Guitar Mancer — Episode 13: Champagne

1959 Cadillac ad formal

Cadillac ad circa 1959

I’m delighted to see you here in the 1959 Caddy for the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer.  This is an urban fantasy.  So suspend the rules of reality and be ready for some magic, even though we stay in the real world.  

Sometimes I wonder if the car is ever going to get out of the driveway, as I give you digestible chunks of this novel each week. However, I promise the story actually will get to the highway.  I’m glad you’ve taken the time to join the adventure.  Lean back in your seat and have some road trip snacks.

DG Kaye Bags Travel bookFeatured Blogger

Speaking of highways and road trips, I know a blogger and non-fiction writer who loves to travel. The delightful D.G. Kaye (also called Debby) commented with a collection of “things” from the late 1960s.  In this episode I was able to use Black Balls, rainbow shades, and Pixy Stix.

Update:  Since I wrote this intro, her book Conflicted Hearts has gotten a superb review from author and blogger, Christoph Fischer.

Debby has a fun sense of humor and it’s reflected in her writing. Her blog reminds us to Live. Laugh. Love. And Don’t Forget to Breathe!  Be sure to pay D.G. a visit and learn about her inspiring non-fiction books.

About This Episode

This installment of The Guitar Mancer picks up where we left off, with Luci in a drug and magic induced haze.  As Episode 13 opens, I’m telling the story from Luci’s point of view.  However, at an appropriate moment I change point of view.  Tam needs to tell the story for awhile. 

That 1959 Cadillac is gassed up and ready to get on the road.  Luci is headed for trouble, so let’s see what she’s gotten into.

Episode 13 — Champagne

Glen Miller Orchestra

The Glen Miller Orchestra

Another wave of nausea rolled across her stomach.  The out of focus world around her continued to lurch and sway.  A goblet was pressed into Luci’s hand.  She sipped from it, expecting water.  Surely anyone could look at her and see that she did not feel well.  Yet the glass contained more of the fine champagne from the limousine.  With shaking hands, she returned the goblet to the blurry table and feebly asked for water instead of champagne.

Someone handed her a cool towel, and deft fingers began to massage her neck.  An orchestra started to play a 1940’s style big band sound with a swaying rhythm.  Her vision was beginning to clear, but Luci was still extremely disoriented.  She felt cotton mouthed.  The requested water never came, and she found herself drinking more of the champagne.  It could not help the way she felt, but it was better to drink it than to have such terrible thirst.

The music seeped into her mind, and enticed her toward the dance floor, though she still felt too woozy to stand unaided.  Something soft caressed her cheek.  It was the rose the limousine driver had given her.

From behind her someone leaned over her and used the rose to trace a velvety line down the center of her face, from her forehead, down the curve of her nose and lips.  The petals felt blessedly cool and soft.  Luci tilted her head back to try and see who held the rose, and then the soft petals continued to trace down her throat.  With the backward tilt of her head, the room careened around her again.

Johnny Depp tuxedo 2011

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

At last her eyes focused and she saw full lips, slightly parted, and an intense pale gray gaze.  Luci gasped when she realized it was not Tam who held the rose, but Yamata Orochi.  He handed the strange silver edged rose to Luci.

There was something wrong in his presence there with her.  He shouldn’t be there… or perhaps she shouldn’t be there…  She wanted to protest.  Yet her tongue felt thick in her mouth, and she could not manage to say anything.

Nearby a man in chef’s clothes sliced an enormous roast.  Juice oozed from the beef as it was cut.  The aroma wafted to Luci’s nose and her stomach protested violently.

Fear laced around her heart.  The music grew louder, filling her head.  She felt a tingle at the base of her skull.  And suddenly the fear released her.  Luci still felt disoriented and out of control.  She was surprised to find the champagne goblet in her hand, but took another sip.

Luci knew something was very wrong.  It still felt like though the room was tilted.  Her body seemed to move independently of her will, doing things she did not expect.

She couldn’t think clearly.  The nagging idea that she should be frightened persisted, but she held it at bay, unable to understand why she should be afraid.  Briefly she wondered what had happened to Tam, but the thought evaporated as the music entreated her body to sway to its seductive rhythm.

Orochi reached down and took her hand, pulling her to her feet, spinning her as she rose.  She was already dizzy, and fell into his arms.  He smiled as if that was their private joke, and she realized she wanted to return the smile.Rogers Astaire dancing

Her heels clicked on the cold marble of the dance floor.  Until then she had not noticed the rich décor of the room.  Crystal chandeliers cast a spectacle of prismatic light everywhere Luci looked.  Fine linen tablecloths gleamed white in their light.  Candles flickered on the tables, the flames lingering before her eyes and leaving trails in her vision even after she looked away.  The scent of the rose filled her nostrils as the music filled her ears.  She had heard of sensory deprivation, but what she experienced was the polar opposite — sensory overwhelm.

Orochi whispered words in a language she didn’t understand.  He murmured the phrase again and again like a chant.  Luci’s shoulders relaxed and she leaned closer to the sound of his voice.  He caressed the side of her face, a finger drifting from her cheekbone to the line of her lips.

Her distress dissolved.  Her confusion calmed.  Luci relaxed as she gazed into his pale gray eyes.  She wanted nothing more and nothing less — only to dance.

He twirled her out the length of his arm and she felt the cool smooth satin of the gown swirl around her legs.  Then she spun back into his arms and Orochi lifted her up and held her suspended high above the whirling dance floor.  When he finally lowered Luci to her feet, her body slid down the length of his muscled form.

 

At that moment Luci felt she could dance in his arms forever and never want to stop.  It was like a wondrous dream from which she had no desire to wake.  

Yet as she slid toward surrender to the marvelous sensations, something started to prod the back of her mind.  Like a forgotten little pin it pricked her consciousness through a seam in the fabric of her dream-like state.

She realized that another instrument had been added to the orchestra.  Luci could barely detect the difference, but her attention was drawn more and more to the new sound.  Luci wished the sound would stop!  It was causing her to feel headachy and irritated.  She stumbled and Orochi caught her again, pulling her closer and smiling.  She smiled uncertainly in return.

***

Tam

A shrill whistle sounded inside Tammarand Ben Taliesin’s ears.  He gave his head a sharp shake.  The sound continued.  It set his nerves on edge.  He popped one of the licorice flavored Jawbreakers called Black Balls into his mouth.  A bit of candy usually helped him relax.

Domhnall Gleeson shadowed sweater

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Already irritated by the whistling sound, he was annoyed with himself when he realized he had not set a time for the evening plans.  Bodaway would just show up whenever he was so inclined if no appointment was set.  However, Luci would want to know when to expect them.  Women always did.

Her phone rang when he called the number, but neither Luci nor her answering machine picked up.  Everybody had an answering system, didn’t they?  He thought perhaps hers was broken.  The shrill ringing in his ears did not subside.

With a sudden chill he put his finger in the rotary dial of the telephone and spun the numbers.  The phone whined as in his haste he forced the dial on its return after each number.1960s Bell Rotary Phones ad

In a moment Bodaway Thunder picked up at the other end.  “What’s wrong?” the shaman asked before Tam even spoke.

“That whistling sound is in my head,” Tam grumbled around the candy, and Bodaway made a worried sound.  “Where is Freyja?” Tam spat out the Jawbreaker and asked.

“She’s out keeping an eye on the new totem,” the shaman said after a minute hesitation, as if he had stopped to check.

A sigh of relief came from the sandy haired man’s lips, but the shrill whistle in his head still didn’t stop.  He swallowed as he carefully formed his next question.  One had to be specific where spirit animals were concerned.

“Just the totem?” he asked.

“Uh… yeah,” was the answer, but Bodaway’s tone changed, reflecting his quick concern.  “You know she’s mainly focused on protecting another spirit animal.”

“Would she let you know if something was the matter with Luci?” Tam asked.

“Of course,” Bodaway said confidently.  Then he added in an uneasy voice, “If Luci realized it.”

