Part 12 – The Serpent and the Rainbow

The final stop on the magical mystery tour has Grace and Sanaa headed to the west side of Fresno.  Things seem to be calmer than what they experienced downtown or on the south side.  That could be because it seems mostly deserted though rather than any kind of lawfulness inherent in the citizens.  Did everyone leave town or are they just inside keeping their heads down?  

When Sanaa gives her an address instead of vague witchy “I feel we need to go this way” directions like she has been doing, at first Grace doesn’t think anything of it, she’s just glad to have some concrete information for once instead of driving around in circles with witch-GPS.  But after a couple minutes of driving she realizes that’s not quite right.  

Grace frowns slightly “Do you know where we’re going?”

Sanaa’s tone is slightly sarcastic “Yes, how could I give you the address if I didn’t know?”

“How do you know where one of these anchors is?”

“My friend told me.  That’s how I knew about all of this.”

“I thought that your mentor spirit communicated that to you.”

Sanaa’s response is somewhat prim “I never said that.”

“Why hasn’t this friend of yours been helping us this whole time?”

“He did help us, he told me about it and then I helped you.  There’s not a lot more he could have done, he’s a burnout.”

“A burnout like someone who’s messed up in the head from heavy drug use or a burnout like someone who can’t do magic anymore?”

“Both in this case.  He’s a serpent shaman about to be reborn, they get to a pretty low place before they experience a spiritual reawakening.  That’s a rewarding path to walk but a hard one as well, I’m not ashamed to say that I’m glad that serpent didn’t choose me as a messenger, I don’t think I could handling riding those waves of ups and downs.  It’s probably an experience like being bi-polar.”

“I thought it was taboo to talk about someone’s mentor spirit.”

“Serpent is a sun sign.”

Grace bites her tongue to hold back a cutting remark about how that doesn’t explain a damn thing.  She has about a million questions about what Sanaa just said but she holds that back too.  Trying to talk to Sanaa about magic is an experience in frustration for Grace.   Whatever secret spirit gives Sanaa her powers, it seems to demand that she answer any inquiries with cryptic nonsense most of the time and/or get really upset about the question being asked at all.  Or maybe that has nothing to do with the spirit world and Sanaa is just an annoying person.  Either way, Grace has learned her lesson.  

They pull into a small strip-mall with an H&R Block (closed), Xfinity by Comcast (closed), Cactus Bill’s BBQ Corral (windows smashed out and boarded up) and Rain or Shine Magic Shop which for some reason has a buxom cartoon lady in pink pajamas on the front.  The parking lot is empty except for an overturned dumpster and the trash that was once in it when it was upturned.  Sanaa indicates for Grace to park by the magic shop.

Grace peers into the dark store as she turns the car off “This is where they did the last spell?  I guess they have a sense of humor.  That’s not what you expect from a gang of black magic assholes.”

Sanaa looks over at her “What’s funny about it?”

Grace gestures “Doing a real magic ritual at a place like this.”

“This area has a natural upwelling energy used to power our gifts. It’s very weak because they built all this stuff here, and it was a minor site even before that in honesty, but there’s still some energy here.  That’s why my friend put his shop here. To protect and cultivate what little sacred power is left.  What we’d like to do is buy out these other business and tear down the entire thing, put a park here or a mediation center maybe.”

Grace holds her hand up as Sanaa moves to get out of the car “Wait a minute, hold on, is this the same friend who told you about all of this?”

“Of course.”

Grace grips the steering wheel to calm herself “So, wait . . . wait a second . . . what exactly is the story here?  Your friend was here and these people broke into his store or what happened?  Does he have a security camera?  Maybe we can figure out who they are.”

“Oh, he knows who they are.”

Grace holds her hands up in the universal sign for ‘WTF’ and when Sanaa doesn’t answer, uses her words “What the fuck are you talking about?  You’ve known this entire time who was behind this?  Why have we been going all over town doing this bullshit?”

“My goal is to undo the anchoring spells and stop the summoning.  That’s what we’ve been doing.  I’m not going to get involved in whatever magician turf war you have going on with these people.  I’m helping you out because Dany asked me to, I don’t know you, you’re probably just as bad as them.  Your type are all users and manipulators.”

Grace wants to hit Sanaa at this point.  She wants to do it very badly.  But she doesn’t do that because she’s a good person.  She says as much to herself several times.  She closes her eyes for a moment and takes some deep breaths.  Serenity now.  She thinks about the calm pretty blonde lady on her anger management videos with her soothing tranquil voice – you can’t control what other people do, only your reaction.  When someone is being an obstacle you don’t get frustrated about it or angry about it, you just put it in your mind and that’s where your work begins.  

Grace lets out a long breath through her nose from deep in the diaphragm and then turns to Sanaa “I’m sorry you feel that way.  I hope that my actions have demonstrated to you that I am trying to do the right thing, despite whatever concerns you might have about how my magical practices and beliefs differ from yours.  If you could share all the information you have about this situation with me that would be very helpful, but if you don’t feel comfortable with that, I completely understand and respect that.”

Sanaa looks at Grace for a moment “I know this question isn’t really okay to ask, but would you be willing to tell me if you were born a man?”

 Grace sighs “Let’s just go.”


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