Guitar Mancer — Episode 22: Darla

Chevrolet Fleetmaster Woody ad 1947

Chevrolet Fleetmaster Woody ad, circa 1947

What do you think about this old beauty?  No, it’s not from the era of The Guitar Mancer.  However, it is relevant to this installment.  It’s the kind of car Luci’s dad drove in his younger days.

Featured Blogger

Barsetshire Diary CoverAs you know, I’ve been trying to work “things” left by readers into this story.  That also allows me to promote the people who leave those things.  Meanwhile (and I promise this goes together) several bloggers are taking a break.  One of them is Lord David Prosser of the Barsetshire Diaries.  I’m honored that David is still taking time during his break to visit and comment here.  Back at Episode 16 David left some “things.”One of those things was druid, which I was able to add to this installment.

David has a number of delightful books available.  Be sure to check out his blog — he’s on a break, but the blog is still there for us to enjoy back issues. You can also learn more about his books there.

About This Episode

Last time you finally met The Mother.  Goddess, spirit entity, faery queen, or unidentified mystical creature, whatever else she may be the Mother is the Spirit of Route 66.  Oh, and I had a little brainstorm about “casting” her.  If only I had the PhotoShop skills to give her red hair.  So use your imagination.  It’s Ally Sheedy in a more sane version of how she was on the Psych television show.

While the characters knew obtaining the Mother’s help — that is to say getting her to force Luci’s mancer powers to blossom, might put Luci’s life at grave risk, it never occurred to our mancers that the Mother would flatly refuse to help at all.  However, that is exactly what she did when we left our heroes!

What could possibly happen next?  Well, just get in the car!  Let’s find out.

Episode 22 — Darla

Rt 66 Postcard bicycle sign

“How can you refuse us?” Bodaway asked in a voice that rang of pained astonishment.

“Such indignation,” the Mother chided.  “It’s not as if it’s personal,” she said and made an exasperated noise that reminded Luci of a sound a horse might make. 

The line of her mouth tightened and she looked at each of them in turn.  “If I do anything to bring out the girl’s powers, I would be breaking the pact I made with her father.”

Luci gasped.  “You know my father?” Luci exclaimed, so shocked that her words came out with a hiccup.

The Mother casually turned to her as if she had forgotten Luci’s presence.  Luci thought in fact she probably had.  The Spirit of Route 66 gave her a small sad smile.

Barbara Feldon 1967

Barbara Feldon as Darla Harper

“Yes, Carolina Lucille Harper.  I know Grover Harper.  I knew his parents well, and I knew his wife — your mother, Darla, quite well,” she told Luci.

At the mention of Luci’s mother, her tone of voice shifted and her words stretched in an odd way.  For an instant her mouth twisted in an expression of contempt.

Luci’s brows knitted in confusion.  The thought flashed through her mind that deer caught in the headlights of a vehicle must feel the way she did upon hearing that admission.

“My mom?” Luci whispered.

Tam nodded and smirked in a scornful way.  He looked like his suspicions had just been confirmed.  Luci looked from him to Bodaway.  The shaman’s face showed no emotion, except perhaps vague confusion.  Luci opened her mouth, but she didn’t know what question to ask because she was too stunned.

(Since it’s been so many weeks, I’ll refer you back to Episode 4 — Message in regard to Tam’s smirk.)

“Your family tree has produced a number of great mancers.  It shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of you that they were aware of me,” the Mother said in a rather impatient voice that suggested her dumbfounding revelation should have been obvious. 

She twisted one of her gray streaked red curls as she gave a contemplative glance to Tam and Bodaway.  Then the Mother’s appraising gaze fell on Luci again.  Her eyes narrowed suspiciously and she clicked her tongue inside her mouth, making a derisive sound. 

The whirlwind of different reactions, expressions, and sound effects from the Mother was more than Luci could absorb.  If the Spirit of Route 66 had been human, Luci would have been sure she was insane.

“I suppose you didn’t know that your progenitors had great aspirations?” the Mother commented to Luci.  “No.  Of course you wouldn’t.  You only knew Grover and he was the only one who wanted to live a normal life, as he described it,” she added, eyes softening just a little.

Luci slowly shook her head.  She had a bad feeling that she was about to learn something she’d rather have never known. 

1963 Bell telephone long distance ad

Bell Telephone ad circa 1963

“My dad never speaks of the past.  He rarely talks about my grandparents, and never mentions my mom at all,” Luci said to no one in particular. 

A faraway look came to Luci’s eyes and a small bemused smile settled on her lips.  She shrugged, encouraged that the Mother seemed somewhat less confrontational.  However, she was a very strange, mercurial, and downright frightening entity.  Luci was unsure of how to react to her, let alone convince her to unblock her mancer abilities.  Then her quiet inner voice reminded her that keeping that power inhibited might well be the best thing for her.  It could be the safest thing, even if she spent the rest of her life hiding from the rogue mancer.

She thought of her father.  Her emotions warred between anger and admiration.  Grover Harper had given up a lot to try and keep his daughter safe.  Luci realized that, even if a big part of her resented it.  She resented the life he had kept her from having and the fact that he kept so many secrets from her.  She took a deep breath and her dad’s bright smile flashed through her memory.

“The closest he’s ever come to talking about mom was when he saw an old car with wooden sides.  Dad called it a Chevrolet Fleetmaster Woody.  He said that was what he drove when they were ‘courting.’  That’s what he called dating.  Men seem to get so fond of their cars,” Luci commented with an involuntary glance at Tam.  “I think that was the only reason why he mentioned anything related to my mom at all.  Oh my God, I’m babbling now,” Luci said and put her hands over her face, and briefly wondered if the Mother’s craziness was contagious.

Ally Sheedy behind glass Psych

Ally Sheedy as the Mother

Lychnis moved away from his place next to Freyja, near the Mother.  He pushed himself against Luci where she sat on the ground.  The big kitten head butted his way under her arm and started purring again.  Luci put her fingers into his plush fur and absently scratched his neck.

“Yes, your mother particularly wanted to rise in standing with the others of her kind.  However, her mancer power was mediocre at best,” the spirit commented dryly. 

Then she gave Luci a long considering look as if she contemplated whether to tell more of the story.  She played absently with a curly strand of her hair, but finally continued.

“Darla persuaded Grover Harper to bring her to me, in hope that I could amplify her power,” said the Spirit of Route 66.

Tam’s eyes narrowed as if he had new suspicions.  She thought Tam had an idea where the Mother’s story was going, but Luci couldn’t begin to guess.  She looked back to the spirit apprehensively.

“Against my better judgment I agreed to let her walk the path,” the Mother said, placing emphasis on the phrase.  “I didn’t realize that she had already gone to others, in vain hope of make herself stronger.  If I had known…” the Mother paused thoughtfully.  “Things might have turned out differently.”Rt 66 red yellow map

Luci’s eyes widened as foreboding settled like a shroud on her shoulders. 

“However, I granted her request, and she was lost on the Reflected Mother Road,” the Mother continued in a manner that was surprisingly gentle compared to her uncaring beginning. 

“After it was clear that Darla was beyond help,” she said but paused seeing the confused look on the faces of her audience.  She made a broad, sharp, frustrated gesture with her arms before continuing in a voice that one might use for six year-olds. “After all the openings through which we might have brought her back had closed, after enough time had gone by that we knew she could not be retrieved — that is the greatest danger of what you would ask me to do,” she said as if that clarified anything.  “Grover Harper brought you to me.”

“I’ve seen you before?” Luci asked.  “I’m afraid I don’t remember, and I don’t think I would forget you.”

The Mother murmured something about “flattering,” and briefly placed her hand on Luci’s head as if she was a small child.  It should have seemed like a gesture of affection or kindness, but Luci didn’t feel anything of the sort at her touch.

James Garner b-w

James Garner as Grover

“You were only a baby,” she told Luci.  “You would not remember.  Your father was grief stricken.  While he and your mother were with me, trying to enhance her powers,” the Mother spoke, but then hesitated.  “His parents were killed.”

“My grandparents, you mean?” Luci asked.

Luci began to wonder how stable the Spirit of Route 66 was.  It was as if her mind barely made the connection between the relationships.  She seemed to not understand the grief that would be involved.  She certainly didn’t seem to grasp the fact that Luci would care about the grandparents she had never known.  Luci wondered if human concepts of relationships and the emotional aspects of them were alien to the Mother.

The Mother tilted her head to one side and blinked.  Her face held an odd expression that Luci didn’t know how to interpret.  Then she nodded and continued.

“They went to some foreign land about some kind of mancer trouble.  They weren’t just killed — their power was drained away,” the spirit told them in a disturbingly nonchalant tone.  “Grover Harper believed his family would have been intact if not for the mancer power they possessed,” she said.

“Drained?” Bodaway Thunder repeated the word with a glance at Tam, but the Spirit of Route 66 merely nodded.

Luci remembered what her companions had told her about Yamata Orochi draining the power from mancers.  She shuddered, remembering the devastating effect they had described it as having on a mancer.  Was that what happened to her grandparents?  Had they fought Yamata Orochi and been killed in that horrible way?  Luci felt a sick hollowness in the pit of her stomach.

Tam made a grunt that sounded both satisfied and contemptuous,  as if he knew what the Mother would say next.  Luci looked at him, only half aware that unshed tears stood in her eyes.  His attitude relaxed when he looked into her brimming eyes, and his expression softened.

 

Domhnall Gleeson outside

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

“That is when your father made a pact with me.  I blocked your mancer power from emerging,” the Mother said coolly.  “I will not break my promise to Grover Harper, any more than I would break any other pact.  Not unless he came to me personally and asked me to remove the block,” she added in a tone that was childlike and almost petulant.

“This is my fault,” Tam said surprising them all.  “Grover can’t be here.  I convinced him to go away!  Grover’s powers had lain dormant for so long, I took it for suppression of his ability.  I kept forgetting that he had a child!” Tam said as if shocked at himself.

He paced in his frustration.  Luci was taken aback by his strong reaction.  Tam stopped and shook his head.  The Mother looked at him with a bemused smile.

“Oh tsk-tsk.  Tammarand Ben Taliesin, of course you forgot about her,” she told Tam.  “In blocking Luci’s mancer ability, I also inhibited her glow.”

“That’s actually possible?” Bodaway asked sounding surprised.

Luci had no idea what they were talking about.  It was also maddening that they kept talking over her head.

“What do you mean by my glow?  Those hippies were glowing when they left!  What kind of glow?” Luci knew she hadn’t expressed her confused thoughts very well even as she spoke.

Green LIghts Drew Collins_1466939721550-ad3ef4b9eeec“You shouldn’t have been able to see the sprites glow with your mancer ability blocked,” Tam said in a pondering tone .

“Indeed,” the Mother murmured, momentarily propping her chin on her fist.  “Child, the glow is what makes a mancer memorable.  Without it people tend to forget you exist.  You probably weren’t terribly popular, not a lot of suitors.  Am I right?” she spoke the harsh seeming questions in an offhanded way.

Luci’s face heated in a blush.  She looked down at the ground, unable to answer.  Her shyness responded in full force to what felt like a belittling accusation.

“Think of it as charisma, but more deeply rooted,” Tam told Luci in an unexpectedly kind voice.

When Luci looked up at him she noticed he shot the Spirit of Route 66 a glare for the inconsiderate way she had spoken.  However, he wasn’t in a mood of such kindness that he was willing to forgive himself for what he saw as a mistake.  He looked at Luci and his face was painted with self-recrimination.

Depp guitar hat head-down

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

“I’m sorry Wee Mouse.  I don’t know how I could have been that stupid.  I didn’t mean to overlook you, to dismiss you,” he added with a sidelong glance at the Mother. 

