(A.K.A. Sarah saves the people of West Indianapolis ten bucks a piece)
I’m a smart lady, but my fervent love of comic books forces me to believe magical powers may just exist. I’m at least a little woo-woo. When I drove past a sign for psychic readings, I felt inclined to take it as directive.
…And if there was a sale on palm readings, all the better, because crazy or not I do have ten bucks.
I’d tried to make an appointment at the listed number, but it was out of service. That should have been sign #2 (to usurp sign #1 of finding the place). Insufficiently deterred, however, I drove past the shanty on my frequent trips to the library and it called to me. For a short window, the place was OPEN – in big letters! – so I stopped.
Two dogs answered the door with a small child behind them. All three escaped as I entered. A Hispanic lady yelled to the girl to grab the dogs and take them to the back. My eyes were drawn to a black curtained area and a [literal] sign above it stating that the cost of ammunition had gone up so a warning shot would not be fired. The air pounded the walls of my chest.
The lady motioned to “Sit here, please” to a chair I’d already pulled out. This confused me. A cheap black table with a Dollar Tree candle met me at chest level. A deck of everyday playing cards sat dumbly.
“What can I do for you today?” she crackled. I told her I’d brought $10 cash for the advertised palm reading special.
“One hand is only half the reading, you know.” Sign #3. “A full reading is normally $40, but today $30. A tarot reading tells you everything. It is normally $60 today $40.” All missing verbs also on sale.
“I only have this in cash,” I insisted. I asked if I could record the session because my memory is poor and she huffed, “No recordings.” Did she think I was going to sue her if she promised me a pony? Because if she thought that, she is psychic.
I asked her which hand to display. She said it did not matter “because it’s only half” and testily glanced at my right palm. Even I know that a dominant hand should mean something, and that right and left are not the same.
“I want you to make two wishes,” she began, “keep one to yourself and tell me the other.” I bristled, hoping she didn’t notice. I had to tell her my wish? That doesn’t even work for birthday candles!
I remained game and safely responded I wanted to be a good Mom.
“I see you are a good person,” she murmured, still ignoring my hand. “You want to be a good mother.” Yes, I just mentioned that.
“You will be,” she continued. “You smile and are happy outside but sad inside.” True, but not remarkable.
I should mention that at no point did she review the lines on my hand or what they mean, which I thought (incorrectly, I guess) was the point of a palm reading.
“Are you still with the father?” Am I, Madame Questionpants?
“No,” I winced.
“How long ago did you break up?”
“Over a year ago.”
“I see that it was very happy at the beginning but it got much worse.”
“Not really, it was always kind of the same.”
“I see that. I see that it was always that way.”
Wow, you see a lot of contradictory things.
“I see you had a lot of lovers.”
“No,” I winced again, nearly laughing, “Only two.”
“Yes, that is what I see.”
She pointed at my hand. My hand is quite conflicted, turns out.
“Did someone close to you die recently?”
“Not that recently.”
“It doesn’t have to be recently.” She dropped this line fast and never mentioned why she asked.
“I see there is a man in your life that you will be very happy with and he is coming for you. Do you know this man?”
“There is another head. He is married or has a child.”
“OK,” I started to tune out.
“I will burn candles for the two of you all the way from Jerusalem.”
I thought for a moment had the intention of blessing me, which I found strangely sweet. Then she added, “It will make sure you are together. It will cost $20 for me to burn these candles.”
At this point Indiana Mean came out, which is a hair shy of impolite. “I only brought cash for this reading. It’s OK. I would have to go home.”
“How far away is your home?” I’m almost certain I slanted my brow at that. I know my body language shifted. She soldiered on.
“How old is your daughter?”
“You will be a good mother, but you can’t let her do anything she wants.”
I giggled a bit. Shows what you know, lady, I do exactly that every day.
“You will be happy and find love and be a good mother,” she reiterates and hands me a flyer, “And if you want a full reading, you call this number.”
I tell her I’d tried to call it and that it was out of service. “Yes, it has problems,” she nodded. Bill paying problems, a friend would later divine.
I shuffled out the door avoiding any sort of eye contact. Once in my car I noticed the word “PSYCHIC” was misspelled on her flyer. Let that be a clear sign to anyone else, I suppose.
People will pay to hear what they want to hear. I just heard noise. All told I still believe in psychics, but I also believe in hucksters. Better to spend your ten bucks on some fancy peanut butter or an overpriced app for your kids.