A clanging noise came across the telephone line.  Bodaway had stood up and the short coiled cord to the receiver wasn’t long enough for the man’s height, so the phone swung up and off the table.  Tam didn’t have to be in the room with his friend to know.  He had seen it happen almost every time the shaman used the phone.  Tam sighed, even more agitated.1960s General Telephone ad

“Oh crap,” Bodaway murmured.  “Listen, don’t freak out,” he said, and of course Tam became even more worried.  “But it felt like Freyja flew out closer to the kitten because Lychnis was really agitated,” the shaman said and Tam muttered curses.

“Get a grip, man,” Bodaway said gently and his voice had the calming affect that his particular form of magic tended to provide.  “I could tell she decided the little totem was okay, despite being upset about something.”

“It’s not the stinking totem I’m worried about!” Tam snapped.

The sounds of things moving around came across the telephone line.  Whatever Bodaway was doing, he was in such a hurry that he was in danger of demolishing his room.  “I’ll be there as fast as I can,” the shaman said in an urgent tone.

“No way!” Tam responded.  “For one thing I’m closer than you are.  But more importantly, one of us needs to stay out of this, just in case…”

Tam twisted his finger in his ear, trying to make the sound go away.  The only times he got that awful sound in his head was when some bad juju was about to mess with his life in a big way.

Gordon Bennet! I wish it would stop,” he muttered.

***

When Tam arrived at Luci’s house, he saw the front door had long gouges ripping its length.  He got out of his Cadillac with cold fear in his stomach.  What could have done that kind of damage, and what might it have done to Luci?

Cautiously, Tam went up the steps.  He heard a rumbling sound, and what was left of the door flew off its hinges.  Tam threw up his arm as he was pelted with debris from the shattered door.  Something rammed him in the ribs.  When he fell backward, carried beyond the steps and to Luci’s walkway, the breath left his lungs in a whoosh.  Starry spots danced before his eyes when his head dashed against the pavement.

***

Tam shook his head.  He wasn’t might have blacked out for a moment.  He rubbed his eyes and tried to focus.  The first thing he looked upon was a pair of large golden eyes.  

The fall had knocked the breath out of him.  Tam had to push the lynx kit off his chest before he could pull air back into his lungs.  He turned a disbelieving eye on the lynx.  The feline was hardly kitten sized at that point.

Lynx young dreamstime_m_26595511

Young Lynx – Rights purchased at Dreamstime

Propping himself up onto one elbow, he noticed the shredded front of his leather jacket.  Tam stumbled to his feet, still struggling to get sufficient air into his lungs.  Lychnis stretched his neck to butt his head against Tam’s knee, as if in apology.

Tam stared at the feline in mute astonishment.  The kit was a lot bigger than before.

Touching the sliced front of his favorite jacket, Tam frowned at the kitten.  He shook his head and gave a shiver at the thought of what a powerful defender the lynx totem would be when he was full grown and had proper training.

“So you’ve been busy tearing your way through the front door, have you?” he said to the kit.  “I don’t suppose you know where she’s gone?” he said, but didn’t expect an answer.

Luci’s Chevrolet Malibu stood in the driveway.  A cold knot of fear formed in his stomach.  This was bad.  He was sure she hadn’t gone anywhere on foot.  Plus the damage to the front door seemed like more than a lynx would do if he was simply bored or ticked off at being left alone.1964 Malibu turns 50 ad

He knew without looking that he wouldn’t find Luci in the bungalow.  However, he made a quick search of the house anyway.  He examined chewed up bits of the dress box.  Even before he found the card, which he had no doubt had been written by Yamata Orochi, he knew Luci had been taken.

Tam felt completely outclassed by his opponent.  In his distraction, he slipped on a sheet of tissue paper from the box.  As he stumbled, he knocked down Grover Harper’s rowan walking staff where it stood against the wall.

Holding the staff he plopped down on the sofa.  For a moment he sat absently examining runes that were carved into the staff. 

How could things have gone so wrong so fast?  In that moment he could have given up without a fight; the odds were stacked that greatly against them.  Orochi was capable of unparalleled death and destruction.  Tam was well aware of the fact that he was a much weaker mancer than Yamata Orochi.

Dejected, Tam moved outside and sank down on the front porch step.  He caressed the wood of the walking stick as Lychnis scratched his back against the rowan tree from which it was cut. 

Clouds Winter Tree dreamstimefree_86412

Dreamstime free stock photo

Tam knew he was not strong enough to meet a sociopath like Orochi on his own level.  Probably no one was.  He had never thought of his own talents as more than average, ordinary.  Tam would have to use something other than brute force.

Yamata Orochi had doubtlessly guarded himself against every imaginable form of attack, magical or mortal.  But what about small things?  What about things that were too ordinary and inconsequential to be a threat?

The lynx kit walked over and sat down, leaning against him.  Tam continued to stare at the rowan tree.  He felt an overwhelming need to be on the road, getting away from Nashville, driving across the country.  Bodaway’s comment kept coming back to him.  “We’ve got to get to the Mother.”  Tam felt it too.

He gazed into the golden eyes of the lynx.  Tam didn’t want to rely on intuition, but somehow he didn’t think Luci was very far away.

1965 Pixy Stix ad

Ducking back through the shattered doorway, a few steps took him to the kitchen.  He saw the new food container — or what was left of it.  That had not been there on his previous visit.  So he knew Luci had gone out to buy cat food and come back.  It couldn’t have been long since she was taken.

The kitchen was a mess.  The hungry totem had laid waste to the container.  It was in several gnawed and slashed pieces.  A multi-colored assortment of paper straws, Pixy Stix candy was scattered across the floor.  However, he was sure that and the devastated front door was all the kitten’s handiwork.  There had been no struggle.  No one had been inside the house.  That realization gave him renewed hope.

“I hope the kit has had enough lunch to tied ‘em over for a while,” he said with a raised eyebrow at the lynx, then he gave the rowan staff a twirl.

With the staff in hand he jumped from the front porch, running to the Caddy.  Tam stopped in mid stride when he saw Lychnis pounce into the front seat of his Cadillac.  “You better not be doing to my car seat what you did to me leather jacket, laddie,” he admonished the feline as he got into the driver’s seat.

Tam reached across and opened the glove compartment.  He took out a pair of sunglasses with multi colored stripes across the lenses.  Tam knew the rainbow shades shades weren’t much use in intense sunlight, but the sun wasn’t bright and the glasses always cheered him.  It wouldn’t do to search for Luci without a positive attitude.1960s Mobile Phone

He took a deep breath.  “Now how are we to find such a wee mouse in a big jungle like this?” he asked the oversized kitten.

Lychnis replied “Mer-rawr,” feline voice warbling oddly in its pitch.

Tam picked up his mobile telephone and called Bodaway.  It was not very long before the big hawk, Freyja soared above the vintage red Cadillac.

“Yeah man, she’s here now,” Tam replied into the phone.  “Do you think this’ll work?” Tam asked the shaman.

The answer he received was an indignant snort.  “Freyja seems to have a sense of Luci now,” the shaman said.  “Follow her as best you can, and keep talking to me.  I’ll let you know when I get anything.  Meanwhile keep an eye on the lynx totem.  He’ll probably react when he gets close enough to Luci,” Bodaway said as a reminder.Frejya Red Tailed Hawk

With Lychnis at his side, Tam cut down the first of several unpaved roads.  He seemed to know where to turn even before he came to the road.

Tam had a vague sense of Freyja that only a mancer blessed with a totem would understand.  It had been a long time since a totem had been bonded to him.  Tam stamped down on that painful memory.  Hard.

“Focus on the present, Taliesin,” he muttered to himself.  “And stay positive.  Believe.  That this time it will turn out fine.”

Neither the hawk nor the lynx was Tam’s totem, but having both of them focused along with him on finding Luci seemed to make a sort of circle.  It created a vibe that he could feel in his heart.  Intuition.

End Episode 13

***

Did all the comings and goings make you hungry?  Scroll down for this weeks featured food item.

