PodCastle 99: The Hag Queen’s Curse

by M.K. Hobson.
read by Christiana Ellis.
Originally appeared in Realms of Fantasy.

1986. Salty’s. Newport, Oregon.

Colored shadows from the square-tiled disco floor flash against finger-grimed black walls. There is a mirror ball and a pair of cute bartenders who are always squabbling. Two tall Marshall stacks in each corner thump out a beat you can feel all along Bay Boulevard. Jeff and Kat come down to Salty’s every Saturday night because in Newport Oregon in 1986 there’s nothing else to do on a Saturday night if you haven’t the taste for pickup trucks, country music, and mullets.

Always the same people. Skinny transient boys with names like Etienne and Colby; they spasm on the dance floor, get up intrigues in dark corners, pass little plastic packages of white powder from hand to hand. Always the same music: Adam Ant, Depeche Mode, Dead or Alive, Culture Club, The Cure. Always the same table, the wobbly dark one in the back with the red glass candleholder. Kat likes to dip her black fingernails in the melted wax and then peel it off like dead skin. It creeps Jeff out.

Jeff dresses preppy in pastel Izods and pressed chinos. He drinks pina coladas and saves the paper umbrellas. Kat wears black, sips Manhattans through crimson-painted lips, and smokes clove cigarettes in a long jeweled holder.

Every Saturday, it’s the same.

Until the pirate.

Rated R for the fashion woes inflicted by Adam Ant and complicated relationships.