The London sky was gray as fuck. An ugly, unforgiving, elderly form of gray that was the pre-cum of death. You get it, English weather is nasty. Me and Ben were standing in line to get into the British Museum. This was our 2nd attempt, and with the help of a friend who volunteered to watch our bags and guard our weed as we stood in line, we were actually going to get in there, and finally, get our Enochian on.
“Oh, before I forget. That’ll be ten pounds,” I said to Ben.
“What?” Ben said. “Isn’t the British Museum free?”
“Is it?” I said. “That’s news to me. I ordered the tickets online. But you don’t have to pay me.”
“No, here you go.” He said handing me the ten pounds.
I took the money and put it in my pocket. Ben, was right. The museum was free. Was I proud of what I did? You’re damn right I was. Stealing money from Ben was nothing compared to what this snowfrican had put me through the last three days. But the real problem I had was with the day before.
24 hours earlier.
Just another shitty day in England. Sky above the city the color of an old analog TV that’s lost its signal and has tuned itself to infinite snow. The clouds curdled in folds like a demon’s asshole that had not been wiped for a thousand years or so.
Me and Ben were on our way to the heart of London to rendezvous at a very special place that we were determined to check off our list. The Atlantic Bookstore.
“Rob said he’d meet us at the venue.” Ben said with a smirk. “Paper Dress Vintage. You got that?”
“What?” I said. One of the great things about smoking an insane amount of weed is that it is easy to tune Ben out. In fact, its recommendable to tune Ben out as much as you can. You’re actually better off not speaking to Ben at all.
“Yeah. I heard you.” I said. I didn’t.
Atlantic Bookstore was the first occult bookstore that I had ever been in. And by occult I mean books with lots of creepy symbols that like 5-6 people in the world understand.
“Where is Rob now?” I said.
“He’s working.” Ben said. “We going in or what?”
The Atlantic bookstore hit you with the smell of an old school library and an old folks home. It looked like two 80’s movies fucked and had a baby, a cross between The Breakfast Club and The Lost Boys. I had already skipped the books I didn’t understand and moved on to the pretty statues. I knew the one I wanted. Truth be said, it was love at first sight.
Ben immediately went to work with the proprietor of the Atlantic Bookstore, Geraldine, using his charm to win her over.
“I don’t like you,” she said with all the viciousness of a British woman who had seen Ben coming from a mile away. “You’re sneaky little tactics won’t get you anywhere.”
One of the running gags me and Ben had was which one of us was the bigger asshole, as if this wasn’t clear. Even with moments like this.
“And what’s that?” Geraldine said pointing at the device with the blue glove Ben was carrying.
“That’s a recorder,” Ben said.
“You really should get someone’s permission before you record them now, shouldn’t you?” Geraldine said. “I could have given you great stories about Crowley, but you ruined that. I’m not telling you anything. You’re nothing more than a rude, arrogant, entitled, slimy, imbecile.”
“I’m sorry ma’am, you forgot narcissist with a messiah complex. But don’t give him too many insults because he kind of likes it.” I said. “Let me apologize on behalf of my friend. You see, he just doesn’t know any better. Inside, I promise he’s a good guy.”
“I doubt that, but thank you.” Geraldine said. “And I’m sorry, did you say this man was your “friend”? I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask both of you to leave.”
“I see.” I said. “How much is this Pan statue?”
“And I’ll take these books.” Ben said.
Back at Rob’s place, with Geraldine and the Atlantic Bookstore well behind us, I placed the statue of Pan on the kitchen table. It’s flaccid goo bazooka dropping between its hairy legs like a a garden hose. He was definitely a shower.
At the Atlantic Bookstore I had to choose between Pan and a statue of Baphomet. But I went with this one.
“Why?” Ben asked through our psychic connection.
“I prefer the original to the remix.” I said.
Night time, walking over a bridge on our way to the show. We could somehow see the moon through the heaps of gray smog. Peeking through the gray clouds and shinning down on us with a pale, cold shine. The sky always looked like it was going to rain, because it was.
“Okay, once we go to the museum, we will be in the presence of John Dee’s fabled artifacts. Some of the very artifacts he used to communicate with the Enochian angels through Edward Kelly.” Ben said. “Not that you would know anything about the Angels of the watchtower Jose. Just know that they’re old, possibly alien, and you shouldn’t fuck with them because I had a bad experience.”
Ben, was excited as we were about to have our show. When Ben gets excited, he starts talking about the future.
“Let’s make a promise,” Ben said. “If we are in the presence of those artifacts and we feel nothing. We quit the occult.”
“Doesn’t that seem a little extreme?” I said.
“Yup,” Ben said as he lit his joint. “Io Pan.” Ben handed me the joint. I grabbed it and took a puff.
“Io Pan.” I said.
Rob Rider Hill was dressed in a dark slim fitting suit with a perfectly placed aluminum hat.
“Are you boys ready for the show?” Rob said as he greeted us.
“As ready as we are going to be.” Ben said. “Happy birthday Rob.”
“Io Pan,” Rob said.
We were introduced to a crowd full of friends for the first time. And truth be told, I don’t remember as much of it as I wanted to due to the amount of THC in my bloodstream. Except for the people who couldn’t be there because they were an ocean or so away. But I do remember a little bit about what happened after the show.
“Attention to detail,” I thought as I checked out Jo Sim’s hat. It was an aluminum covered hat with various touches that gave it personality. The words “Alluminati” were scribbled perfectly across it in black marker.
“Did you make that?” I said.
“Of course,” She said. She had another talent too.
I sparked up the joint and handed it to Lori after a couple of puffs, it passed to Ben, then Rob, then Tuan, all my digital friends past, present, and future. But Jo Sims didn’t partake, and neither did Molly really.
“This is Alan,” Molly said as she held up the picture on her phone. “He comes over from time to time. He likes the dog.”
This is as close as I have ever been to Alan. Quite close, but not close enough to say hello.
“Did you come here on your broom?” I said to Lori.
“No,” Lori said. “I told you I wouldn’t.”
“Okay, I’ve always wanted to ask you this to your face,” I said. “Do you really like Ben’s writing?”
“I’d think some of it is exquisite”” she said. Not exactly a ringing endorsement, but I take what I can get when I speak to magicians.
“Where did you get that?” Someone asked me about the statue of Pan I was carrying around that I hadn’t even realized I was carrying. I don’t remember how I responded.
“Good night, huh?” Ben said. He handed me a drink this time. He was with the rest of the magicians.
Back at the museum.
We had advanced past the checkpoint, about to go inside. John Dee’s personal items were now just minutes away. We both had made the promise that if we were in the presence of these magical artifacts, and felt nothing, that we would quit the occult forever.
We had found his display case after speaking to a couple of security guards, to our surprise, spoke enough English to properly communicate information to American tourist. The previous guards had given us directions to the bathroom and to the janitorial closet. Which wasn’t cool.
“There it is,” Ben said as we approached the case. “That’s the case. Inside are the artifacts of John Dee: father of the apocalypse. Do you realize what this means?”
“No.” I said. “What does this mean?”
Ben thought about it for a long moment.
“I don’t know.” Ben said. “I was hoping you’d tell me. I’m way too high.”
We left the museum with little enthusiasm, just a magician and a dreamer lost in their minds.
For the first time since we had been in London, the sun was shinning through the clouds. So much so that I felt the need to cover my eyes.
I took in what Ben told me the whole walk out. “Shit.” I said as we exited the outside gates. “Does this mean we have to quit magick now?”