Jay has spent the morning making a new door for the basement. When he’d finished he realized that he couldn’t lift it, but luckily Minet was able to help and they soon had it secured at the top of the basement steps. When I returned with the man from the Recycling Point I was amazed to find it already in place. It is almost the twin – perhaps the half-brother or sister? – of the door on the Five of Pentacles card of the Bohemian Gothic Tarot, except that the metalwork hinges are not quite so decorative. It lends a lovely aura of Gothic Mystery to the kitchen.
But I had not been idle either. While Jay and Minet were setting in place arrangements for the security of the basement, I had been collecting ritual items for the ceremony to install the two sacred and precious objects – the Book of the Druid Grand Ovum and the Skull of Balaam’s Ass (well most of it, anyway). I had taken my extra large carpet bag and visited the magic wood, where I found all manner of wondrous things (of which I will write more another time).
I had turned towards home when I remembered the crone, and made a detour to the corner of the field that adjoins the wood, where her battered caravan stands, tilted at a slight angle. She appeared as I approached, dressed as before in the red velvet dressing gown, oversized pink carpet slippers and thick wrinkled stockings. She took me by the hand and drew me up the steps and into the van as she usually does, and I sat down at the table while she set the tea things.
I’m not quite sure what sort of tea it was – mugwort perhaps – it had been nettle the last time I visited – but the aromatic oils swirled deliciously up my nose with rather an odd effect, and I felt quite dreamy and lightheaded for some time after I left her, clutching a Cadbury’s chocolate finger and a scrap of paper on which she’d drawn some lines and arrows. I sat down in the field and ate her finger while I examined this scrap, knowing it was an important document. After all, the crone had guided my steps each time I’d visited her door. And thinking of doors, I wondered if perhaps the information she’d given me was relevant to Jay’s work securing the basement.
I puzzled over that scrap of paper for quite some time, until something about the scribbled signs and arrows reminded me of a map, and I stood (somewhat shakily) and tried to get my bearings. I wondered if they pointed further down what seemed on the map (if indeed it was one), to represent the lane that runs along the end of our orchard to a road with many cars. If so, it appeared that across this road was a square marked with a large X and beside it the words: Recycling Point. It was a message.
With a whispered prayer to Hermaphroditey I left the field and set off down the lane.
I don’t know how I managed to cross the road unscathed – it could only be that Hermaphroditey had heard my prayer and was guiding my steps. But I did, in spite of much bellowing of klaxons and shouts from car windows, and there, on the other side, in the corner of a space surrounded by trees I saw it. No, not the square depicted on the map, or the cross or even the Recycling Point, whatever that may be – although it must have something to do with bicycles – but The Guardian of the Basement.
I recognized him immediately. He looked down from on high, one glance from his eyes sufficient to send even those initiated ones less strong than myself running for the protection of their extra powerful tinfoil hats. I knew he was destined to reside in the basement, but he was so elevated that even I, with all my powers, was helpless to reach him.
It was while I was wondering what to do that a man approached and asked if he could help. I told him that I needed The Powerful Guardian, but was unable to reach that high, and he winked and asked me what it was worth. Puzzled for a few moments, I decided to offer him a tarot reading in my basement if he would climb up and bring The Guardian down to me, and he readily agreed, and went to find a ladder.
The task accomplished, he offered to drive me home, The Guardian being awkward and quite heavy (and I already had the carpet bag to carry). He seemed very keen to have the tarot reading as soon as possible.
And so I found myself with all the items needed for the installation ceremony. Jay and Minet had gone to count the animals, having finished the door. The tarot reading passed pleasantly enough although there was something strange and dreamy about the experience, but the man seemed very happy as he took his leave.
When Jay comes back I will ask him to make a suitable plinth ready for our Guardian of the Basement, but now I must go and lie down as I am having some very odd flashbacks about that reading.
Till when, Aisselle