Archive for the ‘ Chapter 03 – Closer ’ Category

(41) Excited Over Doughnuts…Again

“Thirty days, or just over the cycle of the moon,” I said, looking at Nellie.  I looked for signs on her face that it meant something, a flaring of the nostrils, a widening of the eyes.  I am not trained at that sort of thing, but you do pick up a little here and there just by being a real person talking to other real people.

“Three times ten,” she agreed.  She shrugged.  “It is a hard burden, carrying a piece of death in your heart.”

I was about to say, “I can imagine,” but put the kibosh on it pretty quickly.  Yes, I could imagine it, quite clearly, but I couldn’t really feel what she was feeling.  Imagine kissing someone with a ticker of doom, knowing that you can’t quite reach the (wo)man you are loving because they are not whole in themselves.

Of course, if I put it that way, maybe it’s easy – a lot of people aren’t “whole in themselves.”  I let my body go a little more than I ought for my intellect, and I don’t give my emotional feedback a lot of say in how I do things.  Too often I’m an observer in my own body, so I can’t even say I’m giving my all to a lot of projects.

Funny, if you’d asked me I would say that passion drives a lot of the practice, and really, it does, but that doesn’t mean you’re necessarily in touch with your emotions.  I mean, I’m the sensitive new-age nice guy your mother warned you about in spades, but most of the time I have just the same amount of trepidation and concern for what others might think of me that cripples most of us in the social arena.

On the other hand, I know more than those outside the practitioners’ knitting circles and theory sessions that hesitation can equal death.  It’s the only thing I might have in common with those in the armed forces.  It’s just a lot harder for someone like me to focus that feeling into closing a door.  That’s something the heavy hitters can do – they can make that tear for your departed father or that angst for the unreciprocated love and, well, make magic out of it.  Me, I can get excited over doughnuts, but I don’t generally know how to hold that and put it into slamming a door to the outside shut.  Maybe it’s something I can learn, but probably not from the exorcism teacher.

I just looked at Nellie.  “I will see what I can do.”  It was all I could promise.

She knew.  She wasn’t going to get her hopes up. She took a small card out of the purse that was under her chair.  She passed it to me, and then got up.  “I must go.”

It was the name of a restaurant, closer to downtown Denver.  Viktor said something in what I presumed was Russian, and Nellie shook her head.  She and her purse and her sorrow left the room.

Doloise stood up.  I looked at the Realm curiously.

“They are done conducting their business with you, ” she said.

I looked at Andrei.  “The,” and then he used a phrase I didn’t understand, “is not a poet,” he said with a smile.

“It translates to… lord’s house,” Artur said, unexpectedly.

Doloise smiled at him.  Artur seemed to shrink an inch in on himself.  Good boy.  Realized she wasn’t the hottie you thought she was, did you?  I didn’t ruffle his hair, but the fact that I was tempted was channeled straight from my dad.

Maybe I carried a bit of the dead inside me, too.

“It’s been a pleasure meeting the lot of you,” I said.  Adding the, “Insane sorcerors though you are,” would have almost been redundant.  Of course, none of them had actually done any magic I had noticed, but that didn’t mean anything.

I walked out with Doloise, nodding at and this time catching the name of the woman at the desk.  I wanted to talk to someone about this, maybe do some research on if there was some clue as to the afterlife I could expect contact with, but Doloise wasn’t the right person.   I didn’t want to call Maggie.  Ed would have been off work and hard to get on the cellphone.  I thought of and discarded another handful of people in the business.

I guess the internet was going to have to be my solace.  Maybe I’d sign up on a dating site.  Was there a witchy version of the ones on TV?

I got caught up in watching Mythbusters videos.  They fascinated Doloise.   I almost loved watching the Realm watching them more than I did simply watching the Mythbusters, although it would have been a difficult thing to measure.

I don’t know what the fey method of taking notes is, but whatever it is, she was doing it.  I imagined a group of a dozen or so taking turns behind her eyes in a “Being John Malkovich” kind of situation.  “No, no, I want to see the fellow with the hairy mouth tentacles do something.”  After a while, I was concerned at her glee involving the explosions.

I leaned back, put my hands behind my head, and smiled at her.  “And none of it is done with magic,” I said.

She actually stood up in an almost aggressive stance and stared at me.  After a moment, she came up with an argument that amused me.  “They are using the natural laws!”

I turned it over and over in my head, and then laughed.  I guess she had a point.

