Good afternoon, Gloaming Gap Emporium. Betsy speaking. How may I help you?

I’m sorry. There seems to be some interference on the line; could you repeat that? Perhaps there is a problem with the phone lines.

Okay, Ma’am. You seem to be very distant? I really can’t hear you. Could you speak up?

Oh, right. You’ve been cursed – your voice? Okay… I’d ask you to tell me how all of this happened, but it would seem that would be a problem over the phone. One moment please; let me see what we can find…

Let’s see… voice… voice… changes to… complete removal of… ah… here it is: silencing a voice to a near whisper. Oh my! That’s a serious curse you’ve caught there.

Oh, no, no, no… we can certainly handle that. That is well within the spectrum of our services. We specialize in the finest of curse removal spells. We have several people on staff who are experienced in spell initiation and removal, and there are very few curses that can’t be countered. This appears to be a serious curse, but fairly standard.

Yes, Ma’am. That is our standard going rate. However, with a curse of this magnitude, we’re looking at requiring the deluxe package.

Yes… that’s about two thousand dollars.

It is expensive, but it is guaranteed to work. Now if you prefer a less expensive plan, we can do that. However, I cannot guarantee our work.

Well, you see… occasionally the cure can actually have similar or even worse side-effects. The deluxe package will guarantee satisfaction. Call it a warranty of sorts. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure favorable results.

Right… okay… So, you’d like to schedule that then? If I could just get some registration information…. Let me pull up that screen… one moment…

Okay, let’s start at the beginning…


Oh… yes, yes, ha, ha… Julie Andrews… Well that certainly was fortuitous on my part then to quote from your namesake, eh?

Okay, Ms. Andrews… ah… another fortunate bit for you. It appears that we have your information in the system. You are a repeat client then?

Good, good… and your address and phone number have not changed?

Wonderful… Yes, it is a bit odd how many repeat clients we seem to have in Gloaming Gap, but I can’t say too much about that… confidentiality and all. I’m sure you understand we have to abide by those HIPAA laws too you know.

No, no, no… of course we’re not a hospital. But we are a “personal service,” no different than therapy or a doctor’s office. You have a problem of a personal nature; we take care of it. It helps if you do make the comparison. If you look at your curse as the disease and our services as the treatment.

Let’s look at the schedule then… I see we have an opening on Wednesday. Would you be able to come in at 10:30?

I’m sorry… can you repeat that, please? In-home services? Are you certain?

Well, yes… we can do that, but an on-site cleansing will incur additional fees…

Well… yes, actually, there is something sacred about our facilities. The Emporium is a protected space. We would have to cleanse your home before we attempt to remove the curse. If we fail to do this, there will be a dangerous curse floating around freely, waiting to settle in someone else – or even re-infect you. Think of the liability for us, Ma’am! We’re equipped here, with the “medicines” you will need – the potions and counter-curses. We’re prepared for the possible eventualities and “side effects.”

But if you’re sure… There is a waiver you will need to sign stating that you are aware of the additional risks, and we will need to send someone out 24 hours in advance to assess the environment and give you a preliminary check-up to discern the appropriate treatment. We do want to be as prepared as possible.

Very good then. Now, how would you like to arrange payment? Should we charge the credit card that we have on file or would you like to send a certified check or cash?

Oh, yes, Ma’am, we do require payment in full prior to service. We don’t work with insurance for what I assume are obvious reasons, and due to the sensitive nature of our services, we do need to provide for our own security. We have had too many people refusing to pay after the treatment, claiming they were never cursed at all. You understand how that would be a problem, I’m sure?

Very good, yes. We will charge that card and bring you the receipt when we come out. Now… again looking at the calendar… it looks like there is an opening a week from Friday.

Yes, I’m afraid that’s the earliest we have open for an in-home treatment. They do take longer with the cleansing needs and the travel time. This is a rather busy time of year for us. People seem to get bored after the holidays and start cursing people for having to return gifts or for burned pies or for something that someone said to someone else at the family dinner… you know how the holidays can be. Everyone has problems with something, and what better way to deal with the post-holiday let-down and winter “cabin fever” than a little petty vengeance spell or two…

Okay, Ma’am…. Calm down please. I can almost hear you, you’re screaming so loud!

I understand it is an emergency. Fine, fine… I’ll see if we can juggle things a bit and have someone out there this afternoon for the preliminary inspection. Unfortunately, emergency services will require yet another additional fee.

Well, think of it like calling an ambulance or having to go into the emergency room. With said disease and the additional need to juggle other clients, you understand that an expedited treatment comes at a cost. We’re pulling our employees from other clients, changing schedules, dealing with other impatient clients… It’s all so very complicated.

Yes, now a quick review of the charges, to make sure that we are in agreement: $1000 basic service fee, upgraded to the deluxe package making it $2000, add to that the in-home fee and the emergency package at $500 each and your total is $3000 plus taxes.

Yes, yes, I realize that it feels like highway robbery, but if you would like complete satisfaction and personalized emergency services…

Very good, Carlos will be out this afternoon for the screening and Lois will see you in the morning at 9:00 a.m. sharp.

Thank you for calling The Gloaming Gap Emporium, your place for all things occult. Have a blessed day.

Lois! Oh, there you are. Thank the Goddess. We just got a call for the deluxe package with on-site and emergency options! You’re scheduled for the extraction tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

Oh, that is so true. This is indeed the best idea you’ve ever had. A cool grand from this one call alone. We’ll keep the Emporium open for a long time with this scheme.

So, have you considered who to curse next? Or what spell to use? It certainly is fun trying out all of these great new curses we’ve discovered. I wonder if we can use the classic “pox on both your houses” too. New and old curses combined and no one will think to suspect us!

Oh, I have to go gather the cleansing items. Do you think you could cover the phone for me for a few minutes? Now… where is Carlos? He needs to get over there and put on his show as soon as possible. Gotta make us look as legit as possible!

What, Lois?

What do you mean?

Oh, that? I was just playing around with what we COULD charge our clients, you know, when we build up our base.

Oh, yes, it does say receipt. Ha, ha, ha… I told you I was playing with the possibilities.

Yes, it does have Julie’s credit card number on it.

Lois… look at me. It’s Betsy, your best friend! Have I ever lied to you?

Okay, well… Good point. Still, aside from that one time in college…

Yes, there was that time too… but Lois…

Okay, okay… I’m skimming off the top… and you’re… surprised? Really? How long have we known each other?

Lois Fairweather! Don’t you dare look at me like that. That look, right there – the one you had right before you cursed me for wrecking your car last year – you don’t want to try it, Lois. I’m warning you…

I have records, Lois… records that implicate you…

Image by Melanie Hill
You leave me no choice, then…

“Oh Great Goddess Mnemosyne, come and erase, this brief indiscretion with remembrance replaced. Let waters of Lethe come and wash clean, all former transgressions in Oblivion’s stream.”

Now, what were you saying, Dear?

That’s right; there’s a good girl… now take these things to Carlos, and if you cause no further trouble, I might pay you for your services tomorrow.

Author: Vicky Burkholder

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