In a remarkable short period of time, we stood in front of a row of buildings. We turned left and went into the one labeled the Magic Box. As we entered, a high sweet bell rang, heralding our entry.”
It was an apothecary’s shop. There was music emitting from a box on the table, that song which is called, “Can’t Cry These Tears Anymore”(25) .
A young woman, with a smile broad and bright as the moon, greeted us, “Hello, how may I sell you something.” She paused, “Hey, I know you. You’re that guy. You wrote that book. A lot of my clients, well the ones who could read, got ideas from your book. Back when I was a Vengeance Demon and before I became a human and a capitalist. Welcome to my store. Please, spend money.”
“Oh, yes.” The woman, who was formerly a vengeance demon, but now was human and a capitalist, pointed at me. “Can’t remember his name, something like Al, but he wrote a book about torment. The bit with the Pope with the feet(28) was extremely funny. And that’s his guide, who I don’t like at all.” She waved her finger under my Master’s nose. “That poor woman in the Car city(29) deserved vengeance after the way her lover behaved. I’d have advised evisceration at the very least. What kind of man would abandon his wife in a fire?” She paused and twirled a strand of hair around her right index finger. “Of course, this was way before my time.”
She turned to a dark haired man who was seated at a table farther back in the room. “Xander, if Sunnydale was on fire, you’d rescue me and our children before saving your father, who is old and should die soon anyway.”
Xander sat up and coughed, and wheezed like the miller told certain news of his wife by well meaning friends. “Children! Wha, what? How? Well, I know how. When?”
The young woman assumed an expression familiar to young suitors in all lands. “Calm down honey. I’m not pregnant. I’m talking about in the book. So, would you?”
Xander leaned back into his chair. “Yes, Ahn, I would rescue you and our completely hypothetical children before saving my deadbeat father, who will hopefully drop dead before the wedding and solve our seating arrangement problems.”
Ahn smiled happily and turned to the Slayer. “So, what do you want and do your friends have money? I was getting ready to close so I can go home to be domestic and have sex with Xander.”
Spike knocked some ash into a brass urn on a shelf. “They gave me $100.”
“You sold me out for $100,” said the Slayer.
Spike shrugged and his strange black cloak rustled in a fascinating motion. “I knew you could grind them to bitty dust. Anyway, $30 may be traditional(30), but that’s inflation for you.”
My Master frowned briefly and said, “The hour grows late and we must be on our way. We must reach the City of the Lost by break of evening and already the last stars of night shine uponGaul(31).”
“Okay, non sequitur much,” said the Slayer.
“Oh, let me guess,” said Xander. “If you don’t make it to this City of the Lost, there will be some sort of apocalypse and the world will end.”
“No,” I said, just as my Teacher said, “What is an apocalypse(32)?” Everyone in the room stopped speaking and looked at us in shock. The silence was only broken by the sound of chewing as Xander ate what seemed to be Eucharists out of a metal bag on the table.
My heart pained for my Teacher’s ignorance to be so displayed. “My Teacher died before our Savior’s birth. However, if he says that we must make it to the City of the Lost before morning, then so it was written in the great book.”
Just then the door was flung open to the pealing of the bell and a slender red haired woman ran into the room. “Great. You’re here. There’s a Feyoral demon in…” She noticed my Master and myself and squealed. “Oh, my god it’s you.” She did a little dance. “You’re the. You. I’m taking a class. The Furies. And Ulysses. And. And. And. Oh, oh, oh, wait I can make a prediction.” She held out her right hand as if to make an oration. “If you go to Rome, you will have to go to Ravenna. Wait that didn’t sound that interesting. Oh, wait,” She pulled a book out of her bag and handed it to me. “Sign this.” She began searching through her bag. “Pen, pen. pen. I have a million pens. In colors. With sparkly bits. Hey, wait.” She yanked the book back out of my hands. “I know you’re a product of your era, but I don’t appreciate having gays and witches consigned to hell. While, I’m not technically a witch anymore, because I have an addiction to magic, which I’m dealing with, three months now. However, I am a lesbian. And even if I were Christian and not you know, all Miss Rosenburg and Jewish, I still wouldn’t want you to sign my book(33).”
The Slayer held up her hand and said, “Okay, so far I know that Anya doesn’t like Toga boy because he’s favor of wife burning. Willow doesn’t like the guy in the dress because he wrote a homophobic book. And I still don’t know who they are. And since, I’m getting a serious case of ennui, what’s the why of helping them?”
“You quoted me once within a prophetic dream,” said my Master.
“Not really narrowing it down there,” said the Slayer.
“It was during that most exciting adventure in which the Gentlemen came and stole the voices of those who live on the mouth of Hell. In your dream, you said that ‘Fortune favors the brave,’ which you also repeated later after failing in your communications with Commander Lavender.”
“And?” said the Slayer.
“I wrote that(34). In that epic in which the father of Rome journeyed to the lands of the Italies,” said my Master. The long silence stretched much like the serpent as it crawled from Eden after bringing about the first fall.
“Well, the guy in the dress is a Whi…Black Guelph. Yup, black as sin,” said Spike, “so it’s practically your patriotic duty to beat them up now.”
“Thank you peanut gallery. And, no,” said the Slayer. Willow leaned over to the Slayer and whispered into her ear. “Who?” said the Slayer. Willow showed the Slayer the book. “Oh, you’re that guy. I’ve never read it. Is it good?”
