Wanton Witch
Chapter 9: Ill-Gotten Gains

Chapter 9: Ill-Gotten Gains

Marcus stepped from the sunlit sidewalk into the dim cave-like interior of the Metro Pawn Stop. If anyone had the lowdown on that mysterious bag of loot Cat had made off with, it was Tiny. Like most people ironically tagged with that nickname, the proprietor of the Metro Pawn Stop was a big man, seemingly as wide as he was tall. Marcus had no idea what his real name was; everyone had always just called him Tiny. Standing inside the door, waiting for his eyes to adjust from the dazzling sunlight outside to the interior gloom of the shop, Marcus heard Tiny before he saw him.

“Whassup man? I ain’t seen you round these parts in a minute.”

“Just working and trying to keep my nose clean. You know how it is. What you been up to,” Marcus asked jovially.

“You know me Marcus, I keep myself to myself. So, to what do I owe the honor of your presence today?”

“Does there have to be a reason for me to stop by?”

“Naw, but there usually is one. Whenever you turn up, something is ’bout to go down,” quipped Tiny.

“I don’t know about all of that, but I did want to ask you something. Somebody got jacked and now there’s is a duffle bag full of swag making the rounds, only it’s a little too hot to handle right now. Some roughnecks are looking for it. I don’t even know what’s in the bag, but apparently some pretty heavy hitters want to get their hands on it. Know anything about that?”

“I might have heard a few rumors. Word on the street is that bag is full of little packets of crystallized potion.”

“Aw hell, is that it? I thought it was something really valuable.”

“Trust me man, that stuff is priceless.”

“What’s the big damn deal? You can buy crystallized potion on just about any street corner around here.”

“Not this stuff Marcus. See, normal potion wears off after a few hours. They call this new stuff Chrysalis, because it changes you permanently.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not an alchemist, so can’t really explain it man. They say Chrysalis enhances your strongest trait. So, if you’re smart it makes you brilliant…if you’re strong then it makes you damn near invincible, see?”

“I get it. If it’s that amazing, then why aren’t drug companies selling it? Can you imagine how much bank something like that would make?”

“Yeah, but there’s a problem. The potion master who made it is dead and nobody can find the formula.”

“What happened to him?”

“Same old story; dude started dipping into his own supply.”

“What’s wrong with that? If this stuff is some kind of enhancer, then it would make him the smartest person in the world. I can see why he would use it.”

“Intelligence might not have been his strongest trait though. That’s why Chrysalis doesn’t have the same effect on everybody. Think about it man; insanity runs in some families. If you got that in you, then using Chrysalis more than once can make you go batshit crazy. Even if that didn’t happen, you still ain’t supposed to hit it more than once. The more you take that stuff, the bigger toll it takes on your body. It’s like literally burning a candle at both ends; eventually there’s nothing left to burn.”

“Sounds like all you really need is one dose though.”

“True, but you know how greedy folks are. They figure if one dose makes them smarter or faster or whatever, how much better would they become after another dose? Then two doses become three. By then you’re hooked. As long as things are going well, you don’t stop to think about what it’s doing to your insides. That’s why that shit is dangerous. Why are you so curious about it anyway?”

“A friend of mine asked me to track it down.”

“And you agreed to do it? Man, you must not understand what he’s really asking you to do. When I say some of the folks going after that bag are willing to get by any means necessary, that ain’t no joke. No telling what they’ll do to anybody who gets in their way.”

“Yeah well, it’s a little too late to back out now. One of Luca Moretti’s people attacked me.”

“Straight up? Moretti is one bad-assed dude. Damn man, you must be real close with this friend to put your life on the line. What does he want it for?”

“He says his sister ran off with the bag.”

“Well damn! If his sister has it, then why doesn’t he just call her instead of getting you mixed up in it?”

“She disappeared. See at first, he asked me to find her. Then, after I told him about Moretti’s man coming after me, he admitted that she had stolen the bag from him before disappearing. Now, I’m not sure if it’s her he really wants to find or the bag. Whoever knew he had the bag might still think he has it.”

“I don’t know Marcus. I ain’t trying to say nothing against your friend, ’cause I don’t know the man. But something about that whole situation don’t smell right. You sure you wanna do this?”

“Not really, but I gave him my word. Besides, I care about his sister. I don’t want anything bad to happen to her. He says she’s trying to sell the bag. So, I’m trying to figure out where she might go to unload something that hot.”

“Seems like everybody and their mama is desperate to get their hands on that bag. You ain’t the first or the second person to ask me about it. So, I’m sure this girl stays on the move. Makes her harder to find. Is she a conjurer?”

“Oh yeah, she has the gift and knows how to use it.”

“Then, you already know what I’m gonna say Marcus. I’m sure she knows that the best place to quickly move something with that much heat and get cash in hand is the midnight market.”

“Damn! I was hoping you would say somewhere else. The last time I went in that place, I barely made it out with my life.”

“Listen, if you go in there and start asking around about Chrysalis you might not make it out this time,” said Tiny gravely.

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