Hex-Peddling in the Age of the Entitlement, an Interview with Dorian Lake
Hi… J.P. Sloan, here. I've had a bit of experience with charms and hexes in my time, but to really put a finger on the pulse of modern esoteric practice, I thought I'd go right to the source… So join me as I trade a few lobs back and forth with Baltimore's preeminent hex-crafter, Dorian Lake.
~ ~ ~
D.L.: Did you just call me preeminent?
J.P.: I… yes. Yes, I did.
D.L.: I knew I liked you. I'm an outstanding judge of character.
J.P.: Dorian, let me begin by defining some terms for the readers at home. Let's start with charms and hexes. What the hell's the difference?
D.L.: A fine question, and one that most of my clients completely lark up on our first consultation. Hexes and charms are both forms of what some in my circles refer to as Affinity Magic. That's metaphysical phenomena that ties to, triggers from, or otherwise exploits commonality.
J.P.: I think you've already gone over my head.
D.L.: Deal with it. Charms and hexes both elicit a change in the natural order. That's not to say they're unnatural, but that Nature as we typically see it is subverted. I prefer to think of my practice as tapping into laws of Nature that have been hidden. Hence why I refer to it as "esoteric practice."
J.P.: So, what's the difference between a charm and a hex?
D.L.: A charm is a single change in one's cosmic disposition. It could be damn near anything… your appearance (we call those kinds of charms "glammers", by the way), your memories, your luck. It's a tiny advantage, like a cheat code for existence. The downside to charms is that their effects are usually pretty limited and hard to spot unless you know what you're looking for.
Hexes, on the other hand, have more to do with cause and effect. It's like engineered karma… When you cast a hex on someone, you're creating an arbitrary effect to a cause of your choosing. An example: if you want your boyfriend to stop playing Minotaur Age: the Burning Sensation until the wee hours, then you can hex him such that his computer freezes up every time he spends more than, say, half an hour. And that's the trick to hexes… they have to have limits, durations, and they must end when the subject fulfills a requirement.
Otherwise you're just cursing someone, and that's just fifty shades of Bad Idea.
J.P.: You mentioned karma… I know you make a big deal about karma in your workings.
D.L.: Damn skippy. See, all magic requires a source, same way electronics require power. Some sources are trustworthy and reliable, others not so much. Hermetic practitioners prefer steady, easy-to-predict sources of energy. This is as opposed to, say, witches or other naturalists who tie their workings to Nature. That's kind of a crap shoot.
J.P.: And your source is karma?
D.L.: It's super-safe. My old mentor, Emil, wanted me to steer clear of… shall we say, infernal sources? His advice was karma. It's the Cosmic ledger for the disposition of a person's soul. If you have it coming to you… I can coax it out ahead of schedule. Kind of like a payday loan, but with way less interest. If you don't have it coming to you, well… then it ain't gonna happen. This is important, because sometimes hexes can get a touch ugly. Karma goes both ways, after all.
J.P.: Most people in the world these days don't believe in magic… or karma, for that matter. Doesn't that make it more difficult for someone like you to make a living?
D.L.: Not really. I frankly don't need my clients to believe in what I'm doing. I mean, you may not believe in flu shots… doesn't mean you won't catch the damn flu when you don't get one. If anything, people these days make my job easier. Everyone feels like they have something coming to them, whether they deserve it or not. Dangle the prospect of expedited entitlement, and you have to broom them away. Which I do. Often.
I'll tell you what makes it difficult… magical regulation. I've done my "due diligence" to make sure I'm not dipping into Netherwork, but that doesn't stop the Presidium from taking my temperature every now and then. The hard way. And by taking my temperature the hard way, I mean--
J.P.: I get the picture.
D.L.: If I'm going to be honest, the Presidium helps me maintain my monopoly over Baltimore hex-crafting. I'm the only jerk crazy enough to practice so close to D.C. I just keep my head down and try not to be a nuisance.
J.P.: Do you have any advice for prospective clients?
D.L.: Get your house in order before you talk to someone like me. You have to recognize that this isn't a free service. And I'm not talking about my fee. I mean the Cosmos is a zero-sum game. If you push the Cosmos too hard, it'll push back. I can't tell you how many clients have secured my services, knowing full well that I'm calling everyone's karmic balances out into the open. It's usually jilted lovers that end up with karmic blowback… and it's usually men, as an aside. They tend to think they're blameless, and when the hex blows up in their face, they're the ones wading hip-deep through their own consequences.
J.P.: So be sure you're not in the wrong.
D.L.: As sure as anyone can be, at least. Just do some soul searching before you take out a hex.
J.P.: Thanks for your time, Dorian. Do you have any contact information you'd like to pass along to the readers?
D.L.: Frankly, no. I work on referrals only, and I'm pretty selective. If you have trouble with someone, I'd recommend getting a good massage, drinking some tea, and trying to move on with life. Tends to work out better for everyone in the end.
J.P.: Well, there you have it, folks. Don't bother with charms or hexes unless you already know who to talk to, and are pretty sure you don't need them in the first place.
