The fortune-teller

Submitted into Contest #152 in response to: Set your story in an oracle or a fortune teller’s parlor.... view prompt

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Fiction

They can be found all over the world. In every village, there is always at least one woman who takes pleasure in reading people's fortunes in teacups, coffee grounds, reading the cards, or predicting the future in whatever way.

Some place advertisements in newspapers, but of course, there are those who do not advertise and who live on word of mouth. These are people who don't need advertising. They only use their gifts as a matter of friendship for certain beneficiaries and a round price of course. You come across them everywhere, people who claim to possess gifts and can work miracles: for a rounded price of course.

These women, and make no mistake: men too, are never mentioned by name but hinted at in low mysterious side whispers by strangers as proof of the miraculous power of these veiled prophets. Some agree to combine a bit of witchcraft and fortune-telling with their day job; as a matter of bringing in an extra buck. 

And sometimes, these benefactors do nothing more than bring mischief with them...

This story is about one such case: about Mr. and Mrs. Brummer and the gullible Charlie. Mr. Brummer was a so-called Black saga, which indicated that he did not shy away from diving into the dark arts.

Charlie was going to visit Mr. Brummer and his solid wife, on the advice of some friends. And so, Charlie made his way to the home of the Brummer on a beautiful spring day.

As the old saying goes, the devil is never as black as he is painted. As far as I know, no one can say for sure what the exact complexion of the Prince of Darkness is. Not that this particular question is of any consequence to our story, so let´s continue, and just want to add that Charlie, later stated, that some "wise" men are particularly complicated in wicked ways. 

Of this, Mr. and Mrs. Brummer was a very good example. But I'm getting ahead of my story, forgive me!

It was said that the illustrious Mrs. Brummer was known far and wide abroad. Her divination skills were guaranteed by those who claimed to have benefited personally from her predictions. But there was also an air of mystery surrounding the sorceress. No one knew exactly where she lived. Appointments always had to be made in a mysterious cave. (The location of which could be clearly described.)

A cave always has a bit of the devil's aftertaste and the true flavor of genuine witchcraft. Charlie imagined she would look like the witch of Vesuvius: a lanky grey woman, with corpse-like skin and wrinkled lips, who lived in a mountain cave. That was the image he was sure he would witness. He knew, of course, that any sorceress living in a cave would be provided with more than a table with a lamp above it and a few greasy playing cards.

He was quite convinced that he would meet someone worthy of the romantic image of the old witch, and confidently and well prepared for the visit he had set out. He did have a horseshoe in the pocket of his trousers, just in case.

Charlie had matrimonial aspirations. This made him a little brash at times, but who could blame him for that.

Unfortunately! The uncertainty of mortal hope consists of vanity and nonsense...

When he finally arrived at the so-called cave, it didn´t take long to become clear to Charlie that this was not the residence of a powerful sorceress, but an enigmatic cognomen applied to a snooker room and liquor parlor, which also housed gruesome menfolk, who descended on that part of town with the intent of engaging in profane activities. There was no toothless witch there, clad in rags as garments, but a company of scum, posing as respectable men, indulging in beer and other drinks, with a particularly vulgar language.

Charlie gathered all his courage and spoke to a bystander. He asked the half-drunk man where he could find Mrs. Brummer. The intoxicated man replied that he should follow him. After half an hour on a winding road, they faced a dilapidated mansion. Whoever might have built that house had neglected to provide the building with a front door. Charlie had to make a long detour through bushes, washtubs, a chicken coop, and rain barrels before arriving at a back door. He knocked modestly on the door, but there was no answer. He decided to go in controlled but uninvited. He found himself in a kitchen and continued to a solon, where the lady of the house was watching him carefully from a dark corner.

Charlie took plenty of time to take in the interior of the house. Mrs. Brummer arranged her dress and came out. She was a big plump lady and very smartly dressed. She opened a door to another room, gesturing to Charlie to follow her.

The floor was filthy carpeted. There was a bed on one side of the room. In the center was a small round table, with a large deck of cards on it, covered with a piece of cloth. Seven chairs with different patterns and a fallen drawer chest complimented the furniture.

A black wooden cross hung in front of a window. A few gaudy prints adorned the walls, and the overturned drawers chest held a large pharmacy bottle filled with a blue liquid. A few goose eggs lay around it. The whole house was permeated with an air of cleanliness, brought about by an overabundance of bleach, no doubt.

The woman began a conversation, and after about ten minutes of merry chatter, she finally asked what the purpose of Charlie's visit was. And to the great surprise of her visitor, Mrs. Brummer positively and peremptorily refused to grant him the benefit of her prophetic gift.

-"No!" she said, "I never do that for men. Sometimes for women, but never for men!"

