"You never ever worry and you never shed a tear
You're saying that my love ain't real
Just look at my face, these tears ain't drying"
Glenwood didn’t believe in doctors. Or, rather, they really didn’t believe in doctors because they couldn’t believe in doctors. Not enough of them. Although the country was separated into two kingdoms, Hyland and Rolance, both empires were united in that most of the doctors served primarily the elite. Sure, a doctor would occasionally pop up in a village here and there, but most of them specialized in old-fashioned remedies, such as leeches. And since most of the village elders could do that themselves, there wasn’t a need for those types of “doctors”.
Wagon-travelling salesmen, on the other hand, were the current top of the trend. They sold all-purpose hair tonics, digestion tonics, brain tonics, allergy tonics…and the crowds ate it up, regardless if they actually worked or not. Right now a group gathered around a town square as a short-haired brunette girl in a cowboy hat wiggled a glass bottle in her hand. “Gather round, gather round, for this once in a lifetime wonder potion!” she called, grinning. “Meant to give you the power you think you never imagined you’d have! Physical strength, brain power…you can even open the tightest pickle jars! Do we got any takers?”
There were murmurs across the crowd. Before anyone else could step up, a busty woman in a sun-dress and a high, white ponytail stepped forward, waving a hand. “Oh! Oh! I’d love to try some of that wunderbar wonder potion, ma’am!”
The white ponytail took a glass and instinctively flexed both arms, spinning. As if she was compelled, she walked up to a tall, lean man leaning by the wagon and jabbed him with her finger. “Yoo-hoo, would you mind if I did a quick test with you? I feel the strength welling up in my veins.”
“Yeah, sure, lady.”
They walked over to a table and sat, flexing their arms. The crowd gathered around them, taking silent bets amongst themselves. The woman had the right attitude, but she looked more like a happy church housewife than someone who participated in arm-wrestling matches. No one recognized the man either, now that they thought about it, but he looked scary and scruffy with his ratted jacket and crooked teeth. She didn’t stand a chance.
Which was why when she threw his arm out so hard he stumbled back, many of their jaws dropped. A loud cheer began in the crowd, and the brunette’s face likened to that of almost a cat’s as people ran up to her, practically shoving wads of cash in her face. She humbly accepted their offerings, exchanging the money for bottles filled with the magic brown liquid. In the background the white ponytail cheered, placing her hands together in a small, slow clap.
Soon the batch of the wonder potion was sold out, and the wagon reared up and went on its merry way, presumably towards the next village on its path. There were some familiar faces on board. Below the faint streaks of moonlight, the brunette had her cat face back on as she whistled, quietly counting the day’s earnings. Next to her the driver, who was the man with crooked teeth, scoffed. “She keeps getting more and more confident every time we do this, Rose. Pretty sure I think she’s gonna rip my damn arm off.”
Rose winked at him, waving a hand in dismissal. “Nah, she’s just playing the part, Dezel. Looks like you’re gonna have to shapen up pretty soon!”
Dezel growled. “You know, if the people start thinking it’s too good to be true, they’re gonna catch on.”
“Which is whyyy we have plenty of space in between villages to work on our routine. Now c’mon, inn’s waiting in on us.”
What was nice about lone inns was that they were usually in the wilderness, run by local mom and pop types, and barely any on-lookers. While Dezel and another of their crew unloaded their belongings and tended to the horses, Rose hopped up and headed towards the back, where a lone shadow stood against the porch. The woman from the previous village smiled at her, her sundress still on but with the important detail of the top button unbuttoned. Rose grinned at her as she slyly slipped a few bills in the slit. “Nice work today, Lailah. You’re really giving Dezel’s masculinity a run for its money, too.”
“Ohoho, it seems I don’t know my own strength. Maybe that wonder potion’s giving me that extra zap after all!”
“Doubt it. It’s mostly whiskey and sugar.”
Standing on her tippy-toes, Rose leaned up and kissed Lailah on the lips. She felt the other woman’s hands clutch at her buttocks in exchange, and a devilish spark jumped across her eyes. They hadn’t been doing this tonic schtick for terribly long, and Lailah had been their newest recruit. She had been a widowed churchgoer whose husband had died in a roundhouse brawl, of all things, but living as a spinster grew tiring and she wanted to try something new. At first, she had been morally opposed to Rose’s antics, but then gave in when she realized most of the money went towards underprivileged orphans.
And so since then, living as the Wonder Sparrows, the group went up and down Glenwood selling fake wonder tonic. Rose raised money for orphans and got a hot piece of ass on the side. It was a nice slice of life. When they were finished, Lailah smiled at her and squeezed her cheeks one more time. “No wonder I’ve been slurring my words every time I have a sip.”
“Uh, it’s just a sip, hon.”
“Well, I’ve never been one to hold my liquor, Rose. Ohoho…”
Rose smirked and stood next to her, taking a long sip of the wonder potion herself. Shuddering, she took off her hat and looked up at the sky. In the peaceful countryside, she could see every individual star popping out in the early stages of night. Lailah wrapped an arm around her waist, and she leaned in, enjoying her thicker-skinned beauty. “Rose, you ever think of what we’ll do when we run out of villages?”
“Hmm? Make our own? Travel to other countries?” Rose pondered, smirking. “I wouldn’t mind becoming an international businesswoman.”
“Ohoho, you’re always so ambitious. I think I might actually break Dezel’s arm by then, though.”
“Oh, don’t worry too much about him. He barks more than he bites. He’s got two arms, doesn’t he?”
Both women giggled. In the distance Dezel’s ears perked up, as if he could hear them, and he shot a glare at them. They continued to giggle, as being grumpy was the man’s primary way of communication. Eventually Lailah broke off, stretching her arms as she walked towards the entrance. “I hope you have an appetite, Rose. I got some chili pie baking in the oven~”
“Oh, do I have an appetite for a bunch of things! I’m starving!”
“Heehee. I’ll meet you inside, then.”
Lailah softly shut the door behind her. Rose crossed her arms and whistled a soft tune as she went over to Dezel to help with the last of their preparation. Being an international businesswoman could wait. Country con artist fit her way better right now.