Sunday, November 11th - Mid-Morning
Jennifer looked up at the statuesque Asian with purple hair highlighted with blonde at the ends. This woman made Jennifer feel fat, short, dark and ugly. The cop in her tried its best to ignore the desire to punch the perfectly coiffed bombshell in her throat.
“I know you said not many men come in here but I wondered if any come in especially ones that are about your height — with those heels on — wanting a dye job using Clairol Honey Blonde.”
Jennifer perked up.
“Yeah, I think.”
“We use dat here but, not for long time. We use more da shimmery lites collection. Owa clients like the highlights more. You should go. Two visit in one week no good for business.”
Looking into her glamorous symmetrical oval eyes smoked to purple pearlized perfection this early on a Sunday morning made Jennifer madder still. Holding herself in check she asked another question.
“What about the other stylists and colorists? Do they have male clients?”
“Yeah, sure. You go talk to dem. Dey come tomorrow. You can wear street clothes like dis you wear today, right? No good for business for you to come like we in trouble. No good.”
Rolling her eyes, Jennifer snapped her notebook shut, gave the woman a tight smile and walked out without saying another word.
On the Long Island Railroad, Jennifer pressed her forehead against the window and stopped herself from sighing. Looking sightlessly over Bed-Stuy as the train made its way on the elevated line towards the Jamaica hub station, the first stop in Queens, gave her time to go over all that had happened, or what she thought had happened. Jennifer had to decide what she was going to tell Feinster and what to leave out. Everything was so jumbled in her mind. She almost didn’t know what was real and what wasn’t. The memory loss disturbed her but the unitemized receipt was even more disturbing.
“Damn it!” She banged her head against the window making the person in the seat in front of her jump.
“Hey! Tryin’ to sleep here. Could you keep it down?”
The man’s eye peered back at her. He was staring at her through the space between the window and the high-backed fake leather seat.
“Sorry!” She reined herself in and pulled her bag closer to her. “Shit! I forgot to make the deposit again!” she hissed to herself. The money was still tucked away in her bag.
The Fury poked out its head and looked around inside the host’s mind. It was calmer. Abatu relaxed. The case was foremost on Jennifer’s mind — a good thing. The weekend’s debauchery was still heavy in the host’s subconscious but the puzzling mysteries were enough to keep the host busy and not delve too deeply. Abatu added its own distraction and infused the image of Chad into the host’s mind and faded into the background once more.
Remembering Chad, Jennifer sighed and looked upwards. Why do Babs and Feinster insist on this guy? What does he have that I’m not seeing? But, I must have drunk the Kool-Aid ‘cause I agreed to go out with him!
With a strangled groan of helpless frustration, she decided to call him. Despite her misgivings, she trusted Feinster. If her friend felt Chad was good for her, then Jennifer would try to see what Feinster saw.
Jennifer wondered if Feinster knew about her childhood or figured it out. But Feinster was so good at interrogations and listening to what was said, and more importantly, for what was not said.
Jennifer let it all go. She would soon see Feinster and be able to gauge for herself what her friend did and did not know. Knowing she couldn’t put it off any longer she took out her cell and dialed his number.
“Hey Lady. Long time no hear.”
“You’ve got a short memory. It hasn’t been that long.”
“It’s been long enough,” he said with a smile in his voice. “How’s everything?”
She didn’t know how to answer him without lying. “It’s going...”
“How evasive is that? I’ll leave that alone and just ask one more thing before you let me go. Do you like fortune telling?”
“Well, since you’re an atheist. I wondered if you might get a kick out of a cool little deck of cards my sister gave me. She’s into that kind of thing and — well, I just wondered. Do you?”
“Uh…I dunno. I never had my fortune told and…uhm…”
“Okay then we so have to do this! Okay, where are they?”
She heard him pulling open drawers and moving heavy objects around.
“Uhh…Chad? This is not exactly the best time…”
“Oh! Here they are! Okay, I’ve got to shuffle them — ”
“Chad? Why would an atheist do fortune telling? Just because I don’t believe in God? I…uh…don’t quite follow.”
“Well, I — I thought that maybe you’d like a peek at the unknowable. You — unlike a lot of people, you don’t pray, or wish for things. You just — live, right? Wouldn’t it be — a change of pace to get information from another source for a change?” He paused and waited for her reply.
Blinking several times before responding Jennifer cleared her throat as she thought about the recent events in her life.
“Chad…what if I don’t like the information?”
“Come on! Don’t be silly. It’s just for fun. Ready to try it?”
