4 July 2005
Lori, Beth, and Bob were getting back to normal, but clearly still in mourning. I was running through ideas on how to cheer them up while Jackie and I were going through my books the other day, and suggested hosting a cookout for the Fourth of July. When I suggested it, Jackie put her book down and rested her hand on my shoulder.
"John," she said, then waited until I was looking at her. "Listen, I don't know what it's like for you, but you need to understand that for most of us, death is permanent."
"No, I get that, I just--"
"Do you? I mean, you've clearly been trying to comfort Lori through a difficult loss, and that's great, but you just seem like you expect it to go faster than it really should. They have had to grapple with saying goodbye to their close friend for the last time, and under particularly difficult circumstances. There are no ghosts in their daily experience, no conversations they can have with those they've lost. Death is the end." I set my book down and stared at it for a little while.
"Not everyone sticks around, you know," I finally said. "They have to have a reason. Otherwise, it's just...echoes, scraps, little bits of them laying around in the aether. My...I've lost people, too."
"We don't even get that, you know. Those memories, those echoes, those little pieces of them in the metaphysical realm. We have only what's in our own heads, and the objects they leave behind. It's not the same."
"So you think the cookout is a bad idea?"
"No, no, not really. It's just, make sure you're mindful of where they are while you do it, okay? It'll be nice for things to feel normal, but some cookout isn't going to fix things. And if this Mark was fond of the holiday, it may be extra difficult for them. Just...be careful, yeah?" I nodded, and we went back to what we were doing.
We did end up hosting the cookout today, and it went really well. Lori, Bob, and Beth all seemed to appreciate it, and I tried to give them space when they needed it. Rick insisted on working the grill, which was fine for burgers and hot dogs, but I made certain I knew exactly how the barbecue chicken was seasoned and cooked. The whole band was there, and we ended up playing a few songs when it was getting dark. It was fun, and by the end everyone seemed to leave in a good mood. Lori kept a little distance from Jackie, but she stayed over for the first time in weeks. I really think things are starting to turn around for all of us.
15 June 2005
"I just think you need to give her a chance," I said, before lighting my cigarette. Lori and I were laying on Alpha's hood, looking up at the stars. It had been almost a week since Jackie moved in, and Lori had barely spent even ten minutes at the house the whole time.
"I'm not comfortable with her," she answered, rolling off my chest and laying on her back beside me. "I mean, you have this attractive woman move in with you, you don't even tell me about it until it's all settled and she's practically on the plane, and you guys have this history--" I scoffed.
"What history? I've known her, in person, two weeks now."
"Yeah well it was a hell of a week, wasn't it? Cavorting about Chicago, doing all that ghost hunting you love so much--which I can't exactly help you with, you know--and then you almost fucked her, and then you did sleep with her, which you swear was nothing, but really? I'm supposed to just be okay with her having this kind of access to you?"
"Okay, so, the worst of that was a ghost using her body, and neither of us was actually into it."
"Not like that, anyway. How do you know she wouldn't have been otherwise?"
"What's that matter? There was no otherwise!"
"But there is now, Matteson!" She rolled onto her side, propping her head up with her elbow. "Don't you get it? She wants to be close to you, and now she's sleeping right across the hall from you, and she says she has this magic which scares the hell out of me and the only thing standing between her and anything she may want from you is me!"
"She's not after me or you, babe. Look, just, try to give her a chance, please? Talk to her? You guys might get along if you give it a shot." She sighed.
"Why is this so important to you?"
"I made a promise."
"To watch out for this ghost?" I nodded. "And you haven't seen any evidence of her?"
"No, at least nothing I know how to work with. My books on hauntings and possession went missing a little while ago."
"She's not going anywhere any time soon, is she?"
"I have no idea." She slid over and laid her head on my chest, looking up at the stars again.
"Okay. I'll try, if only because I don't want her to stick around longer than me." I chuckled and stroked her hair gently as a wisp of a cloud slowly drifted across the moon.
