Moon Magic Or Not: Let's Dance
John W. Gilmore
“This beach is too crowded, Rodrigo.”
“This is prime time. No wonder. You should come here when the tourist season is over, Man.” I just frowned. “You're here too much anyway, Paul. You need to get a job or something.”
“A job or something just ain't my thing.”
“You still living off of other people, eh?”
“Not other people, investments. When I told you to buy that Bitcoin about 15 years ago you laughed at me. I took my little savings account my parents put away for me, all $500 which I thought was all the money in the world, and bought 500 Bitcoin. Now, look at what I have. All I have to do is sell just a percentage of it every month and I can live like a king. You want to live like a king? Buy Bitcoin.”
“It's too late for that.”
“You never know.”
“Well, I like my job too. I am an actor you know. We don't just quit. It's my calling, Paul. I'm just getting successful. What's your calling, sitting on the beach checking out girls?”
“I only check out the women Rodrigo, and believe me, that even gets boring after a while. So I quench my thirst with a few wine coolers, take a nap, and I'm cool. I'm renting one of those little houses right along Mission Beach, Man.”
“So you like to waste money, eh? I think you need to go somewhere for a change. You are just burning yourself out, you know?”
“Maybe. Maybe I'll go traveling. You wanna go?”
“I can't just disappear. I'm shooting a movie right now. I can meet you somewhere every once and a while. I'll be busy for a long time though. Why don't you get a job? There's a bookstore near me you could work at.”
“Me get a job. Ha!”
“It's an occult bookstore. You could meet some interesting people.”
“I'll go apply tomorrow,” I said with a grin. I adjusted my umbrella and laid back.
“Don't try to blow me off, Man. I know the owner. I'll get the job for you by the end of the week.”
“Do whatever,” I said. I closed my eyes and could feel sand being thrown on me. “Hey!” I sat up and began to brush off the sand.
“I'm going to work, Man. See you later.”
“Yeah. Later,” I said. He walked off. I had a strange feeling and turned around. A strange-looking woman was looking and me and turned her head as soon as I saw her. That was interesting. I laid back down and then looked for her again, but she was gone.
Just a couple of days later I am meeting Larry, the owner of the bookstore. Larry just keeps talking about his stupid bookstore and the benefits of working there. They had a cool coffee shop connected to the thing. That was good. He said I could have all the coffee I wanted and I could have flexible hours. That was enough for me. He told me I had to work full time to get any benefits. Like I was going to work at some bookstore. I didn't even know why I took the job. I guess I was bored, to be truthful. What good was living in this beautiful place with all the fun and the sun if you were all alone? I could have found a girlfriend, of course, but these people were the most materialistic people I had ever seen. You almost had to have a bank statement attached to your head if you wanted a date.
I hit the party scene every so often. Everybody was so fake. They would drive up in their super-expensive cars wearing very expensive watches and jewelry to subtly show off all their money. The women would be all buff and half-naked. Everything was about status. Believe it or not, I would have status just from being in a coffee shop that sold occult books even if I wasn't making enough to even live off of, just because it was one of the hot spots. Lucky I had my investments. I could step out of this place whenever I wanted, but I would stay for now. I came in early the next day and learned how to make all the coffee drinks and how to ring people up at the register. I came in a few extra days to really get into the groove so I could do it smooth, and then I started working my two days a week on weekends.
The place was packed. I couldn't believe it. Some of the people were really weird. Marsha was working with me. She was a blond who chewed a lot of gum. She was probably a bleach blond, but that didn't matter anymore since all the other ones were too. She had a wicked sense of humor. She could be pretty cruel sometimes but came off as very friendly while serving the public, even though she talked about them behind their backs like dogs. A tall black woman came walking in. She was wearing all black with a very long, black, loose-fitting sweater that almost looked like a cape. She had long black hair, very straight, and was wearing all kinds of rings, medallions, and what-not. Four of five other women and men followed her like a swarm of flies, as they buzzed around the counter waiting for her to order first.
“She's a witch, and those are her students,” Marsha whispered passing close behind. She stepped forward as they approached. The woman removed her sunglasses and looked at Marsha as if she heard every word. Marsha just stood there confused and couldn't say a word. Their eyes were locked until the woman broke eye contact and put her sunglasses back on. I quickly stepped up to take Marsha's place.
