Your FTTW Astrologer
by Dan Greene
This past Sunday gave us our first FTTW weekly horoscope, presented by yours truly. Me. I want to clear something up before we go any further with them, however; I’m just presenting the horoscopes, I’m not writing them. Not yet. I’m still at the beginning of a long apprenticeship myself. You see…
I’ve got an astrologer living in my basement now. Actually, in the furnace room in the corner of my basement. And something is definitely up with that cat. Something not supported by empiricism, and I’m not just talking about horoscopes here.
It started last fall. My wife and I went up north for a five day getaway at a rented cabin (I talked about it a while back). One afternoon I was out for a walk and decided to have a look at this old shack I’d noticed in the woods a few days before, when we first drove up. It looked abandoned and it looked pretty fucking creepy, man. That’s right up my alley so I had to go check it out. I figured it was probably just some tarpaper shoebox thrown up by some hunter, but worth a look anyway. It just looked cool sitting there in the woods with no trail leading to it. Who knows, I thought, I might get some good creepy pictures or something.
So I started making my way towards the shack, but all through the woods I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was being watched by someone or something. I told myself that it was city-boy-paranoia, or that I was probably just being watched by a fuckin deer or something. Called myself a pussy and kept going. But all the same, it felt a little stronger than just paranoia or an overactive imagination. And when I got a little closer to the shack I almost shit myself… that’s why it felt like I was being watched… somebody had hung an old latex Halloween mask from one of the trees. Fuck’s sake! The last thing I expected to see was the big head of an old man hanging from a tree. I got shocked, good and proper. Not as shocked as I was about to become though, not even close. I walked closer for a better look at the mask.
It wasn’t a latex Halloween mask hanging from a tree, it was a real face belonging to a really old and really tall man. Who, I figured, lived in the fucking shack… I guess he’d been watching me for ages. I was on his property or his squat or something. Man, the guy was almost eight feet tall. Jesus.
When I saw that it was a real person, I gasped so hard that I almost swallowed my tongue. Jumped about three feet in the air, turned around and just started walking away quickly. I wasn’t exactly afraid, not by any means, but it was just that weird of a situation. I’d gotten a shock and I’d gotten the answer to my question (what’s up with the shack) so there was no real point in hanging around anyway.
Who am I kidding. I was nervous as hell but I didn’t really know why. The only thing I was sure of was that I was out of my depth on a level I couldn’t quite recognize. Something felt… not unnatural, but not natural in the sense that I’m used to. It’s almost impossible to verbalize the feeling; that’s as close as I’m going to get. Moving on.
As I was walking away I could hear him muttering to himself, but not loud enough for me to hear clearly. I could tell that it didn’t really sound like English though. Or maybe it was my imagination. The further I walked, the louder the old man muttered; the weird part was that my perception of the volume never changed, as if the volume of his voice rose in direct proportion to the distance I’d walked. Now that was starting to freak me out. The old man was about two hundred feet behind me but it still felt like he was muttering from about ten feet away. I turned around one last time – and he’d disappeared altogether.
But I could still hear his voice coming from that empty area in the middle of the forest. That was a touch too fucked up for me. Yeah. Time to go.
I turned again to get the hell out of there and almost ran right into the old man’s finger, which was pointed down, directly at my left eye (which was maybe shoulder level to this guy). At the end was a dirty, dirty fingernail, about an inch and a half long and almost as thick, cracked and jagged. Fucking dagger. Behind the daggernail was nothing but dirt. Dirty sleeve, dirty face, dirty top hat (serious, a fucking top hat), boots and pants caked in mud.
“YOU’RE A PISCES!” he taunted. “I SMELLED YOU COMING A MILE AWAY, FISH MAN DAN! NOBODY’S GOING TO LOVE YOU LIKE YOUR MOM DOES, FISH MAN! THERE’S NO HOPE FOR THE HOPELESS ROMANTICS, FISH MAN! YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING!”
He knew my name, he just said Dan. Shit. He was just talking, but it sounded like a scream coming from inside my head. The screams of rocks breaking. Hard, old, dusty, gravelly. And you know, as dirty as he looked, he smelled really clean. The stranger it got, the scareder I wasn’t. Something was making me realize that he meant no harm, although I also realized that he fucking owned me. At the very least, he knew my name and I didn’t know his.
