Monday, September 14, 2009

House of Cards

The Fool’s Journey

Set one year after the events of Extreme Prejudice, Ethan and Brian are now happily married and living together. However recent changes in their circumstances, brought about by the country’s poor economy, has forced the lovers to make some hard decisions about their future together.

House of Cards

The tiny bell sounded a gentle peel as Ethan entered the quaint shop of the local fortune-teller. Though he’d often read the tarot for himself and had them read for him by members of his family, he’d never been to someone who read the cards professionally before. Stepping inside he found no one about.

“Quaint” he whispers to himself looking around the shop. Ethan noticed that the shop seemed even smaller on the inside than it did from the outside. Though the room was small, the owner used every bit of available space in the shop lining the walls with shelves upon which rested statues of various angels, saints, and even a Maneki Neko facing the door to wave in customers.

In addition, there were a myriad of pictures, crystals, incense burners, and books piled upon the shelves. Between the various book shelves hung tapestries and framed prints of various tarot cards. Heavy drapes hung from the large picture window facing out on the street. In the window hung a hand-drawn sign which simply read Aunt Ruby in large bold letters and under her name Reader and Spiritual Adviser in a cursive scrawl.

“Somebody out there?” a voice called from a back room.

“Ah yes ma’am.” Ethan replied “My name’s Ethan Knox, I believe I have an appointment.”

“Be right wid’ja, son.” the voice informed him.

Ethan didn’t know exactly what to expect or even if the seer would be genuine. Continuing to look around the shop he noticed a table near the back of the room. It was made of wood which had been painted white. In the center of the table a square cloth lay flat and on top of it rested a cigar box. Beside the cigar box a fresh votive candle had been placed in a beautiful candle holder. Off to the side of the table lay a china saucer. On the wall over the table there was a framed picture of Jesus, flanked by a picture of John Kennedy on the right and one of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the left.

“Sorry about that’ a woman said emerging from a door off to the side, “I don’t like to keep people waiting”

“You must be Aunt Ruby” Ethan replied. Looking over the woman’s shoulder he noticed a large altar on which burned many candles.

“That’d be me” Aunt Ruby answered closing the door behind her “Ah you’re Ethan that be right?”

“Yes M’am” Ethan replied. He was relieved that Aunt Ruby was not the image of the stereotypical fortune-teller. Instead of the moo-moo wearing gypsy weighed down with gaudy jewelry and a thick accent, Aunt Ruby was an older black woman he surmised to be in her late 60’s to early 70’s. She was dressed simply in a checkered sun dress and wore no jewelry except for a small wooden cross around her neck on a black cord.

“Take a seat yonder” Ruby directed pointing to a seat at the wooden table.

The two individuals took their seats across from one another at the wooden table. Ethan noticed that one of the legs on his chair was not as long as the other and so his chair rocked if he shifted in his seat.

“First of all” she began “I wants you to write ya name on this here piece of paper and under your name write your birthday for me.”

“What’s this for?” Ethan asked

“Oh its nothing baby” Aunt Ruby replied, “it just helps me to focus in on you during the reading.”

“Oh I see” Ethan complied figuring that every reader had their own method.

“Now” Aunt Ruby began taking the name paper from Ethan “Is you ever had da cards read before, boy?”

“Um, no m’am” Ethan replied “not professionally”

“I see” Aunt Ruby confirmed “Well, the ways I sees be like dis. The cards be like one a dem jigsaw puzzles. Only we don’t know what the picture look like cause it ain’t happen yet.”

Ethan nodded indicating that he understood her analogy

“So we have to throw the cards down” she continued “and try ta figures out what the picture be. You understand?”


“Ok let us start then.”

Aunt Ruby opened the cigar box and took out something wrapped in a colorful scarf. She placed the package on the center of the table and set the cigar box aside. Reaching into her dress pocket she takes out a pack of Marlboro cigarettes and fishes in the box for her lighter which she had tucked inside.

“Lord, be with us now” Aunt Ruby prayed lighting the votive “Open our eyes that we may see the truth and bless our minds that we may not only know but understand. In Jesus name. Amen.”

“Amen” Ethan joined in her prayer.

Aunt Ruby un-wrapped the scarf to reveal an aged deck of Tarot Cards, which Ethan noticed as the Rider Wait deck, and spread it out to read the cards on.

