Friday, 21 June 2013

The Key To Avalon

He walked into my office after ignoring the pleas of my secretary that I was in a meeting, and sat down across from me.  I was in the middle of eating my dinner of a freshly-delivered pizza.  The first steaming hot piece was halfway to my mouth when I saw him sit down and just stare at me, then I put it down slowly and looked back.
“Are you Elenore?” his voice was soft, with an edge of impatience about it.
“Yes.” I nodded, “Would you like a slice?  I’m about to eat dinner.”
He glanced at the pizza and nodded, “Okay, seeing I interrupted.”
Placing a couple of pieces onto the lid and turning it around to face him, I glanced at him, “So, you know my name, what’s yours?”
“Daniel.” He picked up one piece and bit in.  After polishing off most of the slice, he told me his problem and why he approached me, “I have been trying to get a hold of you, but you’re a tough one to nail down.”
“Not really, I have all your messages, but have yet to get back to you.” I took a sip from my drink as I listened to him. 
“Will you take my case?” he asked, “I just need you to do that.”
“Sure… but exactly what is your case?  You’ve told me a problem and that I’m who you were looking for, but not why.”
“You’re not exactly the run of the mill kinda …”he cleared his throat, “… detective I’ve tried before.”
“Oh… I get it, you’ve tried the rest, now you’re going to try me out.” I smiled, “Funny.” I stood and collected the now empty pizza box, closed it and shoved it into my recycling bin, “You can go now.”
Standing, he pulled from his pocket a bottle of light blue liquid.  It shone when my desk lamp lit through it, “Before I leave, please, I beg of you, take this.”
My eyes widened as I took it gently from his fingers, and I heard myself whisper, “That’s Dragons’ Tears.  True-to-life, rare as all shit Dragons’ Tears.”
“Yes.” He nodded, “I believe you’re looking for it for a spell you’ve been working.” He pointed to the bottle, “I can get more as payment.”
Shaking my head, “But dragons are extinct, so are fire-drakes.  And by the way it’s reacting to light, it’s not fake, so where are you getting this from?”
“I can’t tell you, but trust me when I say that my name is Daniel and I do need your help with my problem.” He said.
I looked into the swirling bubbles of gorgeous blueness in the tiny bottle before looking back at him, “What do you need me to find?”

“The Key to where?” Desmay asked turning from her ancient texts.
“Yeah, I know… I’ve only heard of it, but never been there – nobody has.” I pulled from my bag the bottle of dragon tears and turned it around in my hands, “And my payment is Dragons’ Tears.”
Stepping down from the ladder which leaned against her library of books, she looked at what I had in my hand, “Holy shit.  Just look at that thing.”
“It’s real.” I said holding it up to the light and watching its gorgeous blueness turn around.  My eyes moved back to her as her blond curls massed around her face, “Can you help me?”
“Sure.” She nodded, “I’ll just fly you to the UK to and area of land where Avalon is supposed to be – but isn’t – and the key will work.” She set a box on the table and opened it with a brass key and began sorting through it, “I was given something strange about five years ago by some weirdo at a convention.  He didn’t want anything for it, but told me to protect it with my life.”
“And?” I asked.
“Well… remember when my house was broken into but nothing was taken?” she kept rummaging.
“Yeah.  That was strange.” I shook.
Smiling she pulled out a long, crème-coloured skeleton key.  It looked like a toy, “They were looking for this.” She gave it to me, “It’s the key to Avalon.”
“Does it work?” I asked.
She shrugged, “There’s only one way to find out.”

The monolith stood tall in the middle of the field as the fog rose around it.  This was the place:  Avalon.  It was surrounded Arthurian mythology and history; and yet people didn’t know what was the truth about it.  Daniel, Desmay and I had walked over two kilometres across that marshy field to the tall old ruins of what was left of Avalon.
“This place used to be something of legend… a place where magicks of long ago worked and was once real.” Daniel smiled as we all climbed up to the tall, moss and vine-covered doors stood.
I looked at him, “You know, this might not work.”
He nodded, “But you will still be paid.”
“I must bless this place first before continuing.   I can’t just open these doors without asking permission.” I pulled open my bag and laid out my Book of Shadows and Athame.
“Just use the key.”
“No.” Desmay said, “She can’t, not without blessing place first – and then blessing the key.  Being an occultist, she must do everything by the book, or something bad will come from this place.”
Daniel turned on me, “Dammit woman, you don’t get it!  I must get inside that place.”
I stopped and looked at him, “Why?”
“Because I was thrown out of there… it’s been a thousand years and a day and I’m supposed to be allowed back in!” he turned to the doors and thumped on them, “But when I asked the Gods, they denied me access.” His gaze turned to me, “Why do you think I asked you?”
“Because I’m a practicing witch; and you were going to sacrifice me in your place to get in.” I smiled.
He turned, shocked, “How did you know?”
Smiling, I opened my Book as I pointed my Athame to the sky.  Thunder clapped above us, “Goddess of change, Diana and gods of All, do you wish us access to permit Daniel…” a massive thunder clap cut me off as lightning struck a nearby shrub.  I turned to the man, “Whatever you did to be thrown out pissed them off.” I turned back to my Book, “I have the Key to Avalon…”  my hand reached inside my pocket, pulled it out and held it high.  As it was held up, lightning flashed!  Thunder cracked!