“Don’t call me that,” Luci mumbled, but there was no fire in her voice.

“I can’t believe I sent Grover away because I thought he must be the emerging mancer that Yamata Orochi was tracking!” Tam practically spat the words.  “Maybe I really do jump to conclusions,” he muttered.

“Yamata Orochi?” the Mother asked in a hiss and they all nodded in mute wonder at her intense reaction.

The sky darkened and her eyes flashed as brightly as lightning.  Luci jumped when she heard a sharp crack of thunder.  However, she realized it was not thunder at all  when the crazily painted Volkswagen van appeared with another backfire.

The same group of hippies poured out of the van.  That time the third man, Dip, came out with them.  He wore a tie dyed tunic-length caftan, exposing skinny, hairy legs.  Apparently, Luci thought, he never found his missing pants.  The hippies stood, ranked behind the Mother in a semicircle.  They were not playful as they had been before.  They were silent and reserved.  Bump stood feet apart and arms akimbo.  He looked particularly forceful, despite his chartreuse jumpsuit and rainbow colored afro.

“Yamata Orochi, you say?” the Mother repeated to gasps from Sunshine, Dip, and Bump, while the other three whispered among themselves with apprehensive faces.

“Please,” Luci said amid the murmurs the rogue mancer’s name elicited.  “My dad isn’t here, but I am.  I’m asking you to remove the block.”

Bump’s eyes widened as if in realization.  He nodded slowly causing his afro to sway like a multicolored cloud.  “This is the daughter of Grover Harper?” he asked in his resonate bass voice.

The other Route 66 faeries continued to murmur among themselves.  Midnight took the opportunity to glide gracefully over to Tam.  A long finger traced the line of his jaw before she touched the love beads she previously hung around his neck.  She gave a sidelong taunting glance at Luci.Campbells soup hangup ad

Luci might have been glad to see it when Tam pushed the faery away, but the girl was too stunned by the things the Mother had revealed to notice the raven haired sprite.

“Poor sad thing,” Sunshine murmured and her long blond braids fell forward as she bent over Luci.  “I’m honored to meet the child of the Grove Dweller,” she stated with a warm smile that suited her name.  “I always wondered, is he a druid since he’s a grove dweller?”

“It’s Grover, sweetness.  Grove dweller is just what the name means in their native language.  It has nothing to do with being a druid,” Dip told his wife in a voice that suggested he also thought it odd that Grover was not a druid.

“Such odd customs,” Sunshine murmured.

“You know my father too?” Luci asked Sunshine in amazement.

“We all know Grover Harper,” Bump’s voice rumbled in reply and the other faeries nodded eagerly.

“Grover Harper has the Mother’s favor,” Sunshine added with a beaming smile.

“He has the Mother’s protection,” the bald one named Crook said, and his long caftan billowed as he plopped onto the ground beside Luci.  “She gave him her rowan staff to safeguard him in the mortal world.”

“We are bound to protect and guide him any time he travels the Mother Road,” silver-haired Mist told them, and a fierce gleam in her eyes belied her gentle voice and manner.

Lychnis magentaLuci’s mouth dropped open.  She was reeling from all the secrets her father had been keeping from her.  However, a mer-raw from Lychnis brought her mind back to the problem at hand.

“Please.  My dad would want you to remove the block, I’m sure of it.  Yes, my dad would do anything to keep me from harm.  But he would also want me to be able to protect myself, and the intention in blocking my powers — Well, wasn’t it meant to keep me safe?” Luci implored the Mother.

“Isn’t the fact that I’m asking you to remove it just as good as my dad asking?  Please.  I just want to be able to defend myself.  I don’t want anyone to get hurt trying to protect me!” Luci exclaimed with a frightened look at Tam and Bodaway.

Luci didn’t think she could bear it if either of them, or God forbid, her dad were hurt trying to protect her.  “I will do anything to keep them safe!” she whispered intensely to the Mother. 

***

End Episode 22

***

They haven’t gotten very far with convincing the Mother to force Luci’s mancer power to emerge.  However, the fact that the carved rowan staff actually belonged to the Mother explains how Luci was able to sock it to Yamata Orochi that night. And what a revelation about Luci’s dad, Grover!  So he has “the Mother’s protection,” huh?  I guess the Mother likes the dad better than the daughter.  You’d think she would want to help Luci for Grover’s sake…  I wonder if she could be a little bit jealous?  The Mother is so mercurial, who can say?

Recipe:  Sunshine Juice

Once again, I’m scratching my head about relating a food or drink to this installment.  So I started searching the WordPress countryside for recipes that included the name of one of the characters.  Guess what I found!  A recipe for sunshine — sort of anyway.  Sunshine juice

Check out this recipe for Sunshine Juice at Sareta’s Kitchen.  Click on over and prowl around her blog.  I think you’ll find it as enjoyable as I did.

Until next time, stay tuned and stay groovy!  Mega hugs.

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 21: Mother

1966 oldsmobile Toronado ad

1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, Motor Trend magazine’s Car of the Year

Hello my groovy friends. It’s great to see you again.  Back in 1966 Motor Trend selected the Oldsmobile Toronado as the “Car of the Year.”  It was a world away from another car from that year.  The television season of 1965 – 1966 brought a fantasy sitcom called “My Mother the Car.”  That titular automobile was a 1928 Porter Stanhope touring car. 

Unfortunately I don’t remember any of the show’s episodes (although you can find some full episodes on YouTube).  However, I do remember that it made me laugh.   As I said, nothing like the muscle cars I featured here as part of this serialized version of The Guitar Mancer.  Why bring up the old show at all?  It’s a far out hint about this installment.

Featured Blogger

Another blogger/writer who has been in the car since this road trip started is P.S. Joshi, aka Suzanne.  You may know her from her Friday Fictioneers posts.  Be sure to check out her blog, Musings on Life & Experience.

In Suzanne’s “about” page she mentions having respect for one another’s beliefs.  So I chose respect as the “thing” for this installment.  You see, Tam is having a bit of an issue with respect when it comes to any kind of authority figure.  I’m sure Aretha could teach him a thing or two.

About This Episode

Last time everyone’s ears were ringing, and that heralded the arrival of a wildly painted VW bus, complete with Route 66 faeries.  One has to wonder who they’ll run into next.  Fasten your seat-belts!

Episode 21 — Mother

Tam pulled at his earlobe again and Luci asked if his ears were still ringing.  Hers stopped with the arrival of the hippies.  Tam gave her a derisive look.  She looked up at Bodaway and asked if his ears had bothered him at all.

Jay Tavare jacket

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

The shaman tilted his head.  “Now that you mention it, they were ringing.  I pick up so much when I’m on the Mother Road that I have to tune out a lot of things.  But yeah.  I guess it could have had something to do with the Route 66 faeries approaching.  They’d have to do some kind of boundary crossing, assuming they live on the same plane as the Mother.  I guess a group of people, or beings, shifting from one plane of existence could have a physical effect on people nearby,” he confirmed.  “Or at least on mancers, who would be more sensitive to such things.”

Luci pondered the idea and then went back to the first thing Bodaway said.  “What do you mean, you pick up a lot?” Luci wanted to know.  “Mancer stuff?”

“Yes and no,” he said.  “Not exactly.  My mancer ability was slow to emerge.  So my grandfather decided that if I wasn’t going to be a mancer, then he’d make sure I became a shaman,” Bodaway said.

“I guess you didn’t have much say in the matter,” Luci said understandingly.

Bodaway nodded and gave her a sardonic half smile.  “My granddad and his brother brought me to the opposite end of Route 66, in California, for a shamanic ritual.  Not many people know about the Mother Road, but my family does.  There are also a lot of mancers in the family tree.  They were determined that I was going to be one or the other.  After the ordeal, I ended up being both.”

“So is all this Mother Road stuff connected to shamanism?” Luci asked, fascinated by the shaman’s personal history.

 

Dakota Sioux drums

Dakota Sioux with hand drums, circa 1908 by Edward S. Curtis

“No,” Bodaway said firmly.  “Not at all.  The Mother is a completely different kind of magic.  The ‘ordeal’ I experienced was no shamanic ordeal,” he said.

Tam became serious.  Luci couldn’t help wondering how he could bounce from playful to sarcastic to kind to serious within the space of a few heartbeats.  It was enough to give her a headache.

“It should have given him a special connection to the Mother, she’s like a spirit of the road, a goddess of journeys,” Tam explained.

“But I haven’t figured out how the connection works, or how to use it,” Bodaway added in a frustrated voice.  “Tam and I were hoping that I could use the connection with the Mother Road as sort of a backdoor to sneak around whatever is blocking your mancer power from emerging,” he said.  “I thought I might be able to… sort of summon her, invoke her.  But maybe that was too presumptuous.  I at least hoped to reach a spiritual connection to her.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make that happen,” Bodaway finished and shook his head sadly.

Jean Shrimpton Luci smile girl next door

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

Luci reached up and patted his arm consolingly.  Freyja whistled from her perch in a nearby tree and Bodaway smiled up at the hawk.  Lychnis head butted his shin with a “Mer-rawr!

Tam lifted his eyes heavenward and shook his head at the displays of sympathy.  “Bloody fuzzy, feathery, Brady Bunch,” he muttered.

Abruptly Luci felt queasy.  With one hand to her head and the other to her stomach, she swayed.  Tam put a hand under her elbow.  The pavement of the highway seemed to rise and move in waves as she looked at it.  Then it began to expand and bubble into a large sphere.

Freyja gave a shrill cry and circled in the sky.  Lychnis tilted his head and looked curiously at the sphere that formed from the road.

Sunlight caused reflective specks in the pavement to glitter until the gray sphere shown like a lighted disco ball.  It rose in the air and swirled.  Flickering lights cascaded around them.

Abruptly, the glittering ball exploded, but there was no sound.  Luci ducked and covered her head with her arms, as shards of shimmering light pelted them.  However, what looked like razor sharp splinters of mirrored glass felt like cool, soft snowflakes when they touched her.

Shimmering bits of light rained to the surface of Route 66, making a glowing circle around a woman who stood facing them.  The expression on her face seemed to offer a challenge; one that she didn’t expect anyone to be able to meet.

Lights Rodion Kutsaev

Photo credit: Rodion Kutsaev on UnSplash

The woman was older, although Luci couldn’t begin to say whether she was sixty or fifty, seventy or forty for that matter.  The concept of age didn’t seem to apply to her face.  Her movements were lithe as a child.  Her hair was a riot of bright red curls with fine streaks of gray.  She wore a bohemian-looking long gauze dress and a headband.  The dress was covered with large Payette sequins.  However, when she moved, Luci realized they were not sequins at all, but bits of actual light.

Freyja flew over to the woman, alighted on the ground before her, and spread her wings in a gesture that looked rather like the avian equivalent of a bow.  Lychnis trotted toward her with a “Purr-rawr.”  Luci thought he would go right up to the woman, but the hawk gave a soft chirp, and the huge kitten stopped next to Freyja.

Lychnis sat back on his haunches, purring at an astonishingly loud volume as he looked at… At what? Luci wondered.  Tam had said she was a spirit of the road, a goddess of journeys.  The two things seemed different to Luci.  So was she woman, spirit, or goddess?  However, she knew without having that question answered that she beheld the Mother.Lynx car ad

Her bright red curls bounced as she turned to the young, but large lynx kitten.  Luci thought the Mother tried to suppress a smile at the loudly purring kitten.

The tall man dropped to one knee, head bowed.  Bodaway murmured something that Luci didn’t hear, but the woman gave a gentle smile.

“So is this what you were going on about in the park?” the Mother asked him.