Recipe

The food item mentioned in this installment was roast beef.  Poor Luci, drugged and under some seriously bad mancer magic, did not react positively when she saw the chef slicing a large roast.  However, under normal circumstances she would have loved it.  So here’s a nice video recipe from FoodWishes.

Be sure to tune in next time for Episode 14.  Tam, Freyja, and Lychnis are on the way!  Will they actually try to confront the extremely powerful Yamata Orochi?  Will Luci even be willing to leave his seductive spell?  Come back to find out.

Until then, be 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 12: Gown

Elvis Rolls Royce Silver Cloud 1966

1966 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud of Elvis Presley

Welcome back to the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer.  If you are wondering why I featured a Rolls Royce for this post, you have your first clue about this installment.  Simmer down, it has nothing to do with Elvis.

Updates

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads!

Keeping Up with the Karda— I mean characters

If you get confused about a How or a Why, or even a Who… I was careful to make this blog “navigable,” because as weeks go by I know it gets hard to keep up with the details of a serial (and more so for this serialized novel).  You can review other episodes:

  • At the end of the post click on the back arrow
  • On the right side of the screen, scroll down, see Categories, and click the button for Guitar Mancer

This Week’s Featured Blogger

Geoff LePard bookIn the post announcing The Guitar Mancer, I added a call for “things” from the late 1960s.  Geoff Le Pard has been in the car since the beginning of this road trip.  Today I found the perfect scenes to use two of the items he mentioned in his comment — good luck charm and nylons.

Geoff has such an engaging style of writing that I’m sure you’ll enjoy his blog.  Also he recently released a new anthology of short stories that is sure to have something for everyone.

About This Episode

Last time Luci learned more about the magical mancers who unexpectedly entered her life. However, believing that she is one of them is still beyond her.  There is no evidence that she is anything but herself.  However, the men claim their hawk — and her kitten have magical abilities as well.  While Luci has seen no real proof of that, the big hawk seems far from ordinary.  Also, even if her kitten is a lynx rather than a house cat, he is growing abnormally fast.

She has a sneaking suspicion that Lychnis, the kitten, caused her sudden sleepiness.  Yet, intuitively Luci knows her body needs rest to let her mind process the extraordinary things she has been told.  So she doesn’t give any further thought to the idea of him being mystical being from the astral plane.  She’s still in magical information overload.

Now, let’s get this story back on the road…

Episode 12 — Gown

Clouds Winter Tree dreamstimefree_86412

Free from Dreamstime

Branches of the rowan tree swayed in the winter breeze.  Sunlight made the few remaining red berries so bright that Luci imagined them as little rubies.  The tree always made her think of her dad and the walking staff that was made from it.  Grover treated the staff almost like a good luck charm.  Suddenly she missed her dad.  

Without thinking about it, Luci reached for the rowan staff where Grover always kept it.  She caressed the smooth wood.  Grover never explained the carvings that decorated it.  He said they were just designs, but Luci always felt they must mean something.  As she studied the patterns, Lychnis scrubbed his cheek against the staff. 

Sunlight must have reflected off the polished wood.  For a second it seemed to glow.  I really must be tired.  I can’t even see straight, she thought.

She stared vacantly at the tree after the vintage Cadillac and the custom painted Vista Cruiser left her driveway.  Luci couldn’t remember when she had been so glad to be alone.  Her guests left, if you could call them guests, she thought.  It amazed her that she could be so tired from just listening to them with their stories of magic and totems and mancers.  The things they said were both absurd and troubling. 

Tail-fin-Red-Cadillac_dreamstime_m_30410578

Purchased from Dreamstime

How was she supposed to believe all that craziness?  Even more disturbing was the nagging voice of belief in the back of her mind.

Mentally exhausted and sleepy, Luci curled up on her bed for a nap.  Lychnis hopped up beside her, purring again.  Her eyes narrowed suspiciously as she looked at the contented kitten, who had rapidly become the size of a fully grown house cat. 

“You wanted me to take a nap, didn’t you?  And somehow, you’ve coaxed me to be sleepy.  Why you little stinker.  Is that your magic power?  Or do you just know more about what I need than I do.  Apparently I need sleep,” she murmured drowsily.

However, she didn’t really want to nap  and she resisted the drowsiness.  Then again, she thought, maybe if her poor brain could get some rest she’d be able to make sense of all the crazy things Tam and the shaman told her.

A real shaman… and a seven feet tall Apache shaman at that.  Not to mention his big snake snatching hawk.  Plus a strange looking kitten — a lynx, a spirit animal, which grew impossibly fast.  The rapid growth of the kitten would have been enough to make her question her own sanity.  But add to that all the talk of magic and mancers

It was just too much.  Luci was sure she’d eventually be made to look a fool, the butt of an elaborate joke.  Such were her thoughts as she drifted off to sleep.

Bedroom Sherwin Williams Home Decorator 1960

Sherwin Williams Home Decorator 1960

***

Groggy from her nap, Luci sat up in bed.  She remembered the kitten jumping onto the bed before slumber overtook her, but he was not there.  The bedside clock displayed a later time than she expected.  She was surprised Lychnis had been quiet for so long.

Luci stumbled to the kitchen and discovered the reason for the kitten’s considerate behavior.  The new bag of kibble lay in shreds where it had been pulled from the cabinet.  The bag had been nearly full.  Now half the kitten chow was gone.

She scolded Lychnis, who lay in the middle of the torn bag.  He burped, then looked up at her and purred loudly.  Luci could not help laughing, and she stooped to pat his tight belly.  Then she started making phone calls in search of another open store. 

After a few unanswered phone calls, she found another convenience store that was open.  It was about fifteen minutes away. 

About an hour later Luci struggled to her front door with a twenty pound bag of kitten chow and a latching storage container.  She felt lucky to have found both at the little store.

With her arms full, she was not looking where she stepped.  Why would she expect something to be in the way on her porch?  Then she all but fell into the living room as she tripped over that something, which was in front of the door.Dress box

Dropping the cat food bag and the container she saw the flat rectangular box over which she tripped.  “What’s this?” she asked Lychnis who watched with apparent interest.

Luci didn’t know of anyone who would send her a package.  It must be a wrong delivery, she thought.  Turning over the parcel to read the labels, she found there was no return address.  She was puzzled, excited, and a touch alarmed. When she lifted the box she saw that it was not very heavy, and she felt the contents slide inside the box.

She exchanged a look with Lychnis who sat atop the new and much larger bag of kitten chow.  She could hardly believe her own eyes, but the kitten was even bigger than he was when she left home an hour before.

Even though she was trying to put all the crazy talk from Tam and Bodaway Thunder out of her mind, she couldn’t help thinking about what they said about Lychnis being a mancer’s totem.  As odd as he looked, and as fast as he was growing, maybe he really was some kind of magical being.

Luci put the thoughts about the supernatural nature of the kitten aside.  For the moment she was absorbed in the mysterious package.  She tore the wrapping and opened the box, exposing several layers of white tissue paper.  When she removed the paper, the kitten’s nose twitched.  Lychnis flicked his short tail and growled.

“Are you afraid of the rattling paper?” she asked playfully as Lychnis carefully inspected the tissue, sniffing every inch.  He relaxed a bit at the sound of her voice, but his hackles were still raised.

Rogers Astaire dancing

Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers

When she removed the last sheet of tissue she gasped.  Her finders slid across something silky.  Luci picked it up, and an evening gown unfolded as she stood.  It was vintage formal wear that looked like it could have come from the glamour era of Hollywood.  The gown was silver satin, with a design created from beads and sequins that seemed to blaze up from the bodice to the banded collar.  It was cut to expose shoulders and back.

Lychnis continued to investigate the package.  In the box was a card with hurried looking print.  “You will be picked up at seven,” the card read.

Luci was mystified to find such a gift left on her front porch.  For a moment the card made no sense.  Then she remembered Tam talking about going out for a night of music on Printer’s Alley with him and Bodaway.  She had been so tired that she barely remembered.