D.L.: I couldn't have put it better myself!
The Curse Servant
The Dark Choir
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Publication: February 26, 2015
ISBN (eBook): 9781620078228
ISBN (Paperback): 9781620078235
ISBN (Hardcover): 9781620078242
ISBN (Smashwords): 9781620078259
Number of pages: 346
Word Count: 99,400
Cover Artist: Conzpiracy Digital Arts
The one person standing between Hell… and an innocent girl… is a man without a soul.
A regular life isn’t in the cards for Dorian Lake, but with his charm-crafting business invigorated, and the prospect of a serious relationship within his grasp, life is closer to normal than Dorian could ever expect. In the heat of the Baltimore mayoral campaign, Dorian has managed to balance his arrangements with Deputy Mayor Julian Bright with his search to find his lost soul. Dorian soon learns of a Netherworker, the head of a dangerous West Coast cabal, who might be able to find and return his soul. The price? Just one curse.
Sounds easy… but nothing ever is for Dorian. A dark presence arrives in the city, hell-bent on finding Dorian’s soul first. Innocents are caught in the crossfire, and Dorian finds it harder to keep his commitments to Bright. When the fight gets personal, and the entity hits too close to home, Dorian must rely on those he trusts the least to save the ones he loves. As he tests the limits of his hermetic skills to defeat this new enemy, will Dorian lose his one chance to avoid damnation?
Available at Amazon
I knew this wasn't going to be the typical meeting with Julian Bright when, instead of the usual political organ-grinders at the campaign headquarters, I found a soccer mom duct taped to a chair, foaming at the mouth. Her grunting and growling echoed off the bare sheetrock walls of Julian's office, vacant except for the three of us.
I peeked through the blinds covering the locked storefront to make sure none of volunteers were back from the morning rounds. Satisfied we were alone, I turned to Julian.
He waved his arm at the woman in a lazy circle. "So, this is why I called."
"Who is she?"
"Her name is Amy Mancuso. You know her?"
I shook my head.
"She's a volunteer. Her team was working Cold Spring by Loyola when she started swearing and spitting at the residents. By the time her team captain called me, she'd kicked someone's dog. Terrier, I think. Or one of those purse dogs."
I winced. "Remind me not to hand out yard signs for you. Jesus."
"It's not like we do background checks on volunteers. I figured she probably missed some meds or something."
"But you called me instead of the paramedics."
"Why?" I asked as I took a step toward her.
Amy's grunting halted as she straightened in her chair. Her head swiveled slowly in my direction, and her eyes sent the creeping chills up my neck.
With a nerve-rattling tone she growled, "Is that Dorian Lake I smell?"
I'd never enjoyed the sound of my own name less.
Julian turned a shoulder to me and whispered, "That's why."
I slowly approached Amy, pulling my pendulum from my jacket pocket in a slow, non-threatening motion. Last thing I needed at that moment was to send a crazy person into a panic. I assumed she was crazy. My pendulum would determine whether she was unnaturally energized or the usual cat-shaving flavor of lunatic.
Her eyes were dilated; her mouth twisted into the most unsettling smile one could imagine on the face of an otherwise average woman.
"Have we met?"
"Poor little Dorian lost his soul."
Okay, this was probably a legitimate problem.
I dangled the pendulum in front of Amy. The little nugget of copper spun from the end of its chain in a perfectly Newtonian fashion. Nothing pulled it contrary to the laws of Nature. I couldn't even feel a tug on the chain.
She continued, "Lost his soul, he lost his soul. Dropped it down a rabbit hole."
"I suppose you think you're being clever?"
"Is he doomed or is he dead? Will he damn your soul instead?"
This conversation had lost all of its charm.
"Who am I talking to?"
She sucked in a huge gulp of air and craned her neck at a painful angle toward the ceiling. A sick squealing noise leaked from her lips as her arms trembled. When she finally released her breath and sank back down into her chair, she simply chuckled.
"We're going to find it, you know. And when we do, we're going to eat it."
I leaned in as close as I dared and whispered, "If you think I'm afraid of you, then you need to know something. I'm not impressed."
"It won't be long now."
"Did someone send you, or is this just a courtesy call?"
She smirked. "We're going to enjoy this."
I was knitting together a clever response when a loud rip of tape crackled through the room. Her hand slammed up underneath my jaw, fingers clamping around my throat. My head filled with blood, and I tried to cough through the gag reflex. The harder I beat on her hand to let go, the wider that creepy smile got.
About the Author:
J.P. Sloan is a speculative fiction author ... primarily of urban fantasy, horror and several shades between. His writing explores the strangeness in that which is familiar, at times stretching the limits of the human experience, or only hinting at the monsters lurking under your bed.
A Louisiana native, Sloan relocated to the vineyards and cow pastures of Central Maryland after Hurricane Katrina, where he lives with his wife and son. During the day he commutes to the city of Baltimore, a setting which inspires much of his writing.
In his spare time, Sloan enjoys wine-making and homebrewing, and is a certified beer judge.
Web page: www.jp-sloan.com