie asked.
“Sure. But never around the holidays. It gets stupid crazy with crowds.” Bart said.
“I’m not so sure The Lemon is the best place, either. But what the hell? Let’s give it a whirl. If that’s a bust, we’ll trot back on over here to my neck of the woods. The Rhine is always hopping.” Sparky got up from his chair and put his face close to the screen. “We transporting now?”
“Give me twenty minutes,” said Reggie.
“Twenty minutes. What the hell, dude?” Bart barked.
“I gotta do some stuff. Lock up the place, settle Max in for the night. You know. Just stuff. Besides, I’m coming all the way from Indian Hills. You know, it takes me a bit longer to transport from way out here. You and Sparky can light it up in a few minutes and be at The Lemon’s passageway. Hell, Bart, you can walk quicker than you take to transport.” Reggie puffed.
“Max will be fine. He’s the coolest Shepard familiar ever. I’m sure Barty needs to tuck little baby Pricilla piggy in, too.” Sparky said in a mocking baby voice.
“Don’t you worry about Cilla. She’s with Blanche and my sisters. They’re doing all the girly things for the party, and she couldn’t miss that. Besides, Cilla is the baddest bitch flying pig familiar around.” Bart loved his little pink flying pig and doted on her. She'd come into his life at a very dark moment, and he'd never forget the joy and love she showed him. Priscilla was the reason Bart stayed the course to become a witch doctor.
“Exactly, dude. She’s a flying fucking pig. Seriously, I was just teasing you. Literally, you couldn’t ask for a cooler familiar.” Sparky threw a cap on his head.
“I know. Okay, enough. I’m giving you guys thirty minutes. Under the garden sign on Hatch Street.” Bart pointed first at Reggie, then to Sparky. “Thirty minutes.”
“Cool.” Sparky nodded.
“Should I wear a hat? A ball cap like Sparky. Is that a thing now?” Reggie pulled a faded maroon and off-white hat, accented with a beer label patch on the front panel, from a hook on the wall next to him and slipped it on his head.
“Dude. It doesn’t matter. Just get your ass moving.” Bart rolled his eyes and tapped the mirror, which rippled again like water washing away the images of his two friends.
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