Surrounded by an eclectic mix


of attractive young maidens I pause with coffee halfway to my lips—I sense an unseen presence. A Sage visit from regions unknown.

From pure reflex I put the bucket back on the table and quickly clap my hand over the top. Hah! And then I remember my New Year’s Resolution. Dammit, in a moment or pure weakness I gave him full licence.

Yep. Surely and imperceptibly the coffee level is going down. For a disembodied spook he has a large internal volume. But I don’t really mind, he always leaves me a dreg or two; and let’s face it … I’ve missed the old bugger. It never hurts to ask—

“So where have you been? I was getting a bit worried.” As worried as one can be, I suppose, about someone who’s been dead several centuries.

“We had a run in with some excise agents back in the sixteen hundreds, Lad. We only got away because of young Bess and a musket.”


“Y’ keeps forgetting, Boy … ye was I, once. And shall be again—”


“Our stars is tangled—your star is my star. Actually them’s is lots of stars all intermeshed … more y’ basic constellation.”

Damn. He’s on about reincarnation again. I refuse to believe that in the past I was once a seventeenth century pirate. And God knows what else if his allusions hold water—

“And since them stars are fixed in their courses, Lad—”

I see where this one is going even before he can verbalise it. It’s an unsettling thought. But to continue his metaphor there are nevertheless such things as ‘wandering stars’. Planets. Comets. Quarks … No. Freewill reigns, hallelujah. Wait, he’s still murmuring and muttering—

“—in November. Mid on, peaking towards the norther winter solstice.”


“Comets, Boy! Y’ got a good one coming—light up the whole night sky, it will—” 

Halley's Comet, 1910 — image courtesy of Wikipedia
Halley’s Comet, 1910 — image courtesy of Wikipedia

Oh no. Not another bloody ‘doomsday’ scenario. I’m getting a bit tired of the world ending every ten minutes—Kohoutek, Halley, Tunguska lookalikes, near misses, Y2K, the Millennium (great fireworks), the recent end of the Mayan calendar—

I sense a silent chuckle followed by a discreet burp. Despite the stares of fascinated fellow patrons I raise my hand and peep gingerly under … oh goody, half empty. And that with my hand resolutely on top. How the hell does he do that?

“All matter is really energy, Lad. Mostly empty space anyway, but y’ knew that.”

I knew that. Dammit, doesn’t he understand ‘rhetorical question’?

“She bain’t a doomsday this one, Son. No need t’ panic.”

Hell. Do I look like I’m panicking? Phlubba da phlubba da phlub—

“She’ll miss y’ by a million leagues or more. But meant to pass close enough to the sun t’ boil off one lovely tail that’ll rival the full moon for brightness.”

Oh goody. Dogs barking all night as well as all day. Confused summer insects dropping all over from exhaustion. Burglars and rustlers having to go on the dole—

“And y’ Spouse, Boy! She don’t slumber too good unless y’ quarters be dark with nary a glim.”


MEMO TO SELF:  Before November next fit some good quality black-out curtains in our bedroom.


Dammit, the price of vegetables too will be going through the roof. We eat a lot of veggies.


MEMO TO SELF:  Before October stock up on tinned vegies.


“Y’ planning for a siege, Lad? Is this one of them doomsday things?”

Dammit. He might even be right, I can see how it might look (to some) a bit as if I’m one of those ‘prepper’ cranks—


MEMO TO SELF:  Check and replenish freshwater reserves socked away in the wee  outside shed.


—but nothing could be further from the truth. I wonder if bits fall off of passing comets? Should I invest in a steel brolly or two? November … that’s not very far away. Eek.

Suddenly I sense that I’m alone again, he’s gone. Good, it worked … much as I love the old guy sometimes I like to keep my head all to myself. With a sigh I leave the notebook and my hat to hold the table for me while go to the counter for a reload. The wee blonde behind the counter stares at me inquisitively, her eyes going wide; normally just one bucket of Starbucks coffee is enough for most folks. I don’t even try to explain, I just bask in what I hope is admiration.

The Sage’s words echo in my mind. Freewill, stars, fixed courses, comets—sometimes I wish he wouldn’t talk in old-fashioned metaphor, he always gets me thinking.

I wonder what astrologers have to say about comets? Do such vagrants throw spanners into the machinery of planetary influences? Do planets and stars really influence us or are they merely indicative of of conditions and trends? Will Popeye marry Olive, will Lucy ever not withdraw the ball milliseconds before Charlie’s foot would have connected?

If astronomical alignments do influence our futures and shape our ends (rough hew them how we may) then those ends are fixed. Ergo ‘freewill’ is just an illusion and astrology a crock.

Dammit. I’m a Leo~! I like being a Leo—less than nine people in every hundred are Leos (and we’re modest with it).

Maybe astrology is better served as indicative of character rather than indicative of trends? Anyway, not everybody can be a Leo—Leo takes talent, Leo is the one that everyone else would be if they could but they don’t ‘cos they can’t. The Spouse, though, is a wee bit indeterminate and possibly a challenge to astrology. She should have been a Pisces but emerged blinking into this world almost a month late as an Aries. With a mind of her own and artistic skills she combines into an unpredictable package that excites dog-like devotion in my otherwise cynical Sage (whatever sign he is … was … I never dare ask—but being me he’s probably another damned Leo anyway). (Thinking about that I’m sure of it—he once described her eyes as “liquid amber, flooded with green hazel flecks”. Yep, definitely Leo.

And she’s seen him too, on occasion—namely when I’ve been asleep. She told me that she never felt even the slightest bit nervous in his misty presence—even found him a bit comforting. There was the time in the wee small hours when my insomnia had me at the computer in my study when she awoke to find him smiling at her; she got up and found me sound asleep on my keyboard with millions of g’s and h’s filling the screen.


I like having a Sage. Everyone should have one, grumpy as mine sometimes is … but why does mine always have to cost me a fortune in coffee*?



* Nearly got me arrested once …



  1. I once knew a 17th century sailor… got a portrait of him somewhere that I drew.
    I’m a double Leo to to all intents and purposes. I wonder if a Sage is a prerequisite to being a Leo then?

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