The Devil’s Jukebox
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Pop Fiction
Publisher: Peabo Productions (Self-Published)
Date of Publication: July 8th, 2014
Number of pages: 294
Word Count: 80,000
Cover Artist: Sam Soto
A group of friends are reunited after twenty years to learn that their destinies are entangled with the immortal Muses and a mysterious lost jukebox.
From Vancouver to a New Orleans cemetery, roaming through Los Angeles to Las Vegas; it’s a supernatural road trip laced with rock ‘n’ roll.
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…and the magic will happen.
The coffee, the smoke, the music, the air. They connect the future in some twisted roadside frenzy, and Annie knows she’s been here too long. The songs in the café move and she gets lost somewhere in the sound. Suddenly she feels the downbeat smooth across her cheek. She remembers that drumbeat, close as Sebastian’s heart was when he told her that he loved her. His voice, warm across silk sheets.
She remembers crying as the bass line slid through empty air after he was gone.
She’s not going to cry anymore. She walks out of the cafe with a backwards wave towards the barista. She walks, and all of the sunset junkies walk past her. Crowding her off the sidewalk with tired eyes, searching for just one beautiful thing to hold onto. Annie wishes she had that one thing. It only lasts a second, and it’s gone. Mistaking repetition for inspiration and emptiness for satisfaction, leaving her alone to drink in the hideous magnificence of the slowly lowering night. Like wine spilling over, stained by ocean and moon.
Annie shakes the strange vision from her head and finds herself falling into another one, but this time it’s right there. A woman hidden in a mess of hair and moonlight, crossed by shadows and pale skin. The street is dark, but the woman almost glows.
“I didn’t mean to startle you. At least,” she smiles, “not much.”
Annie is flustered, scratched by a sharp edge of Déjà vu as she hears echoes of something Phillip said to her a long time ago. This was someone like him… but definitely different. “Oh, no, I mean… it’s okay. I’m sorry.” Annie wonders why she’s suddenly apologizing.
The woman’s gaze is sickly sweet, and it lasts a little longer than Annie likes. She starts to step away, but a hand falls on her shoulder. She’s behind her, still smiling, and Annie didn’t even see her move. The streetlight flickers, a flash of darkness and Annie is suddenly aware of all the silence. She’s suddenly aware of the fear as well.
Annie thinks about running, or screaming, or both.
And she finds that she can’t. The fear moves into desperation, then a slow resignation. “Who are you?”
“My name is Pandora.”
“What do you want?”
Pandora laughs lightly, and it sounds like glass.
“I want you to be very careful.”
“What do you mean? What did I do?”
“It’s what you are going to do that concerns me.”
Annie stutters against her fear. “I-I’m not going to do anything.”
Pandora shakes her head. “Sometimes I forget how little you humans see. Consider this a warning. You didn’t listen the last time I warned you, and I do not like repeating myself. Don’t follow your friends.”
Annie stares, nervous and confused. “What do you mean the last time? I don’t remember you at all.”
“Of course you don’t.” Pandora fixes her eyes on Annie and it feels like lightning. “But remember this. This is not three strikes and you’re out. This is it. Leave the jukebox alone, or you leave this life.”
Pandora stands tall, pale, menacingly elegant, and Annie imagines that this is how flies must feel when they suddenly hit a web. The dark magnificence of the spider moving towards another meal. Except no spider could move like this. She narrows her eyes and Annie’s blood shivers within her skin. “Sebastian didn’t listen to me. Maybe you should.”
The woman releases her gaze, and before Annie can let a breath escape, she’s alone. She turns in a full circle—nothing. No one. She’s shaking.
All Annie wants is a drink, so she heads towards the Viceroy, where she’s supposed to meet Martin. It’s a small bar, but quiet. The drinks are strong and the music is decent, but Martin isn’t there yet. Annie sits near the back and faces the door behind a vodka martini. A slight touch of safety. She tries to clear her mind, to relax. She tries to not think about what happened. It doesn’t work. All she can think about is Sebastian. Who is Pandora? What did she do to Sebastian? Was she there when the accident happened? Annie can barely remember that, but she knows it was bad, and that maybe it’s best not remembered. And how did Pandora vanish so quickly? She sips her drink, knowing that Pandora is not like most people in this world. She is something that probably shouldn’t exist but is too strange to believe, so Annie covers it with more alcohol and comforting thoughts of illusions and hallucinations. She’s frightened by shadows of what might happen, and Pandora’s words echo in her head…
This isn’t happening, Annie insists to herself and proves it by getting another drink. The music plays against the night, and Annie feels a memory shivering somewhere between the song and her cigarette. There was a time, long before she met her high school friends, when she believed in magic. There was a time, before nicotine nights and empty alcohol, when she would sit in her room and stare out the window and hope for something amazing. Something wonderful to sweep in out of the night and take her away. There was a time when she wasn’t scared.
Another drink. It stains her tongue with silence. Her nails dig a little too deep into her arm, and she stains her skin with violence. Sometimes it feels better to bleed than to need.
She places her hands on either side of her glass, not touching it, and tries to relax her thoughts. Her eyes slide heavy across the smoke of the room. Another sip and a slow thought of Sebastian slides in alongside. It feels like red wine time, but Annie knows she’s not going to start drinking that, not now. They had a history, lined up in empty glasses and faded labels, but that’s all it was. History. And sadness.
She sighs, skipping over the wine like smooth stones sailing across the ocean, but that doesn’t mean she’s not drinking. She’s drinking to remember how to hang onto that space between cigarettes that can last almost as long as the silence between songs. Sometimes Annie forgets that all it takes is a quarter to break her heart, as the jukebox spits out another sad song. Sometimes she forgets how small the world really is.
About the Author:
Marcel Feldmar was born in Vancouver, moved to Boulder, ended up in Denver, went back to Vancouver, moved to Seattle, and ended up in Los Angeles. He is married with three dogs, and enjoys well made cocktails. He is also a coffee addict and an ex-drummer for too many bands to mention. He recently traded in his drumsticks for a couple of pens, and proceeded to complete his first novel. The Paranormal Pop Fiction tale entitled The Devil’s Jukebox.
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