Willow nodded her head like the crane, which bobs for fish in the Marcher Marshes. “Oh, it’s great. It’s got all these really subtle layers and allusions to myths and pop culture. He was like Gen X, only in 1300. And there’s this bit with a pope that’s really funny when you know the background.”
“So, I’ve heard. Maybe I’ll Cliff it later. And maybe the one I quoted too.”
“Of course, I’ve only read Inferno. No one ever reads Paradisio. I hear it’s boring,” said Willow.
“Really,” said the Slayer to a world that seemed ignorant of that word’s nine months worth of pregnancy.
Xander, who had been looking us over from our crowns to our sandals, said, “How come we get the Renaissance Faire rejects? Why couldn’t we get some hot chicks like…?” he paused, “Actually, I’m drawing a blank here. I want to say Lady Macbeth, but that would be like a visit from Faith, only less homicidal.”
“And you know, not a writer,” said Willow.
“Sure, throw my ignorance in my face,” said Xander, as he ate another Eucharist.
Willow held up one hand and made as if the hand were speaking, as she said, “Read a book.” There was a pause, “Oh, come on! He sulks like a chili in his tent. Homer. The Illiad. Read a Book(35). Spoon?”
“Wow,” said Xander. He pointed at my Teacher. “This guy is Homer! There really is nothing that donuts can’t do.”
My Guide, who had been watching this exchange, said, “Could we return to finding the way to the City of the Lotus Eaters, where live ones like those who once sought to ensnare he whose plan brought about the fall of fair Illium(36)?”
“Sad, init,” said Spike, as he glanced up from reading that book of Ovid(37) which is called the Remedy of Love. “When I consider that this is the crack team that foiled all my schemes, back when I was you know trying to, oh, never mind. People with attention of five year olds.”
“Well, what I am, what are you?” said Xander. “Wait. That didn’t come out right.”
Anya tenderly patted Xander on the shoulder. “There, there, there honey. You have a job which earns you money, while Spike is reduced to selling out Buffy to not and un-dead writers. Also, I think you use your words very well. Maybe, they’ll go away soon and we can use words while having sex.”
“Anya!” said Xander. The others in the room sought eye contact with the floor.
Anya continued patting Xander’s shoulder and smiled at me. “Xander gets embarrassed when I talk about sex in front of his friends. However, I don’t know you.” She glanced around the shop. “If you’d care to buy one, I have some lovely seeking charms that could find your city in under a minute. I might even give you a slight discount on account of your being famous. Well, as long as I could say you shop here. In print. A very small discount.” She held her thumb and forefinger as if she were holding a pea between them and continued patting Xander with the other hand.
“Oh, those are for Wicca wannabes. I know this great spell for finding lost cities. But…” Willow sighed.
The Slayer patted Willow’s shoulder. “That’s okay Will. One day at a time.”
Spike appeared as one who had eaten a persimmon. Inexplicably, I found myself liking him, as I too was becoming disturbed at the sheer number of shoulders being patted. “Could we, perhaps, look it up in one of these books?” I gestured at the immense library of books at the far end of the room.
“Ah, yes. Hitting the books. Doing the research,” said Xander shaking off Anya’s hand. “Unnecessary.” He glanced at the others. “Come on it’s obvious. They want go to L.A.” There was long moment of silence. Although, my Teacher looked more relieved than confused. The Slayer gently arched an eyebrow and made a regal gesture, like King David asking his General Joab for word of Absalom(38). Xander sighed. “Come on don’t any of you watch movies. Everyone always wants to go to LA. It’s where the dregs of the world end up. Where Route 66 ends. It’s all Chinatown and Maltese Falcon and LA Story. And plus, Los, City of the Lost. I’d say there’s a definite connection.” He nodded as the cypress nods to fair Zephrus(39).
Willow said, “Xander, Los is Spanish for the.”
Xander slapped his hand on the table top, “I said Los Angeles and I stand by that. And I’m hungry and if the world isn’t going to end…”
“Well, I say,” said the Slayer. She paused and turned towards Willow, who was inching towards the metal bag on the table. “Willow, didn’t you say something about a Feyoral?”
“Oh, yeah.” Willow grabbed a Eucharist from the bag and said while chewing, “Ummm…there’s a Feyoral. On campus.” Willow swallowed. “It’s not really doing much of anything, but you should deal with it. If I could use magic, then I’d just cast a control spell on it and have it walk out of town without bothering anyone, but I don’t do that anymore, because I have problem with magic.” She sighed, “Life is just so slow and stupid. Things are easier with magic.”
“Yeah, Red. We heard.” Spike abstained from patting Willow’s shoulder, for which I was grateful, “Why don’t you let me and the Slayer take you away from this Den of Iniquitous Spice Jars to deal with the Feyoral, while Xander puts the poet types on a bus to LA. Make ‘em the broody poofta’s problem.”
“Spike, I take it back. The bleach hasn’t destroyed all your brain cells.” Xander paused, “Umm…Willow, could you make the call? I don’t want to talk to Angel or Cordelia, well Wesley’s okay.”
“Thank the Emperor!” said my Teacher, “I was beginning to think that I would have to give them hints which laid the matter of our destination plainer.”