I considered letting her loose on YouTube, but then decided I actually would be saving the world in preventing it.  Yeah, it was getting kind of late, too, and my thoughts were getting muddled.

I fell asleep trying to figure out what the magical equivalent of a 404 was.  “Deity not found?”

When I awoke, I saw Doloise scribbling madly on what looked to be a conjured blue sheet of paper.  I found my towel,  walked past her into the shower, and then off to work.  Rinse, wash, repeat.  Wait, was that the right order?

I had to admit my curiosity as she was focused enough to spend the day drafting.  I was given a good reference from my contract (the girl I had been doing the temporary labor for was being released over the weekend, so she was presumably returning on Monday) and a bonus from my employer under the table.  Not standard practice, but I wasn’t going to turn him in, and I could always report it to the IRS later.

“Let’s go have some borscht,” I suggested to Doloise as I walked.

“Is that a kind of goblin?” she asked.  She had rolled up her draft and was swinging it from side to side, reminding me of a girl in pigtails skipping down the side of the road.  Well, except she didn’t have pigtails, and she couldn’t very well skip in those heels.  But the image of a girl in pigtails skipping down the side of a road has to be one of those things Jung was getting on with the Akashic Record.  Except now I felt all dumb realizing that there may not have been a lot of Chinese girls in pigtails in more historical times, let alone, you know, Tanganyika.  Anyway, it was part of my cultural heritage, white bread as I am.

“Yes,” I told Doloise.

I was actually hoping for some chicken Kiev, maybe a pierog.  But now I not only had a good meal to look forward to, but a surprise.  Would Doloise be disgusted?  Hungry?

I know, there are days I am amused by the small tortures.  All of them, actually.

I called in a reservation for two, and drove Doloise downtown.  She stared at all the people.  There’s this corner at Colfax and Broadway which is, day or night, really kind of the reality crux of the area.  It’s not magic, and yet, at the same time, it is.  I think it’s the most active bus stop in the city, and there’s always a stream of people, in all of humanity’s variety.

I took my time driving by.  I love Colfax anyway, if only because you have this feeling that you could just walk down it and see everything.  While that particular corner was the kind of place the proverb-writers meant when they said things like, “Stay in one place and the world will come to you,” Colfax was meant to be adventured.   You needed to have a couple hundred dollars in your pockets, and two days to walk along it, and you’d come out richer for the experience than almost anywhere else in the region, despite the majestic Rockies as a backdrop.  A little slice of life, the universe, and, well everything.

Yeah, I’m an urbanite.  Someday I’ll tell you how I feel about camping.  How I really feel about camping.

(43) Tonight’s Special

“This is not a goblin.”

“No, it’s borscht with beef and sour cream.  It’s good.” I took another spoonful and savored it.  “Really good.  It won’t kill you.”

Doloise looked at me through her sunglasses.  They looked more red than gold in this light.  She had changed her outfit somehow during the night, and was now wearing something in blue that looked (if you squinted and turned your head a little) a little like an interview shirt I have ironed and hanging in the closet.  That’s one of the neater magics they’re capable of, that I mentally subtitle, “Riffing off the note.”  It’s a similarity magic (if you’re paying attention) where they draw (well, conjure) from subtle illusion into being the fantabulous, but only if they have something real from which to start.  Seven-course royal banquets out of a kernel of corn, that sort of thing. 

(That’s another reason Thomas warned us out of trips to faerieland.  Thin and wan, remember?  They don’t eat much.  The golden arches there don’t serve hamburgers, although it would be the franchise opportunity of an immortal lifetime.)

“Goblins would kill you,” she said.

“Not if they were this tasty.  If goblins were this tasty,” I slurped a little, and used my napkin to pat my lips, “they’d be endangered.”

She looked confused.

“Rarity.  Everything would be out to eat them, and so there would be few of them left.”

She shuddered.  “I know what goblins are, and you would ascribe value to them?”

I tilted my head and looked at her, resting my chin in my hand after a moment.  I’m sensitive, don’t get me wrong, but I do kind of paint everything with my white man’s brush if I don’t catch my assumptions.  Still, handling Doloise had really expanded some of my horizons.  Thomas had warned me that the fey had a certain tunnel vision when it came to…anything else.

“What are goblins?” 

Admittedly, I had run into a few goblin nests, and Ed and I had decided that extermination really had to be done with fire.  I had not actually run into any goblins.  I can’t say they struck me as the most genteel of creatures given the stench and remnants of small things they had gathered, but maybe, not being from Around Here, so to speak, they adapted poorly.  Maybe it smelled like a sweet ambrosia that reminded of their home next to the Bog of Everlasting Stench, or whatever it was called.  Doloise just made me want to question its judgments.

