Refresher Course: Chapter 1
My hand was outstretched onto this gypsy woman's table. My digits were spread out so taught and strained that it looked like I was trying to make salt water taffy out of my flaky palm skin. When my raven haired mother went to Connecticut every July to visit her staunchly Republican mother and father she would bring me back a crinkled white bag full of chewy bits that sort of tasted like that salted air, but more of food dye and other artificial flavorings probably invented by a white-coated scientist. I wanted some though right then to get caught in my teeth and stretch around my tongue as I felt my hand being fondled by this elaborately dressed con artist. This wasn't the first place I had thought of running to when I deliberately left behind my friends while were out on our "grand fucking city adventure." But I remembered reading the words of some girl, somewhere, who had run away only to find solitude in being curled up next to a black cat in the back room of an apothecary. I settled for the false mysticism of Madame Havishin and her plastic beads, if only so I could hear Violet later say, "Caleb, we would find you smelling of incense and toting a crystal ball." She would then laugh in the way that I knew was real and put her hand on my back guiding me into the taxi.
-Would you like your palm read, your aura cleansed? What? What do you want?
Le Madame had a lisp.
-Um, just do what you usually do.
-Every soul that crosses that threshold (she made an elaborate and unnecessary motion towards the door) does so with varying intentions. I can predict your future but I will not weed through your indecisiveness. You know what you want. Now tell me.
-Alright the palm is fine.
-Twenty please. It helps ease-
Con artist. I couldn't help myself. Wouldn't let her keep on with her tainted green prophecies.
-Let me read you.
She looked at me with a startlingly steady gaze. I must not have been the first scraggly haired boy with chapped lips who came in looking for some kind of entertainment.
-My boy, I can smell the alcohol coming out of your pores.
-Really? Above the cat piss?
-Do you want me to read you or not? I have customers seeking divine help out there.
There was no one I could see through the beaded curtain.
-Okay riddle me this turban woman. Who names their daughter Violet if she's not a character in a children's book? And why would this Violet insist on being alone when she knows it makes her miserable? And why, why did I think I could change her when all I have to offer are some dingy introspections? Who would want to love anyone, or anything? Who would love Violet? She’s a terrible person.
The Con Artist was now my Con Artist; I could see her attentiveness growing. I may have actually turned out to be a money making opportunity in that vulnerable, sharing mood I was in.
-My child, does Violet know that you love her?
-No. I mean yes, but she thinks it’s funny so it hardly counts. I wrote her a five page letter two weeks ago. She hasn’t said anything. All I do is wait. Wait for Violet. All I ever do. Wait. For Violet.
-And does she ever come?
-Sometimes. But I can tell that she’s been somewhere else, with someone else. She likes to rub it in my face without actually saying anything. But I can just tell. Whenever she’s been out with a guy she put’s her hair behind her ears while she’s talking to me. It makes her look so little.
-Do you like to be that person who waits like a dog?
-I hate it. I want to be doing what Violet’s doing. I want her to see, you know? What it feels like to be fucked over. Over and over and over. She slept with me once, I don’t think I told you this.
My Con Artist raised her brows slightly. I don’t know how I noticed, the room was spinning into a hellish kaleidoscope vision. I responded to her silent question.
-Yeah! Oh it was wonderful. She was crying for some fucked up reason and I was there. Like a dog. I thought she finally saw me for what I was, a good guy who had been waiting for her to notice. But no. I was a mercy case. I can see that now.
-This girl, she does not sound like a very good woman. Why don’t we ask the spirits if there is anyone else in store for you?
-Anyone else? And would it cost me twenty dollars to find these faceless women in your crystal ball?
-I have to eat.
-Yeah well fucking tough.
I swept the snot off my face with the already cold and wet sleeve of my sweater and stood up, wobbling but strong. Reaching into my right pocket, I remembered that I had given away my phone to some girl in a grand gesture of wanton disregard which occurred simultaneously with my peak of drunkenness. I was at least fifteen miles away from my own bed and seventeen miles from Violet’s. I had no money either, the real reason why I couldn’t afford Madame Havishin. There was a small but verdant park directly across the street from where I was standing and from what I could make out, the benches looked incredibly plush and my head was being sawed into eighths. I looked both ways down the black and nearly desolate street (I don’t know why I bothered) and made a twenty foot jaunt to my temporary deciduous bedroom.
(My power has been out and I've been laying here with four little tea lights to keep me company. I was pretending I was a brooding woman of the seventeenth century. Good Thursday fun.)