The Happy Banshee
As Walter approached the captivating music, it fell into a meandering instrumental. The bar from which it was emanating was just one small door among many that lined the bottom of a four-story, dilapidated and faded, redbrick building. There was a sign above the entrance, dimly lit by a yellowed light and spotted with graffiti. Its edges were wrapped in years of rust. The weathered words on it read: Maloe Melo- Home of The Blues.
Looking inside the open door, Walter saw nothing but a sea of dancing tie-dye. Outside, as expected, were some old men, also dressed in tie-dye, smoking and conversing. A playbill was posted to the left of the door under a sign saying: TONIGHT LIVE!/ OPTREDEN VANAVOND! On the playbill was a portrait of a young woman with bright gray eyes and flowers weaved into her wavy vermillion hair. A wry smirk played across her pink cheeks as she mimed playing an invisible guitar.
Kali & The Easy Wind: A Tribute to The Grateful Dead, Walter read above her image. So that’s what this mysterious sound was. He knew of the Grateful Dead from much of the music he listened to, but remarkably he had never actually listened to them himself.
The old men smiled as he walked toward the entrance. One of them gave him a peace sign. “Have a grateful time!” he said.
On the other side, the place was perhaps slightly larger than a one-bedroom apartment with a bar running nearly the entire left-hand side length. The narrow corridors were wallpapered with American and European blues festival flyers and an assortment of collected oddities typical of any dive bar. Wall to wall, beneath colorfully backlit mists of swirling marijuana smoke, men and women of all ages danced, many of them in tie-dyed, bohemian attire. There were no subdivisions in the crowd, just a giant mass of varied personalities and energies stitched together by the hand of communal soundwaves. It was as if Walter had stepped through a time portal into the Summer of Love.
On a corner stage, a young and statuesque female drummer tapped along with an energetic female bassist in baggy overalls and pigtails. To their left, a lizard-looking guitarist was whipping his long hair and tongue about manically, while a middle-aged and balding, mad-scientist of a man fingered a stack of keyboards. However where or whom the singer was, was still a mystery.
But as Walter’s eyes adjusted, he saw her at last, the redhead from the playbill, in the crowd, dancing in the whirlpools of tie-dye. She was dressed in a white summer dress and white fringed and fingerless gloves that went to her bicep. Her long and balletic body was spinning wildly while people poured around her like prairie grass.
Turning his way, her spinning stopped. Smiling, she then pulled back her wet hair and splayed her elbows like the cape of a cobra as an upsurge of music filled the room. She then threw her arms down in a dramatic arc timed with a disco-tinged synth chord struck by the mad-scientist. The crowd went into a frenzy of ahs as everyone seemed to be anticipating something only unknown to Walter.
The redhead then hopped on stage and picked up a well-used, black Gibson S-1 and began playing it, bopping along to the music with a shit-eating grin. “You tell me this town ain't got no heart…” she sang like a happy banshee.
“Well, well, well, you can never tell…” the crowd chanted back, dancing as if they were alone at home in their underwear.
The sudden jostling of feet pushed Walter to the center of the room and his arms and legs began wagging unconsciously like the others around him. WOO! everyone then yelled as they jumped into the air and landed on a springy chorus about a place called “Shakedown Street”.
Like the first, this song too eventually went into another long and meandering jam, during which Walter was passed several joints and handshakes from the people around him. The jam then tumbled into another bouncy tune, but this one more reggae-rooted, but not exactly reggae. The change inspired another flurry of excitement from the crowd.
“Shakedown to Scarlet—that’s unheard of!” someone yelled nearby, while everyone shook their heads and bodies in agreement that they were indeed sharing in on something special.
As the song played and the happy banshee sang, phrases of verse caught Walter’s ear, each one more relatable, until it seemed again his thoughts were being sung into lyrics, lyrics he had just heard earlier that night. “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right...” The phrase stunned him into stasis. Apparently the therapist in his head was a Deadhead.
To his surprise, the banshee also appeared to have been shot by the same sensation. Fingers frozen over her fretboard, she was now dumbstruck by Walter, glaring him down with bewildered ferocity, making her miss the cue for the next verse. She shook her head, then signaled to her confused bandmates to play another measure, after which she finished the song flawlessly, but without the typical extended jam.
