Strangeness is just like smell or touch. Too much of the same of either and body and mind adapt, or goes numb which I guess is a sort of adaptation. The once remarkable blends into passing scenery. Edja, who owns the tea shop near my flat where I have breakfast in the morning, told me that I have to visit Madechen’s Emporium of Oddities. Sounds like PT Barnum may have stopped here on his way to where ever, picking up shrunken heads and warlock’s hearts.
I had a little giggle over the name and Edja asked me what was funny. I think I offended him.
”Mädchen. It means girl in a language from back home.”
"Girl? Madechen is no child, my friend, but a brave adventurer."
I think the rock-like growths that sprout from both of Edja’s shoulders are getting bigger and pressing into his head and neck.
During my visit to this Emporium of Oddities, I noticed the blurring sensation. After the fourth preserved cyclops head, the plaques on which tell me that they came from the same creature and it died because of decisions by committee during an encounter with a hero, I wandered. I couldn’t process anything else. There is no escaping how away I am here.
Which was the reason for my journey, I suppose.
I met the proprietor in a cordoned off room, dusting and peering through a pair of wire-rim glasses. It was full of diving equipment. Scuba gear and deep dive suits, steel mesh gloves or plier-shaped implements, they were brass monstrosities and steel chests, helmets of glass, others with tiny portholes. I ran my hands through the dust on the top of them, even something from before my own century was a comfort. A well of emotion rose that I barely choked back. The blurring stopped, the sensation as jarring as any sudden stop.
How long have I been away from home?
Madechen really is German, he gave girl as his name because he thinks it’s funny. His sense of humor will preserve him like his specimens suspended in their jars. He was off the coast of Tierra del Fuego looking for pirate wrecks when he sailed through a shimmer in the air he took to be St. Elmo’s Fire. On the other side was punishing light and a shuddering roar, he thought he was amidst an earthquake or about to be swallowed by a phosphorescent sea monster. Then he saw the landscape, knew the roaring for what it was: his own ship shrieking as its steel flesh was torn by the rocks and its own terrible momentum.
Pilgrims come from thousands of miles in every direction to see his machines and hear stories of men who used to plumb the depths of something called an ocean.
Naturally they all think he’s making it up, but who doesn’t love a good story?
Madechen was kind enough to pose for a picture. I think I will return here often to visit him. Perhaps I will learn German. Maybe it will tether me somehow.