Wekiwa Sawgrass, the beguiling savior of her tribe in the Florida Everglades, along with her spirit animal sidekick, Rainbow, set out to help her tribe escape the poverty of the early 20th Century.
After opening her restaurant on the Miami river, Wekiwa gains fame and fortune and builds her home on Arch Creek, a mystical area once inhabited by Native Americans. Wekiwa struggles to follow the path of the Great Spirits as she finds herself transformed and drawn to a darker side of magic, casting erotic spells upon her patrons.
Decades later, Anna Phylaxis and her daughter Gina acquire the house built by Wekiwa, discovering themselves able to communicate with the amorous spirit world trapped under their home.
With a series of mystical events, an enchanted Creek, and a wild cast of characters trying to unearth its secrets, The Mermaid of Arch Creek is sure to entertain even the most discerning lover of humorous paranormal mystery. Can Wekiwa fight off the darkness and fulfill her destiny? What really caused the Arch Creek Natural Bridge to collapse in 1973? Do you believe in Mermaids? Well, do you?
Release date: September 7, 2021
Publisher: David Raymond
Print pages: 245
Content advisory: 18+
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The Mermaid of Arch Creek
Approaching the modest, barn-red home on Enchanted Place in North Miami evoked the feeling that you were looking at an oversized box of matches with a flat white roof. You see, there really is a street named Enchanted Place in North Miami, Florida. Google maps it if you are already bored, curious, have trust issues, or all of the above. And, it really is a magical place, rich in history and folklore. Seminole, Tequesta, and debatably, Calusa Indians, lived, hunted, fished, made love, and raised their families on this sacred land dating back to 2,500 B.C.
The few homes on the east end of the street are fortuitously situated along Arch Creek, whose waters originate in the Everglades. Century-old Spanish moss draped Oaks create a regal, transcendent atmosphere, providing a microclimate that is notably cooler than the surrounding area. In addition to providing a cool respite for humans, creatures, and critters of all kinds, while walking the area, you can feel its Supernatural energy radiate through your feet as you look around to fully absorb everything the surroundings have to offer. Despite all the debate ranging from sabotage, to train track vibrations, to erosion, to aggressive tree roots— nobody really knew how the famous Arch Creek Natural Bridge collapsed in 1973, until now.
The red house on Arch Creek was fronted by a chain-link fence, with an ever-open gate, meant to contain the roaming Doberman Pinscher. The dog’s ears and tail were uncropped, resulting in a whimsical look, which was quite disarming to passersby thinking it was a friendly hound dog. That is, until he routinely charged with bared teeth, only to turn away at the last moment with a satisfied smile rivaling one of a circus clown. This was typically accompanied by a sneak attack from the Beagle, who due to her low stature, could stealthily rush up barking, only to turn away in unison with the Doberman, its black and white tail wagging in delight. Once past the gauntlet of dogs, there were four steps up to the front door littered with an endless supply of kittens, produced by the clowder of unneutered cats roaming the grounds. As one entered the house, the scuffed, but clean, red oak wood floors hinted to the age of the home built in 1921. At first glance, the home’s interior was welcoming, and well-decorated. Upon closer inspection, it presented with a beautiful Bohemian, unmade bed feeling, like an old movie star used to live there.
The living room had a tall, sloped, Dade County Pine beamed ceiling, which gave the impression of a room that was much larger than it actually was. What really drew one’s attention was the large picture window at the back of the house, in the huge open kitchen, presenting an almost mystical view of Arch Creek.
The left side of the kitchen ended at a window-paned, white-framed door, leading to the cluttered garage, containing a shiny red Thunderbird. On the other side of the kitchen, glass doors led to a large, screened in patio. Next to the refrigerator, there was a deep bench with seat cushions and a long dining table. Past the table, following a tiny section of wall, there was a walk-in pantry filled with shelves, nooks, and crannies, all bulging with pastas, canned goods, and mason jars. Their contents were a mix of ancient and new, full of beets, peaches, jams, chutneys, and flour.
There was a rolling, stainless-steel table that resembled the kind used for hotel room service with a shelf underneath. The tabletop was custom- built as a sort of rolling spice rack, overflowing with a multitude of exotic spices and seasonings from around the World, along with an assortment of garlic, shallots, and onions.
Above the white farmhouse double sink, the picture window provided an unobstructed view of the huge Oaks and the Creek in the backyard. Surrounding the window, hung a vast assortment of bright copper pots and pans, handles sticking out in every direction, small hooks securing them fiercely to grates.
At first glance, there appeared no order to them; however, upon closer examination, the cookware was hung in order from smallest to largest, with the larger pots toward the outer sections of the grates. Dozens of cookware lids bulged out of the umber Formica cabinet doors under the sink. The gas stove was a high-end stainless-steel model, with large burners, a grill, and a copper fume hood.
The kitchen appeared to belong to an expert, albeit sloppy chef, or at least someone who delighted in cooking— or at the very least, someone who had an appreciation for fine cookware. The kitchen was professional in every regard, with the exception of the cheap white ceiling fan, with food-stained blades, and four struggling candelabra light bulbs, providing poor evening, or rainy-day illumination for such a large space.
Thankfully, the picture window had an easterly exposure providing wonderful natural light on bright South Florida days. In the evening, the lighting set a tone resembling a small Bistro kitchen on some quiet side street in Venice or Paris.
Wekiwa Sawgrass was born on January 1st in the year 1901 at 12:01 AM. She was the first baby of the New Year and the 20th Century. Since she was born on the Reservation, there was no fanfare, unless you counted the slap on the butt every baby got to ‘test their lungs’ as they used to say.
There were no reporters taking pictures of the first baby of the year back then, but if there had been, you could count on them not coming to an Indian Reservation in the middle of the Everglades. Wekiwa grew up in a humble tourist camp just west of where the Miami River connected with the Everglades. Her Father died before her birth. Wekiwa’s Mother made crafts to sell to tourists, took care of their dirt floor home, cooked, and had a small garden that Wekiwa loved to play in as a child. That’s where it all started. The Garden.
Wekiwa’s Grandfather, Holata, was the medicine chief and had no sons. The Great Spirits visited Holata in his garden the day his child, Wekiwa’s Mother, was born and told him to name her Catori, meaning spirit. They also told him to teach her the healing magic of the plants, that she would have an excellent disposition, would be blessed to help others, and would bear a child bound to change the destiny of their people.
Catori was a delight in every way. She helped all of the Village Elders as if they were her own parents. She took care of the Village children as if they were all her own children, and in all ways, lived up to her end of the prophecy.
Catori gave birth to a flawless infant, with bright turquoise eyes, and a bottomless, bewitching smile. She named her Wekiwa, meaning spring. As Holata spoke a blessing over Wekiwa on the day of her birth, a great bolt of lightning hit the Cypress Tree just outside Catori’s house.
The Bald Cypress is given its name because it sheds its leaves in the fall. It has beautiful light green leaves the rest of the year and is also highly resistant to fire. So, while the lighting hit the top of the tree, it did not fully ignite, but rather left its bark scarred. Holata went outside and spoke a blessing over the marks in hopes of healing. As he walked around the trunk chanting, he saw what looked like a carving in the trunk. He stopped chanting and looked closer. At first, he thought he was imagining it. He went in the house and called for Catori. She walked outside while nonchalantly holding Wekiwa, like a football tucked in the arms of a running back. Catori followed her Father to the Cypress Tree, and with Wekiwa attached to her breast, slowly sat on the ground, staring in amazement.
“What does it mean, Father?”
“The Great Spirits have spoken. This is clear. What they are telling us is muddy, like the dark Creek in the etching.”
“Oh, Father, you are always joking. Did you carve us on the Cypress Tree?” Catori said, laughing.
“No, my child. I swear this to you.”
“Is it a great blessing you haven’t taught me yet, Father?” Catori asked. “No, my child. The Great Spirits did this. We must honor them by
learning to understand this.” “Yes, Father.”
They both continued to stare at the carefully crafted images on the tree. The six images were all framed with square borders that looked like picture frames. They seemed like the work of a great artist forced to do cave drawings. Catori viewed them over and over again.
The first image was of her Father holding her as an infant. She just knew it was her.
The second image was of Catori holding Wekiwa. The resemblance was astonishing. There was no artist in the Village capable of such detail, but here they stood, figures carved deep into the centuries-old tree.The third image was of a tall, stunning Seminole woman, with long black hair, an hourglass figure, and a beguiling smile. Even at a few hours old, Holata and Catori knew the carved woman was Wekiwa, as her eyes shined turquoise on the bark of the tree. Wekiwa was in a kitchen standing over a stove, holding a mortar and pestle, grinding a mixture of herbs and flowers. She had an odd look on her face that was neither happy, nor sad,
but rather conveyed great mystery, with just a hint of both good and evil. The fourth image was of Wekiwa transforming into a large creature with a gorgeous tail. The fifth image was of the creature in a clear blue Creek, its giant tail flapping wildly with a pained look on its deep-set turquoise eyes. The sixth and final image was a blank square frame. It's borders were clearly outlined, but the contents were bare.
“What are the Great Spirits trying to tell us, Father?”
“I do not know, my child. As the images show, even the Great Spirits don’t know the future.”
“Maybe they do, Father? Maybe they just aren’t telling us? Or maybe the future is still undecided?”
“You are very wise, Catori. You must pass on all of your wisdom and my teachings to Wekiwa. She must have all the tools and knowledge of her ancestors. Teach her the healing power of the trees, plants, and herbs. Teach her the magic of the Everglades. The Great Spirits told me on the day of your birth that your child would shape the future of our people. As strong as my beliefs are, my child, I always thought it would be a lot more subtle, like maybe my grandchild would be a Senator and represent our people in the Great Halls of Congress. Now, the jokes on me. Looks more like she may be the hero or villain in a comic book. Geez! Some days it’s tough being the spiritual leader of your tribe. I think I need a night in the sweat lodge. Maybe a nice massage. That Jumping Deer, she gives a good neck rub.”
“Oh, Father, you always did make me laugh.”
“That’s part of a Father’s job, my child. That baby hasn’t stopped eating since she was born. You must be exhausted. Give me that little one for a while, and go get some sleep.” Holata took Wekiwa and walked into the woods. He summoned the Great Spirits and chanted blessings over her. He went into the garden, made a medicine bag to guide her path and protect her from evil, and tucked it into her blanket. Wekiwa reached up and wrapped her tiny hand around Holata’s index finger as he spoke to her. “Hey there, little one. I know this is a lot to dump on you, but it looks like you have our fate in your tiny hands. I’ll pass on the wisdom of the Great Spirits that my Father shared with me. Basically, it goes like this— Life is pretty damn good. Try not to fuck it up too bad, and if you do, don’t blame it all on your ancestors. Capisce?” Wekiwa looked her Grandfather straight in the eye and burped. “Good! Now we are communicating,” Hatori said, chuckling.
While Hatori had welcomed and blessed every baby in the camp, he’d never seen eyes the color of this child’s. Sure, some babies had blue eyes, which almost always faded in time, but this child had eyes the color of shining bright turquoise stones. The corners of Wekiwa’s little mouth curved into a smile. Even at a few hours old, he saw it again, that smile. The same beguiling smile carved in the tree.
“You are definitely going to be trouble, little one. Fun, but trouble. I will pray to the Great Spirits to guide and protect you.”
Wekiwa smiled again and expelled a velvety baby giggle that liquefied Hatori’s heart.
“Oh, yes, you will be trouble indeed, little one. I guess it couldn’t hurt to pray a little for me, and your Mother, too. I think we’re going to need all the protection we can get.”
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