29 May 2005
Lori had finally agreed to move back into her apartment when I offered to let her keep the key she'd been using. She chose a number of things to leave behind for when she was spending the night, and I helped her carry the rest of her stuff home this morning. I'd been home, staring at the tv with Rick, for about an hour when I decided to start putting things back to normal. There was food I would never eat to check on, supplies in the bathroom to find homes for, a room I needed to make sure was clear for Jackie, books I had rearranged to make room for-
"Rick?" I called, looking at the books. "Have you seen my books on possession?"
"Why the hell would I have seen your books on possession. Are they exciting?"
"I guess that depends on what you want out of them."
"That's a no, man. Just say no when people ask you something like that."
"They're all gone! The ones on possession, a couple on ghosts, one that wasn't really about either but had a relevant chapter, everything!"
"Are they important?"
"Well, they're mine. But also I figured I should brush up on the topic, you know, since Jackie is gonna wanna talk about it."
"Oh, right! Hey, weren't you doing some of that research at your dad's place? Maybe you left them there?" I had been carrying stuff back and forth, I had to admit to myself, and it wasn't a completely unreasonable suggestion.
"Yeah, alright. I guess I'll check there."
"Speaking of, how's Lori handling the idea of you living with a woman?"
"I haven't really mentioned it yet." I heard the tv turn off, and then Rick walked into the room.
"Run that one by me again."
"Well, she isn't living here, it was hardly her decision."
"Are you fucking kidding me? You invited some hot Latina chick-"
"I never said she was hot."
"You showed me pics from that Halloween party. And you invited her to live here, in your house, where you live, and it never occurred to you that your actual real-life girlfriend might like to know about that?"
"What's your issue here?"
"She...you...you're so dense sometimes! You spend too much time worrying about what dead people think about you and not enough dealing with the living ones! Look, she's gonna feel threatened, and she's gonna feel hurt when she finds out, and only you can stop this particular forest fire."
"He's right," Kastor said, sitting on my armchair. I pointed at him.
"You stay out of this!"
"Yeah!" Rick yelled to, what I assume to him was, an empty armchair. "Unless you're agreeing with me!" He turned to me. "Is it agreeing with me?"
"Is there any good way for me to answer this?"
"Probably not," they both said. I put my face in my hands for a moment, then looked between them.
"Okay, okay! I'll talk to her later. I just, you know, she was pretty occupied with everything going on, and Jackie isn't going to be here for a bit yet, I figured I had a little time to wait for an opening."
"Do what you want, man," Rick said, leaving the room, "just know none of us you leave behind can talk to you after she kills you."
"I can," Kastor said.
"Greeeaaaaat," I muttered as I returned to my work.
17 May 2005
I woke to a phone call from Lori, who was crying as she told me about the police coming by. I could barely make out what she was saying, except that it had to do with Mark and she felt terrible. I told her I'd be right over.
When I got to her place she was sitting in the living room, still crying, and holding a VHS tape. I held her for a while until she was ready to talk, and she began to explain that the tape was from a school play in second grade where she and Mark had met after being given parts that mostly appeared in the same scenes. I didn't understand why that was important enough to be bringing up at this point, and she freaked out at me when I asked. She got up and stormed to the middle of the room, where she started pacing. Something really weird was happening with the ripples she left in the world, but I couldn't quite place them. It wasn't like anything I'd really seen before, almost like multiple very strong emotions were trying to cancel each other out.
I explained that I couldn't understand what she was saying on the phone, and she finally calmed down enough to tell me that Mark had died the night before. It seems he had arrived drunk at her place some time after I dropped her off, got inside the apartment, and started some fight with her. She said she saw him run off, and didn't hear anything else until the police came by to ask about a noise complaint from a neighbor. She told them what she knew, and when they realized she was talking about him they informed her that he had been in a fatal crash just a couple blocks away, and she broke down again while telling me about it.
