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Hoochie Coochie Man
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-238-0
Genre: Fantasy/SF/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Length: 310 Pages
Published: March 2005

From inside the flap

Hoochie Coochie Man by K. A. Schuster is an atmospheric contemporary fantasy, densely packed with sensuous and sensual imagery.

Jackson Spey, wizard extraordinaire in jeans, Harley shirt, and waist-length ponytail, has a dream.

Over the past nine years, following a near-fatal motorcycle accident, Spey has become a serious and gifted student of the occult. He can traverse the astral planes. He can summon, and banish, archangels and demons and elemental spirits.

He can make magick.

More important to him than his talent, though, is his ultimate intent: to purge his life of all vestiges of his earthy past and achieve spiritual perfection.

But Jackson Spey has reached a plateau in his climb to "Master" status. To advance any further, he needs two things: a proper ceremonial-magick room and a major redemptive challenge. Spey believes that a materialistic,upper-middle-class couple, Lyle and Lola Peck, can provide him with both.

Reviews and Awards

Lola and Lyleís life is rocked when they coincidently meet a stranger walking along the beach, his name... Jackson Spey. Curiosity overcomes Lola who approaches Spey, unknowing that he is her future teacher and will open up her eyes to utter amazement and understanding. Lyle questions his motive in their lives.

Helping Lola and her husband Spey asks for one thing, a room. Being a high priest who obviously wants to practice magic, he wants to be a master and to feel the power of the cosmos at his fingertips. Lola is excited but soon becomes greedy and Spey realizes she could jeopardize his whole plan, along with her friendís selfish desires.

Old enemy Ivan arrives at the scene also trying to ruin Speyís chances of success by using the ancient art of witchcraft, and by turning Speyís new friends against him. Chaos and havoc arise with a stroke of bad luck, but can good and love really conquer all? Speyís powers grow but so does temptation.

Hoochie Coochie Man could send a chill through your soul, goose bumps upon your skin as magic is revealed and also rites. Spells and demons arise and passion and love takes its stance. K.A. Schuster goes into deep detail of Speyís true craft and the tools he uses.

-- Caroline Lake, - reviewer

Hoochie Coochie Man (Excerpt)

Part One
Chapter One

Before Lyle and Lola Czpejaczyk built their house in the Raintree Estates subdivision, they legally eliminated five consonants from their surname, decided on gentrified Scandinavian decor, and met a man named Jackson Spey who convinced them to add a highly unusual, subterranean room.

Their house plans had already been drawn that day at McKinley Beach, that lapis and alabaster and crystal day on the shores of Lake Michigan, where they first met Spey. Already there when they arrived, he sat placidly, expectantly, on the Lifestyle section of the Sunday Journal Sentinel.

Dropping to the sand some ten yards from him, the recently dubbed Pecks had just finished a stroll around the marina, where they?d been feeding yet another of the many mouths of their shared fantasy.

"Thatís gotta be living, hey?" Lyle said, waiting for his wife to drape their blanket perfectly over the pocked sand. He glanced at the lake, found it too bright, and looked down at his deck shoes, near which Lolaís hands were smoothing and flicking.

"Someday," she said. It was the basic tenet of the faith that kept their fantasy alive.

Lyle had fallen in love with the Mistress, a cabin cruiser out of Waukegan; Lola, with the sloop Bon Ami from Saugatuck.

"Whereís Saugatuck, anyway?" Lola asked.

"Saugatuck..." Lyle pondered, shrugged, sat. "Maybe up north somewhere."

"Sounds like it should be on Long Island."

"Oh?" Vaguely puzzled, Lyle squinted at his wife. "Why do you say that?"

Lola oiled her arms. "I don?t know. I guess because there are places out there with names like that."

"Long Island..." Lyle squinted at the lake, trying to envision a trail from there to the Atlantic. He quickly gave it up. "I doubt it."

Spey, who?d been watching them, turned away.

Lola pulled two bottles of mineral water, two self-seal bags of pita sandwich wedges, and two magazines from the cooler.

"Damned sun is frying my eyes," Lyle said, "even with the Vuarnets. Itís all this reflection."

"Here, put your hat on." Lola dug it from her canvas shoulder bag. "And put some oil on your legs. You know how easily the tops of them burn. At least," she said as a comforting afterthought, "your shoulders are covered."

