Arc 1, Episode 1

My cell rang in the other room while I was brushing my teeth. Then it suddenly stopped.
“Chris. Did you fuck my cell phone up again?”
There was silence in the next room. I spit my toothpaste out and entered my bedroom to find my week old phone with two identical puncture wounds in the screen and my roommate Chris trying his damndest to look as innocent as possible.
“What the fuck, man? Every goddamn time I get a new phone you do this. Fuckin’ quit all ready.”
Chris stuck his tongue out at me and I rolled my eyes in response. He could be such a stubborn little shit-ass. I picked the four and a half foot long timber rattlesnake up and wrapped him around my neck. He coiled himself around my head. I like to think that he has an interest in how I see the world. Chris can’t talk, hell, he can’t communicate at all, but he can understand me. Snakes are magical beings and having one as a friend is the best kind of luck.
“What am I gonna do with you, huh? You’re always causin’ problems for me. Who was callin’ anyway? Benn? Bobby? Momma?”
Chris just sat on my head and pretended like I wasn’t talking to him. That’s the problem with snakes. Hard headed little buggers. I still had a few hours to kill before work so I flopped down on the ugly brown couch I found at a dumpster down the street. It was comfortable, soft, and didn’t have any noticeable stains until it came into my possession. A little Lysol goes a long way.
I turned on my X-Box. My best friend Bobby wasn’t online, so I threw my head-set on the end table and entertained myself with Team Deathmatch for a while. My snake had been awfully quiet and when that little shit-ass got quiet, he was usually up to no good. I peered down the hall to see him trying to reach the door handle to the spare bed room. There was no doubt in my mind that one of these days he was going to figure out how to open that door.
“Goddammit, Chris, stop it. You know that room is off limits. That magic shit is expensive. You know how much them fuckin’ candles cost? Huh? Do ya? A fuckin’ lot. I don’t even know why I bother, it’s not like you know about money anyway.”
Fuck. I’m talking to a snake. The amulet around my neck grew warm and I managed to calm myself a little. Saint Martin de Porres was always there to comfort me. I may not have a lot of friends, but I had the patron saint of bi-racial people, the Lord, my momma, my snake, and Bobby to help keep me in line and out of trouble. Not that I ever caused any…really. It always came looking for me. Seriously.
I got ready for work. Pants, button down, sneakers, amulet, and gris gris. I made the amulet from bloodstone that I found down on the lake and a medal of Saint Martin. Being the son of a Catholic Voodoo priestess and a Jewish lawyer from New York was not easy, constantly being yanked from one extreme to the other. The gris gris was a gift from my mother on my eighteenth birthday. I have never dared to unravel the tiny package, but I do care for it by dressing it with my protection oil at 5 PM every Sunday evening. Except when I forget.
One thing about being strange is that I live in the perfect place to be extraordinary. Lake Udelida, Tennessee. On one of the major invisible highways that all non-humans are capable of traveling on, this town was a huge fucking rest stop. To them, I wasn’t black, I wasn’t white, just human. Just another hoodoo man. I liked that. And there were some powerful sexy womenfolk in the non-human community…but that’s a story for another time.
I headed out the door but Chris rattled his tail which was a signal that I was forgetting something.
“Thanks bud.”
I grabbed my lunch off the counter and started to walk out of the apartment. Chris rattled again. I turned the TV and my console off and turned to leave once more. Chris rattled again.
“What I forget this time?”
With a quick flash of intense white light, my snake transformed into a belt and lay motionless on the floor.
“My bad, dude.”
I threw the belt around my waist, tucking his rattle in by my gris gris. Chris hated to be left here alone. I walked out of the apartment about as protected as any hoodoo man could get. Not too many people could break through all this magic work. Luckily, I didn’t have many enemies.

But sometimes, it’s your friends that you really need protection from.

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