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