Guitar Mancer — Episode 24: Oklahoma

1929 Packard hearse

1929 Packard

Welcome back to the road trip that is The Guitar Mancer!   Are you wondering what a 1929 Packard could possibly have to do with a story set in 1970?  Read on to learn the answer.

Featured Blogger

Timothy Price, a photography artist in the Albuquerque, New Mexico area has also been doing some posts about Route 66.  So it seemed appropriate to feature him with this installment of The Guitar Mancer. 

Tim calls his blog Off Center & Not Even @ T & L Photos.  Click here for one of his Route 66 posts.  Check out his photo blog to learn more about Tim and the collection of pets who own him and Laurie.  You might also learn about Tim and the challenges he takes on every day.

I’m also honored to say that Tim did a wonderful review of my novel, Atonement, Tennessee.  He even created photo art especially for it.  See his review here. 

About This Episode

In the early days of this blog I was doing the spontaneously written “Three Things” serials, with 1920s settings.  Often photographs of movie stars in that era reminded me of bohemian hippie styles, particularly the women’s hairstyles.  So I had the idea to “cast” the female Route 66 faeries from Roaring Twenties starlets.  You’ll see a couple of them today.

Last time we got a better idea of what means the Mother would use to unblock Luci’s mancer abilities.  It all ties to the Reflected Road, a strange version of Route 66 where absolutely anything might happen. Now we rejoin the story.  In this installment Luci is led onto the Reflected Road by Mist, one of the Route 66 faeries.

Episode 24 — Oklahoma

Route 66 Map

Luci held tightly to Mist’s hand as the Mother Road sprite led her through the silvery fog.  When the fog cleared, Luci beheld a dry, barren landscape. 

The hippie faery guided Luci along wooded trails.  Mist still held her hand, and Luci was unnerved enough that she didn’t try to let go of the physical contact.  She was even grateful for Lychnis occasionally getting too close to her feet and causing her to stumble.  Somehow that made her feel connected with the real world while in a place that was utterly surreal.

When Lychnis looked up at Luci, she was startled by his eyes.  They shone the way they would at night, but with a brighter light, like small twin lamps.

Mary Pickford as Mist

Mary Pickford as Mist

They had not spoken much, Luci and the Route 66 faery.  Mist seemed to intuit Luci’s need for quiet.  She was still processing all the things the Mother had said.  Her instructions and cautions were not something Luci wanted to risk forgetting.  However, what was even more strongly on her mind was the comment the Spirit of Route 66 had made about Luci’s mother.

Luci thought that often it is not the words that are spoken, but how they are said.  The way the Mother described Luci’s mom as having “great aspirations.”  Luci felt it was good to aspire to things, to keep improving one’s self.  But the Mother’s words made it sound like a criticism. 

Growing up, whenever Luci had questioned her dad about her mom, the answering seemed to cause Grover pain.  Luci could recognize the hurt in his eyes even when she was small.  She couldn’t bear to cause her dad pain, so she stopped asking questions or even talking about her mom.

She had always thought the pain Grover felt was from loss and grief.  What if it was something else?  The Spirit of the Mother Road suggested Darla Harper was ambitious.  Luci had met unpleasant women and men in Nashville who had a thirst for power or prestige.  What if her mom had been like that.  There might have been strife between her parents.  She wondered if there was a conflict between them when her mom was lost.

“Mist,” Luci began.  “Did you know my mom?”

“Darla Harper?” Mist asked and Luci nodded.  “I met her, but I would not say that I knew her.  When the Mother allows people onto the Reflected Road, we sprites are paired as escorts to those who have traits of character or personality that are the most similar to our own.  So I had little contact with Darla Harper,” Mist explained.

Mist’s response was intriguing.  Luci wondered how she was like Mist.  The sprite seemed to guess her thoughts.

“You are quiet and analyze things well,” Mist said.  “It makes you seem more timid than you really are.  And you have a kind heart.  Those are traits we share,” Mist told her with a sweet smile.

1920s for Mist

Jobyna Ralston as Midnight

“Who was chosen to escort my mom?” Luci asked returning the smile, and supposed it must have been the playful Sunshine.

Mist looked at her briefly before she spoke.  She didn’t return Luci’s smile, though her lips twitched as if she tried.  “It was Midnight,” she said.  “She would be the one among us sprites to know Darla Harper best.”

That troubled Luci.  It was unusual for Luci Harper to have an instant dislike to anyone.  However, she couldn’t say that she liked Midnight.  She certainly didn’t like the way the faery flirted with Tam. 

Not that I’d care, Luci thought.  She still didn’t exactly admit her crush on the green-eyed mancer, even to herself.

What bothered her about the Route 66 faery flirting with Tam was the glances at herself that she caught from Midnight.  It suggested the sprite was not flirting with Tam because she was attracted to him, but for some unknown reason of her own.

Based on what she had seen of Midnight, it confirmed what the Mother said about her mom having aspirations, as she called it.  Plus Midnight flirted shamelessly with Tam.  She had a suggestive way about her, and her eyes held desire, but not love.  Midnight seemed mildly calculating, not spontaneous.  Were those characteristics she shared with Darla Harper?  Luci found the idea of her mother acting the way Midnight did appalling.

Mist didn’t offer any more information, and Luci fell silent.  They traveled quietly for a while.  Mist began to walk slowly.  She gazed all around at the trees and up at the sky seeming to ponder something. Mist tilted her head as if listing, though Luci didn’t hear anything.