I thought about it, really.  Did I do that with Maggie?  Did I second-guess her because she was a woman?  No.  I don’t think so – most of the time I was happy letting her drive.  (Well, minus the actual driving part – she scared me on the road.)  I thought generally that even though we disagreed fundamentally about the practice of the esoteric arts and its moral components that we meshed really well with our worldview.

But Doloise got under my skin.  Maybe because I was never sure how much it was her as an independent being having ideas or it as a collective sharing the ideas of its controllers.   I felt like Jiminy Cricket.  “What you need is a conscience.”

They don’t, though.  They’re not native to this world-sphere.  They’re rarely here for long unless it is to make mischief, and then they don’t have to care what happens in their wake.  That’s one of the things that makes them so much trouble for the Big Guys; the responsible heavy-hitters have to hit more precisely so that the overall impact is expressed in ways that don’t ricochet off innocent bystanders.  They’re not superheroes.  Superheroes get to wear the 4-color tights and crush buildings.  They have to be surgeons, cutting at the seams of reality and excising its cancers.

Me, I’ll stick with kind of being a plumber.  I’m more a situational comedy than a medical drama.

Doloise harrumphed.  Well, at least, that’s what I think that noise was.  It was a kind of expression of disgust, but her nose actually crinkled up kind of cute until the following snort repulsed me.   She took a bite of the borscht, ignoring me.

“This is really good,” she admitted.

I silently cheered.  It wasn’t a big victory, but I won.

(44) Blueprints for Freedom

After some delicious dessert (it had raisins and honey and probably a high enough carbohydrate count to send people at nearby tables into a stupor: I shared it with Doloise) I waved at her rolled-up schematic.

“What are you planning, or is it a surprise?” I asked, trying to sound far more nonchalant than the panic the idea occasionally put into me.

She blinked at me slowly for a few minutes, which, I have to say, did not bring my heartrate down any.

“I meant on the blueprint paper,” I referenced with a finger to what she had left rolled-up and standing next to her on the booth’s bench.

“It is a declaration of independence.”

It was my turn to blink.

She went on eating, covering some of her portion with heavy cream.  I decided that calories didn’t count in fairyland.

“You know what I am,” she said.

“In theory,” I hedged.

“I am not a single leaf, nor even a branch, but the tree itself.”

I tried following her analogy, if that’s what it was.  Could have been a metaphor.  I was still hazy on all of that, heck, it might have been an allegory, but really, that’s for every man to decide for himself.  

I wasn’t very good with that, because my mind kept slipping back to the idea of how to do correspondence between animal life and plant life.  Were leaves like hair, and the forests were nests made of their own pieces?  No, because hair is a dead thing.  Leaves are alive, they have function.  Limbs and branches made even less sense, even if they were sometimes used as synonyms.  (I know what synonyms are, thankyouverymuch.)   After all, a tree could regrow and thin sticks were less like arms.  Maybe leaves were like thousands of tiny fingers.  Or cilia, not that I was sure we had cilia.  I was pretty sure we didn’t have flagella. 

And roots?  Were they like earth-tongues, licking delicately at nutrients and searching for water like some kind of mole beneath the surface?  But without tastebuds?  Maybe leaves were tastebuds?  Drinking in sunlight.  I wondered what sunlight tasted like.  “Light,” probably – far fewer calories than in normal…um.  Where was I going with this again?

Doloise continued after I didn’t respond.

“I believe that there is the possibility that there are viable seeds from this tree.”

I opened my mouth without particular concern for my future and asked, “What kind of tree?  I mean, is there a period of dormancy?  Do you have to hold the seed in water and a little bit of charcoal like an avocado tree?”

“You do not take me with all due concern.”



She didn’t respond.  In fact, she put her fork down onto the plate and continued to stare at me from behind her dark shades.

“Fine, fine.  You want independent existence.  How is that even possible?”

“All good creations have independence,” she said.  “A child is just the creation of the material and ephemeral of the parents.  Why would I be any different?”

“I don’t honestly know,” I said.  I pulled out a raisin and chewed on it for a moment, thinking.  “Everything that I do know is speculative, but it seems to me that you’re an active construct, meaning it continues to take power to keep you together, and that without the full interest and effort of those who formed you, you will dissipate.”

“This dissipate – will it hurt?” she asked.

