Word Count 500
By Mike Cecconi
Finally, Frank got back to the question of why I could see him as he was, a just-under-seven-foot tall sasquatch, when everyone else only saw a street-busker who’d left his costume on inside the diner as a matter of convenience.
“You know the gossip show TMZ?” “Sure.” “Do you know what that title means?” “Thirty-Mile Zone, right?” I knew the basics, I’d worked in a production office for a few years once. “The part of Los Angeles where union crew aren’t owed a travel stipend since it’s assumed they live within a sane commute of the location. Middle point’s near Beverly and La Cienega, yeah?” “It is now,” Frank said, “but it wasn’t always just that.” His people having watched us shadows for millennia and Frank having studied human religions when he was young, I suppose he’d know the truth.
According to Frank Yetti, when Spain’s colonization began in earnest, there were deep profound disagreements amongst the priests and the magicians of what we’d now call the Native American tribes. Dire prophecies of war, some thinking they’d win, some foreseeing loss, others predicting end-times. Magic-women and magic-men saw a future filled with subjugation riding in on great luminous iron snakes and upon rivers made of stone. However, there was such a dissent between the mystics of the Southwest, no one made a move, fearing it’d just lead to war with one another.
One battle-mage, a young Hopi spell-weaver whose name was lost even to the yeti, decided he’d ride west on his own, confident in his strength, to wipe out this infestation of ghosts from across the waters himself. For years, decades, he spent his life and magic driving off invaders, in ways both subtle and grand, taking out large numbers of Conquistadors. But the white men just kept on coming. No matter how many fell, two more would arrive anew for a quest of wealth and blood.
Exhausted, in age and in craft, the once-young man used himself up with a final spell: if he could not stop them, he would at least damn them. He cast a curse so that, for all-time, this place would attract those who wanted more than they’d ever need and make them see whatever they wanted to see, no matter how much it hurt them. In modern terms, he made L.A. a roach motel for men of greed then he collapsed and died, quite near where Beverly and La Cienega meet today.
“Ever since,” Frank finished, “people here are cursed to see what they want to see, even if it kills them. They see a human being in a costume because that’s what makes sense in their little fever dreams. Only ways I know of to see through the illusion are if you’re magic, crazy, high… or if, like that poor magician, this city broke your heart.”
“I’m not high,” I said, “and I don’t know for magic.”
“Well, Mike,” he sipped at his slightly-burnt coffee, “we’ve narrowed it down to two then.”