Lyle girded himself against the weather. "Man, imagine spending two, three weeks just harbor-hopping along the lakeshore. A layover in Door County. Back again. Leisurely pace. We wouldn?t need a pool if we had a boat."

"Oh, yes, we would." Lola licked an alfalfa sprout from her knuckle. Before she resumed nibbling she frowned at the backs of her fingers, then brushed them clean of sand. "Having a boat wouldn?t mean we?d have a lake at our backdoor. A pool is more convenient."

"Yeah, true. But a boat would still be great." Lyle set his Forbes, unopened, on his thighs.

"Sure would." Lola brushed both hands clean of crumbs. She picked up Martha Stewart Living. "You should eat your sandwich before it goes bad. In this heat..."

"I will."

Still unnoticed, Spey began to watch them again, barely moving his head and eyes. The rest of his body remained as immobile as the deepest part of the lake bottom; was, in fact, an extension of the lake bottom, from the hard angularity of his crossed legs, bare feet tucked beneath jeaned thighs, to the small static hump of his right hand, resting upon a book. He was the perfect receptor.

The beach roiled with stimuli for Spey: the feel of the sand -- a minute, prismatic coarseness not as uniform as it seemed at first glance -- and of the sunís warmth, and of his pores? moisture. He heard the live sounds issuing from people and seagulls and vehicular traffic, the reproduced sounds issuing from radios and CD players. He absorbed the smells of cocoa butter, perspiration, fish, water, exhaust fumes, synthetic fabrics, and food, food, food -- the tastes rose spiritlike from the smells to hover over his tongue. And oh, the sights -- light dancing off colors blurred by movement, light clashing with light on the sharp low waves.

Spey would not wear sunglasses any more than he would fill his mouth, nose, ears, anus, and urethra with cotton.

He turned back to the lake again, tracing the hazed and invisible outline of the Michigan shore... where Saugatuck lay.

The Pecks talked about their still-two-dimensional house that would, between now and next spring, take shape and fill space in an affluent suburb. Only the details were left to be attended to. It would have a stone facade and covered porch and rear patio; a den with French doors leading to the patio; a spacious living room with fireplace and an expansive kitchen with breakfast nook; a second floor made charming by three dormers and a skylit loft. It would be made of over two thousand square feet of country elegance rendered hospitable by all the standard modern amenities: attached two-car garage, first-floor laundry, built-in appliances, master bedroom with full bath and bus-sized closet. Still, there were things missing. The Pecks vacillated between ignoring these shortcomings and scrambling to eliminate them. Today, they?d been more or less successfully ignoring them.

Until a pair of teenagers raced shrieking past their blanket, and a Frisbee cut the blue air above their faces, and another pair of teens stumbled just behind. Churned by eight feet, grit flew in loose arcs. Lyle flinched and cursed. Lola spat.

"God, for a boat," he said.

"A pool beside our patio," she said. "Or at least a deck outside our bedroom."

"All of the above." Lyle brushed possessively at himself and his magazine. "I?m too old to suffer these indignities."

Lola laughed and put a sympathetic hand on his forearm. Her gaze wandered idly past her husbandís face, and she noticed the man sitting crosslegged like a yogi and staring out over the water from underneath the meager shade of a canted Panama hat, the man with the goatee and sloping mustache and bronze-colored braid that dangled all the way to his waist. Curiously, her eyes moved down the length of his tanned arm to the book on which his hand lay, as inert as the book itself.

"I?ll be damned," she breathed.

"Hm?" Lyle was perusing the Forbes table of contents.

"That guy over there--"

"What guy?" Lyle muttered, turning to the Capital Markets column.

"On your left. Don?t be obvious." Lola clenched her husbandís wrist as he too-obviously turned his head.

"Who? The biker type?"

"Heís not a biker type."

"Heís got hair down to his ass. Heís got on a Harley shirt. I?d say he qualifies."

"But heís wearing a straw hat."

"We?re on a goddamned beach, Lola. Even bikers try to avoid sunstroke."

"Shhh." Her nails dug in.

"Stop that!"

"Then keep your voice down. I don?t want him to know we?re talking about him."

"Why are we talking about him?"

Lola whispered, "Look at the book heís got beside him. Look at the title. D?j? vu or what?"

