The Boys and Girls Guide To Etiquette and the Supernatural by Esteemable Mrs. Marla O. 

Marla O. 

The name meant nothing to me, and I’m willing to bet it means nothing to you. 

I found a box of old, torn books near The Grand Canal. Being who I am, I took a peak. 

Nothing interesting – except for one book. Cover torn to just a tattered edge, missing pages, lipstick and burn marks. 

I flipped through the pages, wiping away years of dust. The book was full of simple maxims about loving yourself and how to do good. 

Basic phrases like “If anyone is going to put you in a box, make sure it fits” and “Love is an abstract opinion.”

I almost threw it away. Just simple, stupid, sayings from some self proclaimed guru. The stuff of those god awful Facebook memes. But I decided to give it one more page. 

“There will always be others. Ghosts. Protect your soul and hold fast like iron and strike swift like prayer.”

…wtf is right?

I shoved the book in my pocket and took it home. I researched. I hit the ends of the Internet. Nothing. Nothing in the university or public libraries. No professor had heard her name. The page with the publishers information had been torn out. 

Who was Marla O?

“Upon Death, do not fear the chaos. Your path has been set by Michael and your fire alone will slay those that should have crossed.”

Mixed in with her love-thy-self quotable quotes were these darker, almost riddle like warnings and sayings. 

I wandered around Las Vegas. No idea where to look for answers. My compulsive research mind screaming at me for answers. 

I found myself drawn towards Woodlawn. That old desert cemetery. 

And there she was. Six feet deep. Tombstone worn nearly bare. 

“When I’m gone, when you’re gone, it’s all still there. And so are we. Just around the corner. Just out of sight! But, oh, so close!”

There were fresh flowers left on her grave. Her date of death read 190- what that last number is, it doesn’t matter. She was around at the turn of last century. 

The caretaker saw me looking at her grave. 

“Ah. Marla. She’s not really buried there. No, sir. We don’t know where or how, hell if, she died. What? Oh, yeah. She’s my great, great aunt. Ran an etiquette school here when it was still the Wild West. Apparently, she was into the supernatural stuff. Ghosts and goblins and all that stuff that gives me the creeps. Book? No. No, I don’t think she wrote a book. ”

He waters the flowers, says goodbye, then leaves. 

“The strongest and brightest light comes from within. That is our strength, our power, and why we will never be lost. ”

-Marla O. 1875. Las Vegas and other strange places. 

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