“Can I help you, Miss?” I said with a smile, trying to pretend to be polite, even though I didn't give a rat's ass about being there, or the job. I could see her students, or whatever, looking at her admiringly for some reason. Maybe she put the whammy on Marsha or something. She smiled and looked at me.
“New here, are we?” She asked in a very deep voice. A pretty sexy voice, really, but I wasn't going to notice. I was a professional barista, or whatever they called it.
“Yes, I am. Are you a regular?”
“You could say that.”
“It's a pleasure to meet you.” I looked at the crowd. “So, are you guys part of a church group or something? Maybe Jehovah Witnesses, or Born Agains?” I arched my brows and held back a smile. Marsha had gathered her wits by then and started to smile.
“You could say that.” She leaned slightly forward. “Or something.” Her little group started smiling. She reached out her hand, “Darla. My pleasure.” I took her hand. Makes two of us, I thought but didn't say.
“How can I help you, Darla?” She removed her sunglasses and looked me in the eye. She had a piercing stare, but it was amazingly beautiful. She tilted her head slightly to the side, smiled, and put her glasses back on. “Choose for me,” she said, as she pulled out her wallet. “I know you'll make the right choice.” So I did. She looked like a Café Mocha. I chose that for her and for all of her cling-ons. They went to a table and began to talk about something I didn't care about. Yet again, I didn't care about much. LOL.
I looked at her again. She looked like the woman I had seen on the beach for a second. The one who seemed to disappear. But I didn't have time to worry about that. The place was soon swamped with people wearing crystals, with piercings, wearing crosses and pentacles, every type of woo woo thing you would expect. This was a strange county and strange store, but I was having fun. I could do this two days a week.
Time passed. I fell into the groove of working there. It really got to be fun so I extended to three days a week. I didn't need the money, but it was better than staying home. Every Saturday she would come in. I began to look forward to it. We just chatted, but there was something about her. I read a few books on the occult and the craft and decided that I was going to catch that witch.
“I want that witch,” I told Rodrigo. "I want that black woman who comes into the bookstore. Do you know her?”
“I've heard of her. Of all the people in the world that's the woman you choose. You could have anybody with the money you have. What the hell is wrong with you? She's a witch you know. She's fooling with demonic powers.”
“I doubt that very much.”
“She has a reputation. Some guy was making fun of her. A few weeks later, bam!" He slammed his fist into his palm. "He had a motorcycle accident. She casts spells.”
“I have a bike. Do you think she might cast one on me?” I asked with a grin. I laughed. He was so superstitious.
“She probably already has cast a love spell on you.”
“So, that's what happened when I saw her in that halter top last week, eh? I think she cast two big, well-shaped love spells on me then.”
He couldn't help but laugh. “You better be careful. You don't believe in this stuff. I know you don't, but that doesn't mean it isn't real!”
“Do you think she'll go out with me?” I asked.
“Jesus! Your head is as hard as stone.”
“Is that yes or no?”
“Try and see.”
It was a Friday evening. I worked until six. There was a soft breeze and tourist season was over and she came in alone. “So Darla, I've never seen you here alone, especially on a Friday. What's going on?”
“Everyone else is home for the summer. I'm the only one who really lives here. They're all students. I have a coven near SDSU, but we don't travel together. She leaned on the counter on her elbows and looked up to my face. “And you don't usually work here Friday evenings, do you?” I thought I would faint. I cleared my throat.
“No. I don't usually work this shift, but I just started working Fridays.” She stood up.
“So...I'll have my regular.”
“We're about to close now. I don't know how long you can sit in. I'll get your coffee anyway. I guess we can just sit out front and finish a cup together if we close early.” I turned quickly to get the cappuccino ready. She didn't say a word. I smiled to myself. Saying nothing was better than telling me to piss-off. I finished preparing two drinks, hers and mine, and walked back over to the counter. She was still standing there...just standing there looking off into space. I stood waiting. She smiled.
“They say yes,” she said. “This is a surprise.” I handed her the drink and looked around.