Lyle tried subtly to peer at it. "Oh," he said finally, unimpressed. "So?"

"So... do you think heís, you know, like Ivan Kurtz?"

This amused Lyle. "Ivan. Christ, I haven?t thought about him in years. Yeah, I suppose itís possible. Thereís been a whole resurgence of interest in Ivanís kind of crap. Itís fashionable again. Especially," he added, "with losers." Lyle turned his attention back to his magazine with all the insouciance of a man who knows real from chimerical purpose. "Big deal. That guy is probably just another lowlife ignoramus whoís trying to affirm his worth."

With more subtlety than Lyle Peck could ever hope to muster, Jackson Spey smiled.

"They?re not all like that," Lola said. "Ivan Kurtz might?ve been a lot of things but he wasn?t stupid."

"Ivan Kurtz was an educated idiot with delusions of grandeur. He was a narcissistic showman, period." Casually, Lyle flipped a page.

"You didn?t think so at the time."

"Well, consider the time. I was an eighteen-year-old impressionable dipshit."

"You were twenty." Lola kept watching the other man, who hadn?t moved, who didn?t even seem to be breathing.

"Whatever." Lyle chuffed and shook his head. "The Age of Aquarius. Yeah, right. The age of terrorism, big government, and environmental crises."

He felt, distantly, like the recipient of a broken promise, and his compensation was disdain for it. He?d gone on to follow a more fruitful path -- a quest that involved only him, not the entire universe. Success resulted from controllable means, realizable ends: a tidy equation.

Lyle liked his life -- for the most part.

Lola rose up on her haunches. "I?m going to talk to him. I?ll bet he is one of them."

Lyle studied "Whatís Ahead for Business." Without lifting his eyes from the page he said, "Suit yourself. Just don?t get any ideas."

Jackson Speyís fingers moved like a breeze across the bookís cover. Beyond the Grimoire: Visionary Witchcraft in a Blinded World.

"Um, excuse me."

Spey politely turned his head to acknowledge the woman.

For a moment Lola stared, struck dumb. She blinked against a crosscurrent of cauterizing wind riding a thin filament of lake-cooled air. But she blinked, as well, against the sarcophagul gold gleam of the manís eyes as the sun struck them. She?d never seen eyes that color before -- not on a person. Maybe, Lola managed to tell herself, it was the nature of the light.

Spey inclined his head slightly, drawing down the shadow of the hatís brim. The color of his irises muted to dull amber. Freed, Lolaís glance drifted away from them, far enough to take in the whole of his face. He was very handsome, strikingly so, more so than his profile had indicated. It was a human quality she could more more easily understand.

"Yes?" he said, welcoming her.

"I, uh, noticed your book--"

Spey glanced at it, then back at Lola. He assumed a mildly alert expression, encouraging, but not expecting, her comments. He didn?t want to pressure her.

"--and it made me think of..." Lola chuckled, suddenly and frantically unsure of her intent. There was no common ground between her and this stranger, and certainly none between those silver-stamped covers. Lola had turned her back on magic over fifteen years ago.

"Don?t feel awkward," the man said soothingly, without being patronizing. His smile matched his tone. "The world would be a much more civilized place if people routinely made an effort to talk to each other." He held out his hand. "Pleased to meet you. My name is Jackson Spey, S-P-E-Y."

He pronounced it spy. Lola slipped her hand into his. He held it firmly but with tenderness, as if he were cradling a babyís head.

"Lola," she said, feeling demure with the first flush of attraction to him.

"And, yes, I?m a student of the occult" -- his smile broadened, good-naturedly admitting the mundane -- "as well as a journeyman carpenter."

Lola knelt down beside him. "So you?re not a ?journeyman? in this?" she asked, pointing at the book. "Mage, adept, high priest?" She again laughed self-consciously. Coming from her the words sounded limply parodic, as if she took none of the concepts seriously.

But Spey appeared not to be judging her. He seemed to be considering the essence rather than the sound of the question. "I prefer the term student," he said. "Itís more appropriately humble. One never fully masters these mysteries. I expect never to stop seeking, to stop learning." Spey turned outward again, toward Lola, although she hadn?t noticed him fold into himself. "You must have at least a nodding acquaintance with them yourself."