“We’ve arrived,” the Mother Road faery stated.

It didn’t look to Luci like they had gotten anywhere.  However, she noticed that the trail they had been walking came to a dead end.  A broad stand of trees cut off the path. 

Tumbleweed vintage“This is where we were going?” Luci turned in a circle, looking around as she asked in a puzzled tone.

Mist pointed to show Luci a break in the trees.  The sprite led her through the opening.  They stood atop a small hill, looking down at Route 66.

Tumbleweeds seemed to chase each other down the road.  A battered old car rounded the bend and went the same direction as the tumbleweeds. 

Mist let go of Luci’s hand, her eyes following the antique car.  Until that moment, the sprite’s expression had always been serene, almost beatific.  However, at that moment her brow knitted in a worried expression.

“This is going to be hard.  I wonder if the Mother realizes just how hard,” Mist whispered to herself.

“What do you mean?” Luci asked nervously.

Mist smoothed her facial expression and smiled sweetly.  “Huh?  Oh, this is just not the kind of challenge I expected, that’s all,” she stammered.  “Don’t worry, you will be fine.  I have faith in you, Carolina Lucille Harper,” Mist said in a reassuring voice, though her eyes showed concern.

“Remember,” the hippie faery said.  “What you experience on the Reflected Road may be from your past, from your ancestors, or from other incarnations of your own.  Sometimes, it isn’t any of those things.  Rather it is just a possibility, something that might have happened, but never did — past, present, or future.  You might see ghosts — a true past, happy or horrible,” Mist said as she looked intently into Luci’s eyes.  “Do you understand?”

Luci felt like Mist was trying to tell her something with her gaze, something she was not permitted to say aloud.  However, Luci couldn’t imagine what the unspoken message was.  “Which of those is this place?” she asked cautiously.

“I may not say,” Mist told her with a slow shake of her head.  “But I have a bad feeling, so please be alert and cautious,” she finished in a whisper.Tam-Bodaway blue

She lifted her voice to a normal volume and continued.  “Be alert, and listen for the mancers’ music.  It might come to you at a time when you are extremely preoccupied, or in the middle of something… well, something dangerous to you or to someone near you.  But unless you want to stay in this place forever, you must heed the mancers’ call.  Do not tarry,” Mist said in such a grave voice that a chill went down Luci’s spine.

A cold wind blew Luci’s hair, but the sun was hot, beating down on the desolate hillside.  Mist took a step away from her, apparently ready to part company with Luci.

“Wait,” Luci said frightened.  “Where do I go from here?”

Mist raised her open palms and shrugged.  “The choices you make while here take part in determining what potentials you experience.  After I leave, from your first step, from your first word, you will set the tone for what comes to you.

Luci looked down the hill.  She saw a battered road sign that said “Oklahoma, US 66.”  Otherwise the emptiness of the dusty road was all she could see in either direction. 

Rt 66 Oklahoma sign bullet holes

Oklahoma,” she muttered in astonishment.  “Have we really traveled that far?  We were in Missouri a little while ago.  If we stepped back onto the real Route 66 right now, I wonder if we would still be in Oklahoma,” she pondered. 

What was it the Mother had said?  Time and distance flowed differently on the Reflected Road?  Luci felt a chill as she remembered the words.

Lychnis sat patiently looking up at her.  She stooped to scratch behind his tufted ears.  The sound of an engine drew her eyes back to the road.  It was another antique car.  Based on the body style, she guessed it was from the 1930’s.

The air at the bottom of the hill seemed clouded with dust, so the visibility wasn’t terribly high.  However, if she stretched her neck, looking in the direction the cars traveled, she could make out a cluster of buildings a considerable walk down the highway.

A series of sharp sounds came to her ears.  They seemed so far away that she wasn’t sure what could have caused them.  While she thought, a third car came into view.  That time it moved toward her location.  It wasn’t moving as fast as the others.  There also appeared to be several dips in the road, and the car repeatedly left her view only to reappear a moment later.  As it drew closer she saw that it was a similar model to the first two vehicles. 

“Wait a minute,” she began to ask Mist, but her eyes were glued to the approaching car.  “Are those antiques?  You said it might be from the past.  Is that where we are?” she said turning to the hippie sprite, but Mist was gone.1929 Packard hearse

Luci felt a moment of abject terror.  She turned in every direction, looking for Mist.  However, it was as if she had never been there at all.  There was neither a footprint nor a broken twig to prove her presence had been real.

Lychnis looked up at her and gave a reassuring purr-rawr..  She couldn’t help smiling at his comical face.  “Well,” she reminded herself aloud.  “I knew we’d be on our own eventually, right?  That was part of the deal.  What do you think, Your Kitten-ness?” she nervously asked the oversized lynx kitten, and he head-butted her shins.  “I guess that means get going then… but which way?” she said aloud, more to herself than to the lynx.

Since the only signs of nearby life were the cluster of distant buildings, Luci decided to head that way.  There might well be something closer, around a bend in the other direction, but she chose what she could see.  As she headed down the hill, dust stirring behind her heels, Lychnis walked at her side.

They walked a short way.  She hadn’t seen the vehicle that had been headed her way in a while.  The slow moving car came over a dip in the road.  It swerved wildly.  Luci thought it was a good thing it wasn’t traveling any faster or the driver might have lost control.  However, she realized there wasn’t much for him to run into on that stretch of highway. He’d just run off the road and into the dirt.

