“Dude, that’s like the tenth black cat that’s crossed your path today.” Delun noted.
“So, what? It doesn’t mean anything.” I replied carefree.
“It’s bad luck.”
“Dude, can we really not do this now? I have a hot lunch date. It’s the first time we’re meeting in person.”
“Do what?” He asked innocently.
I scoffed. “Last month, you were trying to convince me I had the curse of Egypt and released several dozen pounds of locus in my house. And now, a black cat curse. Why are you switching it up now?”
“It’s spŏŏky season.”
“Come on, Delun. You don’t actually believe any of this stuff, do you?”
“I don’t know, Chao, why don’t you ask that sidewalk your face is about to slam into.”
“What…?” I asked as I tripped over another black cat in front of me and slammed my face into the sidewalk.
Delun squatted down beside me. “Believe me now?”
“I believe… that you’re an asshole.” I grunted as I sat up. “Why would I ever believe this nonsense?”
“I don’t know, why don’t you ask that large black cat sprinting over here.”
I twisted around. “What cat…” My eyes widened. It wasn’t some ‘large black cat’, like a chubby house cat of some sort. No sir! It was a tiger covered in black paint, running over to us with murder in its eyes.
“I don’t know how,” my toes pushed off the ground and into an instant sprint, “but you’re somehow behind this!”
As I glanced back, I saw Delun take a step back, out of the tiger’s way, and the wild hunter just zoomed past him like a house cat chasing a dead mouse strapped to a roomba. I skidded to a stop at the end of the sidewalk, barely avoiding getting hit by a car. The tiger was still on my trail and I had to get to what was once called Castro’s Bistro, but now known as Not the Castro You’re Think of Bistro. They changed the name for obvious reasons.
Alright, now if I go down Lexington Street, then turn down Fifth maybe I can… and the tiger was already here. Man, those things are fast.
I turned a quick heel and began to dash down Lexington Street. If I ever survived this, Delun sure as hell wasn’t going to survive me. Swiftly, as soon as I turned the corner, I ducked into a flower shop to hide. “Ha, dumb cat. You can’t beat me, I have thumbs!”
The tiger stopped in front of the door and glared in. “Whatcha gonna do now, kitty?”
He glanced around, walked a few steps around, and turned back around to the shop. Suddenly, he charged like a one-man crusade and smashed his head through the door.
“Sweet baby cakes!” I shrieked terrified. “He’s coming to kill me!” I slammed my hands on the front counter of the shop. “There has to be a back exit!”
The teenage girl working the counter gave me one look with empty eyes and said, “the back exit is for customers only.”
“I’m being chased by a tiger!”
“Fine. I do have a hot date soon.”
She scoffed. “Sure.”
“What are your best selling flowers?”
“Those white lilies.” She pointed to a vase by the door. The tiger snarled when I got an inch closer to him. “What else you got?”
“If you’re looking to light up a room, get some lavender. If you pair with vanilla, the whole room smells like pure happiness.”
“Well, I’m nose blind so that little pitch isn’t going to work on me.”
She scoffed again. “That explains a lot.”
What the hell was last suppose to mean? “You know what, I’m running late and only…” I glanced at the ‘cash only’ sign and emptied my pockets, “have sixty nine cents on me.”
“Oh, you know what that means.”
“You can’t afford anything in here. Get out. I’m paid by commission, not by how many customers waste my time.”
“So, where’s the back exit?”
“Not the back exit.” She pointed at the front, still equipped with a tiger in it. “The front door. Back exit is for customers only.”
“There’s still a tiger there!”
“Which reminds me, how do you plan on paying me for that?”
“What! That’s not my fault.” I paused for a second, considering my options. “Wait, if I’m paying for that door, that’s makes me a customer.” I scribbled down some contact info her. “Here’s how I’ll pay for it—later. I mean, let’s face it, at this rate. It’s this or nothing.”
The girl glared at me. “Fine.” She chucked thumb behind her. “The exit’s that way.”
I mumbled something under my breath and took off. By the time I reached Not the Castro You’re Think of Bistro lunch was over and only one person remained, sitting at the table I reserved last week. “Delun.” I said like his name was venom on my tongue.
He plopped down his cup of tea and set down his newspaper. “Oh, Chao! Glad you’re finally here!”
“Where’s Abby?” I growled.
“Abby? Oh, you mean your hot date? Trust me, bro, I did you a favor by sending her away.”
“You sent her away?”
