Homer, Alaska. Her house. Her folk’s house. Though her father has been dead ten years and her mother three, Phoebe still thinks of it this way. Sitting on the porch with Tony Lama boots propped on the railing, Levi’s 511 jeans and a faded flannel shirt, Feebs is at home, even if it’s only her folk’s. She sips a glass of Bulleit bourbon and and enjoys a rare cigarette. Beyond her, toward the horse barn, we can see Dani Kersh walking a young gelding through the trauma of recently having his nuts clipped.
She claps her hands.
A third clap.
“Don’t trust your eyes, your brain, or even the things you can touch. It means that you should trust something else. Your gut, your heart, maybe a really fun story about a magic carpenter or a towel-head on a flying horse.”
“It’s the same line used by every demagogue, asshole and would-be-prophet in history. Forget what your oversized monkey brains tell you, trust ME and my invisible space-pals.”
A long drag of the forbidden Marlboro and a cloud of smoke from her nostrils.
“So I’ve got a story for you Dee. Can I call you Dee? Because calling you ‘D-T-R’ makes me nauseous with laughter. Anyway, like my ostensible father-in-law, I’m a fan of historical allegory. So let’s begin, shall we?”
Feebs has a sip of the best Kentucky has to offer and sets the glass down with a grimace.
“Back in the day there was a kingdom called Lydia. The king of Lydia was an EXTREMELY wealthy and powerful King named Croesus. Hence the term, ‘Rich as Croesus’. Follow?”
“Anyway, his kingdom covered all of Southern Turkey and his more southern neighbor was the vast and mighty Persian Empire, ruled over by the great, benevolent and terrible Cyrus. Well, Croesus got it in his rich idiot head to invade the much larger and more powerful empire of the much more over Cyrus. But his advisers weighed in: Hey bro, their army is ten times your size, the land area is fifty times yours and the generals are one million times better than you.”
Stubbing out the cigarette, she shrugs.
“But you don’t get to be king of shit by acting out of pocket, so Croesus sent an envoy to the famous Oracle at Delphi. Dripping with gold and frankincense and whatever, the envoy arrived and asked the Oracle: Should little Lydia and the upstart King Croesus invade mighty Persia?”
Leaning closer, her blue eyes intense, Phoebe channels the Oracle.
“’If you invade Persia you will destroy a mighty Empire.’ The Oracle said.”
She leans back.
“So guess what? Croesus goes off to war. So guess what next?”
A smile, not totally unfriendly.
“Nailed it! The Persians not only kicked his credulous ass, but then conquered his little slice of Anatolia.”
Pulling her boots off the rail, she places her hands on her knees.
“Fast forward. In his infinite mercy and excellent taste in irony, Cyrus makes Croesus a minor court underling with the specter of the executioner’s sword always at hand. It’s frankly not the retirement that ol’ Croesus had in mind. So he sends another envoy to the Oracle, I assume with much less gold and shit and asks ‘Why did you lie to me about invading Persia?!’”
“And the Oracle says…”
“You see what I’m hammering away at here Dee? The bit isn’t that false idols tell the truth – but in fun riddles! It’s that they all tell clever LIES. Croesus didn’t trust reason and Croesus lost everything. He trusted in special effects and Sunday sermons. He trusted not his mind, but his fear.”
Phoebe stands, rolling a sore shoulder, and looks over the grass to her beautiful auburn haired woman, still coaxing the gelding to heel in the uncanny way she has with the creatures.
“I tell you this because you’re clearly terrified.”
She takes up the glass of whiskey and drains it, placing it back onto the railing with an uncharacteristic gentleness.
“Don’t let that type of rabid stupidity cost you. My advice? Skip our match. Cause REASON tells me that it takes twenty-five pounds of pressure to break a human arm.”
A brief smile. As if she knows something you don’t.
“Trust in that.”
And she steps off the porch, walking towards Dani and the still stunned and terrified colt…