― Neil Gaiman, Coraline
The fireworks of July 4th splayed across the velvet night outside Meilori's. None of the ghosts playing poker at my table cared. Their lives had been filled with all sorts of fireworks while breath still clung to them.
Madeleine L'Engle shook her salt and pepper hair and murmured,
"'Home of the Brave'. Home?
We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes."
G.K. Chesterton frowned through his strange glasses and snorted, "You are missing the point, Madeleine. America is honoring the true soldier."
"True soldier?" I asked, looking at my hand full of jokers as Elu snickered from the mirror to my right.
The Apache shaman had a strange sense of humor.
Chesterton nodded, "Yes, true soldier. The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him -- home."
H.G. Wells' moustache wriggled as if in pain. "If we don't end war, war will end us.”
Mary Shelley sighed, "That, sir, has been said before."
Madeleine shook her head. " Of course. It's all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anyone else, I'd have never started any of my novels."
She looked off into the bronze mists of Meilori's. "We each have to say it, to say it in our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes through us.
Good or bad, great or little: that isn't what human creation is about.
It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die."
Elu grunted from the mirror, "You are dead."
"Am I? I speak. I play a game I learned after I died. An infinite question is often destroyed by finite answers. To define everything is to annihilate much that gives us laughter and joy."
H. G. Wells nodded sadly. “Sometimes, you have to step outside of the person you've been and remember the person you were meant to be. The person you want to be. The person you are.”
Chesterton cocked his head. "To what you said earlier, Mrs. Shelley. Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon.
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them.
It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
Mary Shelley sighed, "Is there even a Father? Men become cannibals of their own hearts; remorse, regret, and restless impatience usurp the place of more wholesome feeling: every thing seems better than that which is. Could a God permit this?"
Elu spoke from the mirror. "The Great Mystery comes by His name rightly."
H.G. Wells frowned at his cards (I wondered if Elu had given him all jokers as well) and said,
“It is possible to believe that all the past is but the beginning of a beginning, and that all that is and has been is but the twilight of the dawn. It is possible to believe that all the human mind has ever accomplished is but the dream before the awakening.”
I was becoming uneasy. When talk veered to God at Meilori's, DayStar always showed up. So it was time to change the subject.
"I'm having difficulties with my latest book, CARNIVAL OF THE DAMNED."
H. G. Wells smiled softly,
“If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it.”
“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
She smiled slowly,
"Children still haven't closed themselves off with fear of the unknown, fear of revolution, or the scramble for security.
They are still familiar with the inborn vocabulary of myth.
It was adults who thought that children would be afraid of the Dark Thing in Wrinkle, not children, who understand the need to see thingness, non-ness, and to fight it."
Chesterton puffed up his chest like a professor.
“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. Too many writers are tourists. Be rather a traveler, seeking what your fiction is truly saying beneath the words."
He stroked his own mustache. “Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity.”
"I don't understand," I said.
Chesterton beamed a smile at me.
“People wonder why the novel is the most popular form of literature; people wonder why it is read more than books of science or books of metaphysics. The reason is very simple; it is merely that the novel is more true than they are.”
Madeleine patted my arm lightly.
“Stories make us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.”
H. G. Wells discarded a card and drew another. He flung it down hard on the table.
"This is intolerable! Another joker!"
Chesterton stiffened, "You, too? I have nothing but jokers!"
We all slowly turned to Elu in the mirror, who merely shrugged. "I was getting bored."
To learn more of Meilori's, Elu and his cursed blood-brother, Sam McCord, who owns the haunted jazz club, listen to
Try Audible FREE for 30 days and get my book FREE.
If you cancel your subscription before the 30 days,
you still get my audiobook for FREE!