This weekend was the second annual Treaty City Joust, an acknowledged tournament for international league standing in Darke County Ohio. It is something of a big deal if you follow sports where people on horseback whack each other with sticks.
I had been there last year, tucked between the food trucks to sell my books. It had been a very good sales day for a variety of reasons. 1.) The Arcanum Faire books are set in Arcanum in Darke County and many locals can’t believe somebody actually wrote a book about their boring little town. 2.) I was tucked between the food trucks where potential readers were already clutching money in their fists. 3.) The heroes were ren faire performers and jousters just like the competitors on the list who valiantly fought to hold off the end of the world. 4.) I was between the food trucks.
I was not exactly engaged and enthusiastic Saturday morning. After my bout with pneumonia a few years, seasonal allergies easily escalated up to asthma and fatigue. My recently increased levels of antidepressants weren’t picking up the slack yet, either. Promises had been made to unknown fans on the Internet, so there was an obligation to attend even if there had been minimal contact with organizersI slowly assembled my books, tent, and other accoutrements and pointed my car towards the nearest gas station that excepted my fuel rewards card.
That is where I received my first sign that the Universe wasn’t in support of my quest. At the gas station, the card reader declined all of the debit cards in my wallet. Only someone who has ninety-nine per cent of their assets existing only as data in financial data banks can appreciate the fleeting terror of that moment. I did finally register a hand-written sign on building’s door which read: NO DEBIT/CREDIT. Through some glitch of technology, all of their card readers, inside and out, were useless. The ATM outside the building worked just fine. I was able to buy my gas the way my nineteenth century ancestors did, with cold hard cash.
Trusting that to be the worst thing to happen to me that morning, I fired up Google Maps to guide me around the streets closed for maintenance between me and the freeway. Thus commenced a leisurely tour of the neighborhoods around the OSU campus as my phone demanded multiple U-turns and normal turns onto paths that were blocked to me. Resetting the device, enhanced with vigorous bouts of harsh language, did no good until I noticed the projected time for an eighty-six mile trip would take nine hours and forty-seven minutes. For reasons unknown to Goddess and Science, my phone and Google believed I was on a bicycle.
At nearly the time I had been hoping to arrive, Kreatur and I left Columbus. The trip had all the minor annoyances common to a road trip in Central Ohio, but nothing as irredeemably odd as my earlier difficulties. The high point was my bird of omen. For the longest time I had felt a strong affinity for hawks and eagles, even before a sparrowhawk flew down my chimney for me to capture. (it was released, no need to track me down ODNR)
Off to my right was a red-tail hawk in flight with a snake in its beak. I thought the sign augured well for my day at the Darke County Fairgrounds. Either that, or I was destined to found an Aztec empire in a new Tenochtilan.
The torrential rains from the night before must have frightened off many of the attendees. Some of the arena was still a mud pit, and the junior jousters set to run through their paces a nine a.m. were just getting started in the afternoon as I arrived. The crowd was only a third of the previous year’s size. They looked to be families that had spent almost all of their money on horses, armor, and jousting lessons.
There were no food trucks.
I stuck around until the wind folded up my tent for me, but it proved to be a very disappointing sales. I hold my chin up and keep chugging. There is still a good chance of my building a stone pyramid in the jungle and cutting out the hearts of my enemies at its summit.