It was in that brief lull between Christmas and New Year’s that I decided to see the psychic. I’d been by the business, a small former home perched on a hill between a small car dealer and a strip mall, every day on my way to and from work. In the evenings the red neon hand with a blue neon eye in its palm would be lit, and I’d think, I should try that just for fun. I called and made an appointment. I wasn’t sure what to expect; incense and scarf-covered lamps and candles, crystal balls and skulls, chimes made of strange gewgaws all seemed too cliché to be real. When I stepped in I found that, if not for the Zodiac poster and framed papyri of Egyptian gods, it could have been a small tax accountants office. I wondered if she also did a booming business from early January through early April.
When Hilary, the owner and resident psychic, introduced herself, I wasn’t surprised to have my semi-serious image of a dark-eyed woman in a bandana with hanging gold bangles draped in a long, flowing dress completely dashed. She wore a long sweater, black jeans, and her eyes twinkled behind wire-framed glasses.
“Most people just go for the basic reading,” she explained. That was the $10 one I’d seen advertised outside. ”It’s a numerological reading based on your name and birth date, to give you an idea of where you are and where youre going. It’ll say a little about what’s to come, but it’s pretty general.” I bet it is, I thought skeptically. There’s a reason youre doing this and not winning the lottery every week. But then I chided myself. Keep an open mind. This was supposed to be fun, and I had neither the skills nor the desire to do an exposé. I wasn’t even entirely convinced she was a fraud. As I looked over the list of services she offered–card readings, past life regression, romantic advice, reiki healing, business and home cleansing and protection I thought most of her customers just wanted a sympathetic ear and to be told they were all right. She probably wasn’t that different from degreed therapists, and at least as helpful.
“This time of year I offer a big special, an overview of the year to come. It’s a cast of the cards that goes month-by-month, highlighting big events to come in your life.”
I decided to spring for that. There’s no time like the present to think about the future. And if I could sell an article about it I could write it off as a business expense. Hilary took my name, birth date, and credit card. Then she took a purple velvet pouch and produced a deck of oversized cards. “Hold these with both hands, close your eyes, let your fears and desires infuse the cards. Think about the future.”
I wasn’t sure how long I was supposed to hold them, and had a little trouble focusing on the future since she was also charging by the hour. I let about thirty seconds of the future tick into the present then the past then handed the cards over. She began dealing them across the table in pairs, twenty-four cards in all. Once that was done she began turning them over. She let out a low whistle.
“What is it?”
Hilary gave me a very serious look. “You have Major Arcana in every month. You’re going to have an interesting year.”
I remembered hearing that there was a Chinese curse: May you live in interesting times. Then I remembered that a Chinese friend of mine told me he’d never heard any such thing. I braced myself to find out how interesting the year to come was going to be.