“Maybe you need to blow off some steam, so to speak.  Have some fun.  I tell you what.  Get yourself a cat nap,” he’d told her with a pointed look at Lychnis.  “I’ll pick you up this evening.  We’ll all go to Printer’s Alley.  Listen to some music, relax.  How’s that?”

Printers Alley was not a venue for such a glorious gown.  But she couldn’t imagine anyone else who might have sent it.  Tam was the only possibility. 

Printers Alley

Printers Alley, Nashville, TN

“Could this be an apology for acting like such a jerk to me?” she looked at the kitten and murmured.

However, the curt note on the card didn’t sound like Tam.  She supposed a sales person might have written it when it was packaged for delivery.  That must be it, she decided.  A clerk wrote the note, which might have been dictated over the telephone, and then didn’t even remember to sign it with Tam’s name.  But what store would deliver on New Year’s Day? 

Luci shook her head.  No one had ever given her such an extravagant present.  She felt she should not accept the gift, but then she realized that it probably was not returnable.  Luci considered what a waste that would be, and perhaps an offense as well, to give back a non-returnable gift.  Her fingers examined the design.  Each sparkling bead must have been sewn by hand.  It truly was a beautiful gown.

Judging by the mint condition of Tam’s vintage Cadillac, he could afford it.  Maybe it was not such an extravagant thing to him.  Besides, if he meant for them to go to the kind of place where she would wear that gown, she owned nothing suitable to wear.  Even if it had been possible to shop for a gown, there was no money for formal wear.  She hadn’t had her first day of work, let alone a first paycheck.

“Stop trying to rationalize this, Luci Harper,” she said aloud and Lychnis meowed loudly in reply.  “Let’s take this to the bedroom and try it on,” she commented as she headed toward her standing mirror.

Luci ran her fingers across the satin fabric.  She gave a brief thought to what she should wear with a glamorous gown.  She was never slowed down by day-to-day dressing, but a formal evening was rare.  However, she had the right shoes, and a beaded evening bag.  That gown didn’t need more accessories.

However, satin could be difficult.  “Thank God for pantyhose,” she murmured, knowing that the bumps from a garter belt would show under the fabric if she’d had to wear nylons

Silver satin poured down her body as the dress slipped over her head.  The skirt was fitted at her hips, but it flared to a full circle at the calves and ankles.  She thought of Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire in an old movie.

1968 Wiglet ad Jean Shrimpton

Wiglet ad, Jean Shrimpton

Her limp hair spoiled the dazzle of the gown.  Luci gave her reflection a conspiratorial wink and took a small pink hatbox from her closet shelf.  Lychnis was ready to pounce on the cluster of curls she removed from the box.

“Oh no you don’t!” she cautioned the kitten.  “This is not a big curly rat for you to play with.”

Wiglets were all the rage, and Luci had found one that was a perfect match for her hair color.  She pulled up her hair and carefully pinned the hairpiece in place.  The cascade of curls created an immediate transformation.  It made her look like someone who had a right to wear that glorious gown.  Lychnis stretched to sniff at the curls. 

By the time Luci did her makeup, she hardly recognized the reflection that looked back at her from the mirror.

Expecting Tam’s vintage Caddy to pull into the driveway, Luci was startled when a limousine arrived.  The driver seated her, and handed her a crystal goblet of champagne and a white rose with silver edged petals. 

As the chauffeur closed the car door, she examined the petals, expecting the silver edge to be painted.  However, the silver color seemed to actually grow from the petals.   The color was also an exact match for her gown.  She wondered how the effect had been done.

There were several questions she wanted to ask the driver. Luci saw that he could not hear her through the glass, and she could not find any intercom.  She forced herself not to knock determinedly on the glass.  She didn’t want to look like the country bumpkin she felt herself to be.

The champagne tickled her nose as she sipped from the tall flute.  It was the finest she had ever tasted.  Moments later Luci experienced a brief bout of dizziness and nausea.  The champagne must be going straight to her head, she thought.champagne n glasses 2

Luci didn’t feel well at all.  Even as her head spun, she was sure they could not possibly have gotten to downtown Nashville from Wilson County so quickly.  Yet it seemed they had already reached their destination.  The driver slowed to a stop.

Luci was disoriented.  The sickness was fading, but she could not bring her vision into focus.  The driver helped her from the limousine, and then handed her to someone else.  She was glad to have a strong arm to support her.  Luci still felt as if the world tilted at a sharp angle.  Worse, everything was so blurred she could hardly see at all.  Her tongue felt thick, and she was not sure if her feet were going where her brain sent them.

“Tam,” she whispered, assuming that was whose arm she held.  She tried unsuccessfully to blink away the blurred vision.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I don’t feel too good.”

Cold sweat beaded Luci’s forehead.  She could not suppress a shiver as her stomach continued to gyrate.

***

End Episode 12

Recipe

Luci is having champagne, although it seems to be more than just champagne — unfortunately for her.  However, thinking of champagne made me want to do a toast to you, my dear readers, by featuring a recipe involving “bubbly.” I remembered a Valentine’s Day post from Suzanne DeBrango at A Pug in the Kitchen in 2015 that featured champagne and other wines — along with her scrumptious deserts.  Her little pug, Percy just had a birthday, so we’ll do a toast to him too.  Happy birthday  to Percy! (More recipes at that link too.) 

Rosa Regale n Dessert a Pug in the Kitchen

Dessert And Wine A Valentines Day Tasting And Guest Pairing From Anatoli@ Talk A Vino!

So here’s to you, my friends. Thanks for being in the car for this road trip.  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.

 

Guitar Mancer — Episode 11: Seven

1960s VW Beetle ad

Beetles and Snakes?

No wait — that was Spiders and Snakes from Jim Stafford. Plus it was a few years later than the setting of this novel. But what the heck.

Warnings! Yes Two of Them

Robot WarningSeriously though… today I’m adding warnings. Firstly, this episode is about 1/3rd longer than I’ve been posting (and the others were already longer than I’d like).  There was simply no reasonable place to divide it.

More importantly — back to spiders and snakes

I won’t deny the grace and beauty of snakes. Some people love them as pets, part of their family.  If that applies to you, I encourage you to click over to today’s featured bloggers and visit them, but skip Episodes 11 and 12 here.  If you have deep affection for snakes, these two installments of this novel may not be for you.

Don’t worry! I didn’t write anything terribly graphic.  But if you love snakes, you’re probably tired of the bad wrap they get.  I’m such an animal lover that you may wonder why I would let anything happen to any creature in my story.  The answer is in the mythology and the villain, Yamata Orochi.  Snakes are his totem animals and he’s the bad guy… 

Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi by Toyohara Chikanobu

Susanoo slaying the Yamata no Orochi, by Toyohara Chikanobu

Back in the 1990s when I wrote the original, unfinished “fantasy-romance” version of The Guitar Mancer, the villain had a different name. While quite skin-crawlingly evil, he was a run of the mill sociopath with magical powers.  When I rewrote the story in 2014, leaving out most of the romance part, I wanted to change the bad guy’s name.  Name research took me to the Japanese myth of Yamata no Orochi.  If you read about it, you’ll see how snakes got the villainous role in this novel.  Okay — moving on now.

Featured Bloggers

This time I’m featuring two bloggers.  However, I only took one “thing” from each of their comments.  First,  one of the era-related things Hugh Roberts of Hugh’s Views and News mentioned was a fondue set.  Next, Suzanne (or P. S. Joshi) at  Musings on Life & Experience, mentioned several items.  I was able to use VW Beetle.  I had the perfect places for both so I’m pleased to feature these two wonderful writers!

Jean Shrimpton Look 1966About This Episode

Luci has always thought she was an ordinary girl. Now two men she hardly knows insist that she has some kind of magical, musical power.  She’s seen no evidence of it, so she struggles to accept the idea that there is not only magic in her world, there is an evil wielder of that power.  Her new friends try to teach her more about Yamata Orochi, why and how he is so dangerous.