“Are you talking to somebody? Is there somebody in here?”
“Of course. They are always around me. I have guides you know.”
“You have guides?” I had read about this in one of the books. She looked so beautiful and sounded like she had both oars in the water. That is why I was so amazed. That just sounded crazy. My eyes narrowed as I looked at her hard.
“You don't believe in the powers?” She asked. “You will.” She turned to walk away. “I think I'll be taking my cap at home today. Maybe I'll see you tomorrow, or next week, she said over her shoulder.”
“I hope so,” I said. I started to think of Rodrigo and what he had said. Maybe she was a little crazy. I did like her though, not only her looks, but there was something definitely different about her. Just a feeling or energy or something. Do you know the feeling you get when you walk along Mission Beach alone at night? There are thousands of stars and the sky is clear and cool. You can see the moon beautiful and round standing out there over the ocean and you notice a bright, silver line that seems to be coming all the way from the horizon right to your feet? You feel totally swept away and engulfed in the beauty of the moment. That is the feeling I got around her. She felt like a full moon. I found that very interesting.
I stayed around until we closed up. It was about seven and getting dark. I jumped on my motorcycle and headed back to Mission Beach knowing there would be very few people. I parked in the empty lot that was usually full, and walked across the blacktop and crossed the concrete walkway that had been full of people, bikes, skaters, dogs, everything you could imagine just a few hours ago and walked out onto the sand. I walked to the edge of the ocean. A gentle, cool breeze whipped up and flooded my senses. I pulled the sweater that I always carried a little tighter. San Diego was well known for getting cool in the evening and at night. I looked up at the waxing moon.
It seemed so beautiful. The wind, the water, the sky, and the breezes touched me somewhere deep and I could feel a longing that I had always resisted. The world was hard. My life had been long enough and my struggles hard enough not to really be so trustful of the world, or the people. I had tried various religions only to find them lacking. I had partied and partied only to find it empty after going too far with that. Every time I found something worthwhile it seemed good at first, but it would fade to a feeling of emptiness in my gut. I guess I just wasn't satisfied with anything. I was afraid of the feeling that I had that night. I was afraid that if I gave into that feeling I would lose myself and get sucked away completely into the type of madness Darla had, standing there in a room talking with imaginary friends. I sat on the beach for about 20 minutes and then I went home.
I forgot that melancholy feeling by the morning and returned to my ordinary self, the one that didn't really care much about anything. People said I was aloof. I didn't care, so I guess they were right. I was self-sufficient. I could live anywhere. I could take or leave anyone, why not be aloof? The bookstore was fun. I had a chance to read a lot of things. My life would go on. Between laying on the beech and getting drunk, working the bookstore, reading some of those weird books, and eating and sleeping I filled up plenty of my time.
It was Friday night at the bookstore again. A week had passed. Despite it not being tourist season the place was packed. I thought the place must have been making a fortune. In came Darla with a tall gentle man wearing a navy blue, v-neck sweater. He had on light blue silk and wool pants, some Stacy Adams shoes and a super expensive watch. No wonder she didn't want me. Or, perhaps, my personality just sucked. I knew it wasn't my looks, so what else could it be? Well actually it could have been my looks, but I doubted that very much. They walked over to the counter. She ordered her drink this time instead of letting me choose it. Marsha stepped up and started to work on the gentleman's drink.
I finished quickly, walked over, and handed her her drink. “No hard feelings,” she said. “We're still friends?”
“As friendly as we can be,” I said looking at her partner. “Don't worry about anything. You're still my full moon.” I didn't know why the hell I said that. She looked at me strangely and waited for her partner. They found a table in the corner and sat drinking their coffee and having a quiet conversation. It was getting dark. I was surprised we were still open.
“Something special going on?” I asked Marsha.
“Don't you read the papers, Paul? There's a yacht race tomorrow. People from all over the world are here to see it. We're staying open to make those Benjamins.”
“Really. I would have entered had I known.”
“In what, your bathtub?” She asked. I laughed. She looked at Darla and her partner. “That's new. First time I've seen her come in here with someone.”
“Yeah.” I said, with a sigh. She looked at me.
