Discover more from Chuck Palahniuk's Plot Spoiler
Try This: Runners, Take Your Mark...
Own a terrible piece of history!
Feast your eyes on the Star of the Abyss…
The Star is already Banshee’s property,1 but this week you can win our next cursed treasure, the world-renown Cerulean Legacy, a bauble with its own checkered past of abject terror. See below:
But first a story…
Beginning in 1914 a railroad baron named Sam Hill built a faux-Italian Renaissance palace high above the Columbia River. He dreamed of founding a utopian farming community named for his wife, Mary, and went so far as to build a steepled church and import a passel of Amish settlers. The Amish took one look at the sun-scorched desert and ran back from whence they came. Undeterred, Sam Hill built a full-sized replica of a restored Stonehenge in the memory of WWI dead, a nowadays magnet for pagans and heathens alike. Oh, and rattlesnakes.
The palace itself became an art museum called Maryhill. Some years my family would stop there while on vacation — four kids, a beater car, long days of driving — and ogle the relics that had somehow found their way from Europe to the desert badlands of eastern Washington State. There, the grade-school me would make a beeline for the same glass display case. It held a patch of white brocade fabric the size of my hand, and the card beside it stated that the fabric had been cut from the dress worn by Marie Antoinette to the guillotine. Mine was a trailer park-and-sage brush life, but that scrap of cloth made all of Europe and human history into a tactile reality.
For a comparable thrill, check out this essay about a similar fabric swatch. But one cut from the sofa stained with Hitler’s blood.
In 2002 I went back to Maryhill Museum so I could include the place in the travel book Fugitives & Refugees, and my heart broke. Marie Antoinette’s fabric scrap was gone. It had been bullshit, the curators told me, one of many relics bought by a long-ago curator, all with iffy provenances. That brocade swatch and all the other unlikely exhibits had been tossed.
To be frank, I’ll take a good story over a real relic any day. Give me the Fiji Mermaid. Objects are objects, but objects with good stories are treasure. For example, when my grandmother died and my grandfather had to be moved to a care facility our family descended on their farm and fought over… the plastic dishes. No one wanted anything of possible real value, any silver-plated wedding present stuff. No, we all wanted the plastic tumblers with toothmarks gnawed into the rims. Like viking raiders, we sacked the place in search of the stuffed-felt pixies2 my grandparents had put out every Christmas.
Again, my point is: The story makes the object. Now, because Banshee gave a good story to the infamous Eye of Cheops, the Star will go to Banshee. But you, you get to decree the haunted, troubled history of the Star of the Abyss, and hereby win the fabled Cerulean Legacy. See how that works?
Back to the Cerulean Legacy…
Let’s hear the daunting history of this dazzling blue stone. Where did it originate? Who has worn it, and what became of them? What powers is it reputed to possess?
For best effect, avoid “is” and “has” verbs. For authority, cite your sources, lofty persons like Erasmus and Hildegard of Bingen. I’ll give you a week, so take your best shot. Amaze the grade-school me.
To be shipped on June 5th, okay.
The Christmas elf-on-a-shelf tradition from the ’50s and ’60s.