“Well.”  I stopped.  “Realms can be made of places, too.  And they don’t go away or have volition, right?  But they have a link – they have limits to where they can go, and what they can be like, and they still cost some kind of  energy.  So maybe there’s a way to do some kind of exchange of rules.  I don’t think it would hurt, though.  You would just lack purpose until you faded away, maybe?  Or maybe it would be instantaneous, like you were unsummoned.”

She dropped her head for a moment.  “You are not made of comfort.”

I didn’t laugh.  I was going to, but I didn’t.

“I had thought perhaps you could close the connection between myself and my Family.”

I dropped my fork.  I took a moment of time to find it out from underneath the table and set it aside.  I think she was serious.

(45) The Well of Deep Thoughts

There were many things that marked Doloise different from the creatures of which she was formed, but, alas, a sense of humour was not one of them.  When I asked her if she was serious, it wasn’t even a rhetorical question, mostly a ping against the laws of my universe.

I was rescued from having to respond to her unusual requests by Nellie coming to our table with a very, very large gentleman next to her.

“Ah, my little Nellya says you are to speak with me!” the man said, in a tone slightly less loud than a bellow. 

See, this is a man-woman thing right here.   Nellie seemed to cringe at the volume.  Me, I took it in stride.  I didn’t need to match it – that would have spoken of submission. 

“That depends,” I said.  “Are you Ivan?”

Nellie’s eyes caught the light as she gave me a put-upon expression, but I ignored it.  Hey, it could have been that I wanted to compliment the cook, right?

“Indeed!  I am Ivan!  The Great and Terrible! Ha-ha!”

He really spoke like that, with capital letters and exclamation points.

Actually, I kind of liked the guy, in his over-the-top manner.  Not everyone can actually punctuate their sentences with a good “Ha-ha!”  It either came naturally, or took a lot of practice.  You couldn’t just wake up in the morning and start out saying, “Ha-ha!” with any real verisimilitude. 

His smile, though, didn’t reach his eyes.  I looked at his face for a moment and then, with a little shiver of concern, met his gaze with my own.

See, eye contact means something.  It means a lot of things, really, and all of them are somehow intimate.  It’s one of the real ways people with visual difficulties are handicapped, because it means an entire sense, another way of finding out who the people near you are is similarly left to other adaptations.  We learn about people in other ways – we can use our nose although it doesn’t paint the same kind of picture (yet another visual metaphor) outside of instinctual opinions.   And when we look into the eyes of someone else, we can’t help but project a little of ourselves into it.  We’re not just seeing the eyes, we’re focusing on every little cue in the expression.  We’re analyzing and comparing and our mood has as much to do with what we see as the subject’s.

I, for example, was in a darned good mood from the food, tempered with the concern for Doloise’s situation.  Well, and then Ivan showed up and I had to tighten that down for the moment, to put on my “work face” as it were.  So I saw joviality.  And I saw sadness.  And I saw concern.  I saw someone I could like, someone who enjoyed life.  Someone who was a darn good cook, by the way.

And I saw that he had a hole in his heart, a large gaping darkness.

Some of the heavy hitters have some tricks, they say, about meeting the eyes.  It’s a kind of identity not unlike a true name, and once they have your gaze they can work great knowings upon that.   (“Knowings” often called “seeings” for that reason.)  I knew Ivan was a sorceror, and I didn’t care.  I’m constantly being reminded of the eye contact rule with Doloise who, if she slept, would still sleep with the shades.

Of course, if she was a real girl, that would go away.  Kind of like Pinnochio’s nose, right?

Ivan smiled, and I was chilled.  Because something else was looking out at me, not from his eyes, but from his heart.  The metaphorical one.  The one we talk about when we paste that funny shaped symbol on our bumperstickers.    It tasted dry, just like the moments before the lightning bolt, like the slither of a large snake against the stones. 

“You are OK!” he said.  He thumped his fist on my arm, and then took the bill from the table.  “I get this!  You do not pay! ”  He looked at Doloise.  “You do not bring,” he used what I think were the same words Artur said meant “Lord’s House” “back here, though.  Cannot trust everything she sees.”  He said the last almost as if it were a joke.

Kinda ironic, that.

(46) The Pit of Vipers

I left a tip anyway, which just meant the extra cash was burning a hole in my pocket.  In a figurative sense, of course.  It was too late to hit the comics shop, and I definitely didn’t have enough time to browse comfortably for some new books, so I just ushered Doloise into the car and headed back to my place.

