“Earth to Rally,” Aodh snapped his fingers in front of Rally’s face. They sat in a dive bar in Key West hoping the party occupying the table next to the oscillating fan would leave so they could grab it. “Even if you were looking at that little blonde who keeps finding reasons to twitch her butt back and forth, you’ve been out of your body long enough to fantasize all the way to great grandchildren.”
The glaze over Rally’s near-yellow eyes cleared as he focused on Aodh. “Hmmm? No. I wasn’t out of body. I wouldn’t do that in the middle of a bar.”
“It was a figure of speech. Geez. What is the matter with you? What do you think is the matter with Rally?” Aodh directed the question to Jean Mar.
“Maybe he’s just out of it because it’s too humid for humans in this place,” said Jean Mar. “Why are we here?”
“Because,” Aodh said, “we’re doing a twenty city bachelor party tour before Rally’s ensnared in the witches’ web.” He chuckled. “For good.” Aodh turned his baseball cap backwards. “Say goodbye to happy days.”
Rally had gotten one of the witches’ invitations to join them for a weekend in Wimberley. He knew about the weekends and their purpose, but had never heard of a warlock being targeted. “You talk too much, Aodh.”
Aodh laughed. “Since when? You know I’m kidding. And there’s a good chance you’re not the one. Or ones.” Aodh turned to Jean Mar. “How many do they ensnare every year?”
“One or two. I think. But watch your words if you don’t want to end up on the auction block.” Jean Mar seemed to be serious about the admonishment, which irritated Aodh. They were supposed to be having fun, preferably at Rally’s expense.
Rally looked at Jean Mar. “It’s not an auction block.”
“Oh, I know,” Jean Mar said. “Supposedly the men who get picked rave about how they wouldn’t have it any other way.”
“But they’re not us. Right?” Aodh added.
“Yeah,” Rally smiled. “But I’m not a man. Not if you mean it in the purely human sense. The sham of bachelor party just went away as your reason to exist today.”
“You’re not going?” Jean Mar’s question sounded like he might be shocked or might be scandalized.
Rally nodded. “Oh, I’m going to the witches’ little farce, but not because I have to and not because I have any intention of being… what did you say? Ensnared?”
Jean Mar looked doubtful. “Then why are you going?”
Rally’s eyes slid to Jean Mar. “For the food.”
Jean Mar shook his head. “Underestimate them at your peril.”
“They’re. Female,” Rally said as if that explained everything in the universe.
“They are,” agreed Jean Mar. He was nodding, but also not joking around. He looked over his shoulder like he was concerned the wrong person would overhear then toward Rally and spoke in a low voice. “They’re also powerful. Like us.”
Rally and Aodh stared at him for a full five beats before bursting into laughter. When that ran its course, Aodh said, “You didn’t hear me right. I said they’re female.”
“Look.” Jean Mar eyes ping ponged between his friends. “We’re not talking about who can lift the biggest shovel of horse shit. I know you’re old. Older than I am. But if you think it follows that they’re magically inferior because they’re women? Well. You’re wrong.”
Rally started to say something, but Aodh held up his hand in a gesture of, ‘Hold on. I’ve got this’.
“When and how did you become an authority on magical equality?” Aodh asked.
Jean Mar slouched back in his chair, took a drink of something spicy with rum, and looked around the room shaking his head. “You don’t really want to know what I think.”
“Sure,” Rally said. “We do.”
“Alright. In a head to head contest, which to my knowledge has never been done, but if it was? They might win.”
Again Aodh and Rally burst into laughter.
“Okay. Tell yourselves whatever you need to.” Then Jean Mar directed a warning to Rally. “Walk into Wimberley full of piss and pride, thinking you’re a god. See what happens.”
Rally sighed deeply then turned up a bottle of Mike’s Hard Lemonade before surprising both his friends by saying. “I’ve already been there.”
“What?!” Jean Mar and Aodh said in unison. “When?!?”