Finding the Strange in the Sidewalk Cracks
Urban fantasy exists in a world just a little bit askew or Sideways of our own. This is what has always compelled me about the genre. There is an old animal part of our collective consciousness that wants to believe it’s still possible to fall through the cracks for just one night.
Urban Fantasy is the bar you can only find once, an experience of weirdness not much further from our daily lives. A bit of magic, just when we aren’t around to witness.
You walk down the same streets of Brooklyn every day for fifteen years until one October night, two weeks after your worst break up, you see something that looks just a little off. A near abandoned dive bar next to a brand new development. Curious you walk in. The bartender is silent and only serves unfamiliar alien brands. You nod at him and a bottle of amber colored beer with strange foreign writing is poured for you. The beer tastes wild and your animal mind, the part of you that once talked to gods, pictures the bartender hoisting a gold ceremonial chalice filled with the same amber liquid to a long dead god.
Reality returns, but the shadows seem longer, how long have you been here? Was the old man with an eye patch and two ravens tattooed on opposite sides of his neck always next to you? The first reminds you of that first day of summer, the other of a long lost love. The old man is someone you would follow, and fear. Instead, you order another round for you and him, and the bartender’s answer hurts your ears to hear.
On the way to the bathroom you pass by an oval juke box decorated in stained glass mosaics of pale, pointy eared women dancing under a full moon. The juke records are old, and you reach for a coin but nothing fits in the slot. A muscled coffee skinned woman in a red dress and indigo tattooed lips, with lines running from her down her chin, pushes you aside. She pays for a song with a gold coin hidden in her top. Drums begin to thunder like distant volcanos, when she dances her tattoos burn molten red and she looks at you.
While you relieve yourself in the bathroom you read the graffiti. Most of it boring brags and bad poetry. A portrait of a man with long hair and glasses, drawn with a single marker line, calls your attention. It can’t be that Lennon, you think when you read the signature.
Next to the bathroom is a poem in a language you’ve never heard of, must be Portuguese or something, you hope. You pronounce it in your mind first, and say it aloud.
The lights go out.
You’re alone in darkness.
In the mirror’s reflection, a much older version of yourself dressed in funeral black steps in frame. Your death stands at your side, it rests a comforting hand on your back and smiles.
The lights turn back on and you feel lighter, like everything will be okay.
Ready to leave, the bartender refuses to take any offered cash. Instead, you feel compelled to tell him about the first time you fell in love. Your throat is sore from talking, and he offers a beer on the house and a hand shake. You drink it, watching the woman in the red dress dance like waves of magma falling from the sky.
The sun has risen and a night’s worth of fatigue hits as you stumble home. On the subway platform a woman sings opera for dollars. You wonder if it’s the enervation, beer, or the evening when she turns and you see a pointy ear poke out of her disheveled platinum locks. She smiles when you toss in the gold coin the bartender gave you as change for your story.
Two weeks later you want to bring your friends. After walking for a half hour, you find the condo development, only with an old bodega with cheap soda where the bar once stood.
Connor's first urban fantasy novel, Mad God Walking, is coming out in October.
When his new life becomes threatened by an Inquisition of human wizards convinced Damon is the Mad God once responsible for the Dark Ages, Damon is forced to use the sorcery of the Sideways to protect his friends.
But each time he uses the addictive magic of his home, he loses a little more of his hard-won humanity. Can he save himself and his friends before he becomes the Mad God the Inquisition believes him to be?
Read more about him and follow his blog: http://www.merchantofvice.com/