Chapter 24: Avalon, S.C.

Sunlight poured through the doomed-to-remain-forever-uncurtained French door.  I groaned, thinking how nice another hour of sleep would be, but I knew I was done.  So I pulled on a robe and stood there a moment to appreciate the glorious wonder of the sleeping Chai Fox before I headed off to make coffee.

Chai was curled on her slide, long hair spread everywhere.  Without makeup the freckles were even more distinct, but in the innocence of sleep no longer seemed so incongruous.  The scent of patchouli was long gone, replaced by the delicious odor of woman and musk.  She did have one other tattoo, a slightly oversized ladybug an inch from her left nipple.

I’d told Sabrina that I couldn’t get up and go fishing while leaving my bed occupied.  But I wasn’t going fishing, I was heading for the coffeepot.  And to be honest, at the moment, an early morning reprise didn’t hold that much attraction.  Coffee seemed a better cure for lingering soreness and some mild post-coital blahs than some hair of the dog.  Ouch, what a shitty metaphor that was.  I figuratively slapped myself.

I was sitting on the porch, savoring life which indeed was significantly brighter with a little caffeine chaser, when Chai joined me.  She was wearing one of my long-sleeve shirts, socks, and a blanket, and had poured herself a cup of coffee.  She kissed me gently on the cheek and pulled up a chair not nearly as comfortable as the one I’d inherited from George.  What a gentleman I was turning out to be, taking the only robe and the best chair.

“You have a view of the water.”

“Yes, when the tide’s in.  I spend at least a half hour here almost every morning.”

“I can understand that.  Do you meditate?”

“Never successfully.  But I have come to understand the concept from walking the wheel.”

“Ah, yes, the mysterious George’s sacred wheel.  We’ll have to do that in a bit.”

We savored the coffee and the quiet of the morning for a while before Chai added, “I think I would like George, if I ever got to meet him.  I glanced at the bookcase in the living room before I came out here.  We seem to look at life much the same way.”

“Unlike you and I.”

“Definitely unlike you and I.  However, while George and I have some metaphysical tendencies and a taste for spiritual mysteries in common, you and I have shared an experience far beyond the pale of the vast majority of 21st century mortals.  So you needn’t be jealous, even though you’re a Norman at heart.”

“That’s me.  Just call me Norman.”

An egret lifted off from the sliver of mud shore we could see and made its way over the house.  We watched without comment.

“So, are we doomed to have to travel out to the island every time we’re feeling horny?” Chai asked when the bird was out of sight.  “Or can we get by in between with what most folks are stuck with?”

What a loaded question.  So many ways to fuck this answer up.  Although from what I knew of Chai Fox so far, she wasn’t looking for any of your typical “was it good for you too” reassurances.  I thought hard if briefly before carefully framing my answer.  “Actually, I think the lingering power of our island experience colors and elevates our mainland sexuality quite nicely.  I have no sense of discontent with our version of what most folks are stuck with.”

“Spoken like a journalist and a diplomat.  Still, I think you’ve summed up the way I feel about it quite nicely.”

“We Normans do have our strong points.”

“So shall I get dressed so we can walk the wheel?  Or do you want to see if that color and elevation still lingers on into the next morning?”

There was no good way to say no, even if I’d wanted to.  Which a cup and a half of coffee into the day, I didn’t really.

Later, dressed and ready to head out to the wheel, I showed her the brooch that I’d found in George’s drawer.

“I have no idea what this is.  The design is definitely Celtic, but other than that, I know nothing.”  She looked up at me and smiled ruefully.  “Here’s a true confession.  We wiccans claim our ancient pagan roots come from the Celts, but I haven’t actually spent much time studying Celtic history, archeology, and the like.  I know, that’s awful.  But others have done so, and their books are so much easier as a starting place than original studies.”

“Well, Tatum promised me a witch, not an expert on Iron-Age British history.”

“Seems like you’ve gotten what you asked for, and more.”  She fluttered her eyes, causing me to laugh at the implications.

“I can always find a historian somewhere.”

“Although based on what I experienced yesterday, I guess I’ll have to do some studying up.”

“I have a whole library about King Arthur and some other books on Iron Age mysteries.  I’ll be happy to loan you a couple, assuming I’m going to see you again.”

“If you don’t see me again, I’ll just burn the books.”

Out at the wheel, Chai asked me, “Do you want to do this together?  We hold the same idea in our minds and start back to back at the center.  One of us walks North, and other South.  So our movements are deliberate and choreographed.  I’ve found it can be quite powerful, although sometimes you just ruin your meditation by trying to keep up with the other person’s pace.”  She vamped an exaggerated wink.  “We seem to be OK at matching our pace, so I don’t think that will be a problem.”

“I want to think about the power of the island.”

“That would be my choice as well.”

And so we did.  Chai’s suggestive “OK at matching our pace” turned out to be correct when referring to walking the wheel as well, and the experience was strong.  Although I confess to not identifying any harmonic vibrations specifically set off by the presence of another person holding the same thoughts that I was.

Afterwards I scrambled up some eggs, toasted a couple of English muffins, and mixed up two very light Bloody Margarets (that’s substituting gin for vodka—I consider vodka to be something high school kids add to Kool-Aid, not a drink for adults) before Chai headed back to Beaufort.

I spent a lot of time throughout the rest of the day pondering just what I’d gotten myself into.  I’d expected Chai to be more of a caricature, like her New Age customers that she’d described.  Instead, she’d turned out to be almost normal, while still uber-sensitive to all of the strange things going on around us.  And witty.  Not to mention attractive and sexy.

I discovered that it still bothered me a little that she’d brought condoms and left her dog with a sitter.  On the other hand, if she hadn’t, I wouldn’t have experienced the wild power of Avalon; probably wouldn’t have gotten laid at all.  In the end I chalked it up to the lingering chauvinism of my Norman-hood, and resolved to get over it.

Here’s another thing that struck me as strange, compared with all of my other intimate experiences with women: that absence of emotions from the love family.  Not even any pretense.  The line from that song about using each other and not caring seemed almost appropriate, but not quite.  There was obviously a strong emotional connection there of some sort.  Just nobody felt compelled to name it or speak of it.

“Women can get you in a lot of trouble,” my subconscious warned me.  But I ignored him, since it was too late for warnings anyway.

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