Human life is incredibly difficult, and painful. I feel like no one ever says that enough. I feel like we go around acting like it’s easy and it’s supposed to be easy but it isn’t. It hurts. It hurts so goddamn much that even in the midst of all the beauty that the world offers us we find ourselves doing strange and dangerous things to cope with the pain.
I want you to bring to your mind the picture of a man so gorgeous it makes your bones hurt and your blood simmer and it keeps you from sleeping at night. He smells like Egyptian Musk Oil and Pall Malls and whiskey and Irish Spring soap. He moves like a snaky intermix of Mick Jagger and David Bowie and Jim Morrison.
This man is 6’4, with a lean tiny waist and broad shoulders, just about 33 years old. He’s got cheekbones so high they might be skyscrapers. His eyes are huge hypnotic brown liquid pools, more like the eyes of a doe than a man. His hair is dark blond and lustrous thick and it hangs down to his shoulders. Everything about him radiates sex and sorrow and apocalyptic vision. He’s got a nervous energy that never lets him sit still. He wears white slacks with red snakeskin boots and he carries a blue guitar. He can be cruel as a cat and sweet as a baby boy. That man is Lucky Seven, my first last ever love. My husband, my killer, my savior, my demon.
I want to tell you a story about me and Lucky Seven and the places we’ve been and the people we’ve known – it’s a story of pain and love and magic that might make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up at the same time that it makes your sex hot and slippery and makes your heart get all gooey like butter on popcorn.
Now I want you to see a woman. She’s a woman who has the kind of beauty that makes people uneasy, not the kind of beauty that wins friends and influences people. It’s a witchy beauty that no one wants to trust. Her hair is dark brown and curls at the bottom. Her eyes are violet purple like Elizabeth Taylor’s and her skin is pink and peachy. She’s got a curvy figure that stops traffic. She’s slow-moving, deep and calm. She never walks; she saunters. She sees a lot of things that no one wants her to see. She wears red lipstick, thick black eyeliner, a black cocktail dress and a leopard-print cardigan and red ruby slippers. She loves Lucky Seven with her whole heart and her whole soul and she detests him with the same lavish generosity. That woman is me, Stella St. Clair.
(art by Harry Schaare from A Gem of Murder, 1959)
The reason that you have to know this story is that it’s still unfolding and you are a part of it. I want to tell you this story but I need you to relax while I tell it. I need you to trust me even though it’s hard. Some of the things I’m about to tell you – well, you might not like me much when you hear about them. And that’s fine. You don’t have to like me. You can hate me. I just want you to believe me. I want you to believe me because what’s at stake in this is your own magic and love and pain and sex.
We’re in the midst of a battle right now. I know it doesn’t seem like it. I know it seems like you’re just sitting someplace reading this, but that’s not true. There’s a battle going on. It’s in the spirit world all around you. The battle is for your soul but it’s also for the World Soul. The enemy isn’t a person or a spirit. The enemy is ignorance itself, which people and spirits sometimes serve. There’s a lot more to say about that, but I’ll tell you more on it later.
What I want to tell you right now is how Lucky and I got into all this madness.
It was the summer of 2014. Lucky and I were on the road out West.
We were doing what we usually did, the seven main hustles.
(Norman Saunders pulp art)
I would go out at night to bars and meet men and bring them back to a motel room where I would get them drunk and put rufanol in their drinks and take their wallets and then Lucky would come pick me up and we’d speed away.
The same hustle, pretty much, except Lucky would do the seducing (mostly of women, sometimes gay men) and the wallet-taking and then I’d come pick him up and we’d speed away.
I’d set up a table at a county fair and do psychic readings with my crystal ball and Tarot cards. Lucky would pretend to be a satisfied patron and rave to other people about my amazing powers. This was my favorite hustle, since I always actually could see the future. But it also made me sad, because most people’s futures are sad at county fairs.
Lucky would go play pool at a bar and pretend to be really bad at it until someone would take him up on a bet. Then he’d play with all his real skill and win. It was a fierce and fearful thing, how that man could play pool.
