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A Friend in Need

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The bayou had never quite seen a car like that before, nor a woman like the one driving it. She had wild hair, completely black on one side and wholly white on the other, with severe black lines scrawled across her eyebrows and dark shading on her eyelids. She slinked out of the driver’s seat, walked up to the steaming engine and kicked it full force with her foot, exclaiming, “Useless, wretched thing!”
She hadn’t noticed a man standing behind her; perhaps there hadn’t been a moment before. “Now, what’s a pretty little thing like you doin’ in a nasty ole place like this?”
Cruella turned and surveyed the man: he had a long, gleeful face and dark chocolate skin. He was dressed in a tattered suit, with a threadbare purple waistcoat underneath and a particularly bruised top hat perched atop his head. He was missing one of his front teeth. Cruella folded her arms, disdain etched on her face. “Flattery will get you a stiletto blade between your ribs.”
“Now, why I do get the feelin’ that that simple ain’t true?” His voice was deep and inviting; he began to circle Cruella, sizing her up and running his hands up and down, just a few inches from her body. “Hmmm…” He pulled out a compass and watched its arrow spin wildly for a few seconds then slammed it shut. “You got a hoodoo on you, girl. Something bad. Something that’s keeping you from what you really want.”
Cruella grimaced, “Well, you’re perceptive, I’ll give you that.”
“I’m a whole lot more than that, sweetness.” He stepped back and then performed a low bow, “You are talking to a magician extraordinaire.” He waved his hands theatrically.
“Very impressive, I’m sure.”
“Now, am I to understand that your vehicle is giving you some trouble?”
“The blasted thing’s about as reliable as a beggared horse.” She kicked it again to emphasise her point.
“May I?” He smarmed.
Cruella raised an eyebrow but stepped aside. Facilier clicked and the hood popped open, he leant over, inspecting the engine, tutting and rubbing his chin. Finally, he said, “Ah, it’s just as I suspected.”
He looked up at her with a grin, “I don’t know the first thing about motor vehicles.”
Cruella scoffed, “You’re useless to me.”
She turned to go but suddenly he was standing in front of her, leering down, his eyes red with fury, “Don’t you dare say that to me!” Cruella let no emotion show on her face, but her fists clenched. Doctor Facilier took a deep breath and regained his composure. “I’m sorry, darlin’, I don’t know what came over me; must’ve lost my cool.”
“Happens to the best of us, darling, by which I mean myself.”
He chuckled, “Girl, I like you, what’s your name?”
She hesitated for a moment but then extended a gloved hand, “Cruella. De Vil.”
“Doctor Facilier.”
She smiled nastily, “Why do I get the feeling you’re not a real doctor?”
“Why do I get the feeling you are a real devil?” He reached out and ran his fingers over her stole. “Such pretty furs. Did you make them yourself?”
“Naturally. You know how they say there’s more than one way to skin a cat?” She leant in conspiratorially, “Well, I’ve tried all of them.”
“A woman after my own heart.” He opened up the side of his jacket to reveal tens of fox tails pinned to the inside. “So might I be correct in assuming that you have some familiarity with…advanced animal handling?” She nodded. “Well then, you’re just the filly I’ve been looking for.” He linked her arm in his and began to walk her away from her vehicle, “You see, I’m something of a cook and I’m whipping up a dish that the folks round here will just die for.”
Cruella bit her lower lip, “Oh, I do hope that’s not a metaphor.”
“But I need the heart of a certain bird to complete it- a very rare, very powerful creature, that just will not sit still. And that’s where you come in.” He stopped and turned to her. “I just need it to stop squirming for a few seconds so I can pull its stupid little heart out.”
“Sounds like fun, darling. But what’s in it for me?”
Facilier held up his hand and there was a purple flash- there appeared a violet cog. “Put this in your bonnet and your car automobile will run for centuries without the slightest hitch.”
Cruella reached out to grab it but Facilier retracted his hand and it vanished in a puff of smoke. “Uh uh uh. All good things to those who keep their word- now, do we have a deal?” He reached out his hand and without pausing Cruella shook it.
“Let’s go hunting, darling.”

The Jubiub Bird was a tall, magnificent creature with fiery plumage and a calm, almost regal demeanour. They had lived in the swamp since time immemorial and had once been numerous although now only a single remaining bird inhabited the swamp. Incredibly long-lived, it had evaded capture for centuries, and viciously dealt with anyone who tried to poach it.
That was, until Cruella.
One breath and the bird was frozen in place, unable to resist as Facilier reached his calloused hand into its chest and pulled out its golden heart.

“Now really, Cruella, are you sure I can’t persuade you to stay? We make quite the team.”
“Unfortunately, no. I really must be going- you see, I’m in search of a man.”
Facilier smiled. “Gonna force him to put a ring on your finger?”
“Not quite. I’m going to rip his jugular out with my teeth.”
Facilier laughed, “Sounds like a party. All the best, darlin’.” She got into her car and before she could wind up the window he handed her a business card. “In case you ever need to get in touch. Don’t be a stranger!”
She drove off and he watched her go, before reaching into his jacket and pulling out the Jubjub’s heart. “Well now, let’s see what mischief we can muster.”