(Chapter 26 of Senses)
Morgana had been dreaming again. Not that the dreams were always a bad thing, but Morgana was dreaming about her customers. Not all her customers; but certainly the most interesting.
This was nothing unusual to Morgana, who had grown used to the dreams in the six months she had worked for Larry Christopher. Most she found amusing; some even arousing. However, one this night bothered her more than any other. Had George Tomlinson been murdered by this stranger she did not recognize? Tomlinson's death three day ago had baffled police. How was it done? What was that damned medallion? She didn't remember anything about it from the police reports.
Even with the dream Morgana didn't understand.
She would talk to Larry. He had very keen insight, maybe he could figure it out.
Morgana stood to get out of bed. She stood 5 feet 7 inches tall and a well-proportioned 130 pounds. She thought herself fat although no one else did. She had long, straight black hair that curled and frizzed at mid-back.
She looked out the window of her apartment. It was a cold and foggy morning; nothing odd for July in San Francisco. Morgana smiled. Like London, she thought, but cleaner.
Gods, I never thought I'd miss London.
Not that Morgana felt homesick. In the end her line of work ostracized her from family and friends, and she fled London for America, eventually settling here in San Francisco. No one here thought she was too odd. Not in lovely San Francisco.
Morgana was a fortune teller. Unfortunately for Morgana, she was very good, and superstitious London branded her a whore and worse.
The bastards can go to hell, she mused. In San Francisco she had no such problems. Even whores were respected here. Being a whore in this era took guts.
Thank the gods for Haight-Ashbury.
Morgana decided she had had enough of staring out the window for the moment and had breakfast. Afterwards she sat on her bed to do her morning reading of Larry.
She had long since learned not to do readings on herself, because the Tarot did not lean that way. However, Morgana preferred to be as prepared as possible for her day, so she would do a reading on the person she spent the most time with during the day. As she was at the shop at least 10 hours a day, she chose Larry.
As she laid the cards out, a pattern became evident quickly. Something big was coming up, involving Larry and herself, and the King of Pentacles. It was intriguing, and perhaps a bit dangerous.
Morgana put the deck away quickly, not wanting to tempt the fates by knowing more.
"Oh why can't life be sedentary?" she asked herself aloud. Boring, you mean. she reinterpreted. Life is never boring for me.
And just who is the King of Pentacles?
Rand double-checked the lock, and put out the do not disturb sign. He moved the bed next to the window and closed the blinds. He then turned out the lights to his room, and in the complete darkness stripped naked. Only then did he pull out the alter and light candles for illumination.
Perhaps the goddess frowned on superstitious habit, but Rand Weiss had set this tradition many years previously. Rand's religion was a personal and private thing, and his ceremony was designed to keep it that way. Wicca was the Druidic way of life, private and sacrosanct. Besides, if a witch wasn't superstitious, no one would be.
Of course, worshiping the goddess in a hotel room probably isn't what the Druids had in mind, Rand mused to himself. Why am I here?
It had been eight months previous that Rand had fled San Francisco for Michigan, an emotional mess who went into the wilds to get back in touch with himself. He had spent time rediscovering the goddess he had worshiped as a young adult, communing with nature, reading Tarot and pursuing Druidic thought until, fives days previously, he felt the urge to return to San Francisco.
May the goddess protect me if I run into Constance, he thought. I did, after, leave rather suddenly.
Damn it! Why is life so complex! Why am I here! Goddess! Why!
Rand shook his head in frustration. He was rambling and confused. This was no way to pay homage to the goddess.
He stood and went to his suitcase, pulling out his deck of Tarot cards and his bong. He didn't know if the goddess disapproved of a little grass, but no one had said no and it did clear his head, if not numb it a little.
He stuffed the bowl and lit it, taking a long draw and holding it nearly a minute before exhaling.
Ah, that's better. Rand giggled as he shuffled his deck. I know this is against the rules, but....
Why am I in San Francisco?
As he lay out the cards, confusion hit him again. With one card the reading reflected serious if not violent conflict, while the next card altered the reading altogether into romance. It was unlike any reading he had seen before. He picked up the cards and re-dealt, with similar results.
Damn! I'm not stoned already, am I?
He reshuffled the deck, and pulled out his card, the King of Pentacles. He identified with the card, as in this deck the King resembled Rand; much like a bearded and long retired football player now doing beer commercials. Rand had never played the game but he looked the part, minus his glasses.
He began pulling cards out until he got a face. The Knave of Staves.
Rand smiled. He hadn't seen Larry in quite a while. He's not so much the knave anymore, Rand thought. He must be well past 30 by now.
Big deal, self. You're still older.
Rand re-lit the bowl and took an extended puff. Whatever this is about, I think I'd better see Larry.
Rand took another hit. He giggled, thinking, after a word from our sponsor.