My life changed forever as I was permitted access to Avalon. 

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Pork Chop Night

He sat in his recliner waiting.

Where in the hell was she?  He was hungry and the sun was getting low. 

What did she expect him to do? Cook his own friggin’ meal? 

After all today was Pork Chop Friday. 

He watched the 5pm news for another few seconds before his eyes drifted to the front door again and he grunted as he pushed himself out of the comfortable recliner and walked to the old, rusty screen door.  Squinting out, he strained his ears for the car engine, but there was silence on the road.
“Dumb bitch.” He turned away, burped as he looked at the empty beer bottle in his hand and shuffled into the kitchen to get himself another from the fridge.  He threw the empty on in the sink where it clattered next to the other five he’d drunk over the last hour or so.  He’d guzzled down a quarter of the new beer before the fridge door closed, belched loudly, let off a fart and walked back into the lounge room where he was about to sit back down when the car pulled up.  He wiped his nose on his dirty sleeve as he kicked the screen door open, “Hey about time you got your lazy arse home, you dumbarse bitch!  Where’s my dinner!”

The cab driver didn’t stop for long as he unloaded the boot quickly at the front gate and drove off.  He hated it when they didn’t help her with the groceries… but then, maybe he scared the shit out of them too.
“Sorry, Dad.” Bethany’s face was down.  Shit he was drunk again, why did he have to drink so much? “Pork Chops tonight?”
“Yeah.” He snapped walking to the gate barefooted and downing the rest of the beer, then throwing the bottle across the yard where it smashed against the side fence, “Come on, I’ll get the rest in.  You start on dinner.”
She hurried inside and looked at the kitchen.  She had left him at 8am this morning and this place was tidy… within nine hours, he turned it into a pig-sty.  Exactly how he managed to do this was beyond her, but she worked fast; and had the kitchen back to its near-former tidiness by the time he came in with the bags and dumped them on the table. 
“So?” he asked standing in the doorway of the kitchen.
“What?” she turned from the sink she had just emptied of bottles.
“Where’s my fuckin’ pork chops?”
Bethany pointed at the bags, “In the bags.”
“Well cook ‘em!” he shouted taking a threatening step toward her, a fist raised.  His face began to turn red, the stench of beer on his breath, “I’m hungry!”
“I’m tired!” she screamed stomping her boot.  She threw the bag full of beer bottles on the floor where they shattered and she kicked the bag across the room.  They sounded like bad bells as she began to scream at him, “Has it ever crossed your mind that I’m your goddamn fucking daughter and not your friggin’ wife!  That I’m studying my arse off at a university across town and staying here to save money to get my arse out of this shit-arse place, and all you’re doing is drinking and screaming at me when I get home to feed your lazy, fat stomach when you could be out there doing shift work or pushing a broom around a high school or fixing a car for somebody or… or…” she burst into tears turned from him, hands balled into tight fists and bashed the steel of the sink, leaving a couple of dents in it. 
Her outburst broke his heart into a million pieces – just like his wife’s death had the year before from a sudden stroke in the middle of the night.  It had taken her so quick; and yet he had dumped the running of the house and his life and, well, everything on his wonderful, talented daughter without a second thought.  Roger turned into the most rotten father around… and how did this happen?  He simply stopped giving a rat’s arse about himself and allowed himself to wallow; and poor Bethany was left to pick up the pieces every time he drank himself into oblivion… or to bail him out at the cop shop… or pick him up out of the gutter out the front of the house on Saturday mornings.
Either way, he was running her into the ground, and this was his wake-up call.
“I’m sorry.” He whisper reached her ears as he walked toward her and touching her shoulder, “I’m a bastard and a drunk and an arsehole and you shouldn’t have to put up with me.”
Turning from the darkness outside, Bethany cried hard into her father’s smelly old shirt, “Oh, Dad what happened to you?” her body convulsed against him as he kissed her head, “I miss her too… but I’m trying to get on with it.”
He pulled away, “How about we get takeaway tonight?  Pork chops can wait until tomorrow… when I can actually remember them.”
Smiling through her tears, she nodded, “That sounds great.”
“And I’ll cut right back on the booze and find a job.” He reached over to the phone and grabbed a couple of takeaway menus, “Pizza or Thai?”

