Halloween. Kids strolling from house to house, their plastic pumpkins half-filled with sugary treats. But that was in the happy parts of town. Not where I now stood. Here it was dark and lonely. Somehow the street lights seemed a little dimmer. The air was damp and chilly. I looked up and down the empty street before reading the sign once more, and even then I paused before entering. The sign was wooden and hand carved, perhaps once colorful, but now weatherworn and dull. It read: 'Madam Anastasia's Divinations and Magic'.
"What the hell," I thought to myself, and then stepped through the doorway.
The door led into what was once a large parlor that might have once been filled with children and laughter, families growing in their day to day adventures with the joy of life. Now however it was musty and dingy. Dark curtains hung from the ceiling to the floor on all walls. In the center of the room was a round table covered with a faded old cloth. The table was embellished with a deck of Tarot cards, and there were 3 chairs around the table with dark red velvet cushions, dusty and thread-worn.
From behind me a voice with a strong Romanian accent spoke, "Do you seek wisdom and knowledge Anglo?"
Startled, I turned. Standing before me was the old dark-haired woman whom I had met but once before. Her eyes were piercing, one dark black, the other blinded by a cataract. She was dressed in an emerald colored gown covered in rhinestones. On her hands were at least a dozen rings. Her neck was adorned with a silver necklace and with the pendant of a crescent moon. Ruby earrings hung from her lobes, and a turban with a star in the center was wrapped about her head. Our paths had crossed months ago...
... She had been on her way home, pulling a small hand cart with a couple bags of groceries in it. She was dressed then as she was now. I was at that time across the street from her when two teenage punks came upon her. They were demanding her money, and if not her money then the jewels on her neck. It was obviously costume jewelry, for if even one of the jewels had been real, she would have no need to cart her own groceries.
She fended them off fairly well on her own until one got behind her and held her by her arms. The other attempted to rip the necklace from around her neck. That was when I intervened.
I'm not any type of hero, I wasn't then and I'm not now. But I will react when driven by desperation. One old woman alone, against two thugs, simply triggered a rage in me.
I ran across the street and without hesitation body slammed the 'would be' thief against the wall, his face striking the cement, brutally busting his nose. Then grabbing the man holding the old woman, I slammed him into a nearby tree. I heard his teeth crack as his mouth hit the bark. Mr. Nosebleed had by now picked himself up, and seeing his bleeding friend, took off down the street away from us. There is no loyalty between bullies. Toothless, seeing that he was alone followed as quickly as he could. The old woman was sobbing.
"I'm sorry you had to go through that," I said with concern in my voice. "I don't think they will be bothering you again for a long time, if ever."
She looked up with tears in her eyes and said, "Thank you sir, thank you so much."
"Do you live far from here?" I asked.
"Just a couple blocks down the street," she said while gathering her cart and straightening her clothes.
"I'll walk with you, if you like," I offered, "By the way, my name is Simon, Simon Welch."
"That would be nice Simon, thank you," she replied.
As we walked she told me that she was a medium. I was confused at first, thinking that she wasn't that large, that she was very petite for an old woman, but I quickly learned that she was a medium in the fact that she told fortunes. She told me that she read palms, Tarot cards, foretold people's futures. She told me that she was born of Romanian immigrants, but that both of her parents had passed on. Her mother had been a gypsy, and she inherited her gift and learned her trade from her.
"And I bet you have a crystal ball too," I said jesting.
"Of course, what modern day fortune-teller wouldn't have one," she giggled, finally able to smile.
We walked and I pulled her cart along as we spoke. I talked of the weather and the crime in the city, and of all sorts of things, everything but what she was all about. Eventually we came to her home and place of business.
"Thank you for everything Simon," she said, "I am forever in you debt."
"Aww, it was nothing," I said in my most humble voice.
"No it was very much something," she said, "But now I have to prepare, I have several appointments coming up within the next hour. Come visit me sometime, before the noon hour when we will have time to talk."
With that she picked up her cart with the three small bags of groceries and went in. I waved goodbye to her through the window and walked back to my car. That was nearly a year ago...
... The gypsy repeated her question, "Do you seek wisdom and knowledge Anglo, or perhaps your fortune?"
"Wisdom and knowledge," I answered back while turning towards her, "No, I don't think so Madam Anastasia."
The old woman stared at me for a moment, and then a smile crossed her face.
"Oh Simon, it's you," she said, "My rescuer. What brings you out on a night like this? It's been such a long time, I didn't think I would ever see you again."
I was surprised that she remembered my name after all these months.
"I'm sorry I didn't come back and check up on you," I said, "But right after that night things went a little crazy for me. My wife died, she was shot."
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she said, "It must have been terrible for you."
"No, not actually, but yes in some ways, I mean ... oh I don't know what I mean."
Then I told her all about Cindy as I sat down at the table. She joined me and listened intently as I told her my story.
"Cindy," I began, "Was someone whom I fell in love with. I don't know why actually, I mean she and I had totally different ideas on everything in life. We had met at a Super Bowl party. Somehow after the party I took her home and ended up spending the night with her."
I paused for a second and then Madam Anastasia encouraged me to continue, "Please, go on ... don't be embarrassed to tell me anything. I'd like to know about the man who saved my life."
"Oh, I doubt I saved your life," I said, "I think those guys just wanted your money or your jewels."
"No," she said, "They may have started to rob me, but I think they might have done some things much worse to me afterwards ... please go on with your story, tell me about Cindy."
"Well, I feel a little funny about talking about Cindy in this way, but to tell the truth, she was sexually insatiable. I mean our first night together we did it four times, and if I could have continued to perform she would have wanted more. But after hours of continuous intense sex I was exhausted. Just too tired to go another round. Still I promised to give her a call after I got off work the next day. Which I did, and that led to another round, and then another.
"Within a couple of weeks she moved in with me and for the next several months I was with her all the time and we were having sex three times a day. I admit I enjoyed it, even if I was always tired. Now, I'm not bragging," I said, "But the truth is that I'm ... well I'm larger than most guys in that department. And I think Cindy liked that part about me. Unfortunate for me perhaps, but that was what attracted me to her I think."
"It's your story," she said, "And I'm sorry to interrupt, but now I'm curious, just how large are you?"
Turning red I blurted it out, "About 8 inches or so when I'm ... you know, excited."
"Oh," was all she said, and then softly she added, "Oh my."
I continued, "Anyways, after a couple months of incessant sex, we got married. But it wasn't the perfect marriage or even near it. I would come home and the breakfast dishes would still be in the sink. The house was dirty, the bed not made. She did nothing during the day. I was busy, working 10 or more hours a day, and then coming home and servicing her like a rented stud, and still had to be the one to fix a meal or take her out to eat. I was tired, and I told her that.
"Well, she didn't like it one bit, accused me of being cruel, of not loving her, that type of thing. And I would end up apologizing to her, trying to be the peacemaker. The only thing that was great about our marriage was the sex. Cindy was up to anything and everything ... and believe me, we did everything and then some. Her only demand in bed was that I keep going until she climaxed. The few times that I simply just gave out from exhaustion before she came were the worst times for me. She'd call me names and belittle me until finally I would do something to get her off. I may have been married, but I had never felt so alone in my life.
"After about six months of this, I got a call at work one day. It was the police. They found Cindy dead and asked if I could come down to the morgue and identify her. I was in shock. The detectives said that she had been shot by a jealous wife. I didn't understand at first until the detectives told me the whole story.
.... There is more of this story ...