“You heard me?” Bodaway asked in an astonished tone that was a lot like a bass version of a squeak.  He made a hoarse grumbling sound, then cleared his throat and tried again.  “Yes ma’am.”

“Hummm…” was all she said as she turned a speculative gaze on Luci.1960s Cutex polish ad

In that one evaluative gaze Luci felt like she had been examined inside and out, all the way down to the pores on her face and the color of polish on her toenails.

It wasn’t exactly as if the metaphorical cat had her tongue, but Luci certainly didn’t know what to say, or even how to address the woman.

Tam however, had a glint in his eyes that made Luci worry that he might say something that would get them all into trouble.  Luci was sure the twinkle in his eyes could not be a good thing.  Sure he was mischievous, but that look seemed like he was headed toward an attitude better described as belligerent.  If the Mother had appeared with a challenge in her eyes, then Tam looked ready to accept it.

“And you,” she said turning to him.  “Tammarand Ben Taliesin,” she spoke his full name as she folded her arms across her chest and looked him up and down.  “I’ve long wondered when we’d meet,” she said. 

Bodaway looked up in surprise at that comment.  He made a subtle shushing motion upon seeing the daring gleam in Tam’s eyes.

The Mother moved toward them and the circle made by the glowing bits of light opened like a bright line drawn on the surface of the road.

She approached each of them in turn, stopping just short of arm’s length away.  As she stared at Tam, his lopsided smile faltered, but only for a moment.  Bodaway still knelt.  He seemed reluctant to raise his eyes to hers when she moved toward him.

 

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Jay Tavare

“Arise, my son,” she said in a soft voice, but he shook his head negatively, much like a small boy might.

 

“No.  I am too tall,” Bodaway said.  “You should not have to look up at me.  I am unworthy to stand above you.”

Her cool demeanor slipped, if only for a moment.  Kindness touched the line of her mouth and the set of her eyes.  Her mouth quirked to a smile.

“Then perhaps you’d rather lift me up in your arms, and hold me so that I look down at you?” she offered, startling everyone with the bit of teasing.

The Apache shaman made a choking sound.  Luci couldn’t see Bodaway’s face, but she was certain he blushed scarlet.  He carefully stood.  However, he slumped a little, as if unwilling to tower over the Mother any more than absolutely necessary.

Her gaze fell upon Luci once again.  Despite her shyness, Luci tried to match the Mother’s stare.  However, nervousness got the better of her and she looked down and swallowed, thoroughly intimidated.

The Mother clicked her tongue and looked surprised as she gazed at Luci.  “You have my rowan staff?” the Spirit of Route 66 asked in an astonished tone.  “Why you do don’t you!” she said accusingly.

Luci nearly choked.  Shock overcame timidity and she looked the Mother in the eyes.  “I have my father’s rowan staff,” Luci defended herself.

James Garner b-w

James Garner as Grover Harper

 

“Your fa—” the Mother began, but stopped and gave Luci a long appraising look.  “So you have the rowan staff that I gave to Grover Harper.  And you are his daughter.”

She tried to speak, but the most Luci could manage was to clear her throat again.

“So that’s how you managed to knock ole snake breath for a loop!” Tam chortled.  “The staff was imbued with the Mother’s magic.  But how would Grover come to own such an artifact?”

“You used the staff I gave Grover Harper,” the Mother stated in a voice so cold that Luci drew back with a shiver.

“Never mind,” she declared and stalked a few feet away.  “I know your purpose,” the Mother told them in a matter of fact way, but the challenge came back to her eyes.  “And I admit the importance of your need.  However, I will not grant it.  I will not remove the block that prevents the girl’s mancer power from emerging.”

Luci wasn’t sure why her heart hammered so hard.  She couldn’t process the combination of fear, disappointment, and utter relief that washed over her.

Tam took a step toward the Mother and she stopped him with a glare.

“And why might that be?” he asked in a voice that Luci wished had held more reverence, or at least more respect.

Domhnall Gleeson suit

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Bodaway’s eyes widened at Tam’s question and tone.  The sandy haired man shrugged his shoulders as if his companions were overreacting to the Mother’s presence.  Luci worried even more when Tam gave the Mother the same evaluative gaze she had given Luci.

 

The challenging look on her face when she appeared daunted Luci.  The Mother was obviously some kind of magical being or spirit.  Who knew what powers she might possess?  Could she strike them dead with a glance if they displeased her?

Luci wondered if Tam was intentionally trying to provoke her, despite whatever magic she might have.  Was he testing her strength?  If so, then why?

“I know you sensed the potential in the girl,” Tam went on nonchalantly.  “So it would be easy for you to help her around her block.  I think you even know exactly what is blocking her,” Tam added and his eyebrows lifted slightly in challenge.

His expression shifted from speculation to sudden insight.  “Yes, you do know what’s blocking the Wee Mouse because you’re the one who put it there.  Didn’t you!” he stated with a fierce grin and shook his head as if in disbelief.  “I should have known.  That cagey old devil.  He put you up to it didn’t he?” Tam said to Luci’s confusion.

What and who was Tam talking about?  Her question died unspoken when Luci saw the fiery flash of the Mother’s eyes.  Bodaway was motionless in a way that made her think he was tensed, tightly coiled.  Luci wasn’t sure to what side the shaman would spring if things came to a head — to Tam and her, or to the Mother.

An edgy silence settled over them.  It was broken by a loud belch from Lychnis.  The oversized lynx kitten made a surprised face, and then he started purring again.  Despite the stressful situation, Luci wondered what else the big hawk might have fed him.

Lynx young dreamstime_m_26595511

Rights purchased at Dreamstime

 

The Mother’s face contorted into a grimace.  To Luci’s astonishment she turned her back on them.  Her head bowed for a moment and Luci heard a muffled sputtering sound.  Was the Mother laughing at the burping kitten?

The Mother took a deep breath, as if resigning herself to the situation.  She plopped down on the ground and sat cross-legged in a single movement that was abrupt yet elegant and fluid.

Bodaway looked relieved and followed her example.  It seemed amazing that such a tall man could settle himself to the ground so effortlessly.  Luci sat down as gracefully as she could manage.

It was a moment before Tam sat down, and when he did, he gave the impression that it was only for his convenience.  Luci started to wonder if he had an attitude about any sort of authority figure, or if there was something particular about the Mother to which he objected.

“Why are you two so intent on this path?” the Mother asked Luci’s companions but ignored her presence.  “She has other power.  Earth magic.  When cultivated, earth magic can be as strong as a mancer’s power.  Why not work with what came naturally to her?”

“What do you mean by earth magic,” Luci asked in surprise.

“What you did when you blasted Orochi with light from the old rowan staff,” Tam said impatiently.  “Or had you forgotten?” he added dryly and immediately turned back to the Mother.

Johnny Depp glass

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

The truth was, Luci was very much under the influence of whatever drug had been put into her champagne when she used that unexpected burst of magic.  It didn’t seem real to her, and her mind insisted that it was a dream.  It also stung for Tam to speak to her in that disparaging tone.

The Mother spoke to Tam and Bodaway as if Luci wasn’t even there.  It tweaked the girl’s pride so much that annoyance became stronger than her reticence.  Luci began to fidget with a fingernail that had a rough spot on its edge.  She did that a lot whenever something troubled her, and at that moment her thoughts were at war.

“So you knew about that magic defense, did you?” Tam said in a sardonic tone.

“Naturally,” the Mother said.  “It was part of the jumble you threw at me in Chicago,” she added turning to Bodaway.  “By the way, the sweet grass smoke was quite nice,” she added as an afterthought causing Bodaway to look down shyly and blush.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have a handy Wiccan tutor tucked away,” Tam said in a tone that was nearly insolent.

Bodaway shot him a warning glare.  “There is no time to nurture any earth magic Luci might have,” the shaman said in an apologetic voice.  “Even if we had help, it would take time that we don’t have.  Her only hope — our only hope is to help Luci bring out her mancer power.”

“Um….” the Mother said, and it seemed like she would make no further comment.  “Yes, I see.  And I understand,” she said after a moment.66 Sunset

Luci’s shoulders relaxed.  Tam looked mistrustful.  Bodaway smiled broadly and started to murmur something appreciative.

“But I still won’t help you.” The Spirit of Route 66 added flatly.

Tam’s face turned red and he sputtered like the engine of an antique car.  Even his ears turned red.  Bodaway’s mouth dropped open in disbelief.

***

End Episode 21

Recipe — Route 66 Roadhouse Chili Fix

I couldn’t find (not by any stretch of the imagination) a way to tie this installment to a food or drink.  But what kind of hostess would I be if I didn’t offer you something during your visit here?  So I googled “recipe, Route 66” and was surprised by how many things I found.  They were mostly “diner” type foods, as one might expect. I’m an old fashioned chili type, specifically beef chili.  However, one chili recipe that included beef and pork intrigued me.  Check out Food.com for the recipe.

Rt 66 Chili Fix

Until next time, stay tuned and stay groovy.  Mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 20: Hippies

VW Bus ad 1960s

Volkswagen Bus ad circa 1960s

Hello everyone — I’m so happy to see you in the car (or this time a Volkswagen van) for the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer!

So far, I had been able to stay ahead of the game on getting these installments illustrated, linked, and formatted.  Plus setting things up for featured bloggers and recipes.  Well… I’m not ahead of the game any more.  So this time I’m not featuring anyone.  I’m really sorry.

About This Episode

This is not really a hint, but it’s the song that begins this installment of The Guitar Mancer.  Back in the days when I had any privacy (aka sufficient sound-proofing) it was also my favorite sing-along song. I freely admit to belting out this song.

The mythology I’ve created for The Mother Road takes a curve and we meet a group of new characters in this installment of “The Guitar Mancer.”

We left our heroes with their ears ringing. Something just wasn’t right, and whatever it is, it’s something different.  Do you want to catch up with them?  Just get in the car!

Yeesh… now I feel compelled to write a disclaimer. This writer, this blog, my stories and novels — none of it supports the use of “recreational” or illegal substances. It does not seek to glorify drug use or anti-establishment misbehavior of any kind.  All things published here are meant to be fun and light, just entertainment. Not social commentary. If you visit here, please just try to have fun.  Otherwise, why would I be making this effort.  

Episode 20 — HippiesRt 66 Missouri Postcard

A cold breeze stirred her hair.  Luci looked eastward and then to the west, following Tam’s gaze.  There was no traffic on the old highway.  She didn’t see anything unusual, and the only thing she could hear was the persistent ringing in her ears.  She twisted her fingers in her ears again, but it did no good.  Tam pulled at his earlobe.  Bodaway gave a single sharp shake of his head.  Lychnis and Freyja did not seem to be bothered by the incessant ringing sound.

The sudden noise of a backfire caused Luci to jump half out of her skin.  She heard music coming steadily closer.  It sounded like Jefferson Airplane.  She began to recognize the song.  It was “Somebody to Love.”

Flower Power stickersQuickly the sound drew close enough that she could hear the lyrics about truth and lies.  As Grace Slick’s voice leaned into a sustained note, the tone of the music merged with the ringing in her ears.  For a moment it seemed her head might explode.

The vocal finished and the chords of the guitar solo rang out in counterpoint.  The tones of the guitar met the leftover ringing in Luci’s ears.  The two sounds balanced one another.  The ringing finally stopped.

“Gordon Bennet!” Tam muttered though he sounded relieved.

Bodaway Thunder sighed loudly.

A Volkswagen bus, a hippy van, painted in wild designs and bright colors careened down the highway.  The song blared from it.  The van screeched to a halt right in the middle of the road.  The music stopped.