Episode 11 — Seven

Freyja startled Luci and the kitten by hissing and looking skyward.  The hawk spread her wings and the world became momentarily dark, as if a storm cloud passed in front of the sun. 

Luci shivered, though she didn’t know why.  Then she thought the hawk’s posture and the suddenly dimmed light must mean that Freyja was using her ability to “shield” them.  Bodaway Thunder had tried to explain to Luci his totem’s innate magic of deflecting observation, whether it was by physical, psychic, or divinatory means.  Luci realized she was seeing that ability in action.

“Is he looking again?” Tam asked the shaman, though it didn’t really sound like a question.

“You mean him, that guitarist?  Ocho?” Luci asked as fear drove its cold fist into her stomach.

Depp B-W chrome guitar

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

Yamata Orochi,” both men corrected her in harmonic unison.

To Luci’s surprise the kitten, Lychnis, started to growl.  Her hands tightened around his little body instinctively.  She knew that he was ready to run after something.  Luci followed the kitten’s gaze.

Freyja abruptly turned her head toward Bodaway Thunder.  She sat on the railing with her wings partially extended.  Luci supposed she didn’t have to stay in that position the entire time she was shielding someone.

Luci didn’t hear anything pass between the shaman and the big hawk.  Bodaway gave a nod to the bird.  Freyja screeched and quickly darted toward an empty house on the next street.  The grass was mostly dead, but in places it was dried up and taller.

The speed and grace with which Freyja moved was stunning.  Luci wondered if that was part of the magic the hawk was supposed to have or if all hawks were so quick.

She shook her head.  Magic.  Luci never would have thought she’d believe anyone who started talking about real magic or any of the things those two men had told her as they sat in her kitchen.  However, her heart seemed to accept it as true, even if her head didn’t.

The hawk swooped and caught something.  It looked like she threw a large stick into the air.  She dove and attacked something else not far away.  Then she did it again.  It all happened incredibly fast.

Freyja soared back so swiftly that Luci didn’t realize she carried something in her sharp talons until she dropped three very large snakes on the ground right beside the back porch.Frejya down stroke

Luci Harper didn’t know one snake from another, but she was sure those had to be poisonous.  She recoiled in disgust when she looked closer.  Freyja had torn or pecked out the eyes of the dead snakes.

The shaman heard her sharp intake of breath as she drew back.  “I don’t know if they could literally transmit what they saw, or if it is a symbolic message from Freyja to us,” the shaman began.  “The snakes were spies, seekers.  That’s why Freyja removed their eyes.”

“He had all those snake tattoos…” Luci murmured with a shudder.

“It’s part of the magic he stole, long ago,” Tam said.  “It irks me to call him by the name Yamata Orochi, because he robbed the name along with Onymōdō powers through betraying an Onmōyji mancer.  Orochi was much more adept than most mancers at absorbing not just the power of music, but other mystical powers as well.  Taking another’s mystical power is a rare ability,” Tam said, leaving Luci puzzled.

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Bodaway seemed to know where her biggest stumbling block in that description was.  “Onymōdō is a form of ancient Japanese divination and mysticism.  An Onmōyji is one who practices Onymōdō,” Bodaway explained.

Luci tried to file the strange terms away in her brain, but she was pretty sure she’d forget them.

“In ancient times, the Yamata no Orochi was the Japanese myth of the eight-branched giant snake.  A snake with eight tails and eight heads.  Yamata stole his name from it,” Tam added.  “Nobody knows if he really had anything to do with the great snake, but he robbed that name from it just the same.”

“Orochi was already a hugely powerful mancer.  When he absorbed the mystical and divination powers of the Onmōyji mancer, it made him stronger than any mancer had ever been,” Bodaway said gravely.

Luci barely comprehended the details of the foreign mythology.  She felt confused and embarrassed, and she dropped her head.

“Wee Mouse!  Keep your chin up,” Tam said surprising her because she would not have expected sympathy from him.  “Nobody expected you to know any of that.  This mancer stuff doesn’t come with a handbook or a hotline.”

While Luci’s eyes were downcast, her attention fell on Lychnis.  The kitten stared off into space.  He looked beyond the place where the hawk killed the snakes. 

“So this Orochi guy’s name basically means something about eight snakes,” Luci commented though she continued to look in the same direction as Lychnis.  “Do you suppose there are five more of his seeker snakes out there?”yamata no orochi vintage

When she asked that question both men stopped and turned to Luci.  Freyja turned her amber eyes to the kitten.  The two animals looked at one another for a moment before the hawk soared away.

Bodaway Thunder looked a little worried as he watched the raptor fly.  However, he tried to offer reassurance to Luci.  “Don’t worry.  Freyja will find them.  If there are more of his snakes, they won’t escape her talons,” the shaman said.

***

The Seventh Snake

Freyja was gone for so long that Luci was concerned about the big hawk.  She thought Bodaway Thunder was anxious too, even though he didn’t say so.  He told her that he believed he would know if something bad happened to his totem animal.Kitchen clock yellow retro

Biding her time that way gave Luci the same disconnected and uncomfortable feeling of sitting in a hospital, waiting to learn if someone was going to be okay.  The kitchen clock seemed to tick very slowly.

A rumble from the kitten’s stomach caused her to raise her eyebrows.  How much could one kitten eat?  She took him aside and made another batch of part kibble and part warm broth.  Lychnis ate it hungrily.  Then he jumped into the box he had rejected the night before and took a nap.

She realized that she was hungry herself.  She hadn’t planned groceries for two guests.  Luci went to the cabinets looking for inspiration on what she could prepare.  Opening a cupboard the seldom used fondue set seemed to stare at her beseechingly, but she didn’t have the right ingredients.  Besides, she didn’t think the two men outside would consider fondue to be much of a meal.

Apparently she and Lychnis weren’t the only ones who were peckish.  Tam came inside and asked her where the phonebook was.

“I know all this is new to you and hard to accept, and it won’t sit well on an empty stomach,” Tam began.  “We wouldn’t dream of imposing on you.  So I thought I’d order pizza.  Is there a place that delivers this far out?” he asked, doubt suddenly in his voice.

Bell ad multi wall phoneThe offer of pizza was a relief to Luci.  “Yes, they opened last spring,” she said, pointing out the wall telephone.

It was harvest gold, to match the appliances.  A little address book hung from a hook below the phone, behind its extra-long coiled cord.

To her bewilderment the sandy haired man ordered six large pizzas.  She asked if he was inviting other people or something.

He grinned and shook his head.  “That tall Apache can really put away the pizza,” Tam said.

A giggle popped out of her mouth.  She glanced at the kitchen door.  She’d feel bad if Bodaway thought she was laughing at him.

“Not to worry,” Tam said, understanding her glance.  “He’s well aware of his appetite.  If there are any leftovers we can take it on the road with us,” he added.

“So where are ya’ll going?” Luci asked apprehensively. 

She barely knew the two men.  Luci told herself that she should feel indifferent about whether they were nearby or across the country.  But she was deeply afraid of that strange guitarist.  He had affected her in ways she couldn’t explain or describe, and they were all bad.

Considering the circumstances she felt that if Tam and Bodaway left they’d be abandoning her.  However, Luci knew she didn’t have any kind of claim on them.  She’d be alone to meet whatever fate awaited her.

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

“Not us, Wee Mouse,” Tam said, and the name got an immediate frown from her.  “We.  Not that we need to run for our lives, or anything.  I’ve just got the nagging urge to be on the road.  It would be good to get back to the Mother.  Don’t look so surprised.”

There was that comment about “Mother” again.  Luci opened her mouth to ask what he was talking about, but she was interrupted by the shaman coming inside. 

He bent his head to clear the doorway.  Luci had met some tall people, but never anyone quite as towering as Bodaway Thunder.  He could easily touch the kitchen ceiling with the flat of his palm.

The shaman told them Freyja had returned.  The hawk carried three more snakes with her.  That would make six of the eight snakes he believed Yamata Orochi sent as “seekers.”

Luci reminded herself that the two men believed she and her kitten were the objects of that search.  She unconsciously shook her head along with her inner dialogue.  Bodaway wanted to know what was wrong.

“It’s nothing.  I’m just trying to get used to the idea of being something besides… well… ordinary,” she told him, trying to keep her disbelief out of her tone.

The sound of a VW Beetle out front told Luci the pizzas had arrived.  She was getting really hungry.  Tam followed her and caught her arm when she reached for the doorknob.

1960s Harper living roomTam looked out the rarely used peephole.  He looked all around when he opened the door, but he made small talk with the kid to disguise what he was doing.  Then he paid for the pizzas.

“Yeah man,” the driver responded.  “Business is good and traffic’s great.  About the only thing I saw on the road on the way over here was a snake,” he said with a laugh that got their full attention.  “Biggest dang water moccasin I ever did see.  It was far out!  That snake stretched half way across the road.  I figure it came from one of the creeks over here that lets out into the lake,” he said.

Luci gasped and put a hand to her mouth.  “It’s okay ma’am,” the delivery boy told her.  “It’s dead.  Looked like a truck ran over it.”

Tam grinned at Bodaway Thunder, and then he gave the driver a tip so good that the kid thanked him profusely.  He yelled his thanks again when he got into his Volkswagen and zoomed away.

Pizza Hut vintage adLuci asked hopefully if the road kill snake was one of Orochi’s.  Both men seemed sure it was.

“It would be good strategy on his part,” Tam said.  “To include a water snake to search along the lake shore and creeks.  A disoriented spirit animal, newly come to this plane would look for water to drink.”

It made Luci shudder to think of Lychnis, a tiny kitten being alone, probably desperate, thirsty, and hunted by a big poisonous snake. 

Bodaway tapped his fingers in a rhythmic pattern against the wall for a few seconds.  Luci felt calmer at the sound.  She looked at the shaman quizzically.  Was that his drum mancer magic again?  He gave an innocent smile, tilted his head, and shrugged as if he’d done something he couldn’t help.

“So that would be number seven,” she commented as they took the pizzas to the kitchen.  “What about the eighth snake.  You did say there would be eight, right?”

Both men nodded, but neither had an answer.  As he opened a pizza box Bodaway speculated.  “Freyja flew pretty far to get some of those snakes.  It could be that the remaining one is coming from a different direction and has yet to get close enough,” the shaman said.  “Or it could have already seen things it wanted to take back to its master and made it back home,” he added.

“Just what I needed to hear before eating lunch,” Tam said with a twist of his mouth.  “You just wanted to say something that would make me lose my appetite to make sure there was more food for you,” Tam accused, but it was obvious that he wasn’t serious.  Then he crammed a huge bite of pizza into his mouth and made noises that sounded like “I’ll fool ya!”Garfield Odie little caesars

Luci bit into a slice and delicious stretchy cheese made a string from her mouth to the plate.  Lychnis apparently awake after his after-snack cat nap, trotted quickly to her chair.  He jumped into her lap and tried to grab the cheese.

“Good grief, you’re heavy for a little kitten,” she commented before getting a good look at him.

She dropped the slice of pizza unceremoniously into her plate.  Luci pushed her chair back from the table to get a better look at Lychnis.  The size of his ears and feet were still way out of proportion to his body.  However, Lychnis was as big as a fully grown housecat.  Even though he was apparently a lynx, rather than a regular cat, she couldn’t believe he could grow so fast.

“This is impossible,” she exclaimed.

“Definitely a spirit animal,” Bodaway said around a mouthful of peperoni, green pepper, and onion, as if the incredible growth of the kitten was nothing.

“I told you that you were going to need more cat food,” Tam told her matter-of-factly.

Then the kitten grabbed the pizza from Luci’s plate and ran away with it.  “Hey come back here!  That’s not good for you,” she called after the cat.

“You might as well let him eat it,” Bodaway said.  “He’ll go through the rest of that kitten chow before you have a chance to buy more.”

Luci went to one of the cabinets and took out a large bottle of Paul Masson red wine.  She thought of their slogan “We will sell no wine before its time.”

“It’s definitely this wine’s time,” she murmured as she plopped back into her chair.  Exasperated, overwhelmed, and confused, she took a deep breath.  “Did you get one with Canadian bacon?”

***

As could be expected, it was not an ordinary lunchtime conversation.  Luci had not realized that each of them were equally at risk, since Bodaway Thunder and Tam were both mancers.  Luci was more concerned about Bodaway than anyone after Tam spoke a word of warning to the shaman.

“He wanted the Onmōyji’s divination magic and took it — so he might decide some shamanic mojo would be a nice addition to his collection too,” Tam said.

Bodaway might be seven feet tall, but he seemed like a kind and gentle soul to Luci.  She couldn’t imagine him harming any living creature.  Orochi was like a super powered villain worthy of a comic book.  The thought of him trying to take away the essence of what made the shaman him put a cold feeling in her stomach.

“Penny for your thoughts, Wee Mouse?  Surely you’re not worried about me, as I’m also a mancer and all,” Tam suggested, green eyes alight with mischief.  “No.  Don’t tell me you’re worried about this big lummox,” he added with a motion toward his friend.

Jean Shrimpton houndstooth

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

“Stop calling me that,” Luci repeated for what seemed like the umpteenth time.

“Let me give you a little bit of history here.  I think Yamata Orochi is still healing from the combination of the injuries he got years ago, back when he was captured, that and the effects of his long confinement.  Complete sensory deprivation was the only way to contain him.  He was shut off from music for decades.  That would kill some mancers,” Tam added to the explanation.  “If Orochi was at full power he would have already attacked us.”

Luci noticed Lychnis stealthily come back into the kitchen.  He doubtless made short work of that slice of pizza.  She was surprised when he quietly settled beside Bodaway’s chair rather than hers.  It did not escape her notice that the shaman discretely slipped the cat pieces of peperoni.

“Unless he is playing with his food before he eats it,” Bodaway replied as he scratched Lychnis behind the ears.  “Never underestimate his strength or his callousness.  His powers of divination might not have been affected.  That’s nothing to sneeze at,” the shaman reminded them. 

The kitten hopped up into her lap again.  Lychnis started to purr and she began to have a soft muzzy feeling.  Luci unaccountably wanted to sleep.  It was as if his purr was meant to coax her to sleep.  Lychnis looked up at her with wide loving eyes.  That’s when she crashed and burned.  She swayed in her chair causing the men to look at her in concern.

Printers Alley

Printers Alley, Nashville, TN

“Sorry, I’m just pooped out, all of a sudden,” she muttered to no one in particular.

Tam gave a significant look at the kitten and smirked.  “Smart little beggar,” he muttered.

“Wee Mouse?” Tam asked.

The muzzy feeling was so nice that she didn’t even tell him not to call her that — maybe that was why he looked a little worried. 

“We’ll come back later, if that’s all right.  Give you a bit of alone time to process things,” he said.

Her silence seemed to cause him consternation.  “Or maybe you need to blow off some steam, so to speak.  Have some fun.  I tell you what.  Get yourself a cat nap,” he told her with a pointed look at Lychnis.  “I’ll pick you up this evening.  We’ll all go to Printer’s Alley.  Listen to some music, relax.  How’s that?”

Luci only nodded, too sleepy to be as scared as she thought she probably should be.  Then Tammarand Ben Taliesin and Bodaway Thunder quietly left.

End episode 11

***

Recipe

In this installment our characters enjoyed some cheesy pizza. Even Lychnis ran off with a slice.  What kind of hostess would I be if I didn’t offer you some as well?  I found this delicious pizza recipe from Sonal Gupta at Simply Vegetarian 777.  Dig in!

Baby Corn & Jalapenos Pizza

Baby corn Jalapeno Pizza

http://simplyvegetarian777.com/baby-corn-and-jalapenos-whole-wheat-pizza/

Next time, Luci finds beautiful but frightening evidence that someone is watching her.  I look forward to seeing you.  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.

