October 6, 2004

The Fortune Teller in October 2000

Went to a fortune teller to have my fortune read.
I didnít know what to tell her. I had a dizzy feeling in my head

In October of the year 2000, when I lived in Brooklyn Heights and worked in Manhattan, there was a fortune teller who ran a storefront operation just around the corner on Montague Street. Her face was stained walnut with deep wrinkles framing jet black eyes. Her hands, when they flickered out from underneath her black shawl, were gnarled knots. From noon until late into the evening she sat in front of her shop and watched what there was of the world on this street flow by.

Every morning as I strolled to the subway I'd pass her window, two steps down with a red neon hand glowing palm out behind the dusty glass. An Abyssinian cat drowsed on the sill inside the glass and the thick curtains were still drawn. She lived in a room at the back of the shop. No windows, no fire escape. Maybe a hot plate. The police and fire marshals never seemed to bother about this. She'd always been there. A fixture as fixed and unmoving as the fire hydrant in front.

Every evening I'd pass the fortune teller's again on my way home. Inside the room you could see two chairs and a table with tarot decks and a crystal ball, the tools of this ancient trade. The fortune teller was a woman of the Romany race, as these folks usually are in New York and elsewhere. In New York, the gypsies run the Fortune industry at the same level of market penetration that the Greeks run the coffee shop conglomerate and the Italians waste disposal -- 99.99% It's an ancient business and although I never patronized them, I knew plenty of people who did, mostly women with man trouble.

But what if I had? What if one evening in the year 2000 I'd stopped and instead of vaguely nodding to the old woman in the long flowered dress and fringed shawl, gone inside, sat down and said, "Okay, 'deal me up a brand new future from a worn out deck of cards'?"

And what if she had drawn the curtains, lit the candles and incense, and told me this?

"I see you four years from now, in October 2004."

"Okay, that's a relief. I'm alive in 2004. Where am I, what am I doing?"

"I can tell you but I fear you will not believe me. Pay me $100 now."

"What's not to believe? Here you go. You're paid, now tell me."

"Very well, but remember, you have asked.

"In four years, you will be remarried."

"I suppose that could happen even though I currently think of marriage as being just below do-it-yourself brain surgery on my to-do list..."

"Do not interrupt... in four years, remarried and in love with a woman who has a son of ten years. He plays chess remarkably well and likes to sneak up behind you and batter you about the head and shoulders with a foam bat.

"In four years, this city you love will be far away and struggling to rise from a terrible day that leaves it covered in ash and with thousands of dead. You will not be with them. You will live in a place where almost every day is like the few fine days you get here.

"In four years, your country will have conquered two other countries on the far side of the world and will be fighting for its future in many other lands and fearful of more days of fire at home. This will be a fear founded on fact.

"When this war begins there will be a great rage in the land over the enemies that killed thousands of your fellow Americans at their desks on a fine, clear morning. But in four years there will be a greater rage in the land between the citizens. One side will want to continue the struggle until your enemies are defeated. The other side will wish to end the struggle as quickly as possible and return to the sleep that they enjoyed so much in the years gone by."

"Excuse me, but I am really having trouble believing that President Gore would allow..."


"In four years, you will find yourself in a large room high above the Pacific. You will be watch two men debate the great issues of the election before you on television.

"One man will be old and hulking. He will be bald and tired with the weight of years. He will have the hard look in his eyes that men get when they do hard things and know harder things loom ahead. He will epitomize all that you have always voted against and will vote against in this year's elections.

"Opposing him will be a young and handsome man; a man whose demeanor and hair will remind you the Jack Kennedy you so admired in your youth. He will have charm and a scintillating smile. He will tell you stories of his own youth and remind you that he sees the 'candle of liberty' flickering in America. He will promise much that would benefit all -- not in the least free doctors all around and on the house.

"And.... and.... and this is the hard part."

"Go on. Tell me."

"You will know, in your heart, that the man who would be Kennedy is telling you a lie of the soul; that he and the man who seeks office with him have no plan for the country beyond their own cheap ambitions.

"You will, on that night four years from now, know that the old and grumpy man, the man with the failing heart, represents the only way forward. You will be ready at long last to do the thing that you have never done before."

"No. No! Not that!"

"Yes my son, you will vote for a Republican."

"But, but, how did this come to be? How did all this come to pass?"

"That will be another $100."

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Posted by Vanderleun at October 6, 2004 9:04 AM | TrackBack
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"It is impossible to speak in such a way that you cannot be misunderstood." -- Karl Popper N.B.: Comments are moderated and may not appear immediately. Comments that exceed the obscenity or stupidity limits will be either edited or expunged.

Once again, you kick ass. Thanks.

Posted by: Steel Turman at October 6, 2004 9:42 AM

Second chances are what this world needs more of.

God Bless you and Mrs. "Wrangler", your pre-teen, and that Romany gypsie.

I look forward to reading about your next re-birth... Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Tom_with_a_dream at October 6, 2004 11:40 AM

You were a Democrat that recently? The Carter presidency was enough for me...but I'm only three years younger than Cheney.

Posted by: Alan Sullivan at October 7, 2004 7:12 AM

LOL. Good stuff.

Posted by: Helen at October 10, 2004 10:22 AM
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