Alasdair Galloway, the young protagonist, and his traveling companion, the magician Shamus, are on the road once again!
The pair just took part in a magic show given at the retirement home in Flagstaff. Below is an excerpt from the night before the event.
Some twenty minutes later, we arrive in Flagstaff. Deciding together we’d find a hotel first, Shamus guides Magdalena into the parking lot of a Holiday Inn Express in the center of town. Stepping out of the trolley, I notice that the town doesn’t resemble the other places we’ve seen along the way. Not entirely, at least. Before, in the towns where there were mountains, they seemed too far away, too distant and simply part of the vacant landscape. Here, the range is a part of this town, part of the population, praised and admired. And I can see why. It’s beautiful. In the dark, I can just make out the outline, as the remnants of a setting sun illumine its snow-capped edges- a distinct silhouette carved into the fading late afternoon sky.
After checking in, and throwing our luggage into the hotel room, Shamus and I decide to stretch our legs. A night on the town, I think. Shamus, the magician, and I, the lonesome wanderer. It’s chilly outside, so I take the hoodie that’s wrapped around my waist and put it on. Being of entirely too-worn cotton, it doesn’t protective me well against the night’s brisk air. And so, almost involuntarily, I do a quick one two, to my left and then to my right, like Dorothy and Gang atop that yellow brick road. I tell myself it’s a good way to keep warm, that it’s merely an instinctual response to the briskness of the air. I look over at Shamus who appears to be eyeing a rather colorful candy shop across the street. He hadn’t noticed anyhow.
So I do it again. This time, with a bit more pep. I’m in front of Shamus now, walking just a few yards ahead, and I know he must have seen. But I don’t mind- and perhaps that’s indicative of my moment of clarity in the tree, clutching the fading remnants of a once prideful courage; a courage to be seen, to run, to dance.
It was that way once. Long ago. Lampposts, then, were not just the large candy cane flashlights they appear to be. Then, so very long ago, with a smile on my face and my cheeks as the rosy red warriors they so often seem to be, I swung from those metal cylinders, like Gene Kelly in Singin’ In the Rain. And I reckon, the response is in fact instinctual; or rather, to be more specific, it’s genetic.
I can thank my mother for that. She had a penchant for Mr. Kelly. He danced like one should dance, she had always said. And I agreed. But that’s the small picture. In whole, it was my mom’s love for musicals, for dance, and for singing. To glean a clearer picture of the genetic correlation, I need only point to the a capella renditions of any number of Julie Andrews, Doris Day, or Bing Crosby songs she liked to belt out on our way to school; the wild woman dancing in the kitchen, paying no mind to the kids that roll their eyes and the husband that tells people he doesn’t know her; or by the simple fact that she had owned every musical under the sun, in both DVD and VHS format, and could probably recite, word for word, every song in each of them.
So as I saunter back and forth in genetic predisposition, I thank my mother for the time we had, and the lighter memories that break through this revelatory peregrination.