“The Lord’s House,” I said aloud.  “Not `the House of the Lord,’ because you’re not a church.  Not `the House of Lords’, although maybe you are a parliament.  The real question then is who is the Lord of the Gillikins?”

Doloise did not look at me. 

Unlike a lot of the stuff you read about allergies to cold iron and names of Deity and all that, well, Doloise was first a construct, so although it was definitely of fey energy, she did not have to suffer thoroughly from their weaknesses.  (Which is something to remember if you irritate one of them – they can send all sorts of Renfields at you, if not Tohrus.)   The truth of the matter has to do more with how energy from the Outside interacts with items of the Inside.  If you could condense Truth as a skewer against Illusion, it might be made of iron, and if you’re fighting Illusion, you want at least some amount of Truth in your weaponry.  (Although they’re not direct opposites, if you ask me.  Would you use Truth to destroy Art?  Is Allegory merely a seasoning or a main dish?)

Reality has a lot to do with the observer.  It’s a quantum thing, but it implies something a little scarier, too – truth and reality do not have to be in agreement.  Both are mutable, and often they drift.  My reality freaks me out everytime I go to bed in the dark after turning off the light, and I see the television screen slowly draining its luminescence because it reminds me so much of open doors.  Your reality may never have noticed, may not have cared, might even have admired it from a scientific standpoint, thinking of all the neat things it implies.  But what’s the truth?  That if given enough Will something could use that moment and that energy to go Walking from somewhere else, or that it’s just science on display and nothing to fear?

Both.  Both are just as true, because it’s a matter of Will, and Will is shaped by observation, knowledge, perception, all those bits that make our psyches as unique as possible and thus our particular fingerprints when touching the world(s) around us. 

“A mixture of the physical and ephemeral.”  I did know a little about them, and it was difficult for them to breed without Reality as well.  Not that some didn’t enjoy the related acts as lasciviously as any of the -cubi, but I wondered if the Realm was so far off as to think of independence.  I mean, if it takes a Village, maybe the Village could also be a Child?

Guide and Guardian, she said, but she also had her own volition, her own goals in this.  I wondered if the blueprint showed pretty pictures or if it was a bunch of magical incantations moved to print.  (Written magical languages, outside of runes, are another subject of study altogether.  It all looks like advanced mathematics to me.)  Maybe it was just a big picture of a tree.  I didn’t really need to see it, but I was curious.  It was an opportunity to learn.

“The Lord is a Dragon,” she said, finally, while I was turning towards the parking lot.

I mulled that one over.  In the eternal game of finding where the Kings were in the deck, what Dragons were left were pretty much on top.   Of course, it’s not a standard 52-card deck… you didn’t think we were playing with a full one, did you?  There are Knights and Kings who hunt them, but those don’t come along often, and Dragons have Princes of their own.

Of course, I use the ones I understand with the capital letters.  If her family was in league with a Dragon why did they need a mortal to give a push to a deity?  Dragons ate more gods than I did waffles, or at least, they used to…when we had gods like waffles, and I bought syrup.  (It goes through phases.  Creating gods isn’t a hard thing to do, all told.  Again, why I’m not much for religion.)

What did Dragons mean to Ivan?  I recalled the amulet Nellie had used.  Could you have an undead Dragon?  That would be my next point of research.

(47) Tell Me About Dragons

I love the internet.  I hope those technojinxed types are happy with their Archives and their Akashic Records and the like, because, frankly, when it comes to doing some good, solid research, libraries and loa are fabulous, but there’s just nothing like sitting down half-naked (Doloise is here) with a tall glass of ice water and Google (actually, I do like Bananaslug‘s take on it because there’s more poetry to the results, but you’re welcome to use your search engine of choice.)

There is a lot of stuff out there about Dragons.

And, of course, as I was saying earlier, it’s all true.  To someone, somewhere, with the right shiny tinfoil hat with their right arm extended, while they whistle Dixie when eating crackers and covering one eye.   Yeah, I believe in a fairly consensual reality, but I’d like to call it a consensible reality instead.  Everyone with me?

Of course, there’s the flip side of the websearch… everything else you could find out about everything else.  It’s the siren’s call of websurfing.  “I know you’re looking up references to Latvian deities, but look, here’s a page on the anatomy of a bird’s wing!”  I do not consider myself having any kind of attention deficit, but learning is such a pleasure to the brain I sometimes need to pull back my focus.

I am learning about Dragons.

