Once again, Alan Austen speeded towards the obscure neighborhood of Pell Street and climbed up the same stairs he went up five years ago. He was as nervous as he was the first time, but this time it was different. There was a different purpose in Alan’s mind and he had no difficulty recognizing the house of the man that had changed his life. Once again, that night flashed through his eyes, how everything went downhill from that moment, even though five years ago it felt as if it was the best day of his life. As he approached the door, Alan made sure to cover up his bulging pocket and calm down his troubled mind.
He knew what to do. Alan pushed open the familiar door and found himself in the same tiny and plain room with the same old man sitting in a rocking-chair, reading a newspaper. This time, Alan didn’t have to hand the man a card, he recognized him at once.
“Sit down, Mr. Austen,” said the old man with a smile in his face.
“Ah, so you remember me!” said Alan surprised.
“Of course I do Mr. Austen. I have the face of every client that I have ever had embedded in my head,” continued the man calmly, “What brings you here this time?”
“Revenge, that’s what it is!” screamed Alan furiously.
“Why so, Mr. Austen? Has any trouble stirred up?”
“Ha, and you act as if nothing has happened,” responded Alan sarcastically, the anger boiling inside of him, “YOU are what’s wrong! YOU!”
“Please, Mr. Austen. Let us not give in to our emotions like that. Who would have thought that after all these years you wouldn’t have changed a bit!” said the old man, “I’ll tell you what, you don’t need me! Ha, you actually need to learn how to control your emotions and not allow yourself to be driven by them! Now, please, will you have a seat?”
For the second time, Alan patted down his bulging pocket and sighed a shaky breath as he calmed down. Slowly, he made his way to the chair opposite of the old man. His shoulders slouched down as his desperation came back again.
“I am sorry for my reaction,” mumbled Alan, “still working on that.”
“I see, Mr. Austen. Now, what brings you here? Wasn’t the love potion enough for you? Do you have any complaints?”
“No, no! The potion worked wonders! It did all that you said it would! At first, I felt like I was in heaven, but things took a turmoil from there. That’s why I am here. You are my only hope!”
“Can you please tell me what happened since the night you bought that potion? Did you get the girl?”
“Yes, yes I did! At an instant, she fell in love with me. As I said before, in the beginning it all seemed so magical, it felt as if I had made the best decision of my life. I got a job that pays me well, we got married, moved into a nice house, we were in love. That’s where things turned downhill. We found out that she couldn’t get pregnant, so we tried to adopt, but they turned us down multiple times. She began to think that I had something to do with it and that I didn’t want her anymore. It all built up as she became paranoid that I was cheating on her because I had to work late through a crisis at work. Surprisingly, she forgave me and everything seemed to be wonderful, for a-”
“So, what’s wrong? Didn’t I tell you that these effects were quite possible? In return, you were ecstatic, crying from happiness. What happened?” asked the old man curiously.
“You are right. You did warn me that all of this was going to happen. I was a fool! I thought that that is what true love is like!” cried Alan desperately, “But I was wrong. I never truly loved her, she had become such an obsession to me that I had forgotten what true love looks like. Oh, what a fool I was! Now, let me tell you the whole story. During those nights I worked late, spending countless hours with a woman, a partner of my company. At first, it seemed like a friendship, like a quick flirt here and there, but I didn’t know! I fell in love with her. She made me feel the way my wife has never made me feel. So here are we, I am still married to the same woman, but I continue to be in love with another,” ended Alan.
“I see Mr. Austen. So, where do I come in? You need me to help you be with the woman you love, am I right?
“Yes. Quite right! I cannot continue living with that crazy woman. It’s a nightmare. I am trapped, I am not free anymore, I am a prisoner! Please help me, help me be with the woman I love!”
“This is quite a difficult situation Mr. Austen. I don’t know if I can help you,” stated the old man thoughtfully.
“Don’t you have a potion that will make her fall out of love with me just as she fell in love in the first place?” asked Alan hopelessly.
“Ha, no, no, no, Mr. Austen. I don’t just have potions that make people fall in love and then fall out of love. As I have told you before, a love potion is quite powerful and I cannot reverse its power,” said the old man, “but, what I can do is offer you a glove-cleaner as I like to call it, or a life-cleaner if you will.”
“A glove-cleaner… I don’t know about that. Are you quite sure you cannot make my wife fall out of love with me? A life-cleaner sounds a bit dangerous…” murmured Alan.
“I am sorry to disappoint you Mr. Austen. Unfortunately I cannot help you with that. I can only provide you with a glove-cleaner.”
“If there’s no other choice…” mumbled Alan, “I’ll take it. I’ll take the glove-cleaner but I also need something else.”
“Whatever it is Mr. Austen. As long as it is something doable.”
“I kind of need a second love potion…”
“What for Mr. Austen? Who needs to fall in love now?”
“I kind of didn’t tell you the whole story. It’s true that I am in love with a woman at work but she only sees me as a friend. She refuses to give in to my love and she is with someone else. I need to make her fall in love with me. I need to!” screamed Alan desperately.
“Of course Mr. Austen. Anything you need. As long as you are sure about it. Now, be careful Mr. Austen. The glove-cleaner will give you a fresh start, it will erase people you don’t like from your life, but it’s quite expensive. Are you ready to pay such an amount?”
“Money is not a problem! Please sir, just give me the potions!”
“If you say so Mr. Austen.”
The old man rose from his chair and approached the shelves containing the dark bottles and jars. He took two small vials and offered them to Alan. “Here you go Mr. Austen. The glove-cleaner and the love potion. I cannot tell you what the glove-cleaner will do, as I have never found myself to need its effects, but I hope it will serve you right. That will cost you five thousand dollars.”
“What about the love potion? How much is that?”
“Ah Mr. Austen. That’s okay. It’s on me.”
Alan took out a white envelope from his bulging pocket and handed it to the man, “ Here you go sir. Five thousand dollars. Thank you very much! I knew I could count on you!” Alan slipped the small vials in his jacket and then ran outside happily, whistling down the street.
“Ah! Such a shame!” sighed the old man, “He didn’t even say goodbye. That’s okay though, he will be back sometime.”