As for Larry Christopher himself, he left his modest apartment above his store that morning to jog, reflecting as he did every morning that no one jogged in San Francisco in this neighborhood, and ran his customary five miles. Upon his return home he showered and shaved, then turned to his morning paperwork.
For Larry, morning paperwork did not involve his business; that he left until the store opened. In the morning he worked on his love and his hobby, the files.
Larry Christopher was a self-appointed student of human nature. He used his morning runs and his day-to-day existence to figure out how people worked; what made them tick. Over the course of 15 years he had filled three file cabinets with observations and theorems about hypothetical situations, and he updated his information daily.
Of course, Larry's hobby was a very private endeavor. Larry had long discovered that people don't like having files kept on them. Only three other people knew about them, and two were his younger brothers. The other was Jim's lover and she was special.
Larry smiled whenever he thought of his brothers. Thank you, he thought, maker, for letting me be tone deaf. Being a rock star was difficult for someone who liked peace and quiet as much a Larry did. It was bad enough sometimes that Larry and Jim looked so much alike, and that A.J. visited so often.
The lifestyles his brothers led also did not appeal to Larry. He preferred to live in his modest apartment, with few possessions beyond his books. He also did his best not to look like his closest in age brother, by keeping his hair comparatively short and wearing suits during the business day.
Still, although the regulars of Haight-Ashbury had long grown used to Larry, occasionally someone would gape and run after him, thinking they had spotted Jim Christopher in public.
Larry shook his head and returned to his files. He wanted to concentrate on two men talking in a car half way down the block. Class fours if he ever saw them.
People, for the most part as Larry had discovered, could not be typified into a single category. Their actions, however, could be put together so that patterns would form. For example, the two men were watching Larry as he jogged, and Larry in turn noticed they didn't have the suddenly surprised look he would get it the two men thought Larry was in fact Jim. The two men knew he was Larry Christopher.
Fine, thought Larry. Working men, on the job. Detached professional interest.
And they want to question me.
Larry nodded to himself, and wrote down his observations. He predicted that they would enter the shop once it had opened and he had some employees in.
I wonder if they know Morgana is my only employee, he wondered. Not enough data, he concluded.
Larry checked his watch and decided he'd best prepare to open the shop. He put his files away, and dressed in his leisure suit. Once done, he no longer looked so much like his famous brother but was the respectable bookseller he truly was. Never mind the fact that the books he sold dealt primarily with what the majority of the world called occult. And never mind that Larry Christopher was the only shopkeeper in this part of the city who wore a suit.
Larry came downstairs into the store to find that Morgana had let herself in. Larry waved hello and noted to himself that the police would probably come in as soon as he opened up shop.
As they prepared to open, Larry reflected not for the first time what a find Morgana was. Although he was no slouch at reading people and reading fortunes for them himself, Larry found Morgana far better at it than he was. Larry also preferred to keep the image of a simple bookseller, so it was good that someone else did the readings for the clientele.
"Good morning, Larry," Morgana said, bringing Larry out of his reverie. "How are you at this a.m.?"
"Fine and good morning," Larry returned.
"You've been quiet this morning."
Larry nodded, checking his cash in the store register. "We're going to have company this morning. Did you see them?"
Morgana returned the nod, pulling out her deck of cards and setting up her booth. "I wasn't aware you were involved in any police work."
"I'm not. Why do you mention it?"
"They're not here to arrest you or they would have done it by now. They're also not here to arrest anyone else; they're being too obvious and you have a well-connected family name."
"They're not that obvious.
"You pay me to catch these things."
Larry chuckled. "True," he said. "Besides, the family name doesn't mean that much. Sometimes they want to arrest one of us because of the Christopher name."
"Regardless," Morgana continued, "they want to question you."
"Me?" Larry asked. "Why not you?"
"I'm the fortune teller, remember? Besides, who knows I'm even in this country?"
"I wonder what they want?"
Larry walked to the front door of the shop. "Let's find out, shall we?" He put up the open sign and opened the door to find an old friend standing there.
"Rand!" Larry grabbed the man and gave him a bear hug. "Rand Weiss, how are you?"
"Surviving," Rand replied, "and getting by. Glad to see you're still here."
"Come on in." They re-entered the shop and Larry closed the now unlocked door. "Last I heard, you were back east."
"Until a few days ago, I still was. Hello, who is this?" Morgana had walked into view.
Larry coughed. "Excuse me," he said. "Rand, this is Morgana, my Tarotist. Morgana, Rand."
"Pleased," Rand said, extending his hand.
The hand was grasped. "Likewise," Morgana replied.
"Since when does Larry Christopher need a Tarotist? He's the best I ever taught. Are you Wiccan?"
"He hired me, so I won't argue," Morgana said, extracting her hand from Rand's grasp. "And no, I'm not Wiccan, just English."