She hesitated.  Something was not right about the way that car was moving.  Lychnis sniffed the air in a way that made her think he smelled something he recognized. Lychnis magenta

The car began to move even slower.  Slower.  Luci tilted her head considering it.  She thought it was as if the driver had taken his foot off the gas pedal.  Finally it was close enough for her to see inside.  She gasped when she couldn’t see anyone in the driver’s seat.

Ever so slowly the car veered and ran off the side of the road, coasting to a stop on the shoulder.  Luci was afraid to approach the apparently driverless car.  Curiosity and intuitive concern got the better of her and she ran to the vehicle.

The car was probably white under all the dirt.  The top, fenders and spare tire cover were blue, and it had a chrome front bumper.  Luci guessed it was from the late 1920’s.  When she was close enough she spotted the brand logo for Packard

She kept a good three feet between her and the car.  Seeing an empty car roll down the road unnerved her.  Luci walked cautiously from the passenger side around to the back of the car.  It had a New Mexico license plate.

It was a really long car, with four doors and a compartment behind the backseat.  Looking through the windshield, she still didn’t see anyone inside.  She moved from the front of the car to the driver’s side.  The window was down and she looked inside as she approached.  That’s when she noticed how far back the seat was from the steering wheel.

Movement caught her eye and she jumped.  An involuntary step back caused her to bump into Lychnis.  She regained her balance and looked inside.  Yes, someone was lying across the driver’s seat.  She heard a moan.

Pieces of glass littered the ground beside the car.  She tried to keep Lychnis back, worried that his paws would be cut.  It registered with her that the window had not been rolled down.  No, it was broken out.  There was broken glass inside the car too.

For an instant she thought she saw a snake on the seat by the person’s head, but it turned out to be a long black braid.  As the body shifted up to prop on one elbow she could see that it was a man.  Luci leaned forward and gasped.  He was injured and bleeding heavily.  Worse, he was Bodaway Thunder.

 

Jay Tavare black suit

Jay Tavare as Bodaway

***

End Episode 24

I already hear you screaming about that cliffhanger.  So I thought I’d double the comfort food this time.

Recipes:  Tumbleweeds Two

I found tumbleweed recipes!  Here’s one to eat and one to drink.

Four Ingredient Tumbleweeds

Find this easy little treat at Taste of Home.com

4 Ingredient Tumbleweeds

Here’s something to wash it down, as long as you’re over 21. It’s from Leaf.

Tumbleweed Cocktail

Tumbleweed Drink

Do you forgive me for the cliffhanger yet?  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 23: Reflection

 

1965 Cadillac ad

1965 Cadillac ad

In The Guitar Mancer, Tam’s pride and joy is his vintage 1959 red Cadillac.  That has nothing to do with the 1965 model I’m featuring with this installment.  You’ve seen that sometimes the automobile I choose to begin a post is a small hint about the episode.  Now that you know it’s not Tam’s car, what do you think this hint might be?

Featured BloggerDragon Soul set Peach

I’ve used up most of the “things” that were given to me at the kickoff of this serialization of The Guitar Mancer.  So I was trying to figure out how to tie a blogger to this story.  I had a Homer Simpson “Duh!” moment when I looked at the titular word, Reflection.  Of course!  D. Wallace Peach (aka Diana) calls her blog Myths of the Mirror.  Perfect.  The “thing” I’ll use is mirror.

Recently Diana released a quartet of what I call “high fantasy” books.  Click to learn more about her Dragon Soul books.

Diana’s prose is beautiful and her stories are filled with rich descriptions. Don’t take my word for it — browse around her blog and see how talented she is.  

About This Episode

This installment explains more of the mythology I created for Route 66.  Luci learns a little about what is in store for her.

Hmmm… I’m trying to figure out how I can remind you of the previous installment without giving spoilers for someone who has not read these posts in order.  So I’ll just remind you that Luci learned her mother, Darla, was lost (and probably died) in a strange place The Mother called the Reflected Route.  Meanwhile Luci continued to try and persuade the Spirit of Route 66 to remove the block from her mancer powers.  But now I have a sneaking worried feeling about whether or not she should go through with it…

Episode 23 — Reflection

Car mirror highway_Whiting

Unsplash.com

The Spirit of the Mother Road stared into Luci’s eyes for what seemed like forever.  Luci wanted to look away from her penetrating gaze, but found she could not.

“I take no joy in this,” the Mother finally said and again the Route 66 faeries murmured to one another.

“I will allow the way to the Reflected Road to open,” she intoned formally.

Bodaway Thunder inhaled sharply.  A frightened expression was in Tam’s green eyes as he looked at the shaman.  Goose bumps rose on Luci’s arms.  There was something in the Mother’s voice that she could only describe as permanence.  She was making a proclamation.  Luci felt ice in the pit of her stomach.

“What do you mean, the Reflected Road?” Luci asked.Hope hand mirror2

The Mother gave Luci one of the brightest, most charming smiles Luci had ever seen.  It made her head hurt to try and keep up with the number of different moods of which the Mother was capable, let alone how quickly they changed.

“The Reflected Road is just that — a reflection of the Mother Road.  It’s a place of…” the Mother’s voice trailed away as she paused in thought.  “It’s a place of what if!  It’s where you might find any potential that ever might have happened, past, present, or future,” she said, her eyes bright with excitement. 