The side door opened and people poured out of the van.  There were three women in tie dyed maxi dresses, headbands, and bare feet.  Luci did a double take and shivered.  Yes, they were all barefoot in the middle of winter.

So were the two men who got out next.  One had a rainbow colored afro and no shirt under his long fringy vest.  The other man was bald and wore a long caftan of thin cotton that couldn’t have been much warmer.Apple boutique 1960s

“Hey man, that was outta sight!” the caftan-wearing man said.  “Ain’t that right, Sunshine?” he added to the blond woman who held his arm.

“And what would that be now?” Tam said noncommittally, his brogue drawling.

“Oh come on,” chided the woman.

The blond woman tossed her head and her two braids swung in a way that Luci thought was strangely flirtatious.  Her name was Sunshine?  Luci supposed that she did seem cheery enough to be called that.

“That was some far out mojo you guys used a minute ago!” Sunshine said admiringly.  “Crook, did you see the shaman whamming on his dashboard?” she asked the caftan man.  “Wild,” she sighed at Bodaway.  “Really wild, man.”

Just as Luci was about to ask how they knew Bodaway was a shaman or how they knew he was drumming on the Vista Cruiser’s dashboard, Sunshine winked at her.  She swayed slightly as she held the arm of the bald, caftan-wearing man whose name was apparently Crook.

The second woman had long straight hair that was so black it seemed blue in sunlight.  She walked over to Tam, but it was more of a slithering glide.  She removed a string of love beads from her neck and hung it around his.

1969 Jean Shrimpton as Luci

1969 Jean Shrimpton as Luci Harper

Luci was not best pleased with the flirting or how close the woman stood and brushed her body against Tam as she put the beads around his neck.  Luci didn’t realize she was staring until she heard the rainbow afro man snort.

Crook smirked in Luci’s direction.  “Ease off Midnight,” he told the black haired woman.  “We probably shouldn’t have stopped.”

“Oh Crook, don’t be such a buzz-kill,” Midnight said with a pout as she turned toward the man, but her eyes lingered on Tam.

Luci gasped, startled when Sunshine was unexpectedly behind her.  Luci hadn’t even seen her move.  Was she that distracted by that one called Midnight flirting with Tam?  Luci reminded herself to have a talk with herself later.  She had no business worrying about Tam and who he liked.  She already knew she wasn’t his type.

Sunshine only smiled silently and placed a similar strand of beads around her neck.  “Don’t worry about Midnight,” she whispered.  “She’s not getting anywhere this time.”

What did she mean this time?  Luci wondered if the group if hippies repeated this scenario whenever they saw someone pulled over on the roadside.

Jay Tavare_Bodaway Thunder_Smile

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Bodaway bent down to accept the love beads from the third woman.  Because of the woman’s silver hair, Luci at first thought she was the eldest of the group, maybe even a parent.  However, up close, she realized there was not a line on her face.  She didn’t look any older than the other hippies despite the silver hair that made a halo of wispy waves around her face.

“Thank you ma’am,” Bodaway said in an uncomfortable sounding voice.

“No need for formality,” the woman told him in a light girlish voice that also belied her hair color.  “Just call me Mist.  May the blessings of the Mother ride with you as you travel.”

The Apache’s eyes widened at the benediction as if it was familiar in a secret sort of way.  He looked like he was about to say something.  His mouth even moved, but he didn’t make any sound.

“Hey wait a minute Sunshine, where’s your old man?” the rainbow afro man, asked the woman with two braids.

“Dip?  I made him stay inside the van,” she said.  “No worries, Bump.  Dip just couldn’t find his pants,” she explained and the afro man, Bump, nodded as if that happened often.  “I told him to make himself useful in there,” she added with a grin.

Bump casually hung a strand of multicolored love beads around Luci’s neck as he spoke.  She started to protest at the gift, but he gave her a quick wink and turned back to his friends.Vogue 1970 afro berenson

The two men were smiling like lunatics.  The women walked back to the whimsical looking hippy van.  The men said something to each other that Luci couldn’t make out, but she thought she heard the word brownies.  A sudden whiff of baked chocolate confirmed she’d heard that much correctly.

As Luci looked at the hippy group they started to radiate a soft light.  She blinked, and then rubbed her eyes, thinking it was an optical illusion.  However, the hippies still glowed.

She wondered if maybe she could have hit her head when she was bouncing around inside the Caddy, as Tam deftly maneuvered, trying to avoid the heavy Ford Fairlane.  She shivered to think what a close call that was.  It brought them too close to a head-on collision.  She felt her head for a bump but didn’t find one.

Time November 1969

Time, November 1969

First the ringing in her ears wouldn’t stop and then she was seeing things, hippies surrounded by auras.  Maybe I really did hit my head, she thought.

“Yeah man,” said Sunshine.  “It was righteous far out.  The Mother was pleased,” she stopped suddenly and put her hand to her mouth when the other hippies turned to look at her.  Sunshine removed her hand from her mouth long enough to say “Oops!  Don’t let her know I told!”  Then she put it back over her mouth as the other hippies surreptitiously looked over their shoulders.

“We need to keep on truckin’ — It’s been real,” Bump said over his shoulder.

1970 Volkswagen bus Zoo ad

1970 Volkswagen bus ad

Without another word, the hippie group quickly jumped into the crazily painted Volkswagen bus.  They pulled Sunshine back into it behind them.  With another backfire the brightly painted Volkswagen bus disappeared around a curve.

Tam, Bodaway, and Luci stood looking after the van in bewilderment.

They all exchanged puzzled looks.  “She said the Mother, didn’t she,” Luci said.

“And that Mist gave us that blessing, mentioning the Mother…,” Bodaway commented.

“I get a funny vibe from those hippies.  What was it she said?  ‘May the blessings of the Mother ride with you as you travel?’  At first I thought maybe it was a hippy slang thing, like all the Mother Nature stuff…” Tam said but his voice trailed away.

Bodaway Thunder looked suspicious.  “The only times I’ve heard that blessing was when my grandfather and uncle brought me to Route 66 out west,” Bodaway began, but seemed to stop in the middle of his thought.

“Didn’t you think their names were odd, even for hippies?” Luci commented.

Tam snorted.  “The guy named Crook. I figured that was just honesty,” he quipped.

“Or Crook like a crook in the road,” Luci said and both her companions turned to look at her.  “Roads also have bumps and dips — things you find in a road.”Missouri map Rt 66

“You mean their names were about the road?  So what were the women then?” Tam asked though it was obvious that he wasn’t taking her seriously.

“Things that affect the road?” Bodaway asked, and he gave Luci a curious, but affirming look and nod.  “Like weather conditions.  You know sunshine, mist, and midnight would be like nighttime or driving in the dark.”

Tam looked from one of them to the other and rolled his eyes.  “So what are you suggesting?  That the hippies are some kind of — of what?  Mother Road faeries?  Did they give you some of those happy brownies I smelled or something?” Tam said sarcastically.

***

End Episode 20

Recipe:  Cocoa Brownies

Seriously… on that ending note for the installment, what could I offer you but brownies?  Worry not, they are not the “happy” kind.

As I was saying, I’ve fallen behind on creating these posts, so I couldn’t spend a lot of time scouring the WordPress countryside for brownie recipes.  I was sure I would find some at Suzanne’s blog, A Pug in the Kitchen.  I was right — she didn’t let me down.  Check out these Cocoa Brownies!

Cocoa Brownies

I will not be responsible for any computer damage that comes from drooling onto the keyboard.  Oh, don’t they look delicious?

Next time you’re going to meet another new character, so stay tuned, stay groovy, and mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 19: Head-on

1966 Ford Fairlane ad

1966 Ford Fairlane advertisement

Hello everyone. I’m delighted to see you “back in the car” for the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer.  The Ford Fairlane, the featured automobile for this installment, is a tiny hint.  Read on and you’ll see how a Fairlane comes into play.  

Several people have asked about Route 66, so here’s a little detour.  As you know by now, this story was one of my “manuscripts lost” and the original version began in the 1990s as a fantasy-romance.  I never finished that one — I’m just not a romance writer. Then I lost the unfinished computer disk, and only managed to salvage a few chapters that were in print.

Guitar Mancer Cover final 05-04-2016Then in 2014 I took the concept of the mythology and did a rewrite that added more characters. I changed what was going to be a multi-state chase to a cross-country road trip, and created an additional unique mythology — one for Route 66.  The research for that fabled highway was fascinating. 

Several readers have commented about the parts of the route they have traveled. Of course now there are many parts that have basically vanished. However, it’s still possible to do a Rt 66 journey coast-to- coast with help from maps, books, and websites that help you find your way from one break in the trail to the next leg in your journey. Here are links to three that I enjoyed so much that I bought them:

Route 66: The Mother Road 75th Anniversary Editionby Michael Wallis

Ghost Towns of Route 66, by Jim Hinckley (Author), Kerrick James (Photographer)

Featured Blogger

I’ve seen a lot of newsletters in my time as a writer/editor in the information technology arena. They may be for high-tech environments, clubs, or indie novelists. One newsletter that I could confidently use as a good example — no matter what environment, is the “Rick and Lavinia Ross, Farm & Music Newsletter.” Lavinia and the cats at Salmon Brook Farms turn out a delightful newsletter each month.  

Lavinia’s newsletter is like a ray of sunshine to me, so I’m using that as the “thing” I added to this installment of The Guitar Mancer.  Click on over and check out her blog.  I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Last Time

Last time we learned more about the mysterious Mother to, although she is still an enigma.  One thing seemed clear though. This Mother is not all cuddles and nurturing.  I gather that anyone who asks for her help might pay a high price.  Without further ado, let’s get in the car!Rt 66 Illinois post card

Episode 19 — Head-on

Route 66 IL map

Bloody 66

A single yellow beam of beautiful sunlight stabbed through the gray clouds.  It was followed by another ray of light and a small patch of blue.

Luci gave a pleased sigh.  They had been driving in a cold drizzle ever since they left Chicago.  That brave sunbeam gave her a sense of connection to the real world.  It also encouraged her to have hope against the gray and frightening thing her own world had become.

A feeling of disconnectedness had settled on her back at Grant Park where they met up with Bodaway Thunder.  However, what worried Luci was the fact that her memory had gotten unreliable.  The shaman told her it was from the combination of drug and mancer magic Yamata Orochi used to lure her to that Big Band Era themed private club.

“When mancer power is used with a drug it can take quite a while for it to leave your system,” Bodaway had told her.  “Even when you don’t feel ‘drugged’ any more, it can still mess with you.  That’s why your memory seems spotty.” 

Then it was as if he looked into her heart with his soulful brown eyes.  “Maybe some forgotten things are best left that way,” he had murmured.

Jay Tavare fur collar

Jay Tavare  as Bodaway Thunder

Maybe he’s right, Luci thought.  She had a half remembered dream of Tam and Bodaway being afraid they would not live through their efforts to protect her from Yamata Orochi.  There was also something about Bodaway being worried that she would die before Orochi even caught up with them.

Or at least Luci told herself it was a bad dream.  Secretly she was afraid that conversation had really taken place.  No.  That was surely something she didn’t want to remember.

She looked through the windshield at the patch of blue and pushed herself to be a lot more cheerful than she honestly felt.

The Cadillac was a remarkably smooth ride.  Yet she felt the vibrations of the road as she carefully poured coffee from a thermos and handed it to Tam.  After a sip from her own steaming cup Luci felt better.

“Ah, that’s the thing,” Tam said appreciatively.  “Good to the last drop for sure,” he added, quoting the coffee advertisement.

After leaving Chicago they traveled for a little less than three hours.  Now and then there was an exchange with Bodaway on the ham radio.  However, they didn’t want to invite conversations with, or even be heard by, other drivers out on the route and nearby roads.  They feared one of them would be working for Yamata Orochi, so they kept radio exchanges to a minimum.