“Yeah, you know. Gave her the ‘old heave hoe. Told her she got to go. Cause you didn’t want to see her no more~!”
“Stop the singing, Delun.”
He pouted. “Fine.” He patted the seat next to his. “Now, you’re going to love me even more than you currently do. And I know what you’re thinking right now, ‘gosh, how can I love Delun, my best and most trusted friend—“
“I trust a rattlesnake with a ‘pet me’ sign on it more than I trust you.”
He held up a finger. “Don’t interrupt me. I worked too hard on this monologue to be interrupted by a novice. Where was I? Oh, right. how can you possibly love me more than you love me right now?”
“I hate you.”
“Well, the answer is simple.” He slid a business card over to me. “And this is it.”
With disbelief and a low bar for disappointment, I picked up the card. “Madame Mystic’s Fortune Telling?”
With a wild grin on his face, Delun nodded. “Yeah, she’s the best in town.”
Is she actually the best in town, or is she the only one in town because of how impractical her business is.”
“She’s the best in town.” Delun repeated.
I sighed. “If I go, will you stop this ridiculous charade?”
“Are you saying you don’t believe me? Still? Cause if so, why don’t you ask that flowerpot about to land on your head.”
Crash! The pot knocked me off balance and I was thrown from my chair. I glared at Delun as a small stream of blood dripped from my forehead. “Dude!”
“What? You didn’t react in time.” He took a sip of his tea. “But, that’s none of my business.” He set his drink down. “So, you gonna see this Madame Mystic or not?”
Delun pushed aside a door of bead chairs. “Here we are! Madame Mystic’s!”
Gazing across the room, all I saw was cheap, plastic foretelling items that this so called ‘Madame Mystic’ probably bought at the dollar store. Well, except for this really realistic statue sitting in a beaten up chair. I inched closer to it. “Wow, is thing made of wax…?”
The statue jerked with sudden movement and I jumped back, releasing small, but still manly, shriek. “I am Madame Mystic.” She crowed as she shifted and waved her hands over a plastic orb in in front of her. “And you must be…” She stared at the orb, then did a double check at a cat-clock on the wall. “My two-thirty appointment.”
Madame Mystic held up a wrinkled hand. “Nonsense, this ‘ un-fortune’, only fortune-fortune exists...” She pulled out a deck of cards and fanned them out along with a smile on her face. “In Madame Mystic’s House of Wonders!”
The cards spilled out the name. “Ha. No shit.” I replied.
Delun elbowed me in the arm, before giving the old woman a tiny bow. “Madame Mystic, I come here with my best friend—“
“You’re not my best friend.”
“To seek out your wisdom. He has the curse of the black cat!”
“Of course! Hehe.” She cackled. “Such curses are common around the spŏŏky season.” She threw the orb across the room.
“Was that because of the curse?!” I asked in shock.
Madam Mystic lugged a large iron cauldron with a thin layer of smoke rising from it. “No, we just need big boy magic for this shit.”
“Are you serious? How long is this gonna take?”
“Why?” Madame Mystic belittled. “Need to go back to treat or tricking so soon?”
“Did I just have a stroke, or did you just say ‘treat or tricking’?”
“Might be both, the cauldron says your health isn’t too good.”
“It’s trick or treating, you ignorant wench. Make up all the wack-a-doo curses you want, but do not disrespect the opportunity for free candy!”
“Every day is an opportunity for free candy if you can avoid the security cameras.” Delun mumbled under his breath.
“You know what?” I asked rhetorically. “I’ve had enough of this.”
“Respect the cauldron, boy. For there is a heavy aura that subjects you to this curse.”
“Now you’re just using vague terms to try to hit something that could possibly apply to my life!”
“Am I? Or is there a dead presence that marks you as one of the unlucky?”
I slammed my hands on the table. “That doesn’t actually mean anything! It’s just all nonsense!”
“Fish, boy!” She snapped. “You smell like fish!”
She gestured to Delun. “Your friend there ran dead fish all over your clothes. That’s what’s been attracting the cats.”
“Linda!” Delun hollered. “We had a deal! I paid you fifty bucks!”
Madame Mystic picked at her teeth. “Should have made it a hundred.”
Being the over dramatic little nudge he was, Delun stormed out shouting, “I’m giving you a one star review on Yelp for this!”
Madame Mystic leaned across the table to me. “You have some asshole friends, you know.”
I sighed. “Yeah, I know.”