Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Progress of Cards

Its dark outside and the family is asleep. Last weekend was very intense but we’ve pretty much settled back into our old grooves of work and school and getting along with each other with effort. I’ve got a beer and I’m sitting at the glass table in the back yard listening to the radio. I’ve got a notepad and my pack of tarot cards. I’ve lately been struggling to get back to my spiritual roots, and fighting my deep sense of uprootedness. Tarot cards remind of me of who I am and where I come from.

I begin shuffling the deck, but I don’t feel the impulse to cut it yet. I listen to the radio and take a swig of Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat.

I’m about to put out the deck and cut it into three stacks when I feel her coming into the yard, stepping from the shadows where she may have been all this time without my ever knowing.

I look up and she’s already standing at the edge of the table, not waiting to be invited. That Stoker Rule about vampires needing to be invited? That’s a lot of happy horseshit they feed you in the movies. They don’t need an invitation any more than a starving jungle cat. If they’re going to get you they’re going to get you.

“Nice evening out tonight, Nix.”

Guten Abend, scheisekopf! Vas ist de los mit du?”

“Oh, same old stuff I guess. Here’s something dear to your heart. Look, tarot cards.”

She pulls up a chair, lifting it a little so it doesn’t squeal against the concrete patio. “Why don’t you put some nice tiles on this place? It’s ugly.”

“No money. Someday maybe.”

“After you retire, jah? Everything is after you retire.”

“You sound like we’re married.”

Shiesse,” she says. “I wouldn’t marry you. You’re old. And dull.”

“I’m too young for you.”

“Hah! Such cards, they’re not so dear to my heart, no. They were dear to my Grandmam’s heart. Beer is dear to my heart.” She waits looking at me politely and patiently as a cat.

I look up at her and she just waits, glancing briefly at the bottle. What a strange, timeless, Nordic frost maiden this Nixie, bringing with her a breath of the grave, and her radiant forbidden lure, circling you like Circe’s panthers, black and white, will and mania, truth and trap. She is theology and massacre in tight blue jeans.

“Stay here.” I get up to go inside to the fridge.

“There’s a good host.”

“Just you be a good girl and behave yourself. Don’t murder me.”

“Oh - Fick dich,” she says. “You’re so rude in your mind, you know.”

I bring back a cold bottle of Negra Modelo. “You’ll like this, it’s Mexican but its really a dark Vienna lager. Like a dunkel.”

“Oh - goodie.” But she’s not looking at me, she has my cards and she’s shuffling them expertly. “Want to see something?”

I put the bottle down next to her and sit. “What?”

She shuffles the cards again and sets the pack down. “Do you know what happens when nosferatu tells her fortune? See this.” She cuts the pack into three piles and flips the top cards. “The High Priestess. The Devil. The Sun. See this?”


“Now – watch.” She takes the cards, shuffles really well and lays them out again. “The High Priestess. Death. The Sun. All again.“

“That’s a really old trick. But how do you do it?”

“I don’t know.” She looks a little frightened. Spooked. “Because it’s not any such trick, you see? I swear to God,” she holds up her hands. “I can do this all night standing on my head or standing on your head and it will always be the same three cards each time.”

“What does it mean?”

“I don’t know.” She looks depressed. “It frightens me. Truly. I don’t know what it means that such things happen. Like someone is watching, you know?”

“Let me try.”

She takes up her beer, swishes it in her mouth and spits in the grass. I shuffle the cards and make my three stacks and flip the top cards. The Hermit, upright, the Knight of Swords, upright and the High Priestess reversed.

“So what did you get?” she says, leaning forward

I sit quietly without thinking, just letting myself look at the images and their colors. I’ve seen these images over and over for many years and yet every time I draw them it seems like the first time. They’re always a mystery. I put my finger on the High Priestess. “This is me searching for God, the great defining compass of my life.” I put my finger on the Knight of Swords. “This is me as a youth, storming the gates of Heaven, impatiently trying to grab a hold of God and own God for myself.” I put my finger on the Hermit. “This is me now. I’ve failed to find God, despaired of it really. Now I’m the Hermit with my lantern, with my interior solitude I can’t bust out of and I’m just standing on the mountain with no wisdom to offer and I’m just waiting, looking down into the past and wondering.”

“Do you think?”

