In The Cards
by Lord Malinov
I am a scientist and a skeptic. I take logic and reason seriously. When I watch old Star Trek episodes, I most admire Mr. Spock for his relentless logic and endless fascination. I don’t care for Data from the Next Generation because while he enjoyed the nearly-perfect reasoning of a futuristic android, he suffered from Pinocchio syndrome, always wanting to be a real boy and embrace the panoply of a full gamut of emotions. I embraced the study of analytic philosophy. The world is all that is the case.
I’m telling you this because I feel like it is important for you to understand my skeptical attitude as I tell you this tale. I am not some astrological dope who believes that the spirits and the stars and the cosmic vibrations are responsible for one jot or tiddle of my life’s journey. I scoff at the power of pyramids and crystals and chi and any other inane voodooistic approach to living. Crap like that makes me angry. I hold the irrational in complete disdain. As I said, and would emphasize again, I am a scientist.
It was a Tuesday night in a bar in North Dallas when I met Rhiannon. She wasn’t what I would normally call my kind of woman. She had a disheveled quality, as though she was in a rush when she left and threw on whatever clothes she could lay her hands on. Her dark eyes seemed to stare past me as I sat down beside her and bought her a drink. Rings overpopulated her fingers and made tiny clinking sounds as she tapped the wooden edge of the bar. Her voice was low and quiet, as though she was always telling a secret.
“The problem’s all inside your head, you see.”
As things stand, I’m ashamed that I sat down next to Rhiannon and bought her a drink. I’m a happily married man, or at least, I am now. At the time, I was indeed married but I wasn’t really very happy. I wasn’t unhappy, either, but more like dissatisfied. My marriage to Kay had gone soft. We didn’t communicate any more. Somewhere between the exuberance of our beginning and the time in question, we had forgotten how to talk to each other. Not that we didn’t talk, because we did, but we didn’t talk about important things. We didn’t talk about sex.
An embarrassed silence hung between us like a shadowy curtain. I could see her but I couldn’t reach her. Sometimes it seemed like Kay wanted to talk to me, but every start stopped just as quickly. And then we would sit, in a silent shame, wanting to say things we couldn’t bring ourselves to say. We forgot how to communicate.
This had been going on for years, by the time I met Rhiannon. I sat down next to the witchy woman and coolly began to chat her up. Despite my inability to talk to Kay, I was a charming bloke, when I turned it on. Rhiannon seemed to enjoy my banter and it flowed from me with subtle provocation. If I wasn’t careful, I would be seducing her. I had no intention of being careful.
I don’t know when I started explaining my problems with Kay to Rhiannon. It isn’t entirely smooth, telling a strange woman in a bar about your problems with your wife, but it seemed to just come out of me.
“Let me give you a reading,” she said, taking my hand and leading me to a dark booth in the back of the saloon. I shrugged my shoulders skeptically. Who was I to say “no” to a beautiful woman?
“The cards never lie,” she said. I repressed a scoff out of deference to her. Normally, I would have loudly expressed my distaste for such nonsense, but there was something about Rhiannon, a feeling I got from her, that reined my rude inclinations. Besides, I thought, if I didn’t indulge her mystical foolishness, there was no way she’d let me fondle her boobies. Beneath her loose cotton blouse, I could tell this woman had succulent tits. So I played along.
I’m really not sure what happened next. Rhiannon laid an assortment of large colorful cards over the table. She handled the cards like a hustler from a New Orleans riverboat, flipping and rotating them confidently in her long-fingered hands.
“I see a woman,” she said in her deep sultry tone. “I see a woman sitting alone and she’s sad.”
“Kay,” I interjected.
“Exactly,” said Rhiannon. “You see here, Kay is sad because the words have left her. She cannot find her tongue.”
“Yes. There is passion trapped within this woman, passion that must find release. She cannot open, see this here, this is the secret she has locked inside her, a secret that consumes her, a secret that she is powerless to reveal on her own.”
“It is terrible. But there is a man.”
“She has a lover?” I said, growing suddenly angry.
“She has an un-lover. There is a man she loves, who cannot reach her.”
“Who is he?”
“She will not speak his name. She cannot. All she can do is nurse her passion for the man.”
“Is it me?”
“She cannot say.”
“Or Doug. I she in love with Doug?”
“She cannot say.”
“I’ll bet it is Doug. She has always liked Doug.”
“There is a way.”
“Tell me,” I said, rising to my feet, ready to run, if need be.
“Sit,” she commanded and I obeyed. “There is a way.”
“Go to her. She will be sitting on a sofa, or perhaps a chair, working on something that she holds in her lap.”
“You’re right. She probably is.”
“Sit beside her. Take what she holds in her hands and lay it aside. Hold her hands in yours. Look into her eyes.”
“Then softly say these words to her.” Rhiannon cast a look around the room, making certain no one else would hear. Drawing close to me, she whispered.
I repeated the incantation in the same soft tone.
“Exactly,” she said. “Now go.”
I left at once. Driving through the darkness, I repeated the words. It all seemed so crazy. How could a brief sentence end our misery? The skeptic in me returned full force. What was I thinking, listening to this gypsy nonsense? Of course, none of this would work. It was madness.
Even so, when I opened the door to our house and stepped inside, I found Kay sitting on the sofa, exactly as Rhiannon has predicted. There was a book in her hand and she barely looked up from it as I stumbled into the room.
I sat down beside her and took the book from her hand.
“Hey,” she said, “I was reading that.”
“Shh,” I said, taking her hand. I leaned over to my wife and whispered the words I had been given by Rhiannon. Kay’s eyes opened wide. All at once, she kissed me. All at once, all our troubles ended.
I don’t know how she did it. Rhiannon, I mean. I don’t know how she knew what would happen when I did what she told me. None of it makes any sense. I guess our destiny was all in the cards.