Doloise read over my shoulder, or, at least watched the words on the screen.  I didn’t actually ask her if she could read, and at that if she could read English (or any other language for that matter.)  She would speak it for me because it is a matter of Hospitality, both my ability to provide it and hers to express her part, but she was created to work with me, so I could expect it.  Despite the many books that talk about this law, you can’t always claim it – words have power.  Those things that are willing to verbally joust with you are not unaware of this.  That’s why Doloise speaks a little more freely now; she’s picking up from me some exceptions to her rules.

I won’t say it’s been easy having a woman expressly made for me around all the time, especially as she’s willing to hang out and not bother me while I do one of my favourite things.  Part of me hopes that this self-control (who would know I banged a faerie chick?) is redeemable for “woman-points” later, but another part of me smacks that part for objectifying women.  So I’m getting beaten up and not laid, and really, it’s not fair.

I am not even getting my weekly porn night out of all of this.  (That’s another way the Internet is an improvement over the other methods.)

It’s all part of the job, and I should be happy.  I get to spend hours reading about Dragons.  Eastern Dragons versus Western Dragons versus history versus myth versus modern fantasy stories.  In some cases, like reading of Smaug, it was like visiting with old friend.  Fabulous.  I made a bag of popcorn.

(The rule of thumb on Eastern versus Western is usually in their attention to their purpose or their appetite.  Which is amusing, because I was taught that when it came to magic it was that Eastern sorcerors saw it as an ordinary tool, and Western as a special case scenario.  So Western mages don’t deal with Dragons except to avoid their appetites, and Eastern mages didn’t seek their wisdom because it would be like asking the postman.  A little too simplistic a view, but it kind of orients the implications.)

“That is not true,” Doloise finally says aloud.

“Which?” I ask.  “There’s a lot of stuff here that isn’t true.”

“They speak of Dragons as if they were singular creatures.”

“Are they like you?” I asked, leaning back.  It would explain some of what I had been learning.

“No,” she said, and then, she reconsidered.  “Yes.”

She smiled.

I wasn’t sure I liked were this was going.

“You have a lot less in the way of scales.”

“You have touched me very little to make that decision,” she said, flatly.  I considered for a moment.  She had been made for me, had I been neglecting something in their gift?

If going to bed with a community was strange, I certainly wasn’t getting into bed with a Dragon.

(48) Red, Red Wine

Her lips tasted exactly like those purple Lifesavers candies.  Seriously.  I licked them again just to be sure.  She giggled.  “Snozzberries,” Gene Wilder said, moving to the white door with pictures of unlikely fruits plastered on the top half.   I held her body against mine with hands covered in furry gloves, and I rested my head on her hair, which was made of gold tinfoil.  The Beatles were singing “Penny Lane” in the background, and my watch was beeping out of synchronization.

This is the point where you know it’s all a dream, because I hate wearing gloves on the best of the days, but for some reason my subconscious wasn’t listening.

I let go of her, and her head fell off.  Mechanical cuckoos with a multitude of different-colored cartoon eyes came flying out of her neck, making noises akin to annoyed magpies until they roosted on the laser beams of a Seal of Solomon around my bed, at which point they began arguing about whether a love for the Clash classified someone as an old school punk, or if there had to be a continuing dress requirement.  I pulled off the gloves and threw them at the birds.  They took off, fluttering through the ceiling.

I looked for the girl’s head, afraid it rolled under my bed, and I didn’t want to look underneath because I wasn’t wearing socks, and you know the monster under the bed is impressed by socks and won’t bother you if you’re wearing even the slightest nylon hose.  Which was a bizarre thought for me, since I didn’t like nylons on my women, let alone the thought of them on my own feet.

The little Buddha on my nightstand offered to look for me, and hopped down in his jade green finest.  “No head,” he said, coming out bright red.  I used the glow to peek underneath, but then remembered that my bed rested on the floor.  I gave the Buddha a hand up and thanked him for the enlightenment.  He told me to kill him if I saw him on the road, but I said that was more Coyote’s joke than Wolf.

I followed the path of golden tinsel, thinking something about fairy gold as it turned into a path of oak leaves.  I was barefoot and the leaves crunched under my feet.  I identified them as oak in my dream, but I wouldn’t be sure what they were in waking.  The trees seemed concerned, and seven black birds (for a secret) followed me as I moved down the hill.

I heard the singing, playful splashes at the river. Three naiads dressed in lilypads blew kisses or raspberries at me.

“What do you believe in?” the first asked.