Saturday, 8 June 2013

The Stalker

Sammy looked up from the piano and groaned as he played the chords of his latest request.  Of all the music rooms, of all the high schools, of all the states in Australia, she had to walk into his… well, okay not really his, but Mr Sharp’s .  Glancing over at Gene, he somehow caught the teacher’s eye, indicated at the door with his head and the teacher walked over to the young student and started talking to her.

This was going to be trouble.

Big trouble, and Sammy knew it.

He thought she was out of his life forever.  But she kept on showing up.  So, he knew what he had to do… he had to take off and see what would happen.  Sammy finished his piece, closed the piano lid and picked up his bag to leave.
“Hey Sam, thought you’d like to show Veronica around the place.” Gene smiled, “It’s her first day here.  Her parents just moved to Brisbane.”
Yeah I bet. He nodded, “Oh, I see.  But I can’t.  I have somewhere to be.”
“Oh… that’s a pity.” He said and let Sam go.
Once out the door, he didn’t turn around, knowing Veronica was standing outside the music room watching him leave.  She was expecting him to turn just once; almost ordering him to.  Shit, he needed a day off from her.  Why did she show up all the time; just when he thought he was over her?

The bus into town was good.  He swiped his Go Card and grabbed a seat near the middle where he could see a mirror reflecting everyone on the bus behind him.  He was being stupid thinking she might be already on here, but he knew what she was like.  Instead, he saw her running up to the bus and jumping on, also swiping her Go Card.
“Hi Sam.” She smiled that award-winning smile she sprung on any unsuspecting human being around, “Now, why are you trying to get away from me?” she pushed herself into the seat next to him; forcing him to shove over next to the window.
He looked out the window, “You keep following me around.”
“You’re not making it easy to keep up with you.” She touched his hand and he pulled away quickly, “Aww, don’t be like that.  Let’s have some fun.  What do you want to do?”
Get away from you. “Don’t you have a boyfriend?” he asked.
“Yeah… we’re cool.” She nodded as the bus pulled away from the curb, “But you were my first real love and I’ll leave him to be with you.”
“Look I’m not all that great, really.” He tried to move away from her, but found himself wedged against the window as she moved closer, “Besides, don’t you have a promise ring or something like that he gave you saying that you belong to him?”
Holding out her left hand, she wiggled her fingers showing off a gold ring with a garnet in it, “Yeah, it’s cute.” Her dark eyes looked up at him as her raven hair flicked back, “But it’s you I want.”
The bus turned a corner onto Edward Street and Sam saw his exit, pressed the button and the bus pulled up to a stop.  He pushed past Veronica as the doors opened and he swiped his card as he rushed out the doors and they slammed shut behind him.  He didn’t wait to see if the bus stopped again as he raced off toward Eagle Street Pier.  He wanted to get away from her… she was so suffocating.  As he approached the ferry, he found he was on time for the one to go to Southbank.  As the City Cat pulled away from the river bank, Sam spotted Veronica running along the bank.  He went inside and found a seat; he had a few minutes before she caught up to him.

Throughout the day, he was constantly looking over his shoulder as he walked around Southbank and West End, and Veronica always seemed to be around the place or nearby.  Exactly how she knew where he’d be was beyond him.  But he didn’t like how this was turning out.  His stalker was beginning to get to him in the most uncomfortable way; after all, he had begun running from her two years ago after leaving Melbourne and thought he had ditched her. 
But he was wrong.
As he walked up to the GoMA, he spotted Mr Sharp from his school who was standing at the reception desk, who turned and caught his eye, “Sammy, we’ve been looking for you.”
He turned and looked for Veronica, but she seemed to have vanished, “You have?” he turned back to him, “Veronica’s been tailing me all day.”
“We’ve been looking for her too.  Her husband…”
“Yeah… husband.” He said, “He’s been worried she’s going to leave him for somebody else.”
He looked around the foyer of the art gallery, knowing she was around here somewhere, “She’s here, but she’s hiding.”
“I just want to be with you…” when she saw his face, her smile faltered, “Oh, you know about him don’t you?”
“Listen, I loved you at one point, but you can’t just leave him.  It’s far safer if you go with him.” Sammy said, “Besides, if you stay with me, we’ll be running all the time.”
“Away from what?”
He held her hands gently, “Well, I keep running from you… think about it.”
She looked down, “Oh… you’re a traveller, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, every year is a holiday to me.”
Mr Sharp smiled, “Veronica, it’s best if you do leave and go back to Sydney where your husband is waiting.”
She nodded and looked up at Sammy, “I love you.”
“I know.”
Letting go of his hands, she walked outside into the waning day.  Sam turned to Mr Sharp, “This is the beginning of a new friendship, Gene.”
“Yeah.  But this time, you’re free.”