Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Yard Sale Grab Bag Yields Treasure Map

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It turned out it wasn’t a very good deal after all. The clunky, hard Michelangelo head that Marcus’ mom had haggled down to 5 bucks at a Palm Desert yard sale had ended up killing her. Thankfully, the item she bought at the same yard sale provided a distraction from the reality that kitsch had killed my new-found friend’s mom. It was a pointless tragedy, except perhaps for what Marcus held in his hand.

“It’s what Mom was reaching for when the stupid garage sale Michelangelo head fell off the nightstand and cracked open her skull.”

“What?” I don’t know what to do with this information. Michelangelo head? Marcus told me his mom was addicted to garage and yard sales.

“She was always looking for antique books and maps. But she couldn’t resist the yard garbage.” Marcus gestured to a plaster water nymph, a Spanish conquistador and a couple of concrete rabbits. “Like that stuff. Yard garbage in my opinion.”

“Well, it’s not so bad,” I said, trying to be the voice of normalcy. I was failing miserably. “A lot of people like it.”

“When I saw the Michelangelo head, I thought it was going to go next to the hummingbird feeders near the back patio. She had talked about wanting to scare away the ravens. I mean, that would do it. I had no idea she would put it on the nightstand next to her bed. Really, it belonged outdoors.”

“Oh.” I was at a loss. My platitudinous reassurances sounded unconvincing and hollow. I suppressed a very strong and inappropriate urge to laugh. With any luck, her sad and untimely death would result in a vaguely worded obituary couched in terms of “accident” or, if one wanted to be brave, “freak accident.”

I pinched my lips together in a deliberate frown and narrowed my eyes, turning my gaze toward the map Marcus held in his hand. Following my eyes, he jerked forward a bit and waved the map.

“Look. Does this mean anything to you?” he asked.

“What is it? It looks like a treasure map,” I said. Instead of visualizing an absurd obituary: Freak Accident Kills City Woman, I imagined a different headline: Local Yard Sale Yields Treasure Map.

“Farley Kritzoff,” said Marcus.

“What? They guy your mom said communicates through the witching crystal?” I asked.

Marcus had told me earlier that his mother had a name for the quartz crystal that would rotate when she asked it questions. She had explained to Marcus that it was a “witching crystal” – “witching” referring to the term that people used for the smooth, branched sticks they claimed would indicate the presence of water by pointing to it. The wooden rods they used were “witching sticks.”

“Yeah. He exists. He’s a real person,” said Marcus. “Or at least he was.”

“So the Ouija Board thing your mom had going had something to do with this?” I asked. I couldn’t see it. I had a mental image of Marcus’ mom lighting candles and incense, asking for the ghost of Farley Kritzoff to communicate with her through the crystal.

“Check it out.” He handed me what he had in his hand. Instead of one map, it was a small bundle of them.

“I can’t. It’s dark.”

“Oh. Yeah. Well, it’s more than one map – and they’re really old. Old maps Mom bought at the garage sale – anyway – it looks like this one is a treasure map, and this one is a map for a hidden gold mine,” said Marcus. The wind picked up and rustled the palm fronds. The aqua blue pool light flickered as the water rippled in response to the breeze.

“Maybe they’re for the same place, just from different points of view,” I said. They seem damp and old in my hand.

“I don’t want my dad to see them. He’ll just do something stupid. I don’t want them. I think they’re cursed.”

“Oh great. So you’re giving them to me.” My voice was weak, and my feeble attempt at sarcasm came across as simply confused and sad.

Marcus sank to the chaise-longue and put his face in his hands. His thin shoulders heaved with silent sobs. I felf sympathetic tears pour from my eyes again, and wave after wave of grief washed over me. Life wasn’t supposed to be like this, was it? I kneeld down so I so could be next to him, and as I crouched next to him, I put my face on his jeans’clad leg. I could feel his thin, wiry muscles clench, and I wrapped my arms around his leg. I gripped his calf and pulled it to my chest.

“I’m so sorry, Marcus,” I sobbed. I cradled his leg, and I felt him put his hand on my shoulder, then gripped my waist to pull me toward him.

“Do you mind if I kiss you?” he asked. His legs shuddered and trembled. My heart pounded, and tears continued to soak my shirt and his jeans. In response, I kissed his cheek. He turned to me and pulled me toward him. As his salty lips touched mine, our hands gripped each other.

A stray feline caterwauled in the distance, and somewhere on the other side of the swimming pool, I could hear a rattlesnake’s distinctive buzz.

We held each other, as tightly as we could, trying to stop our mutual trembling, trying to make the world slow down for a moment. But, it didn’t slow at all. Instead, the spinning accelerated and the dizzy force of passion made me gasp. Somewhere from deep within myself, I pulled together all the courage I possessed.

“We’ll find out about this, Marcus,” I whispered, between sobs. “You can count on me.”

Finally, the tears flowed themselves out, and we simply held each other. His lips on mine, on my cheeks, felt softer that I could possibly imagine.

“Dad will wonder where I am,” I looked at the pool as a breeze makes the surface ripple slightly again.

“Yeah. I guess you’re right.”

Making our way back to the front yard, I noticed that nothing had changed. The vehicles are still there, and Dad was talking to Marcus’ father.

“There you two are,” said Dad. “We need to go now.”

As we drove off, I wondered when I will see Marcus again.


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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This episode talks about the occult, mysterious maps, and young sweet romance. How will these influence Ophelia's future adventures? I'm waiting for the next installment.

Susan is so inspired and energized writing stories for us.

Thank you very much Susan!

- ARR