Deadmans curve

Dead Man’s Curve, Towanda, Illinois

Luci read aloud the road signs for Illinois Route 66 and Lincoln, Illinois.  At those names Tam’s hands tightened on the steering wheel.  Then he flexed his fingers and settled back into the seat, as if deliberately relaxing his muscles.  Luci looked askance at his profile.  He gave her a rueful glance.

“The old-timers claim that around here, in Lincoln and Towanda, car crashes happen every few hours.  This part of the Mother Road earned the nickname Bloody 66,” he said.  “It has a ton of twists and turns that can be deadly.  I’ve heard tales of wrecks with victims so badly mangled that they begged state troopers to shoot them and end their misery.”

“Frankly, I could have done without that tale,” Luci told him in a sardonic voice.

Luci kept expecting him to grin or somehow make a joke of it.  “You’re serious?” she finally asked.

Jean Shrimpton in car wind

Jean Shrimpton as Luci Harper

“Bloody 66,” Tam affirmed with a nod.  “Sometimes it’s simply called the Killer.  That’s also the case for similar stretches of the route in Missouri and other states as well,” he said and expelled a breath.  “But this part right here seems to be sort of special that way.”

The highway twisted through numerous turns.  Trees lined the route, so Luci couldn’t see far ahead.  As they rounded another curve Luci stifled a scream.  An oncoming car was in their lane.

The green Ford Fairlane sedan looked huge to Luci, as it loomed toward them.  Luci couldn’t help having the quick thought, “Why did Tam have to start talking about car wrecks?”

Tam swerved into the oncoming lane to get out of the other driver’s way, but the Fairlane veered in the same direction.  Tam cut the Caddy’s wheel sharply back the other way.  Luci saw the green car once again mimicking Tam’s swift moves.  She realized both men were just trying to avoid the accident but that didn’t help.

Bodaway’s voice crackled frantically on the ham radio.  Lychnis growled from the backseat and she knew he was frightened too.  The front end of the oncoming car was so close that Luci made eye contact with the terrified looking driver. 1966 Fairlane back green

The sound of screeching tires filled her ears.  She was only vaguely aware of Tam whistling a tune.  It seemed ridiculously odd to Luci, but he whistled “Up, Up and Away,” the Fifth Dimension’s big hit from a couple years before.

Before her brain could process the incongruity of Tam whistling a peppy tune at such a moment, blue-white light consumed Luci’s vision.  Then she heard the sound of drums.  The rhythm beat madly.  For a fraction of a second, in her mind’s eye she saw Bodaway Thunder wildly slapping his hands on the dashboard of the Vista Cruiser as if the dash was a drum. 

Briefly everything was silent.  She knew the sensation of floating for just a moment.  Then the Cadillac thudded onto grassy ground beside the road, as if it had been dropped from a height of a few feet.  Luci bounced and slid around in the passenger seat.  Lychnis pounced over the seat and into her lap, draping himself protectively across Luci.

John Bonham drum

John Bonham

When the blue-white light cleared from Luci’s eyes, she expected to see mangled metal, and steam from the radiator, and all manner of carnage.  However, the Cadillac’s chrome hood ornament twinkled in the sunlight as if it would give a saucy wink.

It took a moment for it to register with Luci that she was unharmed.  She turned to look behind them, and saw the other car speeding down the highway.  It met Bodaway’s Vista cruiser, but both cars stayed on the appropriate sides of the road.  The Fairlane did however, wobble just a bit.

The long station wagon pulled off the road next to them.  Bodaway opened the driver’s door and unfolded his tall body.  He stood a little shakily.  The shaman-mancer looked toward them, his face painted by concern.

Tam got out of the red Cadillac and bent over, bracing his hands on his knees.  He straightened and made a thumbs-up gesture to Bodaway.  Then he bent and looked inside at Luci, asking if she was all right.  Luci nodded mutely.

Luci shoved the passenger door open and tried to extricate herself from under the overgrown kitten. 

“Mer-rawr?” Lychnis meowed with a clear question in the infliction at the end.

When Luci smiled at the totem he started to purr.  She slid out from under him, but caught the heel of her boot and ended up sitting on the cold ground rather than standing beside the car.  Lychnis jumped out and sat down on her again. 

“Rawr!” he meowed as if chiding her.

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Tam exploded in a gale of laughter.  Luci realized his reaction was fueled by relief, but he could have at least tried to hold back.  His mirth subsided enough for him to help her stand.  By then Bodaway stood next to them.  The shaman raised one eyebrow at the comic display.  His mouth twitched, threatening to smile.  When he turned away, Luci knew it was to hide an enormous grin.

Luci pointed up at him.  “Don’t you dare laugh!” she warned Bodaway, at which Tam burst into another fit of laughter.

Her lips curled inward with impatience, and then she huffed an annoyed breath.  “What in the Sam Hill just happened?” she asked in a voice that she was pleased to note only trembled a little bit.

“That, Wee Mouse, is mancer power in action,” he said.  “Two mancers working jointly are more powerful than the ‘sum of their parts’ as you might say.

***

The Caddy and the custom painted Vista Cruiser sat on the roadside.  The occupants of the vehicles gradually collected their wits after barely escaping a head-on crash what would certainly have been fatal for Luci and Tam — deadly but for the use of mancer power.  Luci gave her head a shake.  She didn’t know why her ears were ringing, but they wouldn’t stop.

Tam and Bodaway gave the Caddy a thorough going over.  Considering the machine was surrounded by mancer magic, Bodaway said, it was unlikely that the drop of a few feet did any damage.  The shaman accused Tam of being an over protective old woman, but that didn’t stop him from examining every inch of his 1959 red Cadillac. 1959 Cadillac Convertible Red

The over-sized lynx kitten rubbed against Luci’s shins, causing her to stumble.  The near miss had obviously frightened him too.  Or perhaps, Luci thought, he was sensitive to the reactions of the people around him.  She had always heard that animals could smell fear.  If that was the case, she must reek from it.

Freyja, the big red tailed hawk who was Bodaway Thunder’s totem, glided down and perched near Lychnis.  The hawk had something in her beak.  Before Luci could get a clear look at whatever it was, let alone say anything, the hawk gave it to the lynx and the mystery object disappeared in a single gulp.

“Lychnis!” Luci cried.  “What was that?  Did you see?” she said, half accusing as she turned to Bodaway and Tam.

Bodaway pursed his lips and gave her a sidelong look.  “Uh…  You don’t want to know,” he said.Frejya Red Tailed Hawk

Freyja gave a soft whistle and a bob of her head, and looked on the huge kitten with obvious approval.  The tall shaman smiled fondly at the hawk. 

“She’s taking it very seriously that there is another spirit animal with her.  Freyja is being a mother to Lychnis.  He’s growing like crazy so she’s making sure he doesn’t go hungry.  A hungry baby spirit animal, well that wouldn’t be groovy,” he said.

Luci felt like she was going to be sick, thinking about what the kitten might have just eaten.  She went to the Cadillac and poured some kitten chow into Lychnis’ bowl and sat it next to the animals.  He picked up a little in his mouth and placed it at the hawk’s feet.

“Well aren’t you a little gentleman,” Luci said, scratching under his chin.

A glance at the shaman showed that Bodaway was as captivated by the display of friendship as was Luci.  Freyja obligingly nibbled at the offered kibble, but clearly was not interested in more.  Tam rolled his eyes, muttered something about overly sappy cuteness and “Bloody disgusting Brady Bunch.”  Then he went back to inspecting the Caddy.

The rumbling of the tall man’s stomach was loud enough to cause Luci to turn in surprise.  “I guess Lychnis is not the only one who’s hungry,” she said with a hesitant smile, not knowing how well the shaman took teasing.

Diamonds Restaurant_VIlla_Ridge_MO

Diamond’s Restaurant, Villa Ridge, MO

Bodaway smiled back good naturedly and she relaxed.  “There’s a diner a little farther down the road,” he said.  “We can get something for all of us there.  Some hamburger meat will do for Lychnis.  We’ll come to a town soon enough and you can buy some more kitten chow then,” he said in a reassuring tone.

Luci put a finger inside each ear and twisted back and forth.  The infernal ringing would not stop and it was about to drive her nuts.  Bodaway gave her a suspicious look.  Just then Tam crawled out from under the Cadillac.  Luci noticed that he pulled at his earlobe.

“Do you feel anything weird?” Tam called to Bodaway and walked back to join them.  “I mean… I’m not sure what I mean,” Tam said at a loss for the right words.  “Are you picking up on anything?” he asked Bodaway but looked up and then down the highway.  “Something’s not right.”

Bodaway’s shoulders twitched in an odd way.  It made Luci think he had suppressed a shudder.  His brows knitted but his eyes widened and his nostrils flared.

“This is something different,” the shaman-mancer spoke tersely.

***

End Episode 19

Bodaway Thunder sure has a way with short, ominous sentences… What could be causing this odd physical reaction in our heroes?  Stay tuned!

Here’s something for the road. I’m not sure which growling belly would worry me more — the magical totem lynx, or the seven feet tall Apache… Good thing they’re on the way to a diner for some food.  With that in mind I’m offering you fare suitable for a Route 66 diner.  Click on over and check out these delicious malted milk shakes from  Carter Family Recipes.

Malted Milk Shakes

Malted milk shakes

Until next time… Keep on truckin’ and mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

Book of the Month — Atonement, Tennessee

I’m tickled pink!

I’m blushing to tell you about it, but… I feel like I’ve been put on a billboard in Time’s Square!  My novel, “Atonement, Tennessee” was named book of the month, and me author of the month. By the way, that includes an incredibly generous free offer.  That’s all from the versatile Kevin Cooper at KC Books & Music.  

Here’s a link to Kev’s post, which has me feeling so in the pink:  https://kcbooksandmusic.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/author-of-the-month-teagan-riodain-geneviene/

Lilith, the calico from “Atonement, Tennessee” is purr-fectly pleased too.

Lilith and mirror

Several of you have already visited Kev’s post and left lovely comments. So I’m going to disable the comments here and ask you to please leave any comments at Kev’s blog

Kev is a multi talented guy.  

 

 

 

 


Writer of novels and poetry, singer-songwriter, reviewer, and book cover designer.  Click on over and check out all the amazing things at his blog.

 

 

 

So pay a visit to KC Books & Music, browse around, and enjoy.


I’ll be back Saturday with another installment of The Guitar Mancer.  See you then!

Guitar Mancer — Episode 18: 66

1970 Ford Torino ad

1970 Ford Torino ad

Welcome back, everyone!  Last time my featured automobile was a 1965 Mustang.  This time I’m showcasing another Ford.  In 1970 the coveted Car of the Year award from Motor Trend magazine went to the Fort Torino.  I liked that the vintage advertisement above showed multiple views of the car.  Wow, back then a “bench seat” really was as long as a bench.  Here’s a groovy little commercial too.

Featured Blogger

Melissa at Today You Will Write has supported my blog for a long time.  She’s been so many places and done so many things across the world.  It’s no wonder she comes up with such wonderful writing prompts to encourage other writers.  Visit her blog and be inspired.

In honor of Melissa and her blog, the “thing” I added to this episode is wrote.

About This Episode

This “road trip” is actually on the road with mancers now.  Last time you saw Luci indulge in a flight of fancy as she pondered what effect the magic of the two mancers might have on their vehicles. Or was it?  Some things are just better left unsaid.  Leaving a small mystery for the reader to define is one of the things that I believe makes a good fantasy novel.

This episode serves to “ground” things after Luci’s whimsical thinking.  Just because there’s not a basilisk to defeat doesn’t mean you can let your guard down.  Pay attention and you’ll absorb things that enhance your involvement with the story later in the novel.  We’ll also find out a hint of what might lay ahead for Luci.  So buckle up, the vintage Cadillac is hitting the highway.

Episode 18 — 66

They took the Caddy through a series of turns and street changes with Tam still behind the wheel.  The radio played Anne Murray’s big hit, Snow Bird

Canada,” she thought groggily.  “That singer is from Canada and so was Gene MacLellan, who wrote the song.  I guess they know a lot about snow,” she finished the fuzzy thought with a shiver.

Luci was half asleep, but she was aware of Tam humming along with the song.  His humming made her feel comfortable.  She thought it was a homey thing to have someone hum, or even sing along with the radio.

Soon the song finished and Tam turned off the music.  They were looking to the west at downtown Chicago.  Luci saw a road sign stating “Begin Illinois Route 66.” Begin Route 66

“The Pacific Ocean is 2,448 miles from here.  With luck we’ll make it all the way there.  We need to travel the entire route to get all the mojo the Mother can give us,” Tam turned to Luci and said with a satisfied looking smile.  “Route 66 begins at its eastern terminus, Lake Shore Drive, that’s also US 41, and Jackson Boulevard.  To answer your question from a while back, this — Route 66 is the Mother Road,” he said with an affirming nod.

“What?” Luci asked, confused. 

None of that made any sense.  She blinked and sat up straighter in the Cadillac’s seat.  Lychnis was sound asleep in the back seat, using her quilt for a bed.

The Mother,” Tam said.  “You wanted to know who the Mother is,” he said reminding her and she nodded, more alert.  “The Mother is not a who.  It’s Route 66, the Mother Road.  Did you never wonder how a highway became so fabled?” he asked.  “Maybe not,” he said when he saw her confused expression.

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

 

“I know it’s historically important as a highway,” she began.  “But I don’t understand why it’s important for us.  Is there somewhere on 66 that we need to hide, or meet somebody, or get something?”

“Ah Wee Mouse,” he said with a wiggle of his eyebrows.  “You’re getting there.  There is something we need to get from the Mother.  People have loved to travel this route for decades.  And that’s because even a non-talent can tell there is something different about Route 66.  The Mother gives back to those who appreciate her.”

Luci was tired, sleepy, hungry, and rapidly losing patience.  “And you talk about Bodaway being cryptic,” she muttered.

With exaggerated patience Tam continued.  “If you know how, you can get a little something extra from the Mother Road.  A little extra mojo.  A mancer can get more than a little.  Plus, all along the route there are power nodes where you can pick up still more magic.  Once again that is, only if you know how.”

Luci brightened.  “Does Ochi know about this?” she asked, knowing she mispronounced the villain’s name.  She wasn’t sure if she did it to needle Tam or because it gave her a small amount of satisfaction to say the creep’s name the wrong way.

Johnny Depp Guitar hat

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

 

“Not to correct you, but it’s Orochi.  Does he know?” Tam said with a smirk that made Luci think he appreciated her mispronunciation.  “Doubtful.  Very doubtful,” Tam said with a grin.  “Route 66 is a bit of Americana.  Mancers outside the USA usually haven’t heard of it.  And better still, he’d probably need the help of a shaman to make the most of what the Mother has to give.”

Tam navigated the vintage red Cadillac through the Chicago streets until they reached Grant Park.  The place was deserted.  The gray winter sky and naked trees made it seem desolate.  Luci pulled her light green parka closed, feeling a sudden chill.  However, it didn’t seem to have the same effect on her companion.  The sandy haired man perked up, and seemed downright energized.

“Don’t you feel anything?” he asked when she shivered and he saw the frown on her face.

“Uh yeah, I’m freezing my butt off. What happened to the heat?” she mumbled.

Tam adjusted a control knob on the dash and warmer air feathered its way to Luci.  The steady stream of gray exhaust from the city traffic had fouled the air, and Tam turned off the heat.  Luci figured he forgot to turn it back on again.

“You don’t feel the energy in this area?” he asked more specifically.

Pursing her lips and looking at him from the corner of her eye, Luci slowly shook her head negatively.

“Your mancer ability may be more deeply suppressed than I thought,” he murmured in a worried tone.  “This, Grant Park, is home to a classical music concert series.  They have it for ten weeks every year.  The ground has soaked up a lot of music over the years.  I thought you might be able to feel it,” he commented with a casual voice that Luci thought sounded forced.

Jean Shrimpton Look 1966

Jean Shrimpton as Luci Harper

 

She could tell that the fact that she couldn’t detect whatever “absorbed music” power he was talking about bothered Tam even though he tried not to show it.  She bit her lip, noticing that it had gotten chapped. 

Without looking at what she was doing, Luci fished in her purse until her fingers found a small tube of Chap Stick.  Their slogan “Don’t take your lips anywhere without it” ran through her head.  It gave her the bizarre image of putting a pair of lips into her purse and having none on her face.  At another time she might have laughed at the silliness of her thought, but Tam had a worried look in his eyes, even though he wasn’t letting on.

She blamed the rough cracked skin on her lips on the weather being cold and windy when they were looking for Lychnis.  Who or what was to be blamed for a magical ability being suppressed? 

After the frightening encounters with the basilisk and with Yamata Orocih, Luci couldn’t blame her father from wanting to prevent her from having a magical ability.  Unfortunately, she was beginning to think that the potential mancer power that put her at risk was also the only thing that might keep her alive. 

As Tam drove through the curving lanes of the park she saw pigeons foraging amid the fallen leaves.  Here and there a wino sat huddled on a bench.  The entire scene seemed bleak to her.  Tam however, started to whistle the B. J. Thomas song, “Hooked on a Feeling.”  Luci found her fingers tapping the beat on the armrest of the Caddy.

Tail-fin-Red-Cadillac_dreamstime_m_30410578

Rights purchased at Dreamstime

 

Tam looked at from the corner of his eyes and smiled.  “That’s as close to relaxed as I’ve seen you since the first moment I met you,” he said, turning his head toward her.  “You know, when you ran into me and dropped all your resume papers at Blaylock’s.”

With a blink Luci realized that she really did feel relaxed, and for no apparent reason.  It was similar yet different from the uplifted feeling she had when Bodaway Thunder play the makeshift drums of a Revere Ware pan and table knives in her kitchen.

“I didn’t run into you,” she said impishly.  “You’re the one who ran into me, and you knocked all my interview stuff out of my hands, making it fall all over the floor.”

Then Tam looked past her.  He leaned toward her and the passenger window as he stared, his expression suddenly cold.  However, his face cleared and he smiled an instant later.  “Over there,” he said inclining his head.

Jay Tavare jacket

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

 

When Luci turned, she saw the custom painted Vista Cruiser station wagon that belonged to Bodaway Thunder.  When she didn’t see the tall shaman she understood Tam’s abrupt frown.  She turned back to Tam so quickly that her hair flew into his face.  He drew back but she didn’t apologize.  Why should he lean so close to her in the first place?

“Where is Bodaway?” she asked in concern.

Then the shrill sound of Freyja’s cry from high above split the air.  Directly afterward she heard an answering whistle from beyond the station wagon.

“He’s here,” Tam said looking relieved.

***

The Mother Road

 

Fallen Leaves_1416150008328-6df19173a984

Photo credit:  Unsplash

A gnarled tree, its branches nude of leaves, seemed to hunch in upon itself.  Luci thought the tree looked like it tried to hide its nakedness.  The bare limbs of the hardwood trees trembled in the cold breeze.

 

The spot was off the beaten path.  Luci suspected that only someone who knew the park exceptionally well would be able to find it.

Dead leaves crunched as she walked to an old bench and sat down.  The cold from the stone seat went right through her pants.  She decided she needed to walk around and stretch.

Bodaway Thunder emerged from a narrow trail.

“Any luck?” Tam called to the shaman, who shook his head and sighed loudly.

“With what?” Luci wanted to know.

Hawk in Backyard Tree

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Freyja soared down and alighted on the luggage rack of the Vista Cruiser.  The big hawk tilted her head as if listening to something far away.  Then she gave a soft whistle and spread her wings.  Immediately it looked as if the sun went behind the clouds, though Luci could still see the watery looking orb in the winter sky.

“Is someone… listening?” Luci hesitantly asked the shaman.

The shaman’s expression became vacant for a moment as he faced the hawk.  “I think it’s more like someone searching,” Bodaway said softly.

After a moment Freyja lowered her wings and the sky brightened.  However the spirit animal looked quite alert.  Luci let out a relieved breath.

Lynx young dreamstime_m_26595511

Photo credit: Dreamstime

 

Lychnis moved over to the Vista Cruiser, pacing around the vehicle and meowing up at the hawk.  The lynx cub looked like he was trying to figure out how to get on top of the station wagon with the hawk.  Freyja made noises that were a combination of whistle and coo.  It seemed to soothe the oversized kitten.

Luci moved back to the stone bench and sat down.

Bodaway rummaged through the back of the station wagon, and emerged with a box containing an amateur, or ham radio.  He handed it to Tam.  We need to hook this up to your Caddy.  Car phones might not be reliable on the Mother Road, and I don’t want to risk having to depend on intuitive communication,” Bodaway said.

“Intuitive communication?” Luci pondered aloud, but was not heard, as Bodaway ducked into the back of the station wagon again.

The tall shaman came back with what looked like a green metal suitcase.  When he opened it, Luci saw that it was actually a camp stove.

“I’m sure you’d like to get back on the road, but I got cold out there, trying to commune with the Mother.  Besides, I need some coffee to clear my head,” Bodaway said as he lit the stove.

Luci moved closer to it to warm her hands.  As Bodaway moved his arms making the coffee, she smelled something she didn’t recognize.  “What’s that smell?” she asked curiously.

“Propane,” Tam said.  “Haven’t you ever done any camping, Wee Mouse?”

1960s Sanka coffee ad“Will you please stop calling me that?” she retorted impatiently.  “No, it’s not the propane.  It’s a sweet, sort of earthy smell,” she said.

“Oh!  I see what you mean,” Tam said with a joking leer.  “A sweet earthy smell.  I hear that peyote stuff smells that way,” he said and watched with a grin as Luci’s eyes slowly widened.

“This is not a joking matter,” Bodaway said in a stern voice that Luci had not heard him use before, but Tam looked unrepentant.  “The Mother is an elusive spirit.  She only makes herself known on her own terms.  An offering of sweet smoke helps.”

She turned to Tam when he snorted.  “Yeah, but who does it help?  The spirit or the smoker,” he teased with a crooked smile.

Bodaway’s only reply was a level stare.

“Alright,” Tam began and spread his hands.  “I know the ‘sweet smoke’ is a spiritual thing with you, a ritual.  I know you don’t use it for recreational purposes.”

Luci and Tam both studied Bodaway’s face.  Tam pursed his lips as if evaluating his friend.  Luci feared the two men would argue, but the tension between them was fleeting.  She gratefully took the cup of black coffee the shaman offered her.

“Well then?” Tam said after Bodaway pointedly poured himself a cup of steaming coffee without offering any to Tam.  He smirked when Tam picked up the coffee pot with a wry twist to his smile.

“Well what?” Bodaway said and Luci could tell he was trying to annoy the other man.

It was clearly all in fun, and Luci smiled at the two old friends.Maxwell House last drop ad

With a long suffering sigh Tam took a sip of the coffee.  “The spirit of the Mother Road; did you manage to commune with the Mother?” he asked with exaggerated patience.

“No,” Bodaway said as if that was all the answer his friend would expect. 