I comforted her for a while, then let her go clean up and change so we could go to his mom's house. While she was in her room, I noticed a cup on the floor that had apparently spilled a while ago and put it in the kitchen for her. I offered to clean up the apartment for her, but she said it could wait, so instead I just waited for her and we headed out.
Mark's mom and stepdad already knew, as the police had called shortly after finding him. Lori spent some time talking with them while I tried to just be supportive and made phone calls to people she told me should know, and we left when they were due to go talk to the funeral director about plans for the ceremony. She was reluctant to go home, saying that all she could think about there was the fight they had as their last interaction. I brought her to my house, made sure she got some rest, and once she was asleep I went back to her place to grab some things she would need for the week. Jackie called while I was there, to talk about Alethea, but I didn't really have time for that. I suspect I won't have time for much of anything for a bit.
12 May 2005
Tony was tuning his guitar and Courtney was adjusting her amp while Mandy was doing her warm ups and we brass were running scales. Tony had finished clearing out his garage and we could finally hold practices somewhere larger than my living room, which I'm confident my neighbors and roommate appreciate. With all the noise, I didn't hear Lori enter, and was startled when she wrapped her arms around me from behind. She had started coming to our practices about a month earlier, to be an encouragement and to hang out. It was weird at first, having someone there that wasn't really involved, but people seemed to have gotten used to it. The question was whether that was because they were fine with her being there or because we were practicing at my place.
"Lori!" Mandy yelled, setting down her sticks and running over. The rest of the brass set their instruments down and started talking among themselves about a new song we were working on. When she got close enough, Mandy stopped and rested her hands on her hips in a mock show of authority. "I heard this bum finally asked you out for real."
"That he did," Lori answered, laughing. She pinched my side and rested her head on my shoulder. "Took him long enough."
"I'm right here," I said, "and I thought you had plans with Mark and Beth today."
"Yes," Mandy replied, before pointing to the rest of the brass, "but instead of here, you should be over there working on 'Fly.'" Lori kissed me on the cheek and then let go of me, walking around toward Mandy. "Come on, I wanna hear all about it."
"They'll live without me. You have fun," Lori said, rubbing my arm. "I'll be right back." I smiled and watched them scamper off toward the drums, then picked up my trombone and went to join the others.
1 May 2005
"So you guys just do this, on a regular basis?" Bob asked, giving the hallway a sweep with his flashlight. He was with Rick, Charles, and me exploring an abandoned house in Brookfield that Tony said he'd heard ghost stories about. Bob was, admittedly, not part of the plan, but he and Charles had been hanging out a lot lately and when we called Charles to come along they showed up together. We were walking around the first floor, having only just started.
"Well, we do it when we feel like it," I said, before lighting my cigarette. Once I'd taken a drag and put my lighter away, I checked my own flashlight and walked forward. "It's usually pretty unplanned, like this."
"So what're we looking for, anyway?"
"Trouble," Charles muttered. Bob rested his hand on Charles' shoulder and rubbed it a bit.
"Yes, okay, but what kind of trouble?" Bob asked with a big smile. Charles sighed.
"Ghosts!" Rick called out, pumping a fist in the air. "Or demons, or whatever's here."
"So far neither," I said, "and hopefully not demons."
"Aw come on, man. You talk real big about ghosts and spirits and gods and everything, but demons? That's where you draw the line?"
"Demons are the kind of trouble that follows you home."
"Are...are you guys being serious right now?" Bob asked, looking between us.
"Yes," Charles said. "See, Matteson believes he can see the spiritual realm, and has this masochistic interest in exploring it, and somehow we always get roped into coming along."
"Roped in? That's one of my favorite things about him!" Rick said, elbowing me in the side. "Though it's still weird hearing everyone call you that."
"Well, okay, but...can he see the spiritual realm?" Bob asked. We all stopped at the bottom of the stairs, and I turned and looked at him.