“This was me once,” I point at the Knight of Swords, “It’s really true. Nothing’s finished. It’s always in progress, you set out on the journey the High Priestess sets for you and it never ends until you die. And if it ends when you die, what was the point of it all anyway?”

“What do you suppose he’s looking down at?”

“I used to think, when I looked at the Hermit, that someone, maybe me, was climbing up the mountain and he was there not offering any help but ready to guide you higher if you made it to his level by yourself. I don’t feel like that now. I feel like he’s looking into the past trying to make heads or tails of it. He looks kind of sad.”

She spits beer in the grass. “Is he sad?”

“Sometimes.” I take a pull off my beer. “I think what’s changed over time is I’ve given up. But that’s not a bad thing. Failure gets a bad rap, but sometimes you have to fail so you can let go of your ideas and start again. You think about it, guys go into the desert and stay there trying to find God. This guy, the Knight of Swords, he thought it would be easy. That if you persevered you could do it. But what you find as you get older is that you’re not sure of anything. You think you can do it, you can find God, but you find out why better wiser men have failed before you. But what changes is you start to let go of it. You think, maybe its okay if you don’t have all the answers. Maybe what we’re here for is to try to develop some skill so that we can find the answer someday when we’re ready for it.”

“You wanted to be a saint. Me too, when I was a girl of the sun. Stupid. Look at me now.”

"How did it happen?"

She sips her beer, spits it and looks at me. "I wanted to be a saint, yes. I challenged the Devil."


She shrugs. "He won."

"I'm sorry."

"So, where did you go wrong? Why are you not a saint by now, scheisekopf?"

“Sainthood is a kind of idolatry. It’s like wanting to be a spiritual rock star, but that just produces pride. What I see in the Hermit that I don’t see in the Knight of Swords is compassion. The Knight of Swords has no compassion, he’s just a prideful, violent young man who wants to prove himself. It’s people like that who cause so much harm in this world. He’ll never find God until he gives up trying to prove something and tries to feel what other people feel instead.”

Nixie looks thoughtful and her eyes turn pink at the edge.

“You okay Nix? Are you crying?”

“I'm crying for myself. Who else would I cry for? I’m in Hell.”

“No, you’re just in Augusta.”

She sets the bottle down hard, crosses her arms and looks away. “Don’t make a joke. This is Hell, because nothing ever changes. That’s why my three cards never change. I’m stuck. Kaput. I’m always as I am. To change is to live within time. To be mortal. To die. It’s Hell not to die, or not to have some suffering wound inside that a new thing can fill. To go on being stupid and always the same person and not having anywhere to go, only the same places.”

“Maybe that’s why we both draw the High Priestess. Maybe God is calling you too.”

“Go your way little einsiedler.” She stands up and steps away into the shadows. “Be careful you don’t fall off your mountain.”

A breeze, a shake of autumn leaves. She’s gone back into the night.

C. Sanchez-Garcia


  1. Interesting. Cool. I liked it a lot.

  2. I like this one and it intrigues me more, perhaps, than anything you have written on this blog thus far. Why? Is it the reflective quality combined with the dark, mysterious daemon? Is she your shadow anima?
    More, please.

  3. Is this the same Nixie who appeared here on the blog in a vampire story? She's fascinating. If you leave her some beer, will she leave you alone or come back for more??

  4. Hi Fulani

    It took me a while to get back because I've been withut Internet for a week. This post wast he last thing I did before my DSL modem went to modem Heaven.

    Thanks for reading my stuff Fulani!


  5. Hello Goddess!!!

    I feel as though the High Priestess herself has popped by.

    I think that there is something of the Anima in Nixie. She started out as a writing exercise many years ago and then I began to realize that she personifies a dark interior side of me. Though I torment her in my stories I feel very tender towards her. Do you suppose it's like that with God and us?


  6. Hi Jean!

    Just getting back on the web after a week with no connection.

    I've posted about Nixie several times here over the years. She's my only recurring character.

    If you'd like to know her in her own element I invite you and anyone here to read "The Lady and the Unicorn" which you can find here for free:

    It was published in the Mammoth Book of Erotica 10 and chosen by ERWA as the best story of 2009. Proud of my Nixie? hell yes.

    If I thought beer would bring her around I'd buy it more often. But its much harder than that.



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