“Of course I mean you no harm, DAN”, he replied to my mind, “why would I want to hurt a helpless little fishman like you?”
Helpless? I thought in spite of myself.
“Yes, helpless. Do you know how to turn a man into a pussy? Conceive him in June, HAHAHAHA!” And he fell down laughing at his own joke, adding, “At least he’ll smell like a pussy… FISHMAN!”
Well that’s kind of dirty, I thought to him. He jumped back up and started punching the air with his finger, emphasizing the words he felt were most important.
“Dirty? You don’t know dirt. You don’t know the smell of dirt. How deep in this Earth have you lived? I can tell, anyone can tell from looking at your eyes that you’ve hardly been around as long as Jesus. You’re just a baby yourself, a young spirit. Your soul still pisses itself… your soul needs to be potty trained. And that’s why. Do you got any..”
He saw that I looked confused; he stopped talking for a second, watching me, and his features softened a little. “You don’t even know why you came here today, do you? You still don’t remember me?”
I had to admit that I didn’t. Remember him?
“This is going to take longer than I thought, but that’s okay if we’re not wasteful. We can’t be wasteful. For now, trust me. We are connected in ways you’ve not even thought of. Do you got any Bee…. Wait, wait” he said as he started fishing around in his pockets. Pulled out a little rock and held it up for me to see the engraving.
“Do you know what this is, Dan, Dan, my dirty fishman?”
Of course I did. I gave him a can; he said he’d be right back, walked behind a tree and disappeared. I waited until nightfall but he never returned. Disappointed yet relieved, I made my way back to the cabin I’d rented and told my wife the whole story. She checked my head for bumps, checked my pockets for drugs that were not on the camping checklist, found nothing, told me I was crazy and that was that. I certainly never forgot about it, but you know, life goes on.
Nine weeks later to the day. It was time to change the air filter on the furnace, so I went down to the basement and into the furnace room (it’s not like a real furnace room, just a little 8X8 room with a furnace in it. I live in a townhouse, not a high school, you know?). I’ve got a single 60 watt bulb hanging from the ceiling, old school, with the string hanging down. I walked in and pulled the string. And my head was filled to the brim of my skull with that voice again.
“TURN OFF THE LIGHT, USE A CANDLE!”
Needless to say, he’d scared the shit right out of me. I’m not kidding, I pooped a little. When I did that he said, “I smell knowledge. You just learned something alright, didn’t you?”
I couldn’t help but think to myself that I’d just learned two things. I didn’t know that shit smelled like knowledge. He cackled, “Ha ha, I suppose you’re right, you did learn two things. I didn’t think of that myself. I guess you just shit on me! There’s hope for you yet. Do you got any Beefaroni?”
This guy fucking loves the stuff. Opened the can with his daggernail in one smooth motion, scooped it out and ate it with his hands. Didn’t spill a drop either, and when he was finished his hands were completely clean of pasta and sauce. They still looked dirty, but with no trace of food. Quite the spectacle, watching this old man eat.
Every day since then has been a different mystery with that guy. He’s connected to the universe in ways I don’t understand. In ways I can’t even explain how I don’t understand. Some of these ways I do understand; he has taught me a lot, but I’m not at the point where I can just start spreading this shit around. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
So for now, let’s just say that I’m an apprentice of sorts. The old man has taken up permanent residency in my furnace room, sitting down there all day and all night, muttering to himself and playing with his runes and crystals and shit. And all the other things you’d expect to see; pendulums, star charts and so on. Other things that I’ve not been taught about yet and have been told not to ask about.
That’s where your horoscopes are coming from. That guy. Now, you go back to last Sunday’s horoscope and tell me how far off he was. As a matter of fact, tell my wife. She still doesn’t believe that we have what seems to be a millennia-old occultist with some kind of telepathic abilities and a craving for Beefaroni living in our furnace room. I’ve been trying to get a photo, if for no other reason than to prove his existence to my wife, but it hasn’t been easy. He doesn’t mind cameras but he hates bright lights of any kind. He hangs in the furnace room and won’t let me turn on the light. Nothing comes out right, but I’ll keep trying.
He won’t tell me his name so I started calling him Cyril. Cyril said he’s cool with that. I honestly don’t know if he’s making astrological readings or manifesting reality down there. I’ve got my vague suspicions about the latter.