"Yes, I can. Whether I want to or not," I answered. "And being that it's an unavoidable part of my life, it seemed sensible I should know how to handle it."
"Has this been, you know, tested in some way?"
"Well, okay, so, we obviously can't really confirm what he says is going on with spirits we can't see," Charles said, wringing his hands together. "But, there are a lot of strange things that happen around him we don't really know how to explain, and he does tend to know things he shouldn't have any way of knowing."
"And the behemoth," Rick offered, pointing. "You and I both saw things get knocked over by something very large and very invisible when he said that thing was following him around."
"Well, the size is a guess, but..." Charles paused.
"But it was invisible?" Bob asked. Charles hesitantly nodded. Rick enthusiastically nodded.
"Not to me," I said.
"Well okay then. That certainly sounds like a start."
"I'm sorry to drag you into this," Charles said.
"Oh, no! No, no, this sounds fascinating! I'd kinda like to know more!" Charles looked at him with pleading eyes.
"Alright, then," I said pointing my flashlight up the stairs, "shall we?" Bob and Rick nodded and we started up the stairs. Charles groaned and followed, hanging close to Bob.
10 April 2005
Despite everything I have come to know about Charles and his ideas, by the end of the week I had to admit that things were starting to seem like they were getting serious with Lori and I decided I had to tell her what was going on. We picked up a pizza and went to my place for a movie but, before turning the tv on, I went ahead and tested out the idea by asking her if she believed in spirits and ghosts. She nearly choked on her drink when I asked.
"What, like, in general?" she asked. "Or is there something you need to tell me?"
"Uh...yes," I said. "I mean, in general, but also, I'm asking because I want to talk about them."
"Okay, uh, yeah. I believe in ghosts. I mean, everything just seems so bleak if death is just the end." I nodded.
"I guess that's one way to look at it."
"But why? What do you wanna talk about?" She paused, holding a piece of pizza just outside of her mouth for a moment, before setting it down and leaning forward to look me directly in the eyes. "Is this that thing Charles was on about?"
"Yeah, okay, so about that." I started to explain the basics; how I've always been able to see spirits and ghosts, answered her questions about how those are different things, tried to answer her questions about what the world looks like to me.
I always hate that question. What am I supposed to do with it? I don't know, what's it look like to you? People act like it's some thing I just turn on like a power up in a video game, where I see everything the way they do until I activate Anchor Vision or whatever, so they think it's easy for me to say "well here is what you see, and then this is the graphic overlay that I get to add." But it isn't like that! I legitimately have no idea what everyone else does or doesn't see. It took the first twelve years of my life to piece together that other people don't see any sentient beings except humans. It was just a series of eliminations, oh, wait, you don't see elves either? Nothing? When I was in first grade I still thought everyone's imaginary friend was just the same thing as the beings I saw and talked to. That everyone saw the world the same way I did. No one was telling me anything different! They thought it was cute little kid games! Only my parents really picked up on the fact that it was different, and while my dad could accurately identify some of them from his own experiences and studies, he didn't know how to explain to me that no one else was seeing them until later. Until after Mom left. I suppose that forced the issue in a way.
So I stumbled over that for a bit, explaining that I don't really know how to explain it without making reference to an experience I've never had, and she just sat and listened attentively. I explained how I see something I call ripples, that are probably the same things as auras but I don't really know, where people impact the world around them through emotional states or thoughts or whatever, and she got all concerned that I could read minds, but I assured her it was way more vague than that. I can mostly read intensity of a person's impact, and if I really pay attention I can pick out individual differences between the trails different people leave in their wake, but I have to really know their mark. But I haven't pieced together any system for knowing what specific emotional or mental state leaves a specific impact. She seemed relieved at that and I cracked a joke about how it must be disappointing that she hasn't met a guy who can read her mind. She laughed but smacked at my arm.
"So, those nymphs," she finally said, after we'd sat for a minute silently eating. I almost choked. "Tell me about this." I coughed for a couple moments, then took a long drink, leaned forward to recover, then nodded.