“Thank you. Dank je,” she told the applauding audience in what Walter assessed to be an American accent. “We’re going to take a very short intermission now, but we’ll be back soon.” Unlike her singing, her speaking voice had the tranquil nature of a folk song, the banshee all but dispelled—that is until she advanced on him.
“Where did you get that shirt?” she demanded. Walter, in disbelief she was actually speaking to him, could say nothing. “Spreekt u Engels?”
“What?” he said.
“English. Do you speak English? Where did you get that shirt?”
“Oh…” he looked down at his shirt. “I-I borrowed it from a friend.”
“Who’s your friend?”
“Um, I’m not so sure I should tell you by the way you’re looking at me . . . Why? What is this shirt to you?”
She pulled back her emotions a bit before answering. “It’s a lot of things to me,” she said, “but luna hunny is me.”
Walter shook his head, thinking his brain was playing tricks on him again. “Did you just say you’re luna hunny?” he asked. “You’re the artist on my shirt?”
“I was,” she replied, “but I haven’t been for over two years now.”
“No way . . . I have so many questions for you—”
“And so do I, like who’s your friend and where did he get that shirt?”
“My friend…” Walter hesitated, not sure what he should reveal. “My friend, well, I only met him tonight. I’m visiting from California and this is my only night in Amsterdam.”
“California? Where in California?”
“Orange County and L.A. Right now I’m kind of in between.”
“Hm… I’m from San Fran myself. I moved to Amsterdam on a student visa thinking luna hunny had a larger fanbase here than in the States. Come to find out later though, after I was out ten thousand dollars for a new inventory buy and design costs, the European label I thought was selling so much merchandise and records for me was nothing but a laundering front for a cocaine operation. In reality, I had no fans in Europe at all. That’s why I want to know where you got that shirt, because I assumed no one had them except the asshole who ripped me off. Sound anything like your friend?”
Inside, Walter began freaking out. If she was to be believed, clearly Dug was this asshole. No wonder he was so against this bar. He must’ve known she would be here. But having just met this girl, Walter was unsure where his allegiance stood.
“I’m not sure,” he said. “It’s possible. Like I said, I only met him tonight, so I really don’t know him that well. But he didn’t seem like that bad of a guy. I was pretty fucked up earlier and had made a real mess of myself, but he went well out of his way to help me even though I was a stranger. He even let me clean up at his house then gave me some new clothes to wear, and that’s how I got this shirt. We didn’t part on the greatest terms though.”
“I wrecked his tandem bicycle we were riding so he got angry and left me here—or more so I chose to stay.”
“Where is he now?”
“I’m not sure, and I have no way of contacting him.” Walter showed her his obliterated cellphone.
“What happened to your phone?” she asked.
“I was having a bad trip on some edibles and thought monsters were coming out of it so I threw it. Like I said, I was pretty fucked up earlier.”
She let out a guffaw. “Making the most of your stay in Amsterdam I see…” she said, scanning him over, searching for any hint of fabrication, which none of it was, he just omitted the most damning details.
“What’s your friend’s name?” she asked.
Walter swallowed nervously. He wanted to lie, but somehow felt she would know. “Dug,” he answered.
“Yeah, spelt D-U-G though.” Her face told him this was not a name familiar to her.
“Where did he live?” she asked.
“God if I know. Some apartment on some canal. We went a secret route only he knew here, and I was on the back of the bicycle so I was just along for the ride.”
Her brows furrowed and she became silent.
“Can I ask you something now?” Walter said.
“What’s the phrase on my shirt mean?”
“I think the meaning is pretty straightforward, to say life has no meaning is not to say it has no value. They’re lyrics from one of my songs. The inspiration was a birthday I spent alone in a place called Pacific Grove in northern California to see the monarch butterflies that gather in the trees there during their annual migration. And as I watched them take flight to continue their journey over thousands of miles, a journey they wouldn’t live long enough to complete, I thought how meaningless their lives were to themselves, but everything to the species. But our lives are no different; just pieces of a journey we’ll never see complete unless we somehow find ourselves at its end, which for us and butterflies could be soon if we don’t start caring more about the journey and less about ourselves . . . Are you tearing up?”
“Sorry,” Walter said wiping his eyes. “That was just beautiful. I also just cry easily nowadays. For the longest time I never let myself cry, but I’ve sure made up for it in the last year.”
She smiled and took his hands away from his cheeks. “Don’t apologize,” she said. “There’s never a reason to hide your tears. Crying is the most beautiful thing a man can do. I cry easily too. I used to also not be that way, but now I find myself needing to just to feel balanced sometimes.”