Then her brilliant smile twisted to a no-nonsense frown and she put her hands on Luci’s shoulders.  “Or true places of the past or future.  Whether you find truth or falsehood is not the point,” she surprised Luci by saying.  “What you experience on the Reflected Road should take you to the heights, or depths,” she added, her voice dropping dramatically, “of who you are, of the choices of which you are capable.  All the answers are within.  Knowing that about yourself should unlock the block I put on your mancer powers.”

“And if it doesn’t?” Luci wanted to know.

The Mother’s eyes widened.  She shrugged her shoulders up to her ears and spread her hands dramatically. “How should I know?” was all she would say.

Ally Sheedy behind glass Psych

Ally Sheedy as The Mother

The hippies began to glow softly while the Mother spoke.  They turned to each other and directed their attention to the one called Mist.  The frizzy halo of her silver hair glittered.  Mist slowly walked to Luci.

“Neither man nor woman may go with her.  She must find her way out on her own,” the Mother warned sharply with a fierce stare at Tam and Bodaway Thunder.

“Surely the totem must accompany her,” Tam said in a reasoning tone.  “After all, it is neither man nor woman.  Besides, it’s only a baby.  In fact it will likely cause her trouble rather than helping,” Tam said, his face painted with pure innocence.

Bodaway shot him a pointed glance that appeared to be meant to remind him that the Mother could see through him easily.

Domhnall Gleeson frown fist

Domhnall Gleeson as Tam

One side of her mouth turned down briefly and the Mother gave him a contemptuous sidelong glare.  “Yes, it’s a baby.  A baby lynx!  As if I don’t know the properties of lynx medicine?” she said turning to face them fully with her fists planted on her hips.

Tam bent his head, suitably chastised — or at least he looked like he was.  Luci figured it was another pretense.

“The lynx is a spirit animal,” interjected Bodaway.  “It has not had time to fully bond to Luci.  Its path may be disrupted, doing irreversible harm to the cub if it is separated from her at this stage,” the shaman pleaded.

The Mother stared at the shaman for so long that Luci wondered how he could hold her gaze without flinching. 

Lychnis took several steps toward the Spirit of the Mother Road and then sat down not far from her feet.  He looked up at the Mother with his big-eared comical face and started to purr.  Tam looked at the lynx kit with a smirk of admiration.

“Oh all right,” the Mother relented in a put upon voice.  “Her totem can go with her.  But no one else!  Not either of you and not the hawk.  Understood?”

“Luci, you must be wholeheartedly committed to this,” the Mother admonished in a tone so formal that Luci imagined the reverberating noise of a large gong — or perhaps there actually had been a gong.

“You cannot stay on the Reflected Road indefinitely,” she cautioned.  “Bodaway Thunder and Tammarand Ben Taliesin will use their mancer powers periodically to call you back to the Mother Road,” she said.  “You will know when it is time to go to your companions for a period of renewal,” she said vaguely.

How will I know?” Luci asked nervously, feeling overwhelmed.

Jean Shrimpton candle

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

The Mother straightened her shoulders, her expression dire again.  “You will either hear their music, or there will be a sign.  It will vary, but you will recognize the summons.  Or at least you will if you’re paying attention,” she added in a derisive voice as one corner of her mouth turned down rather scornfully.  “Also be alert to your totem.  He will react to the signs,” the Mother advised.

Lychnis chose that moment to pounce on a beetle that crawled near him.  The Mother sighed and shook her gray-streaked red curls.

“Maybe you’re right about him not being that much help,” she commented with a quick look at Tam.

She folded her arms across her chest and stared at Luci for a moment, as if making sure her instructions were sinking into the girl’s memory. 

“As I said, you must step off the Reflected Road from time to time.  But just as you may not stay on it too long, neither can you stay away for long, once you start your journey.  Else the way back will close and you will not be able to complete your path,” she warned.

Luci nodded gravely at the Mother’s questioning look.  “Each time you step off the Reflected Road and momentarily join your friends, you will have the option to abandon your quest,” she said and Luci’s hope rose.  “But if you quit, you forfeit your mancer power — moreover you forfeit the totem.  Lychnis would be no more!”

“Come on!  Is that really necessary?” Tam objected as Bodaway made shushing motions at him.

A horrified gasp escaped Luci’s lips at the prospect of the big kitten “being no more.”  She knew it was ridiculous for her to be so attached to an animal in such a short time, but knowing didn’t change how she felt.  Maybe, she supposed, that was part of what Bodaway was talking about when he mentioned bonding.

The Mother looked at her gravely.  “You are free to reject this offer.  You have not committed yet.  A trickle of the mancer power for which you have potential may yet emerge.  But it would be nothing compared to the utter torrent of the fullness of your potential power,” the Mother said with a broad gesture and a wild gleam in her eyes.  “And the totem will stay with you as your lifelong companion,” she added, bringing a tear of relief to Luci’s eye.Hawk in flight from below

Lychnis leaned against her shins.  Luci could feel the vibration of his purr.  She bent down and scratched him under his chin.  She looked at Freyja, perched on Bodaway’s shoulder.  The big hawk bobbed her head as if in encouragement, then she gave a soft whistle.

Taking a deep, but this time a steady breath Luci nodded affirmatively.  “What do I have to do?” she asked.

“Simply make it to the end of your path,” the Mother told her, though Luci was sure there would be nothing simple about it.

