I bend over, open his cage and lift him into my arms, eight pounds of soft, white fur. His nose twitches as his pink eyes contemplate me. I scratch his head between his long, droopy ears.
“There, there, Hermes, my inscrutable companion. Today is a new day. Isn’t it?” I set him down on the Persian rug and he hops away in search of the vegetable plate he knows is waiting for him in the kitchen.
Throwing open the heavy drapes, I ponder the morning light that filters through the majestic oak and maple trees lining the street. For a few minutes I peer through the leaded glass windows onto my small slice of the world. From this vantage point, a short flight of stairs off the sidewalk, I watch a man in a suit walk towards the “L”, the city’s elevated public train system, briefcase in hand, newspaper tucked under one arm. He is starting to sweat even at eight o’clock in the morning. The July heatwave has only slightly abated since last week when over seven-hundred people died in Chicago from heat stress. Mayor Daley reminded us how hot it was outside, but seemed little concerned to do anything to help those without air-conditioning. Ah, there I go again, falling into the abyss that is politics. May the Spirit help me.
I mop my brow with a handkerchief in sympathy for the suited man outside even as the cool air from the duct-work purrs through my floor vents. I continue to watch as a black BMW vacates a parking spot and glides down the street, tinted windows closed, AC no doubt blasting away inside. A woman in jogging clothes walks her white Pomeranian, hurrying to get home before the heat and humidity become too unbearable. I smile, enjoying my position as a respectable member of my neighborhood.
I bought this place a few years ago, right after Clinton got elected. This old brownstone was a mess when I moved in, not dissimilar from others on the street. Two doors down was a crack house whose clients trooped in and out through all hours of the night. That same building sold for over a million last year. A few of my neighbors have also had the money and stamina to take on these old building projects, bringing them back to their early splendor.
Most of my neighbors don’t know what I do for a living. I don’t have a garish neon sign flashing in my window. No words like “Fortune” or “Readings” advertise what goes on behind closed doors. The only clue is the white seven-pointed star in the lower corner of the glass in my front door.
I sit down at my desk, set prominently in the large bay window, and open my appointment book. It is maroon leather and about the size of an old hