I take a coach to the crossroads watching the mountains through the small window as we proceed to the point where Bulletsville meets with Perdition. It was a bumpy ride. My pipe jostles from my purse and clatters to the hardwood floor. I pick it up and blow it off as the coach suddenly comes to a halt.
“You sure you want me to drop you off here, ma’am?” The Coachman asks.
“Yes this is the place.,” I say, handing him a quarter. “Extra for your trouble.”
I watch the coach pull away into the distance until I am alone, standing there waiting at the last place I saw my husband. I’m sure He’ll show soon enough.
What better to pass the time as you search the crossroads of life than a pipe? I pull out a tin I’d purchased earlier that day from Lucky Mathew at Strasslend Goods. Matt knew my particular affinity for a good smoke and had saved a sample under the counter for me. He said it was one of the best.
I run my finger across the paper label on the tin. Devil’s Holiday. I laugh because of my present circumstances. Was it kismet, or am I honestly on the right track?
I wrench off the lid, and as soon as it’s open, I smell the berryfield of sweet and tart aromas. It reminds me of a farm up the way from where Deshawn and I live where they make juices from the local berries that can cure common ailments. There’s a sour note of wine in the tin as well and a bit of earth. A touch of honey and grass too. I pinch some off and slowly crumble the leaves of black cavendish and mottled specks of Virginia into my pipe, careful not to spill it.
As I do so, I see a black dog come trotting by out of the corner of my eye. It seems to sniff the air cautiously. I think it may be Him in disguise, but I don’t look up. Let him think he’s outsmarted me. Let him check out the situation as he sees fit, the coward! I have nothing to hide.
The pipe is full and ready to smoke. Devil’s Holiday. I scratch a match on my heal and pull in the flame, watching the tobacco filaments dance the inferno-boogie as I draw on the blaze.
There’s an explosion of tart and sweet in my mouth. Berries and wine is the first thing that comes to mind as I taste the addition of blackcurrant and spice. There are cherries in the taste as well, with back notes of honey and caramel. I want to smoke it fast because the flavor is so amazing, but I pace myself so as not to spoil the experience. It relaxes me and sets my spinning mind at ease.
Some time passes as I smoke and pace the crossroads, waiting. The dog has long since wandered off. Just as I am about to give up hope, I see him in the distance. The sky darkens as he draws closer and I feel drops of rain plop on my nose as I first make out his eyes in the midmorning mist.
I pull out my umbrella to keep my pipe from going out as I watch him approach.
“Fierce storm coming, Aaliyah…” He whispers from afar, but somehow I can hear it. “Be a shame to get caught up in it.”
“I’ve seen worse.” I smile fearlessly, pushing my curls behind my shoulder. “Just a little water and some wind.”
“It can get worse.” He hisses, and a bolt of lightning crashes down close by, followed by a clap of thunder. I don’t let it startle me; I won’t give him the satisfaction of putting the fear in me.
I draw on my pipe. Further down in the bowl, I taste a bit of butter, pastry sugars that remind me of the chilly mornings Deshawn and I spend eating homemade donuts and coffee before he’d set about the day’s work. How I miss him. There’s vanilla and a touch of floral notes, like a sweet flower in the rain.
The man in black points and another lightning bolt crashes down.
“Enough party tricks Mephistopheles,” I yell over the storm. “You have taken Deshawn, and I’m here to get him back!” It comes out in a puff of smoke.
His dark form crouches down for a moment. There is a blur of movement as he scrambles toward me with inhuman speed. Now he is suddenly in my face, and I can see the darkness in his eyes. Trim beard. A half-burned cigar in his yellow teeth. His nose is long and pointy. His chin is jagged and is sprouting a short tuft of well-trimmed beard. There’s almost a reddish hue to his skin that ripples in the dark.
“It was a fair trade, girl.” He whispers in smoke. The sound of his voice is loud like it was in my head before he even said it.
“Eternal damnation for a momentary lapse of judgment is NOT a fair trade,” I spit back. The man in black laughs.
I look him up and down. He’s wearing all black leather aside from an old brown belt that holds a pocket watch clipped to it, an old spyglass and a leather sack. There’s something else there too, a bracelet. I recognize it. It was one that I gave to Deshawn last Christmas.
