I feel tenacious ecstasy. I walked a thousand steps down a hundred alleyways to find myself here. Alone and unafraid. My dingy secondhand coat hides the sparkle of the sequin flapper dress I found in a church thrift store basement. It’s vintage and smells of forbidden days when you could speak easily and consume Patty’s White Lightning in hidden cafes. Now the liquor flows like a river but speech is hidden away behind locked cupboards and mason jars. Everything has been sheet rocked and bottled. Stamped with a whiff of quirk pulled from a list of safe insanities. It’s not hoarding if it’s humboldts. I stare hard at the Cross of Eire scratched into the metal firedoor. The light is dim. There is no art to this etching. It’s raw, scratched in using broken fingernails and dead dreams. I knock three times and the door opens. I step inside to find a bordello of emotion. Passion and sadness are sold beside joy and anger. I smile.
The mysterious cowboy’s name was Violette. He rode his trusty ostrich into town. He was searching for his soul. He’d lost it in a card game to a man named Sparkle. He had spent the last ten years scraping together every nugget of gold he could find. Now he was going to buy his soul back. He strode into the saloon “I’m here to see Sparkle!” No one even glanced his way. He strode up to the bar. The bartender was a young girl, barely ten years old. She smiled at him, a gap in her front teeth. He gave her a hard stare. “Where’s Sparkle?” She spoke eloquently. “He’s in the church, sir.” Violette nodded and strode out. He opened the door of the little grey church and found Sparkle at the front in preachers robes. Sparkle smiled widely at Violette. “So we meet again.” Violette shook the bag of gold at him. “I’ve come to buy my soul back.” Sparkle frowned. “No can do. It’s already been recycled.”
“Of course. Waste not, want not. In fact you probably met the new owner, she tends bar at the saloon.”
If you’d like to reach the Mount Olympus gift shop, you have to step across the mirror lake. Be careful of the waterfall of dreams, many a weary traveler has succumbed to the lure of a bed of mist and promises of sweet dreams. Those dumb bastards drowned. Don’t be a dumb bastard. The trail starts to the right of the waterfall. It is a deceptively easy climb. There is not much more than a few large boulders to clamber over, but beware. Just as you start to see the trees thin out there is a blind corner. Once you walk around the turn you will find a trail house. DO. NOT. STOP. There is an inviting porch and usually a warm fire in the fireplace. You may be tired but keep going. That is the house of the Diplomat. She cooks up wayward travelers in her soup pot. After that it is an easy walk to the gift shop, located in a cave just after the trees end. Be sure to have the cashier validate your parking before you head back. Good luck & gods speed.
The snow brushed up against the window as the breath of the earth gasped. Delicate ice patterns traced across the clear canvas until it was frosted lace to view the world through. The cult of the Cobra lay coiled comfortably in the shabby chic living room. A crackling fire was well tended in the hearth. It was Tuesday, and Tuesdays are for backgammon. Karen had brought her famous Capri-Corn Salsa and Betty was trying a new recipe, Gemini Pie. One side was Key Lime and the other was Strawberry Rhubarb. If you didn’t slice just right the taste was… unexpected. Benny was just happy to have some people over to show off his decorating. He’d recently purchased a snakeskin sofa as a wink to his fellow cult members. He was disappointed in their reactions. Barely a meh between them. Judith refused to sit on it, calling is “sacrilegious” so she was perched on a reclaimed wood arm chair instead. She’d forget about her disdain within a month when she wears her new mink coat and doesn’t want it ruined by the rustic chair.
You can tell the broken homes. The copper taste of sadness hangs out front. Sometimes they are brand new and yet broken. The wizards who built them refused to install the souls properly. “Lack of funding” they call it. Worse yet are the flippered men. They drain the soul from an old home and then drink it from a mason jar. ‘Home Brew’ they call it with a wink, but they never smile when they say it. Even they aren’t willing to joke about their profane profession. Sometimes a home seems whole on paper. A family unloads to investigate and they skip through the hallways. Yes. They think. This could be it. Then they step out the back door and they catch the scent of copper. Their joy turns to unease. In the backyard they catch a glimpse of something twisted by the pool. A wisp of tragedy. They bundle up their children and flee. Leaving an exasperated realtor staring in surprise.