Guitar Mancer — Episode 10: Overload

 

1969 Opal GT ad

1969 Opal GT

Sigh… Would you look at that… One of my first “car crushes” was the Opal GT.  I was surprised that it still makes my heart go pitter-patter.  However, that sleek little Opal wouldn’t be roomy enough for this road trip.

I recently received the registration certificate for the copyright on The Guitar Mancer.  Pretty cool huh?  But it would be a lot nicer if they’d put it in a flat envelope so it didn’t arrive all folded, spindled, bent, and well you get the idea. I even tried to iron the darn thing.  Don’t those people realize writers are proud of that kind of thing?

Copyright Cert Guitar Mancer

 

This Week’s Featured Blogger

Michelle Clements James at Book Chat – Let’s Talk about Books provided the “things” I worked into this installment.  Michelle named a number of songs from the era.  California Dreamin was a perfect fit as something I could work into the novel.  She also mentioned getting an education and getting a job, which I’ve used here.

Be sure to visit Michelle’s delightful blog.  She has wonderful and mindful book reviews that you’ll be glad you checked.

About This Episode

Last time our heroine began to learn about the strange abilities of mancers.  This installment of The Guitar Mancer finds Luci in “magical information overload.”  More is divulged than she can easily absorb. Will she even be willing to believe the impossible things Tammarand Ben Taliesin and Bodaway Thunder tell her?  Let’s get the vintage Cadillac back on the road and find out!

Episode 10 — Overload

We’ve got to get back to the Mother,” Bodaway whispered emphatically.

The haunting woodwind solo of California Dreamin came from the radio as he spoke.  For some reason it gave Luci goosebumps.  The shaman made the same odd statement earlier.  Luci was curious but she was already trying to absorb so much craziness that she didn’t ask what he meant.

Tam, who had been the most excitable of the two by far, stopped suddenly when the shaman spoke those words.  The comment didn’t make any more sense to Luci than anything else they had said since she found them in her front yard, trying to coax that huge hawk off her roof.  However, Tam looked like he was giving the words serious consideration.Frejya Red Tailed Hawk

“Do you think it’s possible that he wasn’t sure about her potential?” he asked the shaman as if she wasn’t sitting right there.  “How close did you get to him Luci?  Did you speak to him, or him to you?” Tam said without waiting for Bodaway to answer.

“I was within a foot of him,” Luci said and both men seemed to stop breathing at that information.  “He gave a Japanese sounding name when he signed in for the audition.  Yamata Orochi,” she replied, sounding out the name much as Matt Blaylock had done when he read it off the list on the audition sheet.

Tam swallowed hard when she said the name.  Bodaway paused with his coffee mug raised halfway to his lips.  An odd look passed between the two — the two mancers, Luci tested the word in her mind. 

Yamata no Orochi, the eight headed snake,” Tam murmured.  “It’s a Japanese myth, an eight headed, eight tailed dragon, slain by the Shinto storm-god Susanoo,” he added when Luci gave him a questioning glance.

Luci made an exasperated noise under her breath.  She didn’t try to hide her frustration that he was spouting trivia.  She thought he was probably making fun of her too.

Squirrel scratching bbcTam gave a quick scratch to his temple, back and forth.  It reminded Luci of a squirrel.  It also broke the tension.  She did try to hide her smirking expression — it would have been impolite to laugh at that.

“He had snake tattoos all over his arms and up onto his neck,” she conceded.  “You know something, it’s too strange.  Probably just an optical illusion kind of thing, but if I looked at his tattoos very long, the snakes seemed to move,” she offered quietly.

“Yamata Orochi,” the men confirmed in chorus, their voices blending harmonically.

A vibe filled the kitchen that she could only describe as “fight or flight,” like the professor had talked about in psychology class.

It was making her wish she could take back her words, but there was no undoing what she had told them.  Unsure of what to do, she continued. 

“I didn’t speak directly to him,” she said then hesitated.  “He looked into my eyes while he was playing, and… and I couldn’t break the eye contact.  I really tried too!  He frightened me.  I know it sounds crazy, but I felt like he was trying to… to do something to me somehow,” she said.  “It was like I couldn’t move until he finally looked away.  When he did, I ran to my car and burned rubber out of the parking lot.”

“This worries me,” Bodaway said and Tam answered with a rude noise.  “If he was in her head the way she describes, he must have sensed her potential,” the shaman said.  “Surely…”

Depp B-W chrome guitar

Johnny Depp as The Guitar Mancer, Yamata Orochi

“Yet he just let her leave?” Bodaway murmured.  “Could he be that confident?”

Tam took a deep breath and nodded.  With a dire looking frown he replied, “He has a right to be that confident.”

“Wee Mouse, did he ask where you lived, or try to follow you?” Tam wanted to know, although it seemed like he already knew the answer.

“It’s Luci,” she snapped, tired of being talked over, not to mention hating that nickname.  “And no, he didn’t speak to me, and I didn’t speak to him,” she said in a huff.

This insane magical conversation is not anything that should be happening, Luci thought.  Her life had been about getting an education and getting a job — and that was exactly what she’d done.  The entire situation, beginning with that strange guitarist, the kitten on the roof, and now these two guys…  It hardly seemed real.

Bodaway Thunder gazed thoughtfully out the window to the branch where the big red tailed hawk perched.  He drummed his fingers on the kitchen table twice.

“Freyja has been up to something,” he began but paused. 

Tam frowned at his tall friend.  Then he cast an apprehensive glance at Luci.  “Maybe a change of subject is in order about now,” the sandy haired man muttered.

“So you’ve said,” Tam encouraged him to continue.

“She’s been downright smug about whatever it is too, but she isn’t letting me know any details.  Yes, she’s definitely up to something…” Bodaway’s voice trailed away in thought.

“Freyja’s magic includes protecting and shielding,” the shaman said.  “She might have clouded things enough that Orochi hasn’t found this place.  But I would have wanted her to do that.  She acts like a kid who’s broken the rules and is proud of it.”

“Hold on. The hawk is magic too?” Luci exclaimed but they ignored her.  She was past her saturation point with the magic stuff and it was getting on her nerves.  “Ha! Maybe she’s the one who returned B. B. King’s guitar to the police,” she added sarcastically.

The two men looked at each other wide-eyed.  “Well, the radio announcer said a big hawk was seen flying around,” she said with a shrug.

Jay Tavare_Bodaway Thunder_Smile

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

The shaman finally looked at her and nodded.  “Huh… well I’ll be damned,” Bodaway said to himself.  “That would explain her smugness,” he said, leaving Luci stunned that they appeared to take her smart-alecky comment seriously.

The kitten seemed to sense her agitation and mewed up at her, then rubbed against her shins, twining around her ankles.  She could have sworn that he had gotten a smidgen taller since she fed him.

Tam looked at Luci without speaking for a moment.  Something about the expression on his face reminded her of her dad’s old saying about snapping turtles.  Grover said if one bit you, it wouldn’t let go until it thundered or the sun went down.  Tam looked like he wasn’t about to let go of the subject of magic.

“Luci, I can tell you find all this hard to believe, but please listen to us.  You are a mancer, even if it hasn’t emerged yet,” Tam said in a voice that brooked no argument.  “More importantly,” he hesitated and softened his tone.  “Luci you are in danger.”

Bodaway’s voice became very soothing as he spoke to her.  “Yamata Orochi drains the power, the musical ability from mancers.  He absorbs that power into himself,” the shaman said.

Jean Shrimpton houndstooth

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

Luci blustered, summoning up bravado that she didn’t really feel.  “No big deal.  How can I miss a musical talent I never knew I had?” she asked.

“He takes the power, Luci.  The mancer power, not just the musical talent,” the shaman said, his voice taking on an edge of emotion.  “The mancer tends to suffer greatly.  If they don’t die right away, they’re usually driven mad,” he added ominously.