“Over the phone?”
“Why not? This way, when I give them to you you’ll be a pro at how to use them!”
“What are you? A parrot? What? Afraid to try something outside of your normal routine?”
“You have no idea of how wrong you are right now.”
“Okay, so maybe you’ve gone out on a limb recently. Think of this as calming down and being conservatively out of the box. Okay, tell me when by say 1 — 2 — 3. Okay?”
“Pulling three cards. My sister says this is the express reading. The normal reading is like all of the cards. There are 36 of them. How the heck you get a reading from thirty-six cards beats me but my sister swears by this 3-card reading. So, ready? Give it to me.”
“I don’t know, Chad. Maybe this is not such a good idea. By the way, is this your normal — interaction with a girl you’ve just met?”
“It’s not every day I meet a self-proclaimed atheist. If you don’t believe in God, or Hell, or angels, or that there’s anything after we die. What’s the big deal about this reading? For you, this should simply entertainment. Right?”
Something deep inside of Jennifer twisted.
Fury Abatu was stock-still as a deep unseen force surged past it traveling up to the host’s brain. Abatu felt a tremor within its core and gulped.
Jennifer felt a curious tingle in her fingertips and toes as if she rubbed her feet on the carpet and then touched herself.
“Shuffle — 1. Okay, just a minute — 2. Now just go ahead and pull the third one.”
“Okay, got all three. Let me look in this little book. You had me pull numbers 16, 36 and 19 in that order. So, the first one, number 16, is the Stars card. Basically, this is a good fortune card. See? What were you worrying about? Uhm, it says ‘good fortune and favorable outlook in all endeavors’ and when this card is surrounded by bad cards that this suggests a sequence of harmful events and unfortunate coincidences…”
“Hmm…so what are the other cards? They’re good cards right?”
“Well the next one has a cross on it — that can’t be bad, can it? Let me see. That’s number 36.”
Jennifer heard the flipping of pages, a sharp intake of breath then silence.
“Chad? What’s it say?”
“Okay Chad. You’re scaring me. What does it say? Tell me.”
“You know I think my sister’s into drugs, or something. She told me this was fun.”
Very nervous now, Jennifer put some bass in her voice. “Spill it, cowboy. What does number 36 say?”
“’This card is always a bad omen regardless of its location. However, if this card is very close to the Key card then it indicates misfortune of short duration or of a temporary nature.’”
“Where’s the key card?”
“We didn’t use it because we’re doing an express reading.”
“I see. Would that mean that the…misfortune would be of a — longer duration and possibly more permanent in nature?”
“Ah…I don’t know.”
Neither one of them spoke for a few moments. Jennifer didn’t want to know but knew she had to find out.
“You have to finish and tell me what number 19 says.” Sighing, she heard more pages flipping.
“It’s the High Tower. It says, ‘This card suggests the Questioner will live to a ripe old age. However, if this card is surrounded by cards of bad omen, it suggests sickness may occur, or under certain circumstances, eventually complete disability or death.’ That’s it.”
They were both very quiet. The only sound was the rattling of the train on its tracks.
“That was not entertaining, Chad.”
“Jennifer — I’m so sorry! It’s just a pack of cards! They don’t mean anything. I’m throwing them out.”
She heard a light pelting against metal and a decisive thump.
“Okay, they’re in the trash which goes out tomorrow.”
“What’s the name of those cards?”
“Why do you care they’re — ”
“Name of those deck of cards, please.”
“Mademoiselle Lenormand of Paris.”
The train was pulling into the Jamaica junction stop. “Listen, Chad. I’ve got to go.”
“I guess the date is off on Friday night…”
Some of her tension eased away and she smiled.
“So, I’m a crazy atheist now? I’m supposed to kick you to the curb because I didn’t like the way the cards fell?”
He heard the smile and breathed a sigh of relief. “Maybe you are crazy. I know if it were me, I’d be running for the hills.”
Jennifer laughed fully for the first time all day. “A typical male response…if you don’t understand it — get rid of it.”
Chad chuckled, “Touché. You’re being kind but I know this whole thing is probably creeping you out. I’ll sign off now so you don’t have time to change your mind. And I promise — I will never ask you to do another reading of any kind ever again. Deal?”
Jennifer took a breath and let it out before answering. “S’fine, I’ve been asked to do a whole lot worse.”
“Really? Should I be concerned, frightened, or properly chastised?”
“I’ll let you figure it out over time.”
She clicked off before he could say anything else to make her insides shimmy even more.
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