Same thing, except with dice. Now I know what you’re thinking – dice doesn’t take any skill. It doesn’t much – but it does take mojo. And Lucky knew how to hold back his mojo till other men were betting high and then let his mojo roll and win. Probably no man alive had more natural mojo than Lucky Seven. It was easy to tell that just by looking at him. So I don’t know why damn fools ever bothered trying to play with him, but they did.
Lucky would show up at a fundamentalist church and pretend to be a travelling preacher from out of town. He’d talk his way to the pulpit and do holy roller faith healings. I would get healed of all sorts of stuff – blindness, leprosy, asthma. So would other people, just by the power of their own belief. And then they’d give us money out of gratitude. And if they didn’t, we’d just steal the collection box.
Lucky would play his guitar on a street corner and I’d sing and play the tambourine. Sometimes we’d get invited to play at bars or people’s houses.
When we weren’t hustling or planning the next hustle, Lucky and I did several things:
1. We fought.
2. We fucked.
3. We danced.
4. He played his guitar and I wrote poems.
5. He drew his drawings and I wrote essays.
6. We sang songs.
7. We drank and got high.
8. We told each other stories.
9. We cast magic spells.
Things that we fought about included:
1. Him having sex with other women (or suspicions thereof)
2. Me having sex with other men (or suspicions thereof)
3. Him spending all our money on whiskey or losing it gambling
4. Me wanting us to get straight and grow up and settle down somewhere decent and have a kid
5. Him wanting us to get famous and get rich but always messing it up when people gave us opportunities to do that
6. Him suspecting me of putting curses on him out of jealousy or spite
7. Me suspecting him of using hard drugs
8. Me spending all our money on buying food for the younger runaway kids
9. Whether or not a shirt looked better on him or me and who should have the right to wear it
10. Who smoked the last cigarette.
The ways we fucked included:
1. Softly and transcendentally, me in my pink satin nightgown, his cock like a hard red slick key to another dimension.
2. Rabidly and insanely, with an insatiable force and hunger, in the back of our caravan.
3. Lazily and sweetly, like little kids playing under the covers.
4. Ritually and intently, in a circle of candles, with oils and recordings of his cosmic music playing.
5. In the dewy grass on a blanket under a sea of stars.
6. With infinite disgust for the stupidity of the other and still a gnawing lust for the flesh.
7. To Fleetwood Mac albums, in the front seat of the caravan, me sitting astride him.
I’m reluctant to keep telling you about Lucky because as I do it I make him appear and disappear. There’s a part of me that doesn’t want to remember him, doesn’t want to feel him, doesn’t want to have the taste of his sweat-musk on the tip of my tongue and the timbre of his low rolling voice in my ears. I don’t want to know the things that I knew when I lay in his arms, the interdimensional secrets, the forests of vine and diamond stretching out forever in the aether, the place where sleeping princesses go to dance at night with tireless and vicious fairy kings.
So I hate making him appear, and I hate making him disappear – because if he appears again to my mind and body in this way as I tell you this then when I stop telling he goes away again, a genie in a cloud of blue smoke, his laughter and his mad smirk fading out into the night air outside the motel.
But I also want to tell you. I want you to know all about it because what’s at stake is our souls and the World Soul. Because this story is the only means I have of showing you that I truly understand, that I truly can see what’s in you and underneath your skin because I’ve had it underneath my own skin too.
And everything depends on that. Everything depends on you knowing that there’s someone else who understands how exquisite this torture is, this pain of we the living. Because once you truly know that I can see you and feel you because you’re one with me, blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh – then I can transmit the teaching that can wrench open the magic in both of us and cause The Strange to come through in a way that heals us from all the boring isolation of the big box stores and the cookie-cutter houses.
So here I am, telling this to you. I’m tired and every part of me hurts. There’s a way in which none of it means anything – it’s all the sound and the fury. And yet magic is the multiplying of meaning, the multiplying of connection. So where there is only disorder and chaos something sneaks in that weaves a terrifying and tangible, bright and definite gold cord throughout the sticky web of our existence.