“I guess it’s pretty obvious that Orochi had B. B. King’s guitar, Lucille,” Tam began, directing his words to Bodaway.  “A favorite instrument of a legendary musician… then he was drawing the mancer’s power that over the years was transferred into the guitar.  He was feeding from the mancer energy stored there,” Tam said in a tone that suggested he was putting puzzle pieces together.

“Wait a minute!” Luci interrupted.  “Are you saying B. B. King is a mancer?” she asked incredulously.

“He probably doesn’t know it,” Bodaway told her as Tam continued to mutter to himself.  “Few people know about mancers and the power, let alone how to use it.”

“Freyja somehow managed to swoop in under the radar, so to speak,” Tam continued to speculate.

“She wouldn’t have been powerful enough, or foolish enough to take him on alone,” Bodaway put in with a glance to the hickory tree where the huge hawk perched.  The shaman looked up as if he’d had an epiphany.  “Orochi is not at full strength yet, or he wouldn’t need to draw power from a mancer’s bonded instrument.”

BB King Lucille desert

B. B. King with Lucille

Both men seemed to relax minutely, until Tam spoke again.  “He’ll be needing another source of ‘nourishment’ to keep his strength.”

The notes of the haunting flute from California Dreaming died away.  It was a recorded radio show with Wolfman Jack as disc jockey.  The show was handed off to the local station, WMOT.

“Here’s some unhappy news for any country fans out there,” the local DJ said, distracting Luci’s attention from the conversation.  “Local country music celebrity Ray Dean Simms was found wandering Printer’s Alley this morning.  He was so delirious they thought it was drugs, but the hospital doc said there weren’t any in our boy Ray’s system.  He has some kind of amnesia.  Ray Dean can’t play a note or carry a tune in a bucket!” the DJ finished in a dramatically amazed voice.

Bodaway Thunder’s eyebrows climbed nearly to his hairline.  Several expressions warred on Tam’s face.  Luci knew Tam didn’t like Ray Dean Simms, and she couldn’t blame him.  The look on Tam’s face finally settled to one that suggested his stomach was upset.

“You don’t think…” Luci started uncertainly.  “Did that man eat Ray Dean’s mancer power?”

“Ray Dean Simms was no mancer,” Tam stated flatly, causing Luci to feel momentarily relieved.

“But it sounds like Orochi drained his talent, fed on it,” Bodaway added.

“Pshaw,” Tam replied with a wave of his hand and what was clearly false bravado.  “Ray Dean would have barely been a snack.”

“I know you don’t mean that, but try to have a little respect,” Bodaway muttered to Tam’s lopsided smile.

***

The Totem 

Lynx car ad

Lynx, vintage automotive ad

Luci stepped out onto her back porch.  She needed to clear her head, to let all the crazy things Bodaway and Tam told her sift and settle.  She also wanted to be alone for a moment.

A loud indignant meow preceded the door opening just a crack and the kitten trotted out to her side.  She sat down in Grover’s rocking chair and the odd looking feline jumped up into her lap.  He curled into a little ball and started purring.  What a wonderful sound a cat’s purr was, she thought.

“You need a name,” she told the kitten as she scratched under its chin and behind its big black tufted ears. 

His feet were at least as disproportionately large as were his ears.  The kitten started kneading with his front feet against her leg.  She winced when his little claws stuck through her slacks.  Luci put her hand around his paws. 

“What am I going to call you?  She placed a finger against one of the tufts.  “Shaggy for those ears and your big appetite?  Or Shorty for that tail?” she said lightly touching the black tip of the tail that wasn’t half as long as a cat’s tail should be.  “Nothing seems right for you.  And I’d swear that you grow an inch an hour!”Shaggy sandwich

When she stopped scratching the kitten, he patted her hand with his oversized paw as if asking her to keep petting him.  Luci looked at him thoughtfully.  “You’re not really a kitten, are you?” she asked as the unsettling thought fully sunk into her mind.  “Not a cat-kitten anyway.”

Freyja glided down and perched on the porch railing.  Luci’s thoughts warred briefly.  Part of her insisted that she should be afraid of having the big hawk so close, especially with the kitten right there.  Freyja was a bird of prey, and baby animals were a food source in the wild.  What if the hawk meant to have him for dinner?  However, the intuitive part of her dismissed that fear and she relaxed some.

The hawk gazed at Luci with those amazing amber eyes.  They seemed to reach comfortingly into her soul.  The kitten mewed curiously.  He stretched toward the hawk, but didn’t try to leave Luci’s lap.  Freyja bobbed her head as if in acknowledgement of the feline.  Luci thought it was the strangest thing she’d ever seen.  She was amazed by what seemed to be genuine interaction between the two species.

Maybe I’m crazy, Luci thought.  However, she had no doubt the two were communicating.Frejya down stroke

She didn’t hear Bodaway Thunder when he came out onto the porch.  Luci wondered how anyone so large could move silently.

“What is your totem’s name?” he asked softly.

“Totem…” Luci whispered trying to get used to the idea.

She looked into the eyes of the kitten.  She didn’t hear him in her thoughts, or read his mind, or anything like that.  She simply knew.  Luci looked up at Bodaway in wonder.  She gave him a wide grin. 

The connection she felt with the kitten was impossibly strong, and it was interwoven with joy.  It was so absorbing that she didn’t pay any attention when Tam joined them outside.

“Lychnis,” Luci said.  “His name is Lychnis.”Lynx kitten 2

“Then that ‘kitten-ness’ nonsense was a clue from your subconscious,” Tam said and Bodaway raised one eyebrow.  “What?  They sound alike.  It had to be,” he exclaimed when Luci and Bodaway turned to him with derisive expressions on their faces.

“So he’s a lynx then,” Bodaway said as if there was no doubt.  “Lychnis is from the Greek for lamp.  Lychnis flowers — their leaves were once used as lamp wicks,” he said.  “He will light your way.”

“Cryptic as ever, shaman,” Tam murmured.

“I don’t see the connection to lynx,” Luci admitted and Tam nodded and made an extravagant shrug in agreement.

The Apache looked at the other man with exaggerated patience.  “The lynx is named after the luminescence of its eyes,” Bodaway said. 

“Lynx medicine is a very specific type of clairvoyance.  It provides mental pictures concerning other people and the exact things they have hidden.  Whether they have hidden something from themselves or from others, like fears, lies, self-deceptions, lynx medicine can see it.  That might very well be the kitten’s magic,” the shaman said.  “If it is, then he’ll be able to communicate those things to you.  Once he matures anyway.”

Susan Seddon Boulet cat hawk

Susan Seddon Boulet

She stared at the shaman mutely, trying to follow his unusual thinking.

“Likewise, the name Luci — or Lucille means light,” the tall Apache added.  “The meanings of both of your names are associated with light.  And the medicine of the lynx has to do with lighting the way.”

Bodaway’s Prophecy

When Bodaway stopped to take a breath he closed his eyes.  Luci sensed a change in him.  He opened his eyes and they held a faraway expression.  Goose bumps rose on her arms.

“Luci you will be a light for all mancer kind,” Bodaway Thunder proclaimed in a voice that gave her chills.  “And your totem, Lychnis will light your way.”

“Oh my God!” Tam exclaimed sounding perplexed, incredulous, and a little irritated.  “Did you just prophesy?” 

Bodaway blushed and looked down, clearly embarrassed.  “It’s best not to discuss that right now,” he told Tam and refused to say any more on that subject.

***

End serial episode 10

Recipe

Don’t leave yet.  Whenever possible, I like to feature a blogger-chef each week, or at least a recipe for you.  Food wasn’t mentioned in this installment, but recently one of my favorite blogger-chefs posted such a beautiful meal that I had to share it.  Here’s the delightful Gerlinde, the Sunny Cove Chef.  Check out her delicious recipes.

Gerlindes Roasted Hallibut

Be sure to get in the car next time.  The minions of Yamata Orochi slip into the scene.  Until then, keep on truckin’ and mega hugs!

 

Copyright © 2014 by Teagan Ríordáin Geneviene

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