"Alright so look. I know this guy, he's a faun." She looked at me with confusion in her eyes and shrugged. "A satyr." She furrowed her brow.
"The...goat men? With the pan flutes?"
"Yes. Pan is a faun, or a god who looks like a faun? It's never really been clear to me. Anyway, I know one, he's been hanging around a long time. And fauns, they hang out with nymphs."
"Like. Real nymphs."
"Naked women in the water, keen on sleeping with lost people?" She leaned back and crossed her arms.
"That is...not entirely inaccurate..."
"So anyway, he knew you and I were hanging out, and thought maybe I was just lonely or something, so he brought a few around one day to occupy my time."
"I see. And what happened?"
"Nothing. I sent them away. Which didn't go over terribly well, if I'm honest."
"Because they were just so eager to occupy your time?"
"Well. Okay, so, I may have a certain affinity with water and water beings, since my great-grandpa was a river god, and so they-"
"A river god?!" She leaned forward, her hands resting on her knees. "Wait, how much is this spiritual stuff involved in just, like, your daily life?"
"Nearly constantly. Look, I don't often talk about it until I can trust someone, so it didn't come up right away; but spirits know I can see them, and they have a certain interest in human affairs, so they kick around. And ghosts, you know, they tend to think I can deal with their unfinished business, which is rarely true. Especially things related to water. Like, there was this ghost I met last year, she'd been drowned, and she took this really intense interest in me-" Lori stood up and started pacing the room while she spoke, her back to me.
"And you think that's why she was...interested in you? Because she was drowned and you're some kind of magnet for water beings?"
"I mean. I don't know, I didn't really get the chance to ask her. As far as I know, the only thing she knew about me was that I was there, you know? I'm grasping at straws here, but it certainly seemed to be a factor for the nymphs." She stopped and stood still for a bit, looking at the blank tv. "Hey, are you okay?"
"You know what I think?" she finally asked.
"Not yet," I offered, with a smile. I guess I hoped she could hear it, as her back was still to me. She pulled her arms tight around herself.
"I think you're a very attractive young man, with a kind heart and a fascinating story. I think you live your whole life with the knowledge that you're on display to unseen forces, always held accountable, never really operating in secret, and you don't realize what that means to people with the kind of trauma that makes ghosts of them." I slowly stood and started walking over toward her as she spoke. "I think you live a life of depth and adventure that the rest of us can only read about, know amazing creatures personally, walk through a vibrant world of connection and wonder." She turned around as I stopped, placing her hand on my chest and looking into my eyes. "I think you felt a real connection with a person who needed you and didn't have the arrogance to assume it was something special or amazing about you, but maybe it was."
"Lori, I-" she brought her other hand up to rest it on my cheek.
"And I think that that, well, parts of it anyway, are very hot." She moved forward and kissed me deeply. I wrapped my arms around her, and felt her press in closer as she pulled her hand off my chest and reached around my neck with it.
We never did get around to putting the movie on.
4 April 2005
Charles and I arrived a few minutes later than Lori had asked but since I was under the impression the actual trivia didn't start until nearly an hour later, I was sure it would be fine. She looked angry, at first, but then very quickly shifted to a smile and came over to meet us.
"Matteson! You brought a friend," she said, looking Charles over.
"Yeah, I mentioned that. Sorry we're late."
"Did you?" She waved her hand as she turned and started walking toward the table. "Doesn't matter, we still have time to eat and get some drinks first, right?"
"What is she, a gym teacher?" Charles whispered to me as we started to walk. I smacked him.
"It's more distinct than John," I whispered back. He looked like he was thinking about that for a moment.
"What are you guys whispering about back there?" she asked as she got to the table.
"Nothing important," I said. She looked at us for a moment as if sizing up that answer. The guy at the table stood from behind her and extended a hand.
