So, on my way back to the Ghost Hotel this morning I met two tourists, I think…I hope they were passing through. They were both whiter than the average tourist, and wearing black, which must have been murder in this heat. Young wizards, I thought. Just what this town needs. They handed me a flyer advertising a spiritual retreat, and there, among several small pictures along the bottom…was a equally small picture of the Philosopher Red with the title staff following his name.
He was in the Ghost Hotel, splayed out on my bed, when I entered our cavernous flop.
“Tell me you didn’t get a job at this joint…” I said, letting the flyer drop onto the bed next to him. I was imagining the hubble-bubble toil and trouble being brewed up for me.
“Custodial staff, for now,” he said, ignoring the flyer, “but they have an adjunct medium position opening up in a month.” He handed me a full-color, glossy brochure from a stack on the floor next to my candle.
I was right…trouble. El Rancho de Los Milagros, right there on top. It means something like Miracle Ranch in English. Maxie Kahn’s wife, Miss Shari, runs the place. Miss Shari and the El Rancho had both earned “colorful” reputations among locals, and in a small town, “colorful” is not always a good way to be thought of or described. What comes to mind?
The first thing I noticed on the brochure was the photo of Maxie and Miss Shari, arms awkwardly intertwined, standing before a condo along the El Rancho de Los Milagros golf course. Opening the flaps of the brochure…advertisement…advertisement and advertisements, mostly for somewhat related businesses…mostly known Kahn-owned operations. There was a section for first-time visitors, listing gate fees based upon daily, weekly, and seasonal rates – parking included. How magnanimous. Home and condominium prices were also listed, providing a buyer was approved by a board of directors, whoever they were, and became a member of the El Rancho de Los Milagros Assembly, whatever that entailed. It didn’t sound like a healthy mix to me, but what could I –
“El Rancho de Los Milagros is the oldest community of spiritualists in Cost Rica,” Red began reading from another brochure. “It’s a community of like-minded believers connected by the premise that the human soul has a continuous existence. Our licensed and bonded spiritualists share a common belief that it is possible to communicate, aided by their mediation and guidance, with the spirits of those who have passed from the physical world into the next. They also offer property management seminars…” the Philosopher Red added, as if such an attraction would concern me…a guy who squats in a Ghost Hotel.
“I even signed you up for part-time and on-call work,” the Philosopher Red went on. “I’ve vouched for you, said you’d…strive to provide an encouraging atmosphere for mediums and guests to talk about and experience the process of spirit communication.”
He was reading straight off a brochure, and the veins in the temples of my head were beginning to throb.
“It’s going to be great,” he said, oblivious to me rubbing my clenched fists into my eye sockets. “It’ll be regular work…they’ve promised me staff openings at the Healing Creek, the Inspiration Stump, and the Waves of Woe Grieving Cove.”
“We’re screwed,” I said, looking further into the text of the brochure. The special events planned by the Medium League of Los Milagros were notorious around Tamarindo…something to be avoided. Sometimes they had Bingo, other times, karaoke, and –
“Forty dollars,” I said, pointing at the bottom of the brochure where “suggested donations” were listed for specific services, events, and souvenier spoons available to members and non-members, residents and aliens. “Someone’s going to give you forty dollars an hour to commune with them on the Inspiration Stump…or wail with them at the Waves of Woe Grieving Cove?”
The Philosopher Red was saying something to me, but I was reading, and re-reading, the final line…the one with the asterisk…the discaimer…
*Price and quality are not necessarily related.
“They’ve also got their own police force and volunteer fire department,” the Rude Red Dude was saying, as if some sense of safety were an issue.
This set me to thinking about how a psychic police force would work,,,a police department with nothing but psychics and seers and prognosticators. I thought about squads of police rushing to the anticipated scene of a crime…cornering…beating…cuffing a perpetrator, before the crime was even committed. A psychic court? Does anyone need show up? A psychic jail? Hmmm…
This led to the consideration of how a volunteer psychic fire department would operate. Did they need to be called if there were a fire? Were they allowed to stop a fire before it started? Or, did they have to wait, with hoses and tools at the ready, for the fire to start? This could be amusing for a while…and, it had been a while since the Philosopher Red had prophesied anything, at least from what I remember. He has been through some changes since he was last expected to do anything esoteric or cosmic, or even responsible.
Some days…I just feel like a guy about to be…