“Ok, cut the deck for me” Aunt Ruby asks Ethan pushing the deck towards him “..and put them back together.”

As Ethan cuts the deck into two and puts them back together Aunt Ruby places her hands on the name paper before her on the table. Ethan pushes the cards back to her across the table.

“Justice” Aunt Ruby remarks turning over the top card. “See that be you right there.”

Ethan looks at the card which the reader holds up for him to see.

“Your life be out of balance and you need to get yo’self self back on the right path.”

Aunt Ruby gives Ethan a chance to take this end before continuing.

“You see, how he got that sword in one hand? Holding it up in the air?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Well see, you gots the power to make change in your own life, but you can’t do it just sitting there on ya butt.”


“You gots to let that sword fall and cut away the ties of the past that be blocking you and holding you back.”

“You’re certainly right about that”

The reader then places the Justice card on the table over the name paper. She then takes up the remaining deck and begins laying cards out before her. Ethan can see no discernable pattern to the layout and observed that she was using no card layout with which he was familiar.

“I sees a death in your past from which you found a new strength.”

“Yes” Ethan confirmed

“But you been struggling with this power, don’t know if you be deserving it”

Ethan nodded deciding to let the woman continue rather than interrupt.

“I sees that you be a good man with a good heart. You’ll do the right thing.”

Aunt Ruby regard the cards before her before continuing.

“I see you got yourself a good man too” Aunt Ruby revealed “one dat love you very much”

Ethan looked away not sure how to answer

“Its okay baby.” Aunt Ruby replied “Ways I see it, love be love.”

“Well, yes” Ethan replied “We were married 8 months ago”

“I’m happy for you. You deserves all the love you can gets in life.”

“Thank You”

“Now I see some big changes in the last month or so” Aunt Ruby offered analyzing the cards before her “You lose your job.”

“Yes, I did!” Ethan answered surprised “The magazine at which I was a columnist went bankrupt and stopped publishing.”

“Don’t worry about that baby.” Aunt Ruby offered “You gonna land of your feet, but not here. I sees success and travel in your future.”

“Yes” Ethan confirmed “Brian, that’s my husband, he’s been offered a job in Washington State

“Mmmm hmmmm. I see this gonna be a good move, for both of ya.”

“Really?” Ethan asks “I’ve been so afraid that we were making the wrong decision. South Carolina is the only home I’ve ever known and…”

“Yeah, I see many opportunities before you which promise to be very successful for you both. ”

“Thank god.” Ethan sighed

“But I wont’ lie to you baby” Aunt Ruby warned “Dey gonna be obstacles along the way”

“What kind of obstacles?”

“It don’t be clear right yet.” Ruby replied “But you have faith in your man and your love for each other and you two gonna be ok, you understand?”

“Yes I think I do” Ethan replies “Anything else?”

“No, that be it as I sees it”

“Well thank you, Aunt Ruby” Ethan says offering the woman thirty dollars.

“Don’t hand it to me, baby” Aunt Ruby directed “Put it on the plate there, but kiss it first so it come back to you.”

Ethan did as the wise old reader directed and made his way toward the door.

“Oh, just one more thing baby” Aunt Ruby called out


“You be careful with that thing with dem red eyes around you, you hear me? Power have a way a making a man think he be God when he just a man. You understand?”

“Yes Aunt Ruby, I understand” Ethan replies “I understand all too well.”

As Ethan leaves the shop Aunt Ruby locks the door behind him and draws the shade. She turns and walks to her reading table.

“Didn’t even ask for it back.” she says taking the name paper from under the Justice card.

She enters the room behind her reading room and approaches her candle altar. She takes out a white candle and carves Ethan’s name on the candle with an old well worn screw driver she reserves for just this purpose. She then anoints the candle with oil muttering a prayer under her breath. Finally, she sets the candle in a holder and places Ethan’s name-paper beneath the holder.

“Walk with him Jesus” she prays lighting the candle “open the path before him and see him safely to his destination. Amen”

Hearing a knock at her door signaling her next appointment she turns out of the room muttering “Cause he shore gonna need it, Lord.”

1 comment:

  1. Ethan this is so mysterious. Can't wait for the next Chapter.