After a moment of Tam’s sputtering, Bodaway chuckled.  Then his smile faded.  “No.  I couldn’t connect with her.  I had a vague sense of her presence… but she wasn’t coming any closer.  We’ve barely begun the route.  Maybe she’ll be more cooperative when we’re farther down the Mother Road,” the shaman said.

“I don’t understand what you two are talking about, but I’ve got a feeling it’s important,” Luci expelled a frustrated breath and spoke in a sardonic tone.

Bodaway told Luci and Tam his suspicion about Luci’s suppressed mancer power.  “From the beginning I was concerned that your talent was more than just suppressed,” the tall shaman explained. 

“By now you’ve spent a significant amount of time in the presence of at least one mancer.  That alone should bring out a latent mancer,” Tam told her in agreement with Bodaway.

“I’ve suspected from the beginning, and now I’m sure,” Bodaway said as if delivering bad news.  “Luci, your talent is so deeply submerged that drastic measures will be needed to force it out.”

Luci didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  So what if she never became a magical musical woman?  She’d never been any kind of musician nor had she aspired to be one.  However, both men seemed to be taking this emerging mancer stuff awfully seriously.  She made a wry face and spread her hands, completely baffled.Jean Shrimpton houndstooth

The shaman’s shoulders sagged a little.  Luci figured he was hoping she’d grasp the situation with the scant explanation he’d already given.  However, she was not feeling enlightened at all.  He took a couple more sips of coffee and murmured appreciatively.  Bodaway flexed his broad shoulders and stretched his neck as if feeling more alert.

“Ordinarily I would say that we should play it safe and let the ability emerge on its own; if in fact it ever rose to the surface at all,” Bodaway said in a rather apologetic tone, though Luci couldn’t understand why he should express any regret.

“But under the circumstances Luci, you need everything you’ve got or are going to have to protect yourself,” Bodaway said in a tone so deeply serious that it sent a chill down her spine.

“That’s what they did with you, isn’t it?” Tam surprised Luci by asking the Apache.  “And it wound up making you butt-kickin’ strong as a mancer too!” Tam said.

Luci thought the friendship between the two men was carefree and casual, filled with the kind of wise cracks and rough joking that she’d often seen men and boys display in their comradery with one another.  However, when Tam made that comment, he did so with a combination of respect and awe that Luci had not seen him express before.

“Not exactly.  My power wasn’t nearly as deeply suppressed as Luci’s.  I’d call it more reluctant than suppressed,” Bodaway said.  “The ritual to commune with the Mother will be similar… but what happens once she’s in there will be unique.”Smoke Blue Horizontal

“In there?” Luci exclaimed.  “In where?  What do you mean?”

Bodaway made an apprehensive face.  When he looked at her again his brows knitted.  “A shaman must guide the mancer into a ritual where the Mother is summoned.  But that is the only part the shaman is allowed to play,” he explained in a regretful voice. 

“The Mother might simply grant what you ask, and bless your journey on the Mother Road,” Bodaway said.  “Or she may require you to meet one or more challenges, or ordeals.”

Bodaway took a deep breath before continuing.  “My biggest concern is that due to the nature of our flight.  And I say flight, because we’re basically running away — at least for the moment.  Because Luci has already fought for her life once, against the same person she’s now running away from,” Bodaway hesitated a moment as if forming his thoughts carefully.

He looked from Tam to Luci before continuing.  “I’m really afraid whatever challenges the Mother sets for you will be much harder,” he blurted out with a worried look at her.  “Luci has already faced highly emotional tests.  That will set the tone for the ordeal as well.  I’m afraid the Mother will present much more dangerous challenges than anything I had to overcome during my ordeal,” the shaman said.  “They might be violent.”

Guitar-blue-flame dreamstime_m_15806645

Rights purchased at Dreamstime

 

“Hold on a minute, man,” Tam exclaimed.  “Didn’t you nearly lose your arse when you went through this?  Didn’t you tell me about a couple of times that you nearly died?” Tam asked with his eyes bulging.  “And you’re saying Luci will have to contend with worse — much worse?” he finished and the pitch of his voice went up a full octave.

“The Mother can be cruel,” Bodaway said.  “Don’t be thinking all soft, warm, fuzzy motherhood.  The Mother is harsh reality.  I might be wrong.  I hope I’m wrong, but you both need to understand that it’s possible.”

“Oh, so you’re telling us the worst case scenario first, so that the most likely way sounds easier,” Tam accused.

Bodaway shook his head in an exasperated gesture.  He turned sad eyes on Luci before he continued.

“The Mother presents each ordeal.  She makes it unique to the mancer every time.  My big concern with this idea — and if either of you doesn’t want to go through with it, I understand, and will go by your wishes,” Bodaway said, probably to reassure Luci, but she thought Tam looked like he needed the reassurance more than she.

“It will be up to you, Luci.  The Mother might not even be willing to help you,” Bodaway told her.

Luci guessed that was supposed to be reassuring, but she wondered if the shaman had lost his mind.  She only had half an idea of what all that blah-blah was supposed to mean.Max Factor eye makeup ad 1969

She took a deep breath as she struggled to form the right question.  “So what you’re saying is that yes, I’m a mancer. But no, it’s buried so deep that it will probably never come out.  And oh wait!  There’s a way to force it out, but it’s full of all kinds of crazy spirit stuff that would probably get me killed.  Am I right?” she managed to ask before losing the last strand of patience she had.

Bodaway’s mouth twisted.  He was silent for several heartbeats.  “Yes,” he said flatly.

“Look,” Tam began reasonably.  “Regardless of whether it’s a good or bad thing to force Luci’s mancer ability to emerge, we still have to travel the Mother Road to soak up power.  Otherwise we have no hope of defending ourselves.  Besides, you’re right about one thing, shaman.  The choice is up to Luci.  There’s a lot for her to think about, and she can contemplate it while we travel.”

Lychnis gamboled over to the bench where Luci sat.  Abruptly the lynx sprang away.  In a flash he ran to a spot about 250 feet away, and then he sprang into the air and back down to pounce on something in a playful looking motion. 

It caused Luci to feel momentarily frantic when Lychnis ran.  However, he came right away when she called him.

“What was that all about?” she pondered aloud.

“A snack,” Bodaway replied.  “A lynx can hear a mouse from 250 feet away.”

“Oh my God!  He didn’t just— Oh that’s disgusting!” Luci moaned.

“A totem going through the rapid growth Lychnis has experienced has to have a lot of food,” the shaman explained.

Lynx car ad

 

Lychnis looked up at her with such soft affectionate eyes that she didn’t have the heart to scold him.  She put a dish of the kibble out and he gobbled it quickly.  Then he hopped up onto the bench beside her and began to purr.  It was the same sound that had pushed her to sleep that other time.

“He sensed your anxiety and means to calm you,” came Bodaway’s soft voice as if from very far away.

Luci felt so peaceful and sleepy that she was only vaguely aware of hearing Tam and Bodaway talking.

“Be straight with me, shaman.  You mean to force the mancer ability out of the lass and use her as a weapon?” she heard Tam ask.

“It’s a dire situation.  I don’t mean to put her at risk, but I don’t see any other choice,” Bodaway replied earning an angry nonverbal sound from Tam.

“What if something happens to us?” the shaman demanded.  “You realize that neither of us are likely to get out of this in one piece.  Yamata Orochi is that powerful!  If nothing else, Luci needs to be able to defend herself with every possible resource.”

That sounded bad, but Lychnis kept purring and somehow Luci didn’t really care.

“Yes, I have a bad feeling that the Mother might be especially harsh with Luci.  I don’t know why, but that’s what I get when I meditate.  So she might be at great risk.  There’s the chance that she might not live through the ordeals the Mother requires.  But you can be damn sure that she won’t live through another encounter with Yamata Orochi.”Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi by Toyohara Chikanobu

***

End Episode 18

Well now, that ended on an ominous note…  Was Luci having a bad dream? I don’t think so.  I wonder if she’ll even remember that part after the soothing purr of Lychnis.  I wish she’d send the lynx to me.  Some really good sleep would be nice with this heat wave here.  Or even some of that good to the last drop coffee!

Recipe

Our characters have too much going on to worry about food.  Well okay… except for Lychnis, who is always hungry.  However, when Tam is stressed out, his sweet tooth takes over.  He was sure to have some sour balls with him for the road trip.  Candy might be kid stuff, but the recipe for this installment is strictly for kids over 21.

The Hiram Walker Sour Ball

Hiram Walker Sour Ball

Click over to  My Mom Used to Make That for the Hiram Walker Sour Ball cocktail recipe.  Cheers!

Until next time, stay groovy and mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission.  Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights.

All images are either the property of the author or from Pinterest unless stated otherwise.

 

Guitar Mancer — Prologue Rewind

This Is a Rewind

Johnny Depp Guitar hat

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi — the Guitar Mancer

Hello everyone.  It seems like I only posted the first installment of The Guitar Mancer a moment ago.  However, when I realized we were coming up on episode 18, I saw that it has also been four months since this “road trip” started.  Plus, several new people have “gotten in the car.” So I thought it would be good to re-post the very beginning — the prologue where you are introduced to the story’s villain, Yamata Orochi.

One more update — Olga Núñez Miret, who was featured in the kickoff has just released a new story.  She calls it We Are Family.  For two days, the story is available for free!  Visit her blog or her Amazon author page for details about her books.  (Should you experience any issues, please try visiting via internet Explorer.  Chrome’s browser is being problematic at the moment.  Hopefully this will be resolved quickly.)


Guitar Mancer Cover final 05-04-2016

Welcome everyone!  I was in quite a state over whether the pace of this novel would bore the heck out of you when you’re used to the fast pace of my serial stories.  So on Wednesday I brought my anxiety here to this blog, and took a poll. Many thanks to all of you who voted!  I listed a few different options from which you could choose — you know I like to involve you in everything.  By a very large margin, the winner was for me to continue as I had planned and serialize my novel, The Guitar Mancer.

This Week’s Featured Blogger:  Olga Núñez Miret

Olga Núñez Miret

Did I say this new serial is an experiment? After collecting comments with “things” for a few days, I knew adding them to an existing story, rather than writing from scratch and flying by the seat of my pants would be even more difficult than expected.  However, I will add your “things” as best I can, and feature someone each week.

Robot Warning

This first installment of The Guitar Mancer is a prologue, and it is different from the rest of the story. The setting, is different, and it takes place at an unspecified point in time before the main story.  Also, I’m issuing a warning that this episode is longer than I expect the others will be, because I didn’t want to divide the prologue.  

Here’s a point of interest about this story. I’ve said that I brazenly mix the mythology of different cultures in a single story.  This time I’ve combined two rich mythologies of my own creation. But I also stirred in some legends from ancient Japan, for the bad guy.

The prologue is focused on the villain.  He’s got serious issues…  So it’s only fitting that author, translator, and psychiatrist, Olga Núñez Miret provided the “things” for this episode, the focus of which is my very messed up villain.  Too bad he didn’t turn to Olga for help!  I was delighted when Olga agreed to do this kickoff installment for this serial version of my novel, The Guitar Mancer.  

Featured Guest Information

Escaping Psychiatry beginningsNow about the featured blogger for the kickoff of this serial, Olga Núñez Miret.  Olga’s expertise in the psychiatric field is clear in her series “Escaping Psychiatry.”  You can learn more about her many books at her blog or her Amazon author page.

 One day, when I finish “Atonement in Bloom” I hope to have Olga translate both novels into Spanish. There is no one else I’d trust with the task.  You can learn more about Olga’s translation service at these links.  She talks about her translations on her blog. Click here and here.  Find out about some of the books she has translated here.

