I mean, seriously, sending Death to someone in a fortune teller’s place is not good. However, when I think about it, the irony of the whole thing is hilarious. In fact, the idea was so funny to me, I doubled over laughing right in front of the place. Slightly embarrassing, actually. I had a job I had to do though, so after I regained my composure, I strutted inside.
This place was as weird as I thought it would be.
I deliberately tried to ignore the creepy shrunken heads or the horrifying smell of body odor. The whole shop reeked of the ages (and the people). My skin grew cold and my head started to spin. Then I realized I was holding my breath. Not a good idea, I can tell you. People tend to freak out if someone isn’t breathing.
I browsed through the stacks and shelves of oddities, being careful to stay away from the row of shelves devoted to death and all of its workings. My eyes locked on to the red haze. In my discombobulated mind, it appeared as though it was floating towards me.
I frowned incredulously. There was no way that someone can float. Then I heard a distinctive cackling of someone who has seen way too much of a pipe.
Some crazy old broad was zipping around on one of those ladder thingies. You know the ones in libraries and slide in front of the shelves? I couldn’t help but think if she didn’t slow down, she was going to go flying out into the street.
Glancing down at my Post-it note, my eyebrows shot up. Damn, I must be good. I rarely guess how someone was supposed to die, and here I was, hitting it exactly on the nose.
“Would you like your fortune told, young man?” a husky voice asked.
I glanced up at the old woman. “Oh, no th–“
“Of course you do.”
I forced a tolerant smile and approached her at the counter. Despite her act of senility, I could see in her eyes that she was well aware of everything that was going on. Their hazel depths sparkled with an ethereal knowingness. She smiled benignly at me before glancing down at my palm.
“You are going to meet someone soon who will bring about the end of the life you know. However, she will also bring you a life you would never know.”
Wow. I am completely amazed. Too bad some freak in 145 B.C. said the same thing to me before he was killed in an alleyway brawl. I really don’t put much stock into what fortunetellers have to say.
I smiled with genuine warmth, mostly because I knew I could run for it soon, but also because she was giving me a wide toothless grin. I put my hand on hers, watching the red haze diffuse from her body.
“Thanks,” I whispered, turning away.
“You are welcome, Reaper.”
I heard the ladder start moving before I could turn around. As I walked out the door, I resisted the urge to look back. I knew what was going to happen. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to look this time. It’s been many years since I haven’t watched someone else’s fate play out.
The bells jingled above my head as I stepped out into the morning sun.
“I’m on the highway to Hell!”
The off-key tremor of a drunk on karaoke night broke through my nostalgia. I paused at the open door of some downtrodden bar in the middle of nowhere. Up on the stage, a dweeby little guy was belting out one of ACDC’s greatest hits, and doing a terrible job of it. Despite the butchering of one of my favorite songs, I couldn’t help smiling. The poor guy’s voice cracked in parts, which sent a ripple of boos throughout the audience, but he kept on singing, much to the dismay of my eardrums.
“Aren’t you going in?” a light voice inquired from behind me.
I turned and saw a young woman. “Uh … no, just listening.”
She nodded as if she completely understood and stayed by my side listening with me. I studied her, overcome with curiosity. She looked like some other worldly artist. A gray beret covered the back of her head full of short, raven hair. Glasses sharpened the profile of her face, and her violet eyes popped against her milky skin. I wondered why someone like her was in this part of town. It wasn’t exactly the artsy area.
She turned toward me and flashed a smile that made her eyes dance. “This is what I do most of the time, too,” she whispered confidingly.
She giggled lightly. “Stand outside and listen on karaoke night. It’s what I do,” she explained with exaggerated slowness.
I’m not stupid, lady. I just wasn’t following the nonexistent conversation that took place in your head. I frowned, slightly confused as to why the idea of her thinking I was an idiot irritated me. We stood quietly for a minute or two more.
Out of the blue, the woman cheerily said her goodbye. “Well, I gotta run! See ya around, mister!”
She waved as she walked down the street towards the hospital. Shaking my head, I turned the opposite direction. Something rattled inside my jacket pocket. I closed my hand around some type of bottle, and when I pulled it out I found a prescription pill bottle. OK, I know this wasn’t something I picked up. I thought quickly, before realizing the woman had slipped it into my pocket.
“Hey, lady!” I shouted, turning around. But she had disappeared.