The line, the witch and the wardrobe

We were right around the lamp-post, half a mile out of the wardrobe, when the Turkish Delight hit. The frost had kept me sober till then, but once you’ve got comfortable, it’s hard to remember it’s still there. The hopeless sky heaved with great eagles and wizened harpies, hungry lips smacking together in grinned malice. I turn to the Moose to check if he’s seeing all this with me and for a second, his face is a gibbering nightmare – 400 pounds of legally accredited, Appalachian reindeer bucking with laughter, antlers tossing and teeth glinting in the snow – but then it all snaps back. We’re cruising in the sleigh, eight miles from the palace and there’s a job to be done.

Take inventory. In the sleigh alone, we got two cases of scotch and two of bourbon, one of rum and one of tequila, a bag of grass, five of top-quality dope, two vials of LSD cut with the Turkish, a nutcracker man filled with cocaine, four pounds of gingerbread and a whole bag of tricks that the Moose picked up across the border in Calormen. A little excessive for one interview, you might think, but hell, you never know what the weekend’s going to bring. The dogs are buzzing across the snow and the Moose has this real intense look on him, staring at this little goat man ahead of us.

“I’ma pick up the fawn.” I frown, but I can’t fire the nerves to open my mouth and argue. Besides I’ve known the Moose too long to try and protest that look. He clambers in the sleigh and when I glance down I notice his left hoof has caved in. His eyes are red, full of mindless tears, his beard is speckled with moon-dust and candy cane. He burbles on about the snow and the winter, and all his stone buddies (“Us too,” giggles the Moose), but my eyes roll back in focus when he mentions he used to work for the Witch. When I tell him that’s who we’re headed for, he starts to shift and squirm, tearing at his beard and muttering in thin bleats. “Give him a little something,” advises the Moose. In the evening light, this little, decrepit fawn looks like a dimestore Satan, run down after twenty years inhaling all sorts in some whitewashed Cali suburb.
He calms down after a few hits of the Turkish, but still insists on a stop-off at the frozen lake. He wants us to meet some friends. The Moose and I are coming down a shade, but I’m happy to keep ploughing through the wastes. When, however, you’ve got a half-mad goat-man flailing about in your sleigh-cum-narcotics wagon, you tend to demure. Soon as we arrive, the fawn leaps down and is greeted warmly by Mr Beaver, a highly cordial meth-head, with big front teeth rotted near to nothing. He doesn’t work anymore, he tells me. No-one here seems to do anything – they keep on saying they’re waiting for Christmas. His wife is strung out on too much crystal to worry about it – but Mr Beaver has the desperate eyes of the too-conscious freak, just aware of where things were and where they’re at now. In lucid moments, he gabbles excitedly about the lion and the good old days.

The lion and the good old days. Caught snuffling coke off some junked out centaur. “Not a tame lion” – damn right. The hopes and dreams of a generation snorted up his fat, whiskered snout. “I’ve seen him,” proffers Mr Beaver. Sure, he’s always around, pawing the ground and roaring at tourists. Much less since the Bitch-Witch took over though.


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