“The spirit of rock and roll,” I responded.  The first laughed and ducked under the water.

“What is your favourite colour?” the second asked.

“Blue,” I said, too quickly.  She kicked some water at me and then dissolved into a splash.

“Why do you look for the head of the Family?” the third asked.

“I am looking for the maiden princess before the Dragon devours her,” I said.

“Too late, little bird, too late.”  The third smiled, showing gruesome green teeth and then sank beneath the surface.

I ran down along the river.  Powered doughnuts like inner-tubes bobbed along it for an interval, as the river smelled more like coffee than loam.   An owl with a rosette pattern like a jaguar’s landed on a tree in front of me.

“What’s your suggestion?” I asked.  “If you ask me, `Who,’ I’m going to kick you in the beak.”

“Google it,” he said.  “Google-it, google-it,” and he flew back off.

I saw the Dragon’s cave in the distance, past the wooden boxes labelled, “Ceiling wax.”  There was a game of checkers being played at by a couple of cabbages on top of the crates, and all the remaining pieces were king’d.   I snuck around the boxes, looking into the darkness of the cave.  I felt very much like I imagined Nietzsche thought I would, as the darkness looked deep into me.

Do you love her? it asked.

“I love no one,” I said.  “I feel like I might have an infinite supply of love ready to be tapped into as soon as I find the one with the real key.  I have been tasted, but never more than sipped.  I am ready to be drunk.”

“Well, you are looking for some head,” the cabbage remarked, wryly.

Keep yours, the voice recommended.  Do not delve into the dark – it will devour you.

I woke up at that.  The room was still dark.  I looked at my watch, pressing the little function that made it light up.  I had been asleep for less than a couple hours.  Maybe it was the borscht.

Doloise was no where to be seen.  At the time, I figured I just didn’t see her, and I was still tired.  I went back to sleep.

(49) Literary Allusions

I know, I said, “At the time,” which is one of those literary allusions that actually drive me batty in books.  It’s like a warning, a “NO OUTLET” sign just before the cul-de-sac, and it really doesn’t flow with anything but a retrospective journal-like piece.


At the time, I figured I just didn’t see her.  Totally true for the reasons why I didn’t panic and managed just to fall asleep.  I won’t say I had anything but a restless night – those dreams were surreal even for me.  I don’t know what your dreaming is like, but mine is often throwing in lots of little visual puns I don’t get until I’m considering them sometime later.  I also feel (despite the research to the contrary) that I remember most of them.  I know it’s kind of boastful, or whatever the psychological disorder is that makes you think that rules just don’t apply (narcissisum?) to you, but it might really be linked to being a practitioner.  Memory as a form of Will has a long history – I really think that not being able to remember a number because you’re used to looking it up in a cellphone would be a great example of the loss of Will in the modern age.

At the time, it was worthy of mention.  I don’t have a huge place – there’s the bedroom, the bath that connects from it, the bit of a hallway, a kitchen that kind of has room for one person, maybe two if they’re friendly and which connects to the other side of the bathroom, and then the front room where I use the bookshelves as a homemade cubicle divider for my office area.

From my corner of the bed, I can see in a diagonal line to the computer.  If both doors are open, I can see into the kitchen, too.  I never unlock the kitchen-side, so I wouldn’t have been able to tell.  She wasn’t within the diagonal, so I presumed maybe she’d gotten up and maybe taken a chance to check out the inventory of my pantry.

But it was worthy of mention in that way your brain suddenly stops and says, “Remember this.”  Remember this moment, because, like so many others, this is part of your life.

You have guessed that she wasn’t there when I woke up. 

I woke up in a panic, maybe a bit of a sweat.  The sky was dark, not in that, “It’s still before dawn,” sense, but in that oppressive, “The sun is obscured,” sense.  We’ve had a lot of rain this summer, but it was more than that. 

I didn’t move for a moment.  I extended my feelings, more.  It’s an exercise that you can learn regardless of your abilities.  You stay quiet for a moment, sensitive, opening up all of those blocks you put up against the relentless pressure of everyday life.  It can be much more to a practitioner, but even for me, I was just checking to see what was wrong.

I was checking to see if I (or anyone else) had left open a door.

Silence.  The beating of my own heart as the adrenaline subsided.  I could feel that the sheets were slightly damp, so bleepin’ dirty words, I would have to do more laundry.  My undershirt stuck to me as well, and we will leave the unmentionables unmentioned.  A faint whir from the fan, the feeling of air as it ran across my leg providing a moment’s surcease from the feeling of humidity.  I could smell the books around me.  Graphic novels really do have a smell of their own, I think.   There might have been a drip of something in the shower.  Will have to call and get that fixed if it was a leak somewhere. 