"The famous Matteson, I presume?" he asked. I nodded and shook his hand.
"So it would seem." Lori lightened up and introduced us to Mark, who had just shaken my hand, as well as Beth and Bob, and I introduced Charles, before we all took our seats. As we all talked and ate and drank, Charles got into the idea of calling me Matteson and seemed to hit it off well with Bob. By the time trivia started, the two of them were cracking jokes while the rest of us tried to handle the questions. Lori started to lean against me and I had my arm around her when I wasn't the one writing. We were actually doing pretty well when a question about the difference between naiads and dryads came up. Charles, by now a few drinks in and on a roll with Bob, decided to tell his new friend about nymphs showing up at my house over the weekend. Lori sat bolt upright and stared at him, then at me. He stopped dead in his tracks and looked around at the table, with everyone stopped and looking confused.
"Nymphs?" Mark asked. "Like...the water spirits?"
"Yeah, Matteson," Charles started, "he...has he not-"
"It's not something I lead with, Charles," I hissed.
"What's this about them showing up at your house?" Lori asked, her eyes boring into my skull.
"Those are fake, though," Beth said, looking around for support. "Right?" Bob and Mark nodded.
"It was a prank, from a...friend. Thought he was helping me out. I sent them home," I answered, quietly.
"He's clearly a bit drunk and confused," Bob said, slapping Charles on the back. Charles laughed, and Beth and Mark waved the situation off and started writing the answer to the new question that came up.
"I don't think I like this friend very much," Lori whispered. I shrugged.
"I don't think we'll be seeing much of him for a while, anyway," I said. She scowled, then took a deep breath. She smiled as she turned back to the others. I glared at Charles, who mouthed an apology and then turned his gaze away to knock back some more beer.
"How was I supposed to know you didn't tell 'em you see shit?" Charles yelled, slightly slurring, as I drove him home.
"Seriously? Think about how literally everyone reacts when they first hear it," I said.
"I thought you liked the attention!"
"Oh yeah. The years of mockery and the way so many people avoid me is definitely the highlight of this ability."
"Does Lori at least know?"
"Why would she?"
"John! You're dating this girl and didn't tell her you see ghosts?"
"We aren't officially dating, and it's hardly relevant!"
"Look, man. If you do see what you say you see, it's always relevant."
"And I'm right! You need to tell her if this is gonna be a Thing." I sat quietly for a moment, then turned up the radio. He rolled his eyes and leaned on his window to watch the lights the rest of the way to his place.
23 March 2005
"Why are we sitting in an Applebee's, anyway?" Kastor asked. He's a 4-foot tall faun that I met when I was a kid, and had never really been able to get out of my life since. He was sitting across from me in the booth while I waited for Lori to show up. I'd offered her a ride, but she said she had some other stuff to do first and would meet me here.
"Because white girls like Applebee's," I muttered, looking through the menu and trying not to draw attention to myself. Kastor hopped up and smelled the food as a waitress walked by, then scowled.
"I don't think I like Applebee's. Why don't you take me anywhere fun?"
"I don't take you anywhere at all. You just kinda show up."
"And it's a good thing I do! Where would you be without me?"
"I should be so lucky to find out." He gave a sarcastic laugh as I looked up and saw Lori checking with the hostess. I waved, and she started walking over. Kastor scampered over the table and sat down next to me. "Must you stay?" I hissed.
"And miss whatever this is?" I sighed, and then smiled as I got out of the booth to greet her. We were having a nice time talking and deciding what to order, and I found that Kastor was much more quiet than I expected. It was nice, made it easier to ignore him. She called me Matteson, and when I asked why she showed me that that's how she had listed me in her phone.
"Everyone knows a dozen Johns," she said, putting the phone away. "I think this makes you more distinct."
"I suppose I can take distinct," I chuckled. "Better than what some people call me."