Rand winked. "Too bad."
"I take that to mean that you are."
"Very much so. A humble servant of the goddess, at your service."
"Rand," Larry interrupted, "why are you here? It can't be for Connie...I don't think she's forgiven you as of yet. You had broken your ties here and gone back to Wicca. What's up?"
Rand held up both hands, pleading innocence. "I was hoping you could tell me," he stated. "Something big is going to happen, and all of my indicators say it involves you. Not that all my indicators are firing on all cylinders these days."
At that moment the door to the shop opened and the two men Larry had spotted earlier came into the store. "Can I help you gentlemen?" Larry asked.
The taller of the two men, apparently the one in charge, opened his wallet and flashed a badge. "I am Detective Argent," he said, "and this is Detective Beck, SFPD. We'd like to speak with Larry Christopher."
"You got him," Larry responded. "What can I do for you?"
"May we speak with you in private for a moment?"
"Certainly. Morgana, watch the floor for me, would you? And show Mr. Clapton here around the store." At that last comment he pointed to Rand. When Morgana nodded, Larry turned to the Detectives. "Gentlemen, follow me."
Larry led the Detectives into the stock room. Once there he turned and said, "All right, what do you want to know?"
The Detective who identified himself as Argent pulled a photograph from his breast pocket and showed it to Larry. "Recognize this man?" he asked.
Larry nodded. "George Tomlinson," he replied. "One of my better customers. If I remember my newspaper headlines, he died a couple of days back."
"Okay, fine. Why would he come here?"
"He was very interested in many aspects of the occult."
"Anything specific?" Detective Beck asked.
"Yes," Larry responded. "Witchcraft."
"Witchcraft," Argent said.
"Yes, witchcraft. Wicca specifically."
"Was he into spellcasting?" Beck asked.
"I couldn't say," Larry said, "but I doubt it. You see, Wicca, just like every cult from Zoaster on down through Christianity, is a type of religion. Wicca simply concentrates more on intervention than most others."
"I take exception at your calling Christianity a cult," Beck said.
"Nearly two-thousand years of perspective hasn't made us any smarter. Look, a bunch of philosophers believed the Torah didn't say enough. Along comes one man who is deluded enough to think he is the son of the Jewish god YHWH but who has enough charisma to get people to believe him. He is killed by a government that uses the same logic which killed Socrates centuries earlier. Big deal.
"We've all taken the time to blow it all out of proportion. A man named Jesus and his followers would be shocked by the Christians of today, but then they were Jewish. Two millennia from now, when mankind is calling a man named Martin Luther King Jr. the son of god, he can be appalled too. But then, Mr. King was quote unquote Christian."
"Mr. Christopher," Argent said, "thank you for your lecture but we are getting off the subject." He turned to his partner. "Show him the other picture."
Beck scowled but nodded and let Larry see a picture of a second man whom he did not recognize, even though he did raise an eyebrow at the photograph. "Never saw him before," Larry said, "but I can tell you a bit about him. He's a witch."
"Excuse me?" Argent said.
"He's a witch. See the medallion around his neck? That's Wiccan."
"Was he a good witch or a bad witch?" Beck sarcastically asked.
"Was?" Larry asked. "This man is dead as well?"
Argent shot a disapproving glance at his partner. "Mr. Christopher," he said, "his question first, then yours."
Larry nodded. "Thought so. He was a bad witch. Wicca is a very private religion; you don't advertise it. True followers of it's principals wear no paraphernalia advertising it because they are taught not to need it. The bad side of the religion uses it as it's rallying symbol."
"Bad side?" Back asked.
"All religions have a good and a bad side. Christianity has hell, the Moslem faith has all non-Moslems, you get the idea. Very interesting."
Detective Argent nodded in agreement. "How much do you know about George Tomlinson's death?" He asked.
"Just what was in the paper," Larry replied. "His body was found battered and bloody in a utility closet in his own office building."
"As if he'd fallen from his office building, like this second man did. From Tomlinson's own window, in fact."
Larry regarded both men for a moment, then the second photo again. "You think they both pissed off the same person or people," he stated.
"That's one possibility," Beck said, and Larry could that the officer hadn't bought into this theory.
"Mr. Christopher," Detective Argent said, "this is a police investigation. We would appreciate it if you left speculation in our hands." He looked at his watch. "We've taken enough of your time."
Larry nodded. "Allow me to show you out."
Once the Detectives had left Larry rejoined Morgana and Rand, who were looking through a book of Druidic spells.
"Most of these are so wrong," Rand said to Larry. "Spellcasting is nothing like this."
"Granted," Larry returned, "but the book does sell."
"How did it go in there?" Morgana asked.
"They just needed some questions asked, but let
me explain what happened. I'd like some input from you both."