“God, me too,” Walter said. “Is the image on the shirt yours also?”
“No, the label provided it. I had my own artwork, but when they sent me that, I couldn’t refuse. It was perfect. I never did find out who made it though.”
“Is there anywhere I can hear this song?”
“Nope. I wiped luna hunny’s recorded music from the earth and the internet because it became nothing but a painful humiliation for me. And no, I’m not going to play the song myself for you. I know it sounds melodramatic, but the whole experience gave me a breakdown I almost didn’t recover from.”
“No, I actually completely understand. So there’s nothing left of luna hunny?”
“All that’s left of luna hunny that I know of is your shirt. I did my best to destroy everything. In retrospect, maybe it was an overreaction, but I was an artist going through an identity crisis, and artists can be overly emotional sometimes.” They both began laughing, then were interrupted by her lizard-looking guitarist.
“Hey Shiva, you okay to go back up yet?” he asked in an Australian accent. “The crowd’s getting antsy since we cut the first set so short. But also, I was hoping we’d have time to play ‘Cobrasnake’ again tonight.”
Shiva, Walter thought. Her name is Shiva.
“No Lou,” Shiva said. “If I let you play your song again, then Cage will want to play his stupid song about his cat again. I only let you guys do them that one time because I was drunk. This is a Grateful Dead tribute, not your own band. Ashlyn and Jayleen never ask me to play their own songs. I’ll go up when I’m ready.” She signaled him away.
“Men,” Shiva said to Walter after her guitarist left. “Why do they always have to stick their ego in everything? But he’s right. I should get back up. You a fan of the Dead?”
“I think I will be after tonight,” he said. “This is my first time hearing the Dead—or I think it is. I keep having this feeling like I’ve been here before.”
She smiled. “The Dead’s music can have that effect on you,” she said. “That just means the magic’s working. You don’t know what you’ve got yourself into. Second set hasn’t even begun.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, let’s just say anything can happen during a second set of the Dead—even if it’s just a tribute show.”
Shiva then eyed his bright orange fedora, the only article of clothing to survive the urinal. “I like your hat,” she said. “Mind if I wear it for second set? I promise to give it back after.”
“Okay,” Walter said with no objection.
She leaned in as if going for a kiss, but at the last moment maneuvered up and lifted the hat away. She put it on and tilted it back so that the brim formed a bright orange halo behind her head.
“How do I look?” she asked.
“Like a psychedelic Virgin Mary,” he said. She seemed very content with that.
In her long and breezy dress, she appeared to fly back onstage. She then picked up her guitar and romanced from it an icy blues riff, and like well-drilled soldiers, her band fell in step as the house lights drenched the room in a bottomless blue while a tune crooned like cancer slowly squeezing the life from its victim like toothpaste from a tube.
“Y'know death don't have no mercy in this land…” Shiva cut the air like a preacher from a pulpit. In contrast to their earlier playful manner, the crowd fell silent, drifting away behind their eyelids as they rocked to the funeral march rhythm. A Dead show wasn’t just flowers and sunshine Walter was seeing, but more so a journey which mirrored the perverted path and beat of life.
After the song burned itself out, from it arose a new one, fluttering like the first flaps of freshly-budded butterfly wings off Shiva’s fingertips. The house lights began casting warm rays of red and orange as her lips neared the mic, her gray eyes glowing in Walter’s direction. My favorite, she mouthed to him, then told the epic of “Terrapin Station”, a story which again seemed to strum upon every part of him.
The rest of the second set was as tumultuous as promised. At one moment exultant and droll, the next forlorn and frightening; at one moment psychedelic, the next country, jazz, then who knows what to call it. For fifteen minutes, the music just hung in an ambient space of hallucinogenic soundscapes and drums, while everyone including the band took turns going to the bathroom. Then like a tiny crack, a spidery preamble crawled into the suspended air and shattered it with the tale of someone named “St. Stephen”. After that, someone named “Bertha”, then someone named “Althea”, then a song about women being smarter, and then an acoustic and palliative encore about a place called “Brokedown Palace” just to send everyone off equalized.
Shiva took a humble bow in front of the small sea of roaring adulation after, of which Walter was ardently a part of, clapping his hands until they hurt. After some schmoozing and tidying away of her things onstage, she soon floated back to him.
