Emily took the crystal ball in her hand and giggled. Tom placed his hand on top of it. Emily pushed his hand away, shaking her head. Tom frowned, put his hands in his pocket. He didn't like those sort of shops. Shops that sold paranormal paraphernalia. If you looked under the objects those places sold you, you'd most certainly see a sticker stating it was made by Parker Brothers.
Emily turned to the shopkeeper and giggled. “I like this one,” She said, twirled her dark curls between her fingers. “Tom? I like this one.”
“How much?” Tom asked the Shopkeeper.
The tall, bald man smiled a horrific smile, very few teeth and all red gums. “Thirty-five dollars, sir.”
Tom made a face. “For a crystal ball made of plastic?”
“Oh, no sir,” The Shopkeeper was offended. “That's real glass.”
Tom looked at Emily. She giggled, looked away. “Okay,” He pulled his money clip from his pocket, counted out the amount.
“Plus tax---thirty-six twenty.” The Shopkeeper smiled again. Tom threw down two more dollars.
Tom forced a smile. “That's what I get for being with someone fifteen years my junior.”
They were walking down an alley past the mall when Emily saw the sign for Palms Read. The sign was hanging on a tree in the front yard of an old run down house way too small for it's yard. Surrounding the house was an abandoned warehouse where vendors used to pickup their supply of potato chips and bread.
“Oh look!” Emily beamed. She pointed to the sign. Tom stopped in his tracks, his face fell. “Lets go!” She danced around him, tugging at his coat.
“No,” he said. “I don't want to go to a charlatan----why?”
“Oh, don't be such an old man!” Emily exclaimed. “This is going to be fun---”
“I'm not an old man,” Tom said in a huff.
Emily kissed him. “I know your not. Please....let's go inside....”
“They always seem...creepy.”
“I'll make it up to you later.....I promise.” She kissed him again.
“Fine. Just for a few minutes.”
Emily squealed, grabbed Tom by the hand and ran to the house that boldly advertised palms read.
The house had not been painted in years. It was weather beaten and the what little white paint that hadn't chipped away, had turned a sickly yellow. They stood on the steps, Emily rapidly banging on the screen door. A short elderly woman with a red haired wig answered the door. She was stooped over, barely moving at snail speed.
“Um, we would like our palms read---” Emily said.
“You would like your palm read.” Tom corrected her.
“Yes—I would,” She turned and stuck her tongue out at him.
“Come inside,” The old woman barely managed, motioned for them to follow.
They entered the house, which was nicely taken care of. Lots of small trinkets everywhere representing all kinds of pop culture throughout the years. Emily particularly liked the snoopy display. The old woman took them to a room in the back of the house that separated the kitchen from it by hanging beads in the doorway. A woman, middle aged, perhaps, was already sitting at a table, fiddling with a deck of cards.
“You have customers,” the old woman croaked.
The woman at the table looked up. Her eyes were pale blue and had no pupils. Tom and Emily were taken aback. They exchanged glances.
“Come,” The old woman urged them to sit at the table. “Valeria will take care of you.”
They sat at the table, unsure of what was to happen next. Tom grabbed Emily's hand, held it tightly. She was surprised by this action. She smiled. He's afraid, she thought. Tom loosened his tie, he felt beads of sweat drip from his forehead and dribble down his cheeks. He wiped them away with a hand.
Valeria placed two tarots face down on the table. The cards were a strange color of red against the white tablecloth. The woman was obviously blind. She felt for her glass that looked like it was filled with water, but the smell was an alcoholic drink.
“Choose one, “ She said.
“Which one?” Emily asked after a moment of silence.
At this point the old woman came and sat next to Valeria. Valeria made a distressing face. “Whichever one you think best.”
“If your blind, how can you see the cards?” Tom let go of Emily's hand, much more confident now.
“My sister will read them to me,” Valeria said. “The cards never lie.”
Tom smiled at Valeria. Then at the old woman. His face turned red. Tom slumped slightly in the chair. Emily turned over a card. The old woman leaned in and whispered in her sister's ear.
“Let me see the palm of your right hand.” Valeria demanded.
Tom rolled his eyes, and didn't say what he wanted. He knew there was an answer waiting for him. He watched Valeria run her wrinkled finger up and down the palm of Emily's hand. Valeria's lips trembled, opened and closed as if she were speaking to herself.
“ The card was Star in reverse....
“It's meaning: Deception--- A line in your palm runs long like a river across the palm---”
“Now see here---” Tom raised his voice.
Emily patted Tom on the shoulder with her other hand. “It's alright. I'm not offended.”
Tom looked away, grumbling to himself.