When I slipped out to use the bathroom, he came with me. I glanced over at him as I entered the room, and noticed his eyes were darting around a lot and his ears were down like a frightened dog's. I looked around the bathroom to make sure we were alone, then made my way to the urinal.
"What's your issue, Kastor?"
"Her," he said, looking back as though she was going to come bursting through the door. "Something's off about her. Did you see the way she looked at me?"
"I have serious doubts she was looking at you. You know people like me are rare."
"I mean, sure, statistically, but there are an awful lot of humans out there..."
"So you don't like her because you think she gave you a weird look?" He sidled over to me, and leaned his back against mine. "That is incredibly uncomfortable while I'm doing this."
"So stop." I groaned and rolled my eyes. "But no, listen. Something is...off about her. You didn't notice?"
"I'll bite," I said, zipping my pants and flushing. I pushed him aside and went to the sink. "The ripples she leaves in the Realm are different than anyone else I've seen."
"Yes! Yes, that!"
"But so are everyone else's. It's almost like a signature." I started washing my hands. "The differences in hers are more pronounced than other people I know, but that's it. It's not like they read as inhuman."
"Well I don't think you should be dating her," he said, crossing his arms.
"I'm not taking dating advice from a faun." I turned off the water, grabbed some paper towels, and turned to face him while I dried my hands. "You lot are known for a very different romantic lifestyle than I'm interested in."
"You can't believe everything you hear about us!"
"So you don't go frolic with nymphs when you're not bugging me?" He opened his mouth as if to say something, then closed it and waved his hands around as he looked for the words. I raised an eyebrow at him.
"Okay! So you can believe some of what you hear about us. But don't go buying into stereotypes all willy-nilly on me!" he yelled, pointing.
"Noted. Look, I'm going back to my date. If you have a problem with her, just leave. We can talk later."
"I could introduce you to some of those nymphs, you know."
"Good night, Kastor," I said, before heading for the door and back to the table. He did not follow.
18 March 2005
The plan last night was bar hopping. We couldn't decide which Saint Patrick's Day party to go to, but knew that the one at the Lube would be ending early to make room for Karaoke. So the plan was to pregame at Our Gang's to meet Tony, then head over to the Lube until they were done, and finish out the night at Chestnut Street Cafe. If Chestnut wasn't working for us we could always wander over to the Zoo.
The beginning of the plan went great. We all enjoyed the atmosphere and drink deals at Our Gang's and Tony got us some food and we were good and ready for the larger party downtown when we made our way out. We had all walked so we wouldn't have to deal with a designated driver, which was almost always me, so by the time we got to the Lube we were ready for more drinks and snacks. We'd been there maybe an hour when a woman about our age asked Mandy if she could sit with us while she waited for her friends to show up. Her name was Lori, and it came up as we were all talking that she was interested in mythology. I leaned into that a bit, and pretty soon the two of us were discussing the role of saints as a sort of modern pantheon and everyone else was tuning us out.
We talked for hours. The conversation drifted into the question of where one draws the line between folklore and mythology (I felt it was a matter of faith investment, she argued it had more to do with practical application) and the rise of neopaganism and the sudden appearance of ghosthunting shows and we decided to stay put when the rest of the group went to Chestnut because, after all, Lori couldn't leave yet. The karaoke started and we got to talking about our tastes in music and we each picked a song for the other to sing on the understanding we would find out what they were when we were called up. She liked the classics so I gave her a Beatles song; she picked Violent Femmes for me.
By the time we decided her friends weren't coming, we'd exchanged numbers and made arrangements to see each other again in a few days, after we'd recovered from St. Pat's. I walked her out to her cab and then wandered home. On the way I saw a pair of ravens that almost seemed like they were watching me. I yelled up to them that this had been the best St. Pat's I'd ever had, even if I had no idea where my friends were, and they cocked their heads as if listening but didn't seem terribly interested.
I could've sworn one of them was a little bit blue, but seeing as I passed out on my porch I can't honestly say I trust that part of the memory.
The blog of John Matteson.