andrastelovesu tells me that there's a new occult shop in Bakersfield. Now, I'm not pagan (despite many rumors to the contrary) but my best friend, her siblings, and quite a few of my SCA friends are, and I'm always interested to see how an occult store disguises itself to survive in a town like Bakersfield, so I decided to go with her to check it out.
As we're walking past the window of the shop, "Hearth and Heart," I notice something is very, very wrong. For starters, there is an altar in the window. It has been used, recently, and not cleaned (ash, herbs and whatnot about). Secondly, there's a definite lack of products visible in the window, or anywhere in the stores. Third, no one was tending the store. We get to the door, where there's an "out to lunch" sign, but someone pops his head out from the back and motions us in. Not three steps into the store, and the owner of the store walks out: Tricia Milligan, aka The Cat Lady.
Shortly after I broke up with Holly (see archives), I found the SCA. One of the first women I met was Tricia. She was merchanting for a shop in Bakersfield at Coronation in Gyldenholt (Guillaume and Felinah's second stepping-up). I found her very interesting, and we struck up a bit of a relationship.
We stayed together for about a month, then I left her. There were five reasons, the first two I shared with her, and the last one the real reason:
1. She was an emotional black hole. Every time I said something along the lines of "I love you," she would either acknowledge with an "ok" or not at all. There was no emotional intimacy there whatsoever.
2. She was physically frigid. Though she would tell me stories of how she and her ex would wake the neighbors nightly, and though I shared her bed for most of the month we were together, we never more than kissed. No cuddling, no petting, nothing.
3. She would perform sky-clad rituals in her back yard every Saturday night, and would banish me from the house before she began, lest I see her naked. Her neighbors, with her knowledge and consent, would sit on their balcony, crack a few beers and enjoy the show. It actually turns out that andrastelovesu's current boyfriend would watch her as he skateboarded at the Baptist church on the other side of the house.
4. Despite what she did on Saturday, every Sunday she would go next door to said Baptist church and pray to Jesus Christ her Lord and Saviour. She called herself "eclectic." I called her "bat-sh*t crazy."
5. She believed in a previous lifetime, she was a Changeling (a person who could turn into a cat at will), and that the residual magic from that lifetime had carried over into this lifetime and given her "special powers." Furthermore, there were people in this lifetime who were called "Hunters." The sole purpose of these people was to find people with this residual magic and kill them. Oh, and I met one of them. When I was in the restaurant telling my mom about how crazy Tricia was, a man came up in a duster jacket and a wide-brimmed hat, and asked me, "excuse me...did you say you know a Changeling?" When I nodded an affirmative, the skies darkened, the clouds gathered in the restaurant, his hat lowered to just barely above his eye level, and his voice changed to a darker, Darth Vader/demonesque level, and he said "And where IS this Changeling?" This takes away the paranoia aspect, but when the crazies try to kill each other, it's time to leave.
Oh, the stories I could tell about Tricia. I don't even know where to begin, but I really should write them down eventually. Perhaps I'll make a book of Kevin/Cormac stories that woulld include all of them. Anyhhow... The comfort level in the place, already unsettling, dropped to the point that my sub-conscious was envisioning blood dripping down the walls as a voice screamed "GET OUT! GET OUT!" andrasstelovesu did her best to keep from laughing; she's usually somewhere close by in my best stories, and could tell that this would be yet another one. We stayed for five minutes, then hurredly left.
I feel unclean. So unclean.