Charlie protested and even started begging. But to no avail, it was useless. Mrs. Brummer could not be persuaded.

"I can refer you to an old man I know," she said after a pause, "but you'll have to pay a dollar upfront. He's about as good as me at predicting the future," she added firmly. Reluctantly Charlie expressed his willingness to have his future predicted by a male medium.

-"Sit down!" Mrs. Brummer said, "I'll go get him."

An extremely disappointed Charlie sat down and waited for the old man to arrive. He could hear scribbling and giggling from behind the window. Just as he was about to go see what that was, his fortune-teller walked in.

-"I am a professor of decorative arts." the man said. "They call me Ol'Brummer. Every now and then I have to relax my mind from the hard mental labor that comes with heavy and responsible work. I earn an extra penny by predicting the future and reading the cards.”

The old man sat slyly looking out of his eyes. Charlie heard another giggle from behind a window, but the old man didn't seem to mind, so he decided to relax and not care.

The man had a pockmarked face. He stared at his visitor for a few endless minutes, then he took the cards and started shuffling them.

-"I take it you want me to run the cards for you?" he asked Charlie.

The answer sounded affirmative. The fortune-teller concentrated his mind and slowly began to deal the cards.

"I must of course tell you what I see," he began. "I am obliged to! What I read in the cards I must tell you. But first I get a dollar from you!"

Charlie pulled a dollar from his wallet and put the bill on the table. The card reader sighed and began:

-"You have a lot of problems, my boy. I see that. And unfortunately, there are more to come." He paused to look at Charlie, then resumed his cautious demeanor:

-"You've lost something, haven't you?" Something you still value and often think about. Ah, I don't like to talk about lost things..."

-"I have not suffered any loss of property, sir." Charlie said. "Look again, maybe you missed something."

-"I don't like to talk about lost things." the man replied, but Charlie insisted on giving him more information.

"That will cost an extra dollar." the man said. Charlie raised his eyebrows, reached for his wallet, took out another dollar bill, and put it on the table.

-"As you wish." the old said man dryly. "Where were we? Oh yes. What you lost is hanging on a nail somewhere, but it has a dark guard. I see you live in a boarding house. Every morning, when you leave your room, a light-haired girl sneaks into your room. That girl stole from you what you lost." The old man looked gravely at his listener.

-"There are no blond girls in my boarding house." Charlie thought aloud, "Women aren't even allowed in."

-"Look!" the old man said, "See? This card here." he held up the nine of spades, "It indicates that more misery is on its way to you."

Charlie looked concerned at the card reader: "What trouble?" he asked.

-"If you really want to know, I need another dollar." the man said gravely.

-"Another dollar?" Charlie asked indignantly, "It's my last and I have to pay the rent for my room." Charlie looked like a beaten dog. Despair was in his eyes.

-"Don't worry. Give that dollar here. I see in the cards that you get money from abroad at the end of the month." the soothsayer said.

Charlie's gaze brightened for a moment.

-"And what about the misery that is coming at me?" he asked.

The card reader shrugged. Charlie hesitantly reached for his wallet again. He looked at his last dollar bill inside and bit his lip.

-"Are you sure I'll get money at the end of the month, from abroad." he asked, almost pleadingly, of the old man sitting opposite him. "I don't know anyone abroad at all."

Charlie clenched his fist around the dollar bill.

-"Look," the man began again, "Here you can see it." this time he pointed to the ten of diamonds. "Yeah, boy. I see money, lots of money."

Charlie bit his lower lip again."

-"You were born under the morning star. That is a good star! A lucky star, I tell you!" The sage looked at Charlie for a moment, then continued, "Now put that dollar on the table, and I'll tell you about your love life."

Charlie could now clearly hear children laughing on the other side of a window.

-"But you would tell me about that money." Charlie insisted.

-"You're getting married. It's a lady you like. A woman with dark hair. No, wait, she has blond hair. Who knows, you might marry both of them." the soothsayer laughed wryly.

-"And my money?" Charlie asked angrily?"

-"Oh, that, yes... well, you're going to have to go through some misery first friend. I can't help it, that's what the cards say. And what I read in the cards I'm obligated to tell you ."

That chattering outside again!

Charlie couldn't take it anymore. He couldn't bear to listen to that old man's ramblings any longer. He threw the dollar bill on the table and walked out.

Out in the street, he found a gang of kids on the sidewalk curled up with laughter…

-"When's the wedding?" they called after him mockingly.

-"When will you become a millionaire?"

June 28, 2022 18:27

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2 comments

Erika Seshadri
01:10 Jul 04, 2022

This is a very nice write!! I enjoyed reading it.

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F.O. Morier
18:05 Jul 04, 2022

Thank you so much!

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