A former student of mine who now lives in Hollywood has been involved in the production of the latest Wayan Brothers’ project, a movie called I’m Gonna Git You Sucka. I catch a matinee then step out of the Kūhiō Theater, blinking in the sunshine and looking at nothing in particular. Suddenly I notice a little old lady across street. She’s waving to me.
I wave hello. She beckons me to come across the street. I do. She gestures for me to follow her.
Her place is up a stairway, a cramped apartment. It smells like sweating onions and mildew.
A baby sleeps, a little girl rocking its cradle with her foot, reading. This can’t be her daughter, I’m guessing.
The old woman, a scarf wrapped around her head, her neck hung with a dozen or more necklaces made of beads, and shells, and golden charms, her fingers jammed with a variety of sparkling rings, sits opposite me across a small table, incanting already as she picks up a deck of cards. The words are mumbled, heavy-accented, a mix of English and some kind of middle-Eastern language She shuffles the cards, not Tarot, but a common deck.
The mumbled music stops abruptly. She flips down four cards. All four are hearts.
“Ah,” she says, “this is good, very good. You will have love, a good job and a good marriage, a nice home, healthy children, and you will die a happy man.”
There is a smudged and finger-print greasy glass ball on the table. I don’t think it’s crystal. Maybe I’m not special enough for that kind of reading. Then maybe I shouldn’t assume the use of cards is more common.
She’ss looking at me, expressionless. Or maybe a little worn.
“Can you really tell the future?” I ask, feeling a little bit like I’ve been scammed.
She pushes the hearts aside, then flips down four more cards. All hearts. Suddenly I know not to play poker with this woman. Or are all the cards hearts? A rigged deck. Should I ask if I can look at it?
“It is again the same,” she says. “Your fortune will be just as I say.”
My skepticism is picking up speed in the direction of reeling angrily out of control. “But isn’t that what you would say to anyone, no matter what four cards you lay down, because that’s the kind of future everyone would want to hear they have?”
She gives me a small smile, then reaches out her hand, palm up. Maybe she’s going to read the lines on my hands now?
“That is ten dollars,” she says.
I stand up upset and fish out a ten, hand it over.
“A little extra never hurts,” she says.
“Ah, no, no thanks. Not for that.”
I turn at the door, look at the little girl rocking the baby, imagine both are her grandchildren. The little girl is wearing glasses.
“What kind of fortune teller do you think you really are?” I ask, gently. I’m not so upset right now. More like exhausted.
“I am the kind you pay only a little money to so you will hear things that are mostly never news to you.”
Well, straightforward is good, I guess.
I know everyone has to make a living. I take out my wallet and hand her another five.
This brightens her up. As I turn and start down the stairs she says, “You will see.”
I have to shake my head. Even I know that.
* * * * *
Today’s word is “fortune.” Use it in any kind of writing, any length, and then post it and link to me, or leave it in the comments below.