Painting Stories: Fortune Teller

 

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They said that she was never wrong.

Detective Constable Reeves tried not to roll his eyes whenever the topic of psychics came up, but it was an uphill battle. How many times had people gone to a fortune teller, or a wise woman, or a guru, only to find a scam artist with a really good accent? Far more times, he suspected, than those when he’d been called upon to fix the mess.

Shirley was the smart one, coming to see him so early. She lost a lot more than money on charlatains, but at least her testimony helped others.

“There’s a new one in town,” she told him without preamble, just as  he was coming in through the precinct door.

“And a good morning to you, too, Mrs. Davies,” DC Reeves said.

“Not so good, if a fortune teller goes out of her way to predict this.” And she turned her chair to the side, so that he could admire a new cast. “Not ten feet away from her trailer. There must be some sort of liability law for this, isn’t there?”

“In dry weather? Probably not.”

Shirley’s eyes narrowed. “All the more reason why you should check her out, Marcus. She’s a bad one, I know she is.”

DC Reeves shrugged. “Many predict injury. It’s not exactly a threat.”

“I’m not talking vague mumbo jumbo about bad health, man. She described it in full – right down to the patch on the road where I’d fall, and the type of injury.” She leaned in. “Marcus, she didn’t stop there.”

“Did she break other parts of you, too?” he asked.

“She predicted that I would lose a lot of money soon. And that my husband would die. I’m not an airhead, and I know these roads. If she made it so that I twist my ankle in the middle of the morning, what will stop her from ransacking my account? Or putting a bullet into poor Gary?”

DC Reeves held his hands up.

The trailer park wasn’t that far, anyway.

*

They said she was never wrong.

Marcus had seen his fair share of psychic hangouts – from living rooms fumigated by incense sticks, to lavish tents at the local country fair. This one was among the less conspicuous – a small trailer parked between other small trailers, mud-splattered and weather-worn. The only guides for potential customers were a sign at the entrance of the park, announcing the arrival of Cassandra Mykos; and another one at the front window of the trailer, with the words: “Half-price on Fridays.”

Already, he could see why Shirley felt the appeal. But why would – he checked his phone – 109 other people go online to write about this person? If he filtered out potential sock puppets, that left about 84, but still…

I didn’t believe her, and then the next morning, the HMRC froze my bank account.”

My friend dared me to get checked out and the doctor found a tumor the size of a golf ball.”

My cat found a hidden treasure. Three years later, I still can’t touch it due to court disputes Cassandra described…”

Come to think of it, it wasn’t surprising there was testimony of some sorts: most of the people he investigated had had someone or another talk about their cautionary tale online. What he was surprised about was how only some blamed Cassandra directly. Most of her customers had not believed her… and then come to regret it.

Marcus was just wondering what kind of psychopath had come into his village, when someone spoke behind him. “Are you going to come in or not?”

He turned, and then looked down.

And down.

And down.

Shirley had warned him she was small. But this…

“That depends. Do you think I’m here to see your mother?” he asked.

“I doubt that’s possible, unless you are a friend of Hermes.” She blinked – or at least it looked like she did, her hair was so long it covered her eyes – and stuck her hands into her pockets. “If you’re here because of that lady, I warned her there were exposed tree roots. She cycled over them anyway.”

“She sees things differently,” Marcus said.

“They always do. If you want to arrest me, let me at least lock up. It  took ages to find a rug for that trailer. Or–” she cocked her head “–are you here to have your fortune read?”

“Does that surprise you?”

“Just that you’d wear your uniform for that sort of thing. But… whatever works for you.” And without waiting, she turned and went inside, learning the door open.

Marcus went in, slowly. Sometimes they greeted him with puffs of pot smoke. Others went for the direct, rugby bat to the head approach. This Cassandra was already at her table, shuffling a deck of cards. As soon as he sat down, she started laying out a row.

“What? Not letting me cut the deck first?”

“You’re not here to play solitaire,” she replied, laying another. “If you want tarot, there’s a lovely man coming to you next month, he specialises in that.”

Oh, this is a sitting duck, Marcus thought. He could probably hold her until they determined her age, if she didn’t give him any better ammunition.

“You won’t have time for him, though,” she added.

“How so?”

“You’ll be travelling the country with me.”

That, Marcus thought, was the funniest thing he’d heard all day.

*

 

 

Fortune Teller” is now available on Red Bubble.

Psst: It’s Black Friday weekend. RedBubble are sure to run a lot of fun promo. Maybe if you liked one of my designs, now is a good time to get it?

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