“You don't have the hots for witchy woman do you?”
“Well, yeah. I think I do.”
“Well you can't compete with that guy. Look at him.” I scratched my head.
“Am I that bad, Marsha?”
“No. You are OK. You are just kind of...working part-time at a bookstore with no prospects for the future. She probably has a dog already.”
“Very cold,” I said. She shrugged and walked away. She wasn't even joking. What an asshole. I went behind the counter and started cleaning up and getting us ready to close. The gentlemen with Darla got up, said his goodbyes, and walked out without her. I continued to clean until it was almost time to go. She came over to the counter.
“Is it possible to get another drink?” She asked. She looked up at the board. “Your choice this time.” She handed me the cup. I looked behind me. Everything was clean. I felt like punching her in the face. I rinsed the cup out, got everything ready again, and made her the best cup of coffee she ever had. I decided that I was going to change my days or quit. I didn't want to have to see her again. I really didn't even know her, but I had felt like we had a connection. I was wrong. It made me feel foolish. My heart was broken.
“I'm sorry,” she said. “Can you put this in a to-go cup?” I glared at her. She just smiled. I took the cup and poured the coffee into a to-go cup. I walked over before putting on the lid. “Would like any extra whip cream, sugar, or anything, Darla?” I asked very sincerely, even surprising myself.
“No thanks.” I put the top on and handed it to her. She smiled, turned, and walked out. I was pissed, but I didn't say anything. We closed up. I rode to Mission Beach again. I walked down to the beach and looked at the moon again. It was just about full. I got the longing feeling that I really couldn't understand again and then started to weep. I don't know why. I didn't know that I was that sad. I didn't know that I wanted her that much, but obviously, I did. How can you cry for someone you really don't know that much? Maybe I would have to quit the job if I didn't want to see her again with that guy.
I drove home on my bike. I got home, turned on the TV just to wind down, and then fell asleep right there, on the sofa. I had a strange dream Darla and that guy was out standing in a field with about 10 more people there. They seemed to be standing in front of a campfire having a good time and doing some type of ritual. And then, in the dream, she was standing right in front of me in my living room. I knew it was a dream, but it was really strange. It seemed all too real.
“So you want to date the witchy woman?” she asked with a smirk. I could hear talking in the background. I felt like many people were watching and listening. She arched one brow. I smiled at first and then the corners of my mouth dropped. I was despondent and for some reason very honest, expressing feelings I never thought I had.
“I would love you so much if I could. I thought that I had found the right person for me. I've been searching for you so long, but we've missed each other again. I am so sorry.”
“Who said we did?”
I suddenly awakened. What the hell was that? I sat there on the couch for quite some time before falling back to sleep.
Saturday morning I went in early, hoping my shift would end before she came in.
That guy was there again. He walked over to the counter and asked me for a coffee to go. Marsha had been there. Why had he waited for me? “Jason,” he said, extending his hand. I shook it. “I hear you make a great café mocha. Would you mind making me a large one?” He asked.
“No problem, Jason,” I said. “My name is Paul.”
“I know. My sister told me all about you.”
“Yeah, Darla. A sort of spiritual sister. She came to visit you last night, remember?”
“Yes. I remember. She had a coffee.”
“In your living room. Not here.”
“What do you mean?”
“She came to visit you in that small house near the boardwalk. We were all there. Her real coven not those students.”
“Yes. I'm just here to let you know you didn't miss each other this time. We have all known each other for a very long time. We are happy that we found you again, especially Darla. You make our 13.” He gave me a wink. He looked down at his watch. “I'm sure we'll be seeing a little more of each other very soon. I have to go to work. Darla will be here her usual time.” I was speechless. He turned and walked out. Marsha stood looking over my shoulder.
“What was that all about?”
“I don't know. I have no idea,” I said. I couldn't believe any of that, but if Darla believed it...that was fine with me.
John (Om Prakash) Gilmore, is a Retired Unitarian Universalist Minister, a Licensed Massage Therapist and Reiki Master Teacher, and a student and teacher of Tai-Chi, Qigong, and Nada Yoga. Om Prakash loves reading sci-fi and fantasy.