“Wait a minute,” Luci said as a new thought came to her.  “Am I going to walk all the way across the country?”

“Time and distance progress differently on the Reflected Route,” the Spirit of the Mother Road stated.

The Mother turned to Luci’s companions.  “Gentlemen, it is your charge to divine her progress.  At some times she may travel at a walking pace.  Other times she might make a leap of hundreds of miles.  If this happens, and it probably will,” she stressed the words and gave them a wild-eyed look.  “Then you will have to use your mancer powers to reach her next arrival point in time.  And you must be on time,” the Spirit of Route 66 cautioned in a dire tone.Tam-Bodaway blue

Luci took a shaking breath.  She looked at Tam and Bodaway.  She barely knew either man, but she would have to trust them with her life, and do so repeatedly.  The Mother had stressed that they would have to be on time.  Men were rarely on time in Luci’s experience.  Heck, she thought, nobody was ever on time, male or female.  Luci was always the first one at an appointment.  She sighed without realizing she had done so.

“Oh yes, I almost forgot.  Sometimes it might be hard for her to hear your summons,” the Mother added, putting her fingers to her lips in a childlike gesture.

“What are we supposed to do if she can’t hear us?” Tam demanded.

“Try harder,” the Mother told him drolly.

Luci was surprised to see the Mother sneer at Tam, but then her manner changed in that quicksilver way, and she tossed her riot of red curls in a sassy movement.  Then she lowered her eyelids and cast a coquettish glance at the men.

“And be quick about it.  Remember that footsteps do not travel according to miles there.  It is possible that there may be an instance when you are not able to get to her in time,” she stated in an unconcerned voice, making a small gesture with her hand.

“If that does happen, then what do we do?” Bodaway asked.

The Mother’s mouth twisted and she looked at the men levelly.  “If that happens, there’s probably no point in continuing, but you could move on to the next meeting point and hope,” she replied.

1950 Life atomic explosionHer eyes narrowed suspiciously at their aghast expressions.  “You will not be able to go onto the Reflected Route to get her.  Don’t even think about it!” she warned with a fierce look at Tam.  “If you find a way, if you are that powerful, know that you will destroy her, along with a large portion of your own reality.” 

Tam looked at the ground.  His shoulders sagged.  He acted as if he thought the Mother knew what he was thinking whenever he came up with an idea that would subvert her.

The Mother looked a question at Luci, who responded with a serious nod.

Mist stepped forward onto the pavement of Route 66.  The ageless looking silver haired hippy held out her hand to Luci. 

Luci stood, but suddenly her body felt stiff.  How long had she sat there on the cold ground?  The sun was lower on the horizon than she expected.

Moving toward the edge of the road, Luci’s steps slowed even though she tried to force her feet to move faster.  It was as if the air had thickened and become sucking mud, hindering every step.  Eventually she couldn’t lift her feet from the ground.  Luci looked down at the ground, but saw nothing to keep her stuck there.

The lynx kitten paced nervously back and forth from Luci to the edge of the pavement.  Whatever hindered Luci’s steps had no effect on the spirit animal.  Freyja gave a sharp chilling cry.  It sounded like a warning to Luci.

Fearfully she looked up and beheld Mist standing on the Mother Road.  The air around Mist wavered and flashed like sunlight bouncing off a mirror.  A bank of fog rolled down the road, engulfing it.  The silver frizz of Mist’s hair seemed to merge with the color of the fog.

Fog in trees mountains unsplash_52cd2d19237cd_1

Dreamstime.com

“It’s time,” Mist said encouragingly with a kind smile.  “Take my hand!”

Luci reached forward and grasped Mist’s outstretched hand.  Mist pulled firmly and Luci’s feet came free of the unseen force that held them.  Lychnis gave an approving mer-rawr.

The silver fog crept steadily closer.  The Spirit of Route 66 also stepped onto the Mother Road and she began to glow brightly.  Her eyes, even her skin shined with a light from within.  The strange fog engulfed the three women.  Luci could no longer see Tam and Bodaway even though they were only a few feet away.

The Mother stared into her eyes.  Once again, Luci was unable to look away. 

“This is the Reflected Road.  It’s a mirror of the Mother Road,” she reminded Luci.  “As I told you, on your path you may encounter things that have happened in the past.  Time, even eras do not flow according to any pattern here.  When you come out of this fog, you might emerge at any when,” she said, further confusing Luci.

“You might also see and experience things that never happened at all, but could have happened if different choices had been made,” the Mother told her.

Barbara Feldon three quarter

Barbara Feldon as Darla Harper

The Mother stepped very close to Luci and continued sternly.  “You may find things that terrify you, things that cause you to accidentally run away from your path to escape them.  But you must not stray!” she cautioned with that maniacal gleam in her eyes.  “If you step far from your path you will be lost.  Probably forever,” she said dourly, eliciting another nod from Luci.

“Likewise, you will see beautiful things, lost happiness that tempts you to abandon your quest and stay forever on the Reflected Route in a dream world of false happiness.  If you tarry you will be lost,” she told Luci with an expression of beatific ecstasy that seemed to contradict the warning of her words. 

“If you do find such a ‘what if’ and choose to stay, the decision is irrevocable,” the spirit of the Mother Road pursed her lips and added with a one-shouldered shrug.  “The rest of your existence, life and afterlife, will be spent in the Reflected Route,” she said with intensity that made Luci shiver.

“Is that what happened to my mom?” Luci asked.

