“Why do I let you drag me to these things?” Liz grumbled, pushing through the throngs of people crowded into the convention center. “They’re all the same.”

“There’s always a tarot reader.” She pointed to a wrinkled woman in a turban doing a reading for an eager blonde. “She’ll predict a birth or a death. The two things in life that are guaranteed. Freaking brilliant.”

She eyed the stones lying on the counter of the next booth. “Runes?” she snorted. “Try rocks with scribbles. Only people with rocks for brains would take advice from them.”

“Or,” she continued, moving down the aisle, “we could get past life readings done. I may be just an average loser now, but I guarantee you in my past life I was Cleopatra or Elvis. Of course, that’s only if the King is actually dead. These guys have proof of his reincarnation.” She paused beside two women sporting sideburns and wooden beads. “A banana farmer in Costa Rica? Please.”

She planted her feet and threw up her hands. “Donna, these people are all freaks. What the hell are we doing here?”

Donna blew a stray lock of hair out of her eyes and stared at her younger sister with a serene expression. “I want you to meet my shaman. She’s taught me the power of forgiveness.”

Liz looked away. “You go on without me. Forgiveness is overrated.”


Jonas lounged outside his tent, underneath the large sign proclaiming him “The Great Fortunato, Psychic Medium and Clairvoyant to the Stars.” The stars included a local radio personality and a weather girl he’d slept with.

He eyed the crowd, trying to pick his next mark. He considered and quickly discarded a group of teenagers across the aisle. The girls would have idiotic questions about their prom dates, and the guys would give him crap so they could look cool in front of their friends. Plus, they wouldn’t tip. Ditto the woman in the business suit with the crossed arms and hard stare. He knew a skeptic when he saw one. She’d have a bunch of questions designed to trip him up, and while he usually relished a challenge, today he was nursing a hangover. All he wanted was a nice, gullible sap willing to drop a wad of cash in exchange for a few meaningless promises about the future.

He spied a woman at the Elvis booth studying the crowd with a look of utter confusion. He’d seen her type before. She was here at the psychic fair searching for answers. Or meaning, or something. It didn’t matter. Once inside, she’d become overwhelmed by the choices. He’d make it easy for her.

“Liz,” he called, reading her nametag.

Her head snapped in his direction.

He hit her with the full power of his all-knowing oracle expression, staring deep into her eyes the way he practiced in the mirror every morning.

“Liz,” he intoned, “I have a message for you.”

Her eyes clouded. “Daddy?”

He almost laughed. This was too easy. He could do Daddy in his sleep. He furrowed his brow and cocked his head, as if listening to a far-off voice. “He wants you to know that he’s sorry.”

Liz swallowed hard. “He is?” she gasped.

Bingo. Always a winner. If nothing else, he was sorry for dying.

“Let’s talk to Daddy,” Jonas invited, sweeping aside the dark curtains and motioning her inside.


Donna scanned the crowd for a glimpse of Liz. She was beginning to regret her impulsive decision to bring her to the fair. Her own soul retrieval ceremony had been incredibly healing, releasing toxins built up in her body over the years of her abusive childhood. She’d wanted Liz to feel that same level of peace. But her independent, cynical, tough-as-nails little sister chose to cling to their poisoned past, rather than let someone get close enough to help her.

She paused outside the tent of The Great Fortunato. She’d seen the man outside only moments before. For some reason, the sight of his drawn curtains triggered a nauseating sense of foreboding.

She pushed her way inside to find Liz standing over the charlatan’s body, a bloody crystal ball clutched in her hands.

“It’s Daddy,” her sister whispered when she caught sight of Donna. “The bastard just won’t stay dead.”

“Why do I keep dragging you along to these things?” Donna muttered as she knelt to help clean up the mess.


# # #

Psychic Karma by Shannon Schuren
originally published March 17, 2010



Shannon Schuren has been published in Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, The Chick-Lit Review, and Big Pulp, among other venues.

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visit her Big Pulp author page


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