How it all started…Orion

Hi! It’s Orion.

Have you ever wondered how this all started?

I fed him french fries and coleslaw. Then I let him take off with my top hat to try on.

Okay, a little background first.

I was Orion the Merchant for over 25 years, known from Canada to Oregon and over into Idaho. I was a fixture on the science fiction convention and SCA circuits. The Society for Creative Anachronism is a medievalist group that recreates the Middle Ages but with toilets — and without the Black Death.

My friend Margie Goforth and I wrote a fan fiction novel called Thieves in Time, based in the universe of Blake’s Seven, a British SF series from the seventies. The novel is still available on under Orion Lyonesse, though my pen name at the time was MacBeth Smith. One of the characters we created was named Gayan, a tall, blond, self-assured, dangerous, gay man.

Margie and I were having lunch with several fellow merchants, all avid readers of our Blake’s Seven short stories and the subsequent novel, at the biggest SF convention in the Pacific Northwest, Norwescon, when Kyros walked through. More on the writing of the novel some other day.

My co-author and I saw him, looked at each other, then back at him, before calling, “Gayan! Come here!”

He stopped, pointed to himself, and said, “No, Kyros.”

We shook our heads. “No, Gayan!”

We invited him over and fed the hungry and broke Kyros our french fries and coleslaw. We babbled at him, telling him he’d walked out of our novel. We hadn’t told him the whole story, though, until he asked us point blank what it was we were NOT telling him.

We confessed that the character dated ‘this girl’ before marrying ‘that guy’. He laughed. “Ummm…. In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been checking out the waiter.”

Then he asked to try on my top hat. I was well known for that top hat, a creation of black felt with a collection of feathers and scarves and pins.

I blithely handed it to him and watched as he happily put it on and raced off out of sight to check himself out in the elevator mirrors. When I turned back to my fellow merchants, everyone’s jaws were on the table.

“What?” I asked.

Margie answered for them all. “Um, you’ve never let anyone else try on your hat, let alone make off with it.”

I waved a dismissive hand at them. “He’ll be back.”

And he was. It was weeks (Kyros would argue it took months) before we stopped calling him Gayan. He became attached to our retinue, toting and carrying and selling. He even wrote a few pieces for the follow-up novel to Thieves, but life got in the way and it was never finished. Eventually, he became a merchant himself, as well as a tarot card reader.

When I needed a place to stay, I moved in with him — twice! We even opened a metaphysical store together called Orion at Twilight.

It was years later that we started writing together, an online process that other authors look upon with awe.

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