The Mother’s hair whipped, because she turned so fast.  She cast cold eyes on Luci.  She did not speak. 

***

End Episode 23

Past, present, and future… Truth or things that only might have been… What if?  I wonder what Luci has gotten herself into now.  Stay tuned to learn the answer to that question.

Recipe:  Marble Mirror Glaze

Marble-mirror-glaze-recipe

I Googled all over the place, looking for a recipe with either “reflection” or “mirror” in the name. I almost gave up, but then I found this gorgeous post from Carolina Westwood at Bake My Cake.  (And yes, when I noticed her name was the same as our heroine’s seldom used first name, how could I resist?)

Her recipe for Marble Mirror Glaze comes complete with videos.  However, I’m issuing a warning.  Carolina’s blog is filled with beautiful deserts.  So don’t blame me if your sweet-tooth takes over.  http://bakemycake.org/marble-mirror-glaze-recipe/

Be ready next time, when the vintage Caddy rolls up with another episode of The Guitar Mancer.  Just get in the car!

Bunny Get-in-Car

 

 

 

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.

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 — Episode 17: Parting

1965 Mustang GT inside-out ad

1965 Mustang GT ad

Thanks for coming back to Teagan’s Books and this serialized version of my novel, The Guitar Mancer.

Featured Blogger

His Revenge John HowellBack when I asked everyone to leave “things” in the comments for me to work into this story, I was amazed by how many people mentioned various cars (hence me featuring a vintage auto with each episode). The Ford Mustang was mentioned more than any other car.  The Ford Motor Company did a very fun and funny ad campaign in the 1960s.  You can find some examples of the ads on my Pinterest board for The Guitar Mancer.  

Author and blogger John W. Howell was one of the readers to leave “things” for me.  In addition to a 1965 Ford Mustang,  John also left white tube socks, which I was able to use.

John has a fun blog he calls Fiction Favorites. He has a feature for each day of the week. John also writes exciting suspense novels.  You can learn about his books there, particularly The John Cannon Trilogy.  Currently His Revenge is getting rave reviews.  The third book is on the way. However, here’s a link to his Amazon Author Page as well.

About This Episode

Here’s a teensy-weensy hint about this episode.  You might even be able to see the whole movie here.  Do you remember this little car who had a mind of his own?

 

Episode 16 was eventful.  We learned that Freyja was protecting Lychnis from looking upon the deadly gaze of the basilisk. Then our heroes did away with the venomous serpent.  So what now?  Luci’s barely had a chance to catch her breath since mancers entered her life.

This time we pick up where we left with our heroes… but the group is about to change.

Episode 17 — Parting

Fallen Leaves_1416150008328-6df19173a984

Photo credit:  UnSplash

Every whisper of the wind in the fallen leaves seemed like a warning.  Each time she set one foot ahead of the other, Luci was afraid she might step on another of Yamata Orochi’s seeker snakes.

Eight, she murmured, uncertain whether she said it aloud.  There were supposed to be eight snakes.  The basilisk would have been the eighth.  Unless it didn’t count as a snake

Luci shuddered.  Then she glanced sheepishly at her companions.  She had no idea what their day-to-day life was like.  Did they do that kind of thing all the time?  Get drugged and kidnapped by a magic wielding psycho?  Find a giant poison serpent in the backseat of their car — and watch their car get blown to smithereens?  Have their pet carried away by a spirit animal?

She let out a trembling sigh and tried to collect her wits. Having gotten the over-sized kitten back, Luci wanted some kind of leash for Lychnis even though they were only walking back to her house The lynx might look fully grown, but he was still actually a baby.  She feared he’d run away after so much drama.  She even asked Tam if she could use his belt, but he just gave her a look that suggested she was being unreasonable.  However, Lychnis walked right at her side.  In fact, he was so close to her legs that she stumbled into him.Lynx car ad

The night had finally cleared.  There was enough moonlight that Tam turned off the flashlight as they neared her house.  Luci was startled when Bodaway abruptly made a motion with his hand.  Tam stopped and pulled Luci behind a tree.  Bodaway crouched beside a bush.  It was clear that he was listening for something.

A second later she heard the rumble of a loud motor.  In a moment Luci spotted the 1965 Ford Mustang as it passed by on the road.  She relaxed visibly.

“You recognize that car, Wee Mouse?” Tam asked, eyeing the expression on her face.

“Don’t call—” she began and made a frustrated noise.  “Yes.  That’s just Carl Crabtree sneaking out.”

Tam snorted.  “That’s some talent, if the lad can sneak anywhere with an engine that loud,” he commented.

“Their driveway is on a hill,” Luci said feeling very annoyed.  “Carl puts the Mustang in neutral and lets it roll downhill until he’s out of earshot.”1965 Mustang ad red

The tall shaman walked slightly ahead, with his long legs.  Luci noticed his bell-bottom jeans had gotten ripped.  The tear began at the hem and went halfway up to his knee.  White tube socks peeked over the top of his brogan boots. 

He looked skyward as Freyja flew in an increasingly smaller circle, using her hawk eyes to look for danger.  That made Luci feel somewhat better about the thought of snakes.

Both men were quiet as they all walked back to her bungalow.  Bodaway abruptly stopped and turned toward Tam and Luci.

“We’ve got to get back to the Mother,” Bodaway Thunder said.

