Monday, March 24, 2014


There in the sleeping chamber, with the putrid, virago witch between us, Sarah and I managed to sleep. My own abilities, while in no way equal to Pig Blood Annie's (the 'born' witch) are still better than most, so I exhaled a Morpheus spell and we both drifted off. The witch snored too. But my efforts had no effect on her.

Sarah dreamt of her shop... a snug and cozy little book store called Philadelphia After Dark. It opened with the gloaming and shuttered with the dawn. An all-night refuge for lovers of the paranormal, mysterious and romantic. It's where I found her... a magical place with just enough light provided by carefully placed, little boudoir lamps and one or two, silk shaded chandeliers. There were clocks on the wall... old clocks, a few of which might have been valuable. It's a wonder she was never robbed.. or even killed. But many thieves tend to be superstitious and they left the midnight book lady alone. Someone else runs the place now... a 'familiar' fond of shadows and enchantment. Philadelphia has many such places. 

I do not know the details of Sarah's dream. Sometimes I can see that far, but I am tired and burdened with dreams of my own. 

Behold, Firenze, late of the Medici, now ruled by Savonarola and his acolytes. Etruria in the fifteenth century. I speak of Florence and Tuscany for those with no Italian. And travelers will tell you that city still stands.... il Ponte Vecchio , the old, stone paved, Romanesque bridge, lined with shops.... il Duomo, the shining, marble clad cathedral and it's steadfast spouse, the baptistry, similarly attired. We thought it another Jerusalem back then. Well, maybe the Trinitarians did. But to Unitarian Jews, like me, Jerusalem was Jerusalem, regardless of its compromised state. Though the cities of Italy were beautiful, bathed in their Renaissance light. And if those golden hours were denied to night-folk, like me, I saw them still in paintings.

Marco D'Ancona his name was. An artist. A painter. Some said converso ( a baptized Jew, often in an attempt to avoid The Inquisition... but I never asked). He knew me as Tomas de Macabea, a Spanish mortal. And I saw no reason to complicate his life, or my own. Such pictures he made.. gracious ladies in their velvets and jewels.... Baby Moses in the bulrushes.... Daniel amidst the lions. I see them. I see them all, thrown about his officina, his atelier, if you will, as allies pack them up for the flames. The Bonfires of The Vanities roar in the piazzas of Florence, burning all but the most puritanical tools, implements, garments and accoutrements. The canvases of D'Ancona and many others went with them. Artists wept that night. To be seen crying at such an event was dangerous in itself. But Marco actually ran forth and reached toward the bottom of the inferno, in an attempt to save at least one of his creations. The multitude, given to hymn singing and hosannas, barely noticed. But one old monk saw. He pointed and yelled - Backslider! Backslider!

I grabbed Marco and pulled him back. His hands were burned. And as only a vampire can, disappeared into the lurid, jumping, red tinged shadows with my charge, taking him to safety in my lair, an old, medieval, Gothic cellar down by The River Arno. I treated him with unguents and special wine known for its curative powers, slipping in drops of my own blood to guarantee success. He thought me an alchemist, or perhaps even a devotee of one of the mystery cults known thereabouts. I said nothing, for knowledge can be fatal, especially in ecclesiastic times.

When I left the city, on my way to The Low Countries, Savonarola himself was burned. Some said they hung him before the fact, but just some.

And Marco made altar pieces, sponsored by the returning Medici, grateful for the restoration of their jewels and palazzi. Though he occasionally crafted chalices and Torah (Pentateuch) crowns (silver ornaments for the top ends of the sacred scrolls) for IL Tempio Maggiore (the first Great Synagogue of Florence) and The Medici knew about those as well

Now please excuse me, as I drift through dreams of a more private nature, in preparation for our  ordeal with the 'born' witch later this evening, when the dark time comes.


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John L. Harmon said...

I want to visit Philadelphia After Dark!

Billy Kravitz said...

That's also the name of the tighter, focused screenplay the blog's based on and PHILADELPHIA AFTER DARK is basically a re-hash of a mystery book shop I once wandered into years ago. Think it's still there..old wood floors..narrow little neatly stuffed aisles. Collection of tick-tocky wall clocks behind the counter. ..cozy little lamps. multi-pane window .. think they had readings too. ..Bet if blog becomes popular enough (or script PHILADELPHIA AFTER DARK ever gets made) someone WILL start a place called that or ATLANTA AFTER DARK or OMAHA AFTER DARK or MOOSE JAW AFTER DARK???... Really appreciate this blog conversation and ANYONE who sees this should make sure they visit your !!