I met Lucky just after I broke up with a sane and wonderful man who I had absolutely no sexual spark with. I had been with this sane and wonderful and productive man for two years. His name was Krishna, he was from India and he worked inventing robots. He was patient and sweet and steady beyond anything imaginable. And for the life of us we couldn’t get it together to have sex. I still think of him sometimes. He was sort of like a saint. Anyways, after two years I couldn’t endure the sexual drought any longer so I called it off. I had just broken up with Krishna when I met Lucky Seven. I was flush with the fire of freedom.
I went out to a club to a rock show with some girlfriends of mine and I saw Lucky on stage. It was just him sitting on a stool with his amp and his baby blue guitar and his red snakeskin boots, that night in black slacks and a black button-down shirt – looking like just about the coolest motherfucker in all creation. When he played his guitar I felt like with every stroke of a string he was strumming my clit – hotly, delicately, perfectly. He gazed into my eyes from the stage. A kind of fever overtook me. I was possessed by something – I’m not sure just what – but something wilder and smarter than the usual me who resides in this head. This wilder and smarter being knew just one thing as the guitar riffs hummed through me – that it wanted him.
So I did the logical thing that ladies do in a situation with a man like Lucky Seven on stage. I took off my soaked pink panties and threw them on the stage at his feet. I figured it would be something that he was plenty used to, but actually when I did it he looked completely surprised. Then a smile spread across his face that was unlike anything I had ever seen – it was the kind of smile that used to light up the corridors of heaven before the angels fell – it was a transparent, guileless, joyful grin. It satisfied something deep with in me to receive it. It filled me up. So much so that I then decided the only thing for me to do would be to go outside and smoke and wait for my friends to come out of the club so we could go home.
But then something strange happened. I was standing outside in the cool air smoking and something came up next to me. I felt a buzz in the air kind of like the opening chords to “Paint it Black” – and then there he was. Lucky Seven was standing beside me, asking me for a smoke. He was still smiling that smile. He had my pink panties folded up and tucked into his front shirt pocket like a handkerchief, wafting my wet pussy perfume all over the place. I blushed.
We stood there and smoked together. He told me no girl had ever thrown her panties at him before and that he felt touched. Touched? Do astoundingly handsome guitar players routinely feel touched when lust-crazed girls throw their panties? I don’t know. I guess it wasn’t all that routine, when Lucky and I met. We could feel something between us, a Third thing that wasn’t him and wasn’t me but was instead just the force created by him and me together in the same room. The Third felt big and pulsing and powerful. It felt like something that wanted to be met and studied and known.
He was done with his set and he wanted to know if I would have a drink with him in his caravan. The answer was that of course I would. When I stepped into Lucky Seven’s red gypsy wagon I stepped into a world so far beyond anything I had previously imagined that it’s difficult for me to describe the sense of wonder. At the same time that I had never consciously imagined that a caravan like Lucky Seven’s existed, that a man like Lucky Seven existed – as the night went on a sense of recognition poured down into my heart and it occurred to me that a part of me had always believed and hoped and waited and watched for a man and a caravan exactly as strange and beautiful as this.
Lucky’s caravan held a 1970s electric organ with rainbow keys. Also: an altar with several crystal balls, incense, red candles, shedded snake’s skin and a picture of Lucky’s mama who died when he was just a baby. Also: a lumpy mattress on a rope bed and pillows made out of shaggy fake fur and a considerable pulp sci fi paperback collection. Also: a hotpot and an electric stove for making coffee and heating up cans of soup.
(the back cover of Andromeda magazine, 1945)
So we entered the caravan together and he and I both put on masquerade masks that he had on hand. So we sat together in these masks – mine was ivory white with elaborate filigree design – his was ebony black – and we spoke words to each other. I’m not sure exactly what was in the content of those words, but whatever it was it must have been good potent stuff because I felt a connection with him that extended so far in space and time that it made me dizzy to contemplate.
To Be Continued… look for next week’s installment of American Conjure!
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