“Here,” she said lifting his hat from her head. “See, I promised I’d return it.” She came in close to crown him with it. He could feel the heat of the performance still radiating from her body. She fussed with his hat for longer than seemed necessary until it was seated just to her liking.
“You’re unlike any performer—or really any person I’ve met before,” Walter said to her.
“Thank you, but you hardly know me . . . Perfect,” she said taking her hands from his head. “But let’s change that. Come with me to the bar.”
Taking a seat at the now mostly empty bar, Shiva hailed an older gentlemen behind it with a mustache, smoking a cigar. “Patrick, can you get me an Amstel with a shot of Jack and my friend here a...” she eyed Walter to finish the order.
“Make it two of that.”
“You got it my dear,” Patrick replied in a Dutch accent and got their drinks.
“Sante,” Shiva said holding up her shot to Walter.
“Sante,” he replied. “Et merci pour les boissons.”
“Tu parles français?”
“Oui, mais juste un peu. J'aime beaucoup de philosophes français. ‘Je pense, donc je suis.’”
She laughed. “D’accord Monsieur Descartes,” she said. “Et j'aime beaucoup de poètes français. ‘Il pleure dans mon cœur comme il pleut sur la ville.’”
“You lost me on that one. I also don’t know a lot of French poetry.”
“Verlaine, but that’s okay. Also you’re welcome for the drinks, but thank him,” Shiva nodded to Patrick. “They’re on the house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t tip the man…” Her eyes and smile insinuated Walter should. He took a few Euro coins from his pocket and splashed them on the bar.
“No,” Patrick said pushing them back, “but thank you. This young lady brings me so much business I feel guilty she doesn’t ask for more.”
“You perform just for drinks?” Walter asked Shiva.
“Of course not.”
“Yes she does,” Patrick insisted. “All she asks for is free drinks and joints. The rest goes to her charity, half the cost of every drink and joint sold here tonight.”
“You run a charity?” Walter asked.
Shiva looked at Patrick annoyed. “Yes,” she said. “Technically it’s run under my roommate’s name though since I’m not living here legally. She’s actually the ‘Kali’ in Kali & The Easy Wind, the name of the band and the charity. But Kali’s just her legal name. She’s ‘Mags’ to everyone who knows her. We started the charity together, but it’s really just been me for a while now.”
“What’s the charity for?” Walter asked.
“Helping human trafficking victims in Amsterdam. Although prostitution’s legal, a lot of girls are still trafficked here when they’re young and brainwashed by pimps who pretend to be their boyfriends, or what’s called a ‘loverboy’. Mags, who’s an independent prostitute, introduced me to this uglier side of the sex trade. Originally we planned a charity cabaret show based on David Bowie’s Diamond Dogs, but then Mags’s ‘career’ started taking off, so it really became my love child after that, and since I grew up listening and playing the Dead all my life, I came up with the idea of a tribute with some musicians I knew in town.”
“That Diamond Dogs cabaret show would’ve been awesome though. David Bowie is my favorite artist. We’re your parents Deadheads?”
“Bowie is Mags’s favorite too. Yes, but more so my dad. My mother always liked Neil Young more. I cant fault her; Neil Young is second only to the Dead for me. Neil and the Dead were all I heard growing up.”
“Really? Neil Young has some significance for me too.”
“It’s a lot to explain and unload.”
“We’ve got time.”
“It’s not a fun conversation.”
“My mother died when I was six. Does that bring down the mood enough for you?”
Walter shook his head in disbelief. “‘See The Sky About to Rain’ was my girlfriend’s favorite song,” he said. “She passed away last year, but it’s because of her I’m even here. I’m on a European trip she bought for my birthday that we were supposed to take together.”
Shiva nervously nipped her beer. “I’m sorry I pressured you,” she said.
“It’s fine,” Walter said and began nipping too. For a brief moment they were silent.
“It’s also strange though, don’t you think?” Shiva said.
“All the alignment between us?”
“If you mean coincidences, yes, I’ve taken notice of that too, more than you know. My mother also died when I was young. She died giving birth to me. I also have a ‘musical identity’ you could say back home I’m trying to run away from.”
“You’re songwriter also?”
“Currently on hiatus, but yes. Funny enough, I was also in a tribute band, Guns N’ Roses though. But regardless, I don’t really believe in ‘alignment’, otherwise I might have to start believing in astrology and every other pseudoscientific or religious system of divination.”
“What system do you believe in then?”