“Pick a card from the deck,” Valeria instructed, looking as if she were in a trance.
Emily did so with her left hand, the right one still held by Valeria. Her sister whispered to her. Valeria ran her index finger across Emily's palm.
“Mm... The card is the Moon upright:
“ I see...satisfaction. Success. Love. Happy marriage.”
This pleased Tom and Emily. They both smiled big at each other. Somewhat truthful. She was Tom's third marriage, and most successful. He married her when she was sixteen, and now she was twenty-three to his fifty-five. The other two marriages only lasted two years each.
“Pick another card from the deck.” Valeria said.
Emily was now all but too pleased to do so. She took the card with a giggle, scrunched up her nose. Valeria's sister whispered again. At first, Valeria was at a loss for words. Her hesitation was too long, but then rushed the latter part of the reading. She barely ran her finger across the palm, but sideways.
“The card is......Judgment. In reverse.
Valeria released Emily's hand. She whispered to her sister. The old woman looked at Valeria, confused. The old woman shrugged, whispered back. Valeria nodded.
“Now you turn over the card,” She said to Tom.
Tom laughed. “No, madam, I am not here for a reading. It's only to amuse my my wife--”
“Just do it, Tom!” Emily scolded. He looked at her face and could see that she mean it. He smiled at his wife and turned the card over.
The old woman whispered in Valeria's ear. “Give me your right hand.”
Valeria took Tom's hand gingerly. She ran her hand across his palm. It ran a long ways to the finger next his thumb. She seemed impressed by the look on her face. Tom and Emily exchanged solemn looks.
“The card is Hierophant upright:
Emily touched Tom's arm. He smiled at her, embarrassed. “I already knew that about him.”
The sisters were keen on moving on and showed it by tapping the table with their fingers in unison. Tom raised an eyebrow, cleared his voice.
“Pick a card from the deck,” Valeria said coldly.
Tom slowly drew the card, laid it with the others. The old woman whispered in Valeria's ear. Valeria ran her index up the palm of Tom's hand, only not as high as the first time.
“The card is the Fool in reverse:
“A bad decision.”
Tom laughed. “I've made several in my life.” He shook his head and laughed. Emily chimed in with her high pitched giggle.
The old girls gave a look of dissatisfaction and the merriment stopped on a dime. Tom drew his last card. Valeria received the information from her sister. She moved her finger left, lateral, then up, left, lateral again.
“The card is Hanged man upright:
“Loss...unexpected change...illness or death....I'm sorry....no, it is that. No, it's only loss. I am sorry I said those others.” Valeria rose from the table and left suddenly.
“What was that about?” Emily whispered to Tom.
“It's all rubbish anyway.” He answered.
The old woman forced a smile, kept looking for her sister. “That will be seventy-five dollars please.”
Tom's face fell. “Your kidding me? For that?!” A vein was now poking through his forehead.
“Just pay them. We can afford it.”
Reluctantly, Tom placed the bills in the old woman's hands.
“Thank you. I will show you to the door.” Her slow pace finally took Tom and Emily to the front door. By now darkness had settled on the streets, and bitter cold blew in. The old woman shut the and turned to find Valeria waiting for her in the hallway.
“I'm sorry I ran out in the last minute,” Valeria said, rubbing her eyes. “Those contacts were killing me.”
“Is that why you said you didn't feel like yourself?” Her sister croaked.
Valeria thought a moment. “No,” She said. “I felt like someone else was giving a reading.”
Tom and Emily strolled mindlessly back to the mall. They were out in a remote area of the parking lot, looking for their car. She'd taken her hands away from his and was writing in the sides of a book bound in leather. Tom stopped, Emily bumped into him.
“Your still fooling with that crap,” He chastised her.
“Yes,” She said and pushed him forward. “The Coven does not see their craft as CRAP, Tom. It's very real.”
“I should have never introduced you to my cousin Beryl. She's absolutely whacky.”
“Beryl is very knowledgeable about spells. And this was apart of my initiation to do something mischievous along with kindness.”
They had found their car by now. But Tom had stopped at the front, grabbed Emily by her arm. A shadowy figure appeared from around the back end of the car and swiftly came into the light. A man in a brown jacket holding a .32 snub nose. He aimed it at Tom.
“Give me all of your money....Now!”
Emily screamed. Tom reached for his wallet inside his coat and the gun went off. Tom fell sideways, landing on the hard pavement. Blood drained from his throat and formed a puddle around him. The man nearly dropped his gun, recovered himself, and ran into the darkness. Emily struggled with her cellphone, as the last bar had faded into a flashing blip, while the light in Tom's eyes passed on.