There was that crazy comment again.  Luci wanted to ask what he meant.  However, Bodaway’s voice and manner had become reserved.  Luci hadn’t known the shaman long at all, but she didn’t think it was his usual personality.  Besides, she was exhausted and numbed by everything that had transpired in so short a time, so she didn’t speak.

Jay Tavare as Bodaway Thunder

Jay Tavare as Bodaway

“I need to leave right now,” he said, and started forward in ground eating strides.

Luci and Tam ran to keep up with him.  The shaman repeated that he had to leave right away.  His voice brooked no argument.  To Luci’s astonishment, Tam told Bodaway that they would all leave that night.

“What do you mean by leave?” she demanded, not appreciating a decision being made for her.

“You can’t very well stay here now.  Can you, Wee Mouse?” Tam replied and went right back to talking to Bodaway, despite her sputtered protest.

The shaman insisted that there was something he needed to do immediately.  Moreover, he had to do it alone.  So to Tam’s protest, Bodaway got into his custom painted Vista Cruiser.

“I know there’s no talking to you when you’ve made up your mind,” Tam said resignedly.  “May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back,” Tam began the old benediction, but hurriedly stepped away from the station wagon when Bodaway put it in gear.  “And try not to drive like a bat out of bloody Hell,” Tam called after his old friend as Bodaway sped into the night.

In silence they watched the tail lights of the station wagon as it traveled around a curve and out of sight.1970 Vista Cruiser

Tam took what seemed like a deep resigned breath, and then he hustled Luci into her home.  He barely gave her enough time to change out of the satin evening gown and stuff a few necessities into a bag.

Once again she felt the magical information overload, as she thought of the explanation Tam and Bodaway gave her about mancers and everything that was happening.

“Do I really need Q-tips and a paperback Romance?” she muttered as she looked at what she had packed in blind haste.  What was she thinking?  However, since they were already in the suitcase, she left them there.

While Tam bagged up some food for them, and everything she had for Lychnis, she ran to her closet and grabbed an armful of clothes.  She didn’t spend any time selecting what she pulled out of the closet.  However, she smirked when she anticipated the sandy haired man’s reaction, because she knew she’d still end up with everything matching.Dresses Quilt Luci

Mr. Blaylock, at the recording studio where she was supposed to start working in a few days, described the flamboyant women that attracted Tam.  Luci knew she wasn’t in the least like them.  Maybe she wasn’t even stylish in a high fashion way.  However, she liked pretty things.  She also knew how to put outfits together, and she did it without even thinking.

The thought of Matt Blaylock caused her to wonder if she’d still have a job when they got back.  With a helpless shrug, she glanced at her antique white metal bed.  It was topped with her favorite quilt.  Luci gave a quick caress to the pattern.  Each square featured a different little dress.  They were all the same general shape, but each quilt square was unique.

On the nightstand was a photograph of Luci and her father.  It was taken on her birthday just before she started taking classes for her associate degree at the business college.  Her dad gave her the Malibu for that birthday.  The Chevrolet wasn’t brand new, but it was only a couple years old at the time.  Luci thought of the burned out remains of the car Grover gave her.

James Garner white shirt

James Garner as Grover Harper

A deeply seeded fear that she was leaving everything in her home behind forever settled in the pit of her stomach.  On impulse she rolled up the quilt to take it with her.  After all, they should probably have some kind of blanket.  Right?

When Tam saw her with the bundled quilt he merely nodded.  He must have thought it was sensible.  However, he had not seen the top side with all the little dresses.

The comment Tam had made several times about “getting back to the mother,” kept coming back to Luci. 

“Does your mom live in Chicago?  Or family?” she asked him curiously.

“Huh?  My mum?” he returned a question rather than an answer.

“Well, you mentioned something about going to your mother,” Luci said.

“Oh that.  No, it’s not about that,” Tam said then changed the subject as if he didn’t have time for any explanations.  Luci had to admit that was probably true.

“Be sure to take a warm coat, a water repellent one if you have it,” Tam advised.  “This time of year Chicago is bitter cold and wet.”

Luci went to the coat closet next to the front door.  She pulled out her parka.  It was down filled, light green with a matching “fun fur” trimmed hood.  Then she remembered Tam’s torn leather jacket.  It wouldn’t be warm even if Lychnis hadn’t slashed it.

1950s US Military Parka

1950s US Military Parka

With quick strides she hurried into the kitchen and tossed the military coat to Tam.  He caught it with a surprised look on his face.

“Oh, I don’t really need anything,” he protested, but the way he glanced down at the torn front of his leather jacket and then to the coat displayed some doubt.

“Bitter cold and wet?” Luci reminded him of his own words.

He made a wry face.  “Point taken.  Thank you Wee Mouse,” he said.

“Don’t call me that!” Luci spat the words.

Had he smirked as she turned away?  She quickly looked over her shoulder, causing her hair to fly.  His pupils dilated for an instant, but he returned her gaze with one of complete innocence.

She checked the boarded up front door.  It seemed remarkably secure for the quick fix Bodaway said it was.  Luci, Tam, and Lychnis exited via the kitchen door.  Out of habit Luci gave the door knob an extra twist to make sure it was locked.  She took a deep breath as she looked from the remains of her Malibu and back at the kitchen door.  She hoped she would see her house again.

Jean Shrimpton houndstooth

Jean Shrimpton as Luci

***

Highway Hum

The tires of the 1959 Cadillac hummed at an odd pitch.  Luci supposed that was because it was a vintage vehicle.