“Reason, and reason says alignment is nothing more than our exceptional human pattern recognition skills stringing together anomalous coincidences into meaning something more; our own evolution playing tricks on us essentially.”
Shiva burst into laughter. “So you’re basically saying alignment is only acceptable when it can undoubtably be proven not to be alignment? That’s the paradox about you ‘reason’ types: on one hand you’re trying to disprove God, yet on the other you want to prove the universe has some predictable course so long as it’s under your control. If it’s not ‘anomalous coincidences’ guiding our lives, then what is? Do you think the monarch butterfly knows why it flies to places it’s never been yet somehow knows how to find?”
“So what? You’re saying some greater power brought us together?”
“I don’t know and I don’t care, but I won’t ignore the signs. And it’s not everyday the universe sends me someone wearing my past on their shirt.”
She reached into her handbag and pulled out a well-worn hemp case containing a deck of cards.
“What are those?” Walter asked.
“Tarot cards. You don’t mind if I do a reading for us? I’m sure ‘reason’ says you have nothing to be afraid of.”
“No, I suppose this should be fun if anything.”
Shiva shuffled the deck, then dealt out four cards in a cross formation on the bar. “We’ll keep this simple,” she said. “The card on the left will represent you, the card on the right will represent me, the card on the bottom will represent what brings us together, and the card on top will represent our future. You first.”
Walter flipped his card. “The Fool,” Shiva said. “The Fool is number zero in the Major Arcana deck so he can be placed at the beginning or end of it. Because of this, the Major Arcana is often considered the Fool’s journey. As you can see on the card, he’s setting out on a journey with nothing but a knapsack, gazing up into the sky unaware he’s about to walk off a cliff into the unknown. But by his side is a small white dog, there to protect, guide, and motivate him through the lessons he came on this journey to learn . . . The Fool kind of reminds me of someone.”
“I’ll admit,” Walter said staring uncomfortably at the card, “the Fool and I have some uncanny similarities. Okay, you now.”
Shiva turned her card. “The Tower,” she said.
“What’s the Tower mean?”
“Upheaval, destruction, chaos.”
“That doesn’t sound good.”
“Yes, but in the end, it’s for the highest good. As seen on the card, a tower has been built upon a shaky foundation. A lightning bolt from the universe of sudden clarity and insight then strikes it down along with a crown which once stood atop the tower. From the tower’s windows, two people are leaping into the unknown, however around them are twenty-two flames, representing the twelve signs of the zodiac and the ten points of the Tree of Life, reminding them divine intervention is always there.”
“So are you like the Tower?” Walter asked.
“I did come to Europe on a ‘tower’ of false premises, and I’m still living in its ruins you could say. I just can’t decide whether to start all over or rebuild from the rubble, and it’s been that way for a while now . . . Maybe my answer has to do with whatever’s brought us together.”
Shiva turned the card, a skeleton in black armor, riding a white horse: Death. They stared at it for several seconds, then nearly simultaneously asked:
“How’d your mother die?”
“How’d your girlfriend die?”
“Um, you first,” Walter said.
“How about we just answer at the same time again?”
“Okay . . . One, two, three…”
“Suicide,” they both said.
“God, I just got chills,” Shiva said. “Suicide is only half the story in my case though.”
“The same can be said in my case, or really any case involving suicide . . . How?”
“Overdosed on pain pills. Your girlfriend?”
“She hung—I mean, hanged herself. Please don’t ask why.”
“I won’t. My mother’s why is also difficult to discuss because it may make you see me completely different.”
“Well, that’s the same reason I don’t want to tell you . . . Maybe that means we should.”
“Oh, so you’re finding meaning in this suddenly?”
“I don’t know what to believe right now. There’s just something… something I need to show you, but I can’t unless you learn first. Do you have a phone with internet access?”
She handed him her phone and he brought up the Rolling Stone interview and handed it back. “There,” he said. “That’s who I really am, and that’s where you’ll find why my girlfriend killed herself, although at the time of the interview I didn’t know. I thought she had passed away from a seizure.”
Walter then watched fretfully as Shiva began filling up on all of his most intimate secrets over the next several minutes. Every so often she’d stop and look up at him as if to reassure herself he was indeed the same hideous creature on the screen, then at last she set the phone down and sighed.
“Your name is Walter Huxley?” she asked.
“Yes. I guess we forgot to share names. Yours is Shiva—or at least that’s what everyone calls you around here.”