For the “interactive” aspect of this new serial, Olga provided, blueberry pancakes, Oklahoma (the musical), and the Apollo 11 moonwalk.  Be sure to read to the end for a link to some delicious pancakes!

As I warned, this installment is longer than the future episodes will be, but still fewer than 2,200 words.  Without further ado, we begin  The Guitar Mancer.

Prologue:  Guards

“Just don’t make any waves man,” Gowad drawled.

Gavur tried to be patient with his coworker.  The younger man had spent a year in the United States of America at a university before getting into some kind of trouble he wouldn’t discuss.  Gavur expected it was either about illegal drugs or the strange but irresistible blueberry pancakes about which the young guard spoke with longing.  .

He tried not to be annoyed by all the American slang the young man used, but it irritated him nonetheless.  It sounded disrespectful.  To Gavur, respect was the cornerstone of society, and it had been ingrained into his personality since he was old enough to walk.Desert Legion Alan Ladd

“I have to agree with you though,” Gowad added.  “He’s a frail old man; too feeble to hurt anybody.  Keeping him down there with no light or sound.  Sensory deprivation it’s called.  It’s inhumane.  How old is that codger anyway?  He looks like he’s about two hundred years old.  You ever got a look at him?” Gowad rattled off the words, immature, arrogant, and oblivious to the increasingly cross expression on his companion’s face.

Restraining the impulse to slap the younger man, Gavur took a deep calming breath.

“Elders are due respect,” Gavur said through clenched teeth.  “If that is his sentence, then the judgment was rendered with wisdom.  It is not for us to question.  But it grates against me to see an elder disrespected.”

“You’re right! We should stage a protest!  They have them in America at all the universities,” Gowad said excitedly.

The older guard expelled a sharp breath at the foolishness of youth.  “Such would get us killed,” he said.  “Besides, they are finally moving him up to the basement level cell.  It has a small grate to let in sunlight.  Too high to see outside, and too small for a window, but even that is an improvement.”

1957 Dauphin Co Prision PA

Dauphin County Prison, PA 1957

***

Gavur had been secretly fascinated by the mysterious prisoner for the entire twenty-five years he had worked as a guard.  He had only glimpsed the man once or twice, an impossibly ancient man who continued to exist through the long years, despite his living conditions and greatly advanced age.

When Gavur first began working as a guard, the wardens made sure none of the guards had regular contact with the ancient man.  Gavur realized they believed he had some kind of mystical power.  Their fear made it seem like his power must be something supernatural. It was as if they believed the ancient man could do something as impossible as man walking on the moon.  Though the Americans claimed to have done it, and showed puppet-like figures supposedly on the moon, Gavur disbelieved.

However, the old wardens were long gone, as were the facility owners.  They moved the old man in order to put political prisoners in the cells that were far below ground, where the darkest secrets were kept.  The new management didn’t remember to rotate the guards who dealt with him.Life to the Moon

Compelled by a fascination he didn’t bother trying to understand, Gavur maneuvered to bring the elderly man his meals each day.  When no one was paying attention, he talked to him through the small food slot.

One day Gavur found himself asking timidly through the slot, “Do you need anything?”

“Sticks,” the frail voice replied.  “Casting sticks for the Onymōdō, the divination.  It would comfort me greatly to be able to do this,” he said sounding fearful to hope for a kindness.

“I know someone who might be able to get such things, though they may not be exactly what you have in mind,” the guard told him, feeling inexplicably happy that he might be able to do something that pleased the ancient prisoner.

When he brought the divining sticks Gavur watched through the food slot as the elderly man stooped painfully to the floor.  Gavur tensed, at the stiff movement, because even that much was more than he expected such an old man to be able to do.  Then the ancient dropped the sticks, carefully looking at them as they landed.

After a moment Gavur murmured.  “What is it?”

“Luck?” the old voice rasped.  “No… something about a woman, and that is never lucky,” he said with a dry chuckle, encouraging the guard to laugh with him.  “A name I think, but it is foreign to me.  It seems to mean ‘light.’  Lucilla in the Latin, but I perceive a different language. (Remember this about “light” you will see related names and more throughout the story.)

Gavur chuckled, thinking the old man was still jovial.  “So have you predicted romance for yourself then?” he asked.

“Far better than romance,” the old man said as he straightened.  “Far better.”

***

Prison cell

Awhile after the old man had been in the cell with a grate that let in light and sound, a strange thing happened.  While the man had looked to be older than even a hundred years, after a week he looked closer to eighty.  He also looked less frail, and rheumy eyes were improved, no longer near to blindness.  Gavur was more fascinated than ever.  Did the old one hold the secret to eternal life?

Gavur carefully inserted the tray of food at the slot in the cell door.  Other guards would let the meal drop to the floor if the old man wasn’t quick enough to take the tray.  However, Gavur always waited for the frail man to take a secure hold on it.  Patience was a virtue that Gavur had learned well.  He spoke respectfully and cheerfully, telling the ancient one that the meal was ready.

He heard one soft footstep, and wondered if the man was waiting right beside the door.  Gavur knew he wasn’t able to cross the tiny room in a single step as a more virial man would.

“Thank you my son,” said a deep, strong voice that was barely familiar.

Gavur bent down to look through the food slot.  His hand went limp on the tray, but the prisoner had a firm grasp on it.  Gavur gasped in astonishment.  He had half convinced himself that the transformation of a centenarian to an eighty year-old was his imagination.  However, the man he now saw couldn’t be older than sixty — and he was a hale sixty at that.

With trembling hands Gavur put the key into the lock.  He had to convince himself that this was the same prisoner.  The man made no attempt to come closer when Gavur opened the cell door.  Rather, he sat calmly and thanked him for the food.  He invited the guard to sit and talk with him.  Gavur needed no further encouragement.  He felt he must learn everything he could from the amazing man.

The prisoner motioned toward the tray of food, as if excusing himself for eating in front of someone who was not eating.  Then in preparation to eat, he rolled back his loose sleeves revealing intricate snake tattoos

Gavur tried not to be obvious in looking at the tattoos.  He was awed by the artistry of the design and curious about how many snakes were depicted.  They seemed to twine up his arms and had multiple heads.  Some parts of the tattoo reached the old man’s neck.  Gavur thought it must cover both arms and possibly parts of his chest and back.yamata no orochi vintage

“There are eight,” the prisoner said as if he had plucked the question from Gavur’s mind.  “It is the Yamata no Orochi; the eight-branched giant snake,” he said in a voice that obliged Gavur to make eye contact as he spoke.

He gazed absently at the small rectangular grate near the ceiling.  As Gavur looked upon his face the old man’s rheumy eyes cleared.

“For countless years there was no light, no sound.  That was the only way they could contain me — complete sensory deprivation” he said as if deep in thought.  “Now there is light.  Soon my hearing was restored and there is also sound,” the man — Orochi said with a smile that made Gavur’s blood run cold.

“During the long decades many levels below underground my body grew old and frail.  Yet trickles of power reached me even below the surface,” he said and Gavur struggled to understand the strange things he was saying.  “It was barely enough to notice, but enough to keep me alive.”

Orochi touched his face.  Once it was cragged with hundreds of wrinkles, but half of them had smoothed away as if by magic. 

“Now that my senses are no longer deprived, my healing has accelerated,” he said in a satisfied tone. 

Boy Flute vintageStepping over and looking up at the small opening to the outside world, he stretched and put his fingers into the ring-like holes of the grate.  Orochi seemed to ignore the pain as the metal dug into his flesh.  Gavur was amazed to see him use just the strength in his fingers to pull himself upward so he could see out the opening.  That put his eyes at a level with the street.

Joyous laughter came unexpectedly from his mouth.  However, a line of concentration creased his brow and his smile faded.  Gavur maneuvered carefully to stand in a spot that provided an angle allowing him to see what the miraculous man watched.

Across the street, a boy sat playing a flute.  Gavur could hear it.  However, to the old man it made no sound.

He stared hard at the flute and talked about the air around it shimmering.  Orochi said he could see the patterns in the energy that separated him from the music.  A woman stopped and talked to the boy.  Then Orochi complained violently that the shimmer abruptly left the air.

“Just play, damn you!” he raged at the child who was too far away to know.  “It doesn’t matter whether it’s good or bad, or what faltering excuse for a tune you blow.  Just play!” Orochi cried though only Gavur could hear him.

As the boy and woman left his field of vision, Orochi said the air began to shimmer again.  He knew the boy was playing the flute.

He pressed his face against the grate, trying to see farther.  Orochi watched the spot where the boy had been long after blood trickled down his arm where the grate cut into his fingers.

***

Gavur returned for his shift the next morning.  In the distance he saw Gowad with his transistor radio.  It blared out a song from the American musical, “Oklahoma.”  He was unsure what to expect when he looked through the food slot, but the old man, Orochi, looked much as he had the evening before.  Gavur heard the man cry out in pain, and hurriedly unlocked the cell and went inside.

motorola pocket radioOrochi sat up, grabbing his head and fell from his lumpy cot.  He curled into a ball and writhed upon the floor as if agony burned in his brain.  Gradually the pain appeared to become less debilitating.

“It’s settled into a rhythmic sensation, but it makes my teeth vibrate inside my skull,” Orochi gasped.

The sound of footfalls neared the cell.  The closer the footsteps came, the worse his pain seemed to become.  Then the pain released Orochi so suddenly that his knees buckled.

His face relaxed.  His mouth dropped open in awe.  “I am no longer completely blocked from the source of power…  I hear music, just faintly,” Orochi whispered.  “I can touch the source of power!” he murmured in ecstasy.  “It ebbs, a mere trickle when compared to the raging flood of power I once commanded.  Yet that trickle is more than any but the most talented mancer will ever know.”

The young guard, Gowad, approached with a transistor radio plugged into his ears.  Gavur watched Orochi as he seemed to reach for the sound of the music.  It was as if he drew it into himself, but it left Orochi panting and weak with need, yet trembling with unspent power. 

Gowad was outside his cell door.  The force of the energy the old man created with that music snapped Gowad’s head back.  Gavur heard a muffled thud as the young man’s body fell to the floor.  The tiny plug was dislodged from the Gowad’s ear, and the sounds from the radio became louder. 

Gavur heard the disc jockey announce the “Oldies but Goodies Show” and Chuck Berry performing the American classic, Johnny B. Goode.  Then a wild riff of guitar music exploded from the transistor radio.

“What is this instrument? I have never before heard the instrument that helped free me.  It holds a greater potential to express pain than anything I have ever heard.  That pain shall be mine to command!” Orochi exclaimed.  “This music makes me yearn to share that pain with others,” he panted, causing Gavur to draw back fearfully.

“I must have the instrument.  I am still weak, obtaining an instrument that is well bonded to a mancer would restore me completely.  But even the instrument of a mere talent would help,” he said as if to himself.

Stepping outside his cell, Orochi bent to touch Gowad’s face.  “What was the instrument?” he demanded, and the incapacitated guard arched his back in agony as Orochi dredged the answer from the Gowad’s mind. 

“A strange concept for an instrument,” Orochi murmured.  “An electrical guitar?  Yet this electrified guitar invoked the power quite well.  Now, where do I find this place, Deep down Louisiana close to New-Or-Leans… among the evergreens?”

***

Johnny B. Goode

And with that wild guitar riff, the story shifts from the villain’s prologue to the main characters and their “current day” world of New Year’s Eve, 1969 in Nashville, Tennessee. 

As a thank you for taking time to visit and get to know The Guitar Mancer, here’s a recipe from Suzanne at A Pug in the Kitchen for some beautiful buttermilk pancakes.  You could easily add blueberries! 

I look forward to seeing you next time.  Have a groovy week and mega hugs!

Teagan sig

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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