“So are you awake, Wee Mouse?” Tam asked in a cheerful tone.

Luci was determined that if Tam wouldn’t let her share the driving she’d at least stay awake to keep him company.  However, she had been kidnaped and drugged, fled from a psycho-villain, and then found a basilisk in the backseat of her car.  After that, she’d been awake all night as they traveled.  Luci felt guilty that she dozed off — Tam went through the same things. 

Jean Shrimpton in car wind

Jean Shrimpton as Luci Harper

With a shake of her head, Luci tried to be alert.  However, she became focused on that sound the tires made.  Tam said something else and she muzzily realized that the unusual pitch of the tires humming exactly matched the timbre of his voice.

“Humph,” she muttered, not awake enough to process the thought that had just taken root in her mind.

“Don’t tell me you’re a grumpy riser,” Tam teased.  “Here, have a Pixie Stick.”

She didn’t know what real food the sandy haired man had packed, but apparently he brought all the candy.  He popped a sour ball candy into his mouth and mumbled around it.  She thought he was saying something about coffee, but it was hard to be sure.Love Bug poster 1968

A somewhat dated billboard for the movie about Herbie the Volkswagen Beetle “Love Bug” graced the roadside.  It had pictures of Dean Jones, Michele Lee, and Buddy Hackett.  Luci thought she and her two companions could almost be that trio in a cross country race. 

No, she thought, reconsidering.  Not really.  They were nothing like the characters in the Disney movie.  Besides, they weren’t even together in one car.  She felt a sudden pang of worry for Bodaway Thunder. 

She remembered hearing Tam say how as mancers, he and the shaman could also be targets for Yamata Orochi. 

He was seven feet tall, but he seemed like a kind and gentle soul.  Long ago Orochi stole that Onmōyji’s divination magic — so he might decide to go after the rare blend of shamantic and mancer magic Bodaway possessed.  Bodaway Thunder might be in more danger than anyone.

Johnny Depp smirk skull

Johnny Depp as Yamata Orochi

Luci looked over at Tam.  She needed to talk about her fear for Bodaway.  However, she knew Tam must be worried to death about him.  His face had been so pensive as he drove.  Luci was sure his sudden cheerfulness was an act.

Once again Luci offered to share the driving, but Tam refused.  They had gone from Nashville almost to Chicago.  

Another man with a stupid bad attitude about “women drivers,” Luci thought with a sigh. 

He had to be exhausted.  Luci tried to shrug off his determination to be macho She knew men tended to be a lot more possessive of their cars.  He probably didn’t want anyone else driving his baby.  Even though he had blown her baby car to bits, another part of her brain reminded her derisively.

Tam seemed to have such a rapport with the Cadillac that he sometimes talked to it almost as if he believed it could actually understand him. 

The man definitely has some quirks, Luci thought.  Although maybe she did too, because sometimes it seemed like the car actually did do what he wanted.  It was enough to make her wonder if the Cadillac and Vista Cruiser didn’t have minds of their own, similar to Herbie the Volkswagen. 

The boredom of the road opened her mind to speculation about the vehicles.  She believed the two men might have some kind of bond with the cars.  It seemed more and more like the Cadillac really did seem to respond to Tam’s words or touch.  Briefly she wondered if the Caddy, and probably Bodaway’s Vista Cruiser too, might be alive somehow.  Why not, if Herbie the Love Bug could have a mind of his own?  1959 Cadillac night

Mancers, Luci reminded herself and then she continued to speculate.  Perhaps the vehicles are not innately magic.  If the cars are alive somehow, could it be a byproduct of mancer power?  Could the cars have had enough magic used on them that it effected the nature of… of what they were?  What if a side-effect of exposure to power created something magical within the machines?

No,” she told herself.  “You’ve seen a lot of crazy magic stuff, but that doesn’t mean magic is everywhere and in everything.”

End Episode 17

***

Luci’s idle mussing is probably just the result of fatigue and highway hypnosis… Even so, you can’t help wondering if she might be right.  But I think we already have enough magic to understand without adding that to the mythology.  

Do long trips down the highway make you hungry?  What kind of hostess would I be if I didn’t offer you something to eat?

At first I didn’t think about “casting” this serialized version of The Guitar Mancer.  I saw my heroine, Luci, as a fashion hound, but not in the stereotypical snobbish way.  Anyhow, I was looking at 1960s fashions for inspiration, and I kept seeing photos of model Jean Shrimpton. Suddenly she was Luci.  Jean Shrimpton was affectionately nicknamed The Shrimp.  So in her honor, the food for this installment is, of course, shrimp.

Recipe

I always look first among the followers of Teagan’s Books for recipes.  I hit the shrimp jackpot at The Frugal Hausfrau.  I chose this one because it seems like something Luci and her dad, Grover, might have eaten.

Shrimp Po’ Boys & Cole Slaw

https://frugalhausfrau.com/2012/04/17/shrimp-po-boys/

Shrimp Po Boys

Next time, we’ll learn more about one mysterious phrase that you’ve seen several times — We’ve got to get back to the Mother…  Until then, stay groovy.  Mega hugs! 

I live for your comments.  I don’t think I’m exaggerating — your comments mean that much to me.  However, this weekend I’ve gone “unplugged.  So I’ve disabled the comments this one time.  I hope it in no way discourages you from leaving comments on the next episode.  Flower Power Heart

 

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.