You walked in front of the building warily, trying to guess what would be abnormal about this building in particular. In the month that you had spent in town, you had learnt that the buildings here are nowhere near as normal as you would expect them to be, and that just entering them could be an extremely dangerous venture. Nothing seemed off, so you rang the bell and waited. You guessed that the mafia would probably not need any elaborate defence methods. You almost guessed right.
Mama Luca came to the entrance and opened the door for you herself. She greeted in a warm voice. “Ah, ciao, cara! How is everything? Come in, I’ll get some coffee ready”.
You wondered why the leader of the mafia would come to the door to greet you. Surely it seemed way too normal, specially in this town. It was not safe for a leader to expose themselves in that way, was it? That would usually be right, even in Fiery Creek, but rules don’t apply in a normal way to you when you are the third most dangerous being in the known multiverse (Just for the record, Eldritch abominations do not come from the known multiverse. They are from a region that we sort of know, but haven’t been there many times, really, and would still get lost there). The reason that there are no security measures in her house and that she just lives a fairly normal life is, put simply, that there is almost nothing that Mama Luca needs to fear. Everything else should fear her.
You followed her into the house. It had been built like a small southern European palace, which was ideal for the dry and hot weather of the desert. In the middle of the house there was a courtyard that was open. There were several fountains and plants there, all of it contributing to keep the place fresh. You marvelled at the beauty of it all.
“Mama, I wouldn’t have expected you to live in this kind of place”.
“Well, we Southern Europeans like to enjoy ourselves, and this is an ideal environment for that. The Ancient civilizations of Europe discovered that this kind of construction was good to resist the heat in the summer. The Atlanteans perfected the system and showed the rest of Europeans how to make it. Then the Muslims added their improvements and decorations in Southern Spain”.
“That’s very interesting”.
Mama led you to a table. “OK, so you just wait here and I’ll come with some coffee”.
She didn’t take long. Mama came back with a tray in which she had a hot pot of coffee, a jug of milk, sugar and two glasses. She placed a glass in front of you and another glass in front of her, and then she served the coffee for both of you, while explaining how to do it. “You see, the order in which you add each ingredient is important. First you add the sugar, so that it can dissolve into the coffee. Most people do it wrong, and they add the sugar after the coffee. And that’s not even half as bad as those people who had the sugar after adding the milk. That’s a waste of coffee”.
“Mama, why take the coffee in a glass, instead of a cup?” you asked.
“Well, it’s simple. Eating and drinking is a whole sensory experience. Most people think it just engages smell and taste, but the truth is that those are some of the few activities in which you can engage as a full sensory experience. So it’s not only what you drink, but also where you drink it from, and how you drink it. That’s why I’m serving coffee in a glass instead of a cup. Come on, try it. I don’t like to brag, but it’s probably the best coffee you will ever try”.
You hesitated before taking the glass – you had been invited to a cup of tea a couple of weeks before, with disastrous consequences -, breathed in and held the glass. It was hot, but a normal kind of hot, what you would expect from a normal glass of coffee, anyway. You drank a sip of the hot coffee. She had been right. The hot liquid poured down your mouth and into your throat easily, stimulating your taste and smell exquisitely. But even the touch of it felt different.
“Is there… any kind of magic to this?” you asked, starting to get used to the nature of our town.
“Oh, absolutely not. This is the way my mother and my father used to make the coffee back in Italy. That’s just how it is”.
You both drank in silence for a while, without saying a word. No wonder Southern Europeans live so long, you thought. That was the kind of state of mind many had been looking for during several centuries of human existence, and none of these people had seemed to notice that they could find it right at home. Once you were finished, Mama left her glass on the table and spoke.
“Anyway, Anne, you didn’t come to visit me just for coffee. There was intentionality in your coming here. Is there anything you would like to discuss with me?”
She had taken you a bit by surprise. You ordered your ideas quickly and answered. “Actually, there is something I’d like to talk about. I came here in a search. I saved some money and came to look for something, thinking that I may be able to complete my search in a month if I really dedicated myself to it. But it’s been a month already and my search has just started. I don’t want to give up on it, but I’m running short of money. I could stop my search, go back to Arizona and work there… Yet I know there is something here. My search has to continue here, I cannot let it go. So I need to get a job to sustain myself, and I don’t know who to go to in this town, so I thought maybe you could help me…”
Mama had listened in silence. She laughed and then gave you a smile. “That’s not going to be a problem, cara. You have come to the right person”.
“Thank you so much!”
Before you could continue, some kind of butler came around with a rolled scroll. Mama took it and gave it to you. “This scroll gives you ownership of a house in Central Fiery Creek, right over one of my pizza houses. The house was teeming with illegal space immigrants, so we’ve kicked them out and sent them back to their home planets. The house is currently being cleaned and refurbished, but you will be able to move in next week. Food will be provided for, and anything you need, you just ask me and I’ll take care of it”.
You were taken aback. “No, Mama, but I don’t want to… owe you so much, I just… I just wanted a job and…”
“Don’t worry, Anne. Your job is to search. Search for the truth”.