Samantha’s keen eye counted up the cash she could see without touching it and noted it was more than her fee. “I’m sorry, Gloria. I’m sorry you had to find out like this. He still loves you, you know, his eye just wanders.”
The crying resumed, most of the sound soaked up by the drapes, which covered only bare walls. Gloria got up and left the incense-filled shop to go confront her husband. Samantha grabbed the cash and counted almost two hundred dollars, over double her normal fee.
She used to feel bad manipulating her clients, used to cry with them when they got upset. After twenty years of this business, her empathy had turned to numbness and her concern for others had been overwhelmed by covering her bills. Rent was past due, and when her clients had overwhelming feelings, they overpaid.
Here’s the first lesson you learn as a psychic: predicting happiness is met with skepticism, while sad news is never questioned. It’s like people were built expecting the worst; all she had to do was affirm it. The worst part is that most of the time she was right.
Samantha slipped the cash into a hole in her safe and flipped a switch under her table to make the light in the storefront window show she was available for readings, predictions, and matchmaking.
She checked her phone for the time, nearly ten-thirty on a Friday night. She’d have more business, drunken business, before the night was over. As if she really were psychic, the bell attached to her door rang with someone coming in. She hit her switch under the table and stood to greet the client.
This one was not her demographic. Middle-aged male in a perfectly tailored suit. A smile was on his face. One thing Samantha was good at, that all psychics were good at, was reading people. This one wanted something, but she couldn’t tell what it was.
“Are you Samantha?” the man asked.
“Of course, sir. Please have a seat.” She gave a practiced flourish at the chair he was to take as she sat down on her own. She thought he was trying too hard to look reputable, carrying himself perfectly, but unable to shake that he was hiding something underneath. She needed some thread to follow if she were to get him to pay up by the end of the session.
“What brings you to Madame Samantha today?” She was constantly horse from a lifelong smoking habit, but the grit played perfectly into her personal.
“Actually, I came here to see what I can do for you.” His face broadened into a wider smile that only confirmed to the psychic he was up to something.
“Madame Samantha can tell you your future right now.” Her tenor had changed from inviting to matter-of-fact. “You’re going to offer me protection, then I’m going to tell you about my old friend Colt that is pointed at you right now. After that, you’ll leave and I’ll never see you again.”
The man’s smile didn’t fade in the least at the threat. He reached into his suit, and Samantha reached under her chair to feel for her gun. Just as she found the metal beast, he pulled his hand out with only a single business card between his first two fingers.
I think there’s been a misunderstanding,” he said. She grabbed the card. It was silver with shiny blue lettering.
“Samantha, I’m here to grant you a wish.”