The zodiac was ringed with a neon circle. The glass had silhouettes of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque painted below listings of services like tarot and palmistry.
By the door on the corner storefront on Western Avenue there was a gigantic painting of a hand, marked with all the creases and folds, bracelets and mounts the woman inside would use to tell who you are, where you’ve been, where you’re going and what will happen.
And beyond the stars, moons, neon eyes and other psychic emblems of this TARDIS-blue storefront, the mystic sat in a chair immediately behind the glass doorway, waving me in.
“All right,” I thought. “Let’s do this.”
The mystic was an old lady with striking blue eyes that seemed to be watering. Both she and the silent woman in a chair immediately behind her chair were tight-wrapped, scrawny white women wearing colorful muumuus over pants and equally colorful head scarves that I guess were to signify mystic-ness, but made me think of chemo.
“Let me give you something,” the mystic said as she leaned forward to hold the glass door open enough that I could slip in.
“OK,” I replied, slipping in. “But I don’t have any cash.”
The mystical aura dropped as the glass door slowly closed itself behind me.
“Can you get some cash?” she asked in a voice suddenly sharper and more city.
I explained that I had to get going, that I had to get home and then to a library because there were only two days left in the fine forgiveness program, that I would come back.
“They’ll all come back, they say,” she said, leaning back in her chair, batting my claim out of the air with a dismissive wave. “You can’t go and get some cash?”
We went back and forth on this, her alternating between reproaching and cajoling, from “You’re not coming back” to “You can’t go right over there (points across street) to get some cash?”
“It’s my birthday,” she lied, leaning in suddenly and patting my hand in a grandmotherly fashion. “Help me get something to eat.”
“I’ll be back in an hour,” I said.
“An hour, he says!”
I went home. I sat. I read a magazine. I flipped through a book. An upset stomach decided to manifest and I decided my promise to come back in an hour meant very little.
I didn’t return the library book, either.
We feed each other so many sweet lies in life. Your life’s purpose is written out in your hand creases. Mr. Fluffers went to live on a farm, Nana’s in heaven and that new bike came from a flying chubbo and not your hardworking parents.
I’ll be back in an hour.
I truly meant to come back, although I didn’t feel so bad recalling how angry she seemed. Who was she to get angry I wasn’t willing to hunt down an ATM so I could get lied at?
I might go back. I might complete this story and let her tell me my future destiny is in hand creases and card flips.
But I might not.
As I wondered if my stomachache might be the first sign of the “Thinner,” I realized it didn’t matter if I ever went back for the mystic’s sweet lies.
I am part of an entire planet soothing itself with falsehoods. I think I can skip out on a fib or two written in the stars.