“Your name sounds like a bad penname you know, and your stage name isn’t much better. Quinn Quark?” She smiled unexpectedly. “Wow, you weren’t kidding when you said you had a musical identity back home you were running away from, and I was totally oblivious that anything in rock was still going on back in The States . . . But um, Amber... I’m still not understanding.”
Walter explained everything.
“Oh,” Shiva said after. “I see now why you didn’t want to tell me.”
“So does it change your mind about me?”
“I don’t know. I’ve hardly known you long enough to form an opinion. But everyone has that one secret they don’t want anyone to know, yours unfortunately just became frontpage news. And if you think accidently killing someone makes you a bad person, then I’m just as guilty. Before my charity was a charity for human trafficking victims, it was really just robbery for human trafficking victims. Mags, myself, and some other friends—some formerly trafficked girls themselves—would prowl the swankier places in town to find rich, gullible tourists who were too drunk or too high to know what they were spending, and sell them on a girl we knew was under the control of a loverboy. We’d then deliver the sucker personally to her, but not before taking double the money she would’ve cost otherwise. We’d then give it to the girl to pay her loverboy and pay herself just as much, that is until one night when a loverboy became wise to the scheme because I got too drunk and was sloppy about the hand off of the money. He took it out on the girl and put her in a coma in the hospital, where she died two weeks later. Her name was Maria, and only one person outside of you knows about her.”
“I guess Death connects us in more ways than one,” Walter said agape. “Outside of Karen, I didn’t think I could share that kind of guilt with anyone. There’s also something else though. A connection I’ve been trying to rationalize all night, even before I met you, but alignment keeps working against me.”
Walter then reached into his wallet and removed a small plastic bag with a note inside. “Amber’s suicide note,” he said giving it to her. “You only need to read as far as the first sentence of the second paragraph to understand what I mean.”
Shiva read then gasped, unable to continue or speak. She then read it again, and again, unable to take her eyes from it.
“‘What value does a life have without meaning?’” Walter said. “‘To say life has no value is not to say it has no meaning.’ Sounds like something from the Tao Te Ching, right? So, what’s your take? I’m still new to all this occultist stuff and this is just way too much alignment for me. Honestly, I’m expecting to wake up any moment now. Something about this whole night doesn’t feel quite real.”
Shiva handed him back the note, then took his palm and pressed it near her sternum. “Does that feel real to you?” she said. “Do you feel how fast it’s beating? Yeah, I definitely think the universe is trying to say something. Maybe instead of trying to fight reality with reason, you should just listen to reason even if you can’t reason it.”
“Well, until I wake up, it’s not like I have any other option anyhow. So, since you know about my girlfriend now, are you going to tell me about your mother?”
“She was just very sick and in a lot of pain and had been for a long time before she killed herself,” Shiva said. “And honestly, in the same situation I might’ve done the same. But that’s all I’m going to say. Sorry, but everyone gets one secret to themselves, right? And that secret’s between my mom and me. Besides, it has no relevance to us.”
“However, our future card might,” Walter said.
“That’s right, I almost forgot. Do you want to do the honors?”
Walter flipped it. “The Ace of Cups,” Shiva said. “A chalice is overflowing with five streams of water, representing the subconscious and the five senses, indicating you are a deep vessel for love from the universe as it pours into you and out into the rest of the world. Below the overflowing chalice is a sea covered in lotus blossoms, representing an awakening of the human spirit from this love, but only if you accept the universe’s invitation for love first, an invitation few actually ever do, for divine love always looks like certain madness in the beginning. However, peace isn’t sewn without passing through the eye of insanity first.”
Shiva brought her hands to her face and sighed. “Now this is starting to become too much alignment for me,” she said, then put the cards away except for the Ace of Cups. “Here,” she said handing it to Walter. “I want you to keep this as a reminder of us because I don’t know what’s going to happen to us after tonight. I would never think to give away any card in this deck because it was my mother’s, but if I’m not there, I don’t want you to forget there’s still a chalice in you.”
“I don’t understand,” he said.
“Neither do I completely, but that’s what alignment is telling me . . . How about a change of atmosphere? Patrick’s closing up soon anyway.”
“What about your gear?”
“I keep it here.”
“All right. Where to?”
“The only place I know to go this late at night, a place unlike no other in Amsterdam where we can practice our French, dance to music, and see some titties: La Lune Rouge.”