I extended outward.  I felt Doloise moving in the kitchen.  She felt me.

She walked into the bedroom, a glass of what looked to be ice water in her hands.  She passed it to me.   “Water,” she said.

See, there’s another literary bit.  It looked to be ice water.  She identified it as water.  I mention it because it was important.

I drank anyway.  It was cool and refreshing.

Something wasn’t right. 

“Your wards are in place, but yes, you have come to the attention of the Dragon.”

She said it so matter of factly I hadn’t even remembered to panic before I fell asleep once more.

(50) Half-Full Means Time For More

I was groggy when I woke up.  I pulled the sheets off and stumbled into my bathroom, yawning the whole way.  Doloise was looking at some books I kept for artistic reference, dealing with anatomy and the way it interacted.  They were too artsy to be smut, and nice enough you could keep them on the coffee table, if you had one.  I didn’t, so they joined the sprawl on the top of where the bookshelves segregated sprawling space in front of the TV and the computer area.

I looked out the blinds to see that, yes, indeed, it was overcast.  That sense of oppression I’d felt in my dream continued unabated by waking.  I was unsurprised; what factors of reality cast their spell into the dreamlands was an argument for those who studied such things.  I know better than to eat artichokes at dinner, but that isn’t because I have any illusions about how they interact with my psyche – the only thing guaranteed to give me nightmares was hauntings, and those could be bound away, their doors to my vulnerabilities closed and locked.  I have too many keys to my psyche floating around to not be concerned.

On second thought, I did occasionally get a strange dream or two from Beau Jo’s pizza, but I consider that a perk, not a drawback.

I went into the kitchen and drew myself a cold glass of water.  I thought about offering one to Doloise, but the irony would be lost.  I wondered if irony was proof against fairy-ies.  You know, really fey fey.  Nevermind.  Maybe I hadn’t woken up as much as I had thought.

Doloise pushed aside the book. “Your pleasures are well-defined, but your indulgence is carefully measured. Why?”

I sighed, finishing the glass of water.  “Let me get dressed before we talk about my porn collection, OK?”

She looked confused. “You already wear clothing.”  She was wearing another of her own designs from my wardrobe.  I looked closer at it.  Ah, it was from one of my holiday ties.  I have a small collection of them I’ve picked up for various festive functions during the long winter season.  This one had a subtle stag print on it.  How apropos.

“There are distinctions in dressing that consider appropriate wear, having put clothes on, and a level of vulnerability,” I lectured from a door half-closed between us.  “I was in the having put clothes on stage, but if we’re going to dissect the wrinkles of my personality I want more clothing.”  If you have to ask, boxer-briefs, mostly.  I also like undershirts.  It’s funny, one of my favourite bits in The Fellowship of the Ring is the bit where Frodo incidentally reveals the mithril shirt Bilbo insisted he take.  Maybe because it’s a light of hope in the darkness of Moria.  Anyway, I do think of that passage when I am busy buttoning my workshirts over them.

Saturday means I call in for a new assignment and wear a T-shirt and jeans.   If I’m alone, that’s all I’d wear, but I need my armour against the Dragon Princess Doloise, as I mentally dubbed her.  My shirt was traditionally geeky, white letters on black.  Something about keeping my shiny, happy, fuzzy reality.  I did the phone call and then wandered back out to sprawl on the futon that doubled as a couch.

“I like my little luxuries,” I said.

Doloise is a stacker.  You know, someone who puts things into carefully measured stacks when they return them.  It ruined the feel of casual chaos.  I wondered about that a little – she seemed fairly constrained.  Rules, remember, power a great deal of, well, power.

“As long as they do not control you,” she said, not looking up from the pictures.  That one was an actual art book – something I picked up at a library sale.

I grunted an affirmation.  “Does it mean anything in guarding me, oh guide?”

“Curiosity has its stigma.  I seek to solve it rationally. You are not what we expected.  I only seek to bind comfort into the geasa under which I work.”

“You are free to go at any time.  I mean it.”

“It is too late for that.”  She looked at me and did not smile.

“It’s too late for Saturday morning cartoons, too, but I live in hope.”  I found the remote and turned on the TV.  Later this afternoon I’d have to do some open-heart surgery, of sorts.  I hoped the morning would be more pleasant.