Lola thought he?d moved closer to her. Discomfited, she blushed and looked down. "Well, years ago in college... you know, everybody was exploring alternative lifestyles and stuff, getting into expanding their consciousness." She shrugged, trying to make it seem like an experience no more significant or insignificant than any other. "So my husband and I got into it, too." Lola ventured a look at Spey. He was listening with just the right degree of interest. More relaxed, she went on. "We were attracted to paganism -- you know, because of the attunement to nature, the tapping of inner resources, et cetera, et cetera -- but we wanted some structure to it. Like religion, I suppose. Rituals with sound philosophical underpinnings. But we also liked the thought of rituals that produced results. So we joined this coven."

Spey noddedwithout changing expression. "What ?results? did your coven produce? Did it produce any?"

"I?m not really sure," Lola said, laughing as she chased stray strands of hair from her face. "We supposedly got one guy through an exam he wasn?t prepared for, and generated a couple of romances, some healings, a few financial bailouts -- that sort of thing, pretty standard fare for witches."

Witches. Overcome by a feeling of pure foolishness, Lola paused. Spey returned her uncertain smile with a reassuring one and urged her to go on. So she did.

"Well, I was going to say that our results were mostly personal. I mean, it was fun, it was sensual: all the singing and dancing and chanting by candlelight; the oils, the incense, the flowers. It gave us a real sense of release as well as a real sense of community. But the feeling of power -- you know, having all kinds of cosmic energy at your fingertips, being able to influence the course of events -- that was the biggest kick. Whether or not we really had any power wasn?t the point. We thought we had it. We all got off on that. It was a better high than any drug could provide."

Spey absently stroked the lower curve of his mustache, watching as Lola made little fans in the sand with her forefinger; their movements were synchronized. Then, sensing intrusion, Spey glanced at her husband, who was owlishly watching them, and drove him back to studying his magazine. Lyle would come later. Right now his presence was unwelcome.

Spey lowered his hand from his face. "Why did you say you ísupposedly? effected changes, you ?thought? you had power?"

Lola stopped making fans. "I don?t know. I guess as we matured -- I mean Lyle and I -- we developed a new perspective on the situation. Experience in the world will do that. We became more objective. So it started to seem that there was more wishful thinking and coincidence than magic involved." Lola looked at Spey a bit anxiously and added, "No offense intended."

"None taken," he said, lifting his head briefly, obliquely, so the flash of his eyes was an unexpected but fleeting shock, like a bee sting. Lola easily overcame it, but it would remain with her. "Thatís why you eventually fell away?" he asked.

Lola looked over her shoulder at Lyle, concerned he might be growing impatient. But he contentedly read on, now and then running his mineral water bottle over his pinkening legs. She was strangely glad to have more time with Spey.

He was unusual, and life, after all, could get boring.

"There were a few different reasons," she said. "We left the coven in part because of the high priest, a guy named Ivan Kurtz. Do you happen to know him?"

Spey shook his head and immediately felt a self-recriminative twinge. Although he hadn?t precisely lied -- he forbade himself to utter unadulterated lies -- he hadn?t been fully truthful, either. He knew of Kurtz, and what he knew he?d never much liked, and so he refused actually to get to know the man.

"I hear heís still around," Lola said, "but God knows exactly where, doing what. Anyway" -- she?d been kneeling and now slid sideways onto her butt, settling it -- "Ivan was pretty insufferably egotistical. Lyle called him a pompous ass. Ivan was really heavily into all that arcane literature. He always bragged about how he?d made an ?exhaustive study? of ceremonial magic from the dawn of time through the Golden Dawn."

"Didn?t you feel you could learn from him?"

"Jackson," she said, titillating herself with the combined intimacy and authority of this address, "I didn?t want the knowledge. I just wanted to be a carefree, naked-and-garlanded witch. Occult scholarship held no appeal for me whatsoever. And definitely not with an overbearing blowhard like Ivan Kurtz for a tutor."

Spey, who?d felt the recoil of her initial thrill in using his name and had been stirred by it, was further excited by this defiant little speech, the first real sign of saucy boldness and self-possession he?d seen in Lola. He smiled and impulsively covered her hand with his.

"Thatís the spirit," he said warmly. "To thine own self be true."

The smooth rhythm of her breathing buckled infinitesimally, and Spey knew he had Lola Peck in the bag.