I remember the way Deshawn had gotten a tear in his eye because I had saved for two years to buy him the bracelet. He would have never given it up willingly. He would have fought to —
“God let me have him. It was a square deal in HIS eyes. Doesn’t that shake your faith, little one?” He giggles. “What platform have YOU to stand on when your father fails you?”
He was trying to play games with my mind and get me to back down. I lean close. “I stand on my own. You won’t shake me with petty censure, a shuffle of blame is no recompense I’m interested in, Lucifer.”
He looks at me with a bit more respect and a touch of awe, seeming to understand me better in his dark eyes.
“Very well then.” He straightens. “We’ll play a game. You love him enough to move mountains, it appears? How about we make a wager, eh? If you win, you get him back. If I win, I get you as well, and you can share the same fiery cell. Deal?”
I puff on my pipe, listening to the raindrops on my umbrella. The bowl is nearly finished. There is now a faint grassy taste in the tobacco that wakes me up. Grounds me. The Virginias perhaps? Hints of hay meld with the berry nectar in my mind as I think this through.
He wants to play? We’ll play. “A game it is. I agree.” I say defiantly.
“Splendid!” He hisses and points in the distance. See that mountain over there? Move it! Prove your love, and he’s yours!”
I feel a pang of regret. Had I just damned both of us with this stacked deal? What’s the use of being together if you can’t see one another for the flame? I lower my eyes in fear, and they come to settle on his rugged belt.
“Those are some pretty trinkets,” I whisper. “Trophies from your latest acquisitions, I presume.”
He coughs and laughs. “You could say that.” He tosses the butt of the cigar. “Come now, girlie. Do you yield?”
“That bracelet –” I say.
“You recognize it?” He strokes the chain.
“Yes, I do,” I whisper sadly. “Next to it. What is that?”
“A spyglass.” He says proudly. Unclipping it from his belt and twirling it in his fingers. “Once belonged to a seaman by the name of Calam who liked to swim with the fishes.”
“Can I hold it before you take me?” I say, delicately. “I’ve never seen one before.” I lie.
He hands it over, and without a moments notice, I grab him by the head and shove it to his eye, pointing him in the direction of the craggy range. “See those mountains! They moved.” I shout. I put my lips to his ear and whisper. “Perhaps you should be more careful with the trinkets you choose to carry around with you? May come to bite you in the end.”
He explodes in rage and knocks me to the ground. My pipe falls out of my mouth and breaks in half. I drop my umbrella, and the wind takes it far away.
“You’re a smart one!” He yells. Then readjusts and centers his composure. “Still, a deal is a deal… for now…” There is a puff of smoke, and then I see that black dog again, where the man once stood. It trots away as I reach down to pick up my pipe.
A hand reaches out of the mud, then an arm and I furiously work to free my beloved husband from the confines of the earth. When I am finished, we are both wet and dirty. I hold him as we rest for our journey home.
Other Tobacco Notes:
Dan Tobacco’s Devil’s Holiday is a solid, quality aromatic with strong berry and fruit notes. It burns nice. No goop or doddle. And it remains enjoyable for the whole bowl.
Strength Notes: For an aromatic, Devil’s Holiday is quite strong, both in nicotine and smoke density.
Cut: A rugged coarse cut with slight humidity that may require a little drying time although I smoked it straight from the tin with no problem.
Nicotine Strength: The nic hit is medium to high with a noticeable tingle on the tongue.
Drink Pairing: I enjoyed this tobacco with a glass of coffee.
Smoking Time: Best enjoyed at night when you are ready to reflect on your day. It has a medium burn time and took about an hour to smoke in a medium bowl.
Pipes Used: Morgan Bones Hanging Brandy. It works well in a medium to large bowl. Otherwise, it will smoke in just about anything. There is a chance of ghosting with a blend this strong, so keep that in mind.
Age When Smoked: Fresh from the tin.
3/4 Stars. A very well-crafted aromatic.
Similar Blends: Cult Blood Red Moon
|Blended By||Dan Tobacco|
|Manufactured By||Dan Tobacco|
|Contents||Black Cavendish, Virginia|
|Flavoring||Blackberry, Blackcurrant, Cherry, Fruit / Citrus, Honey, Raspberry, Sweet / Sugar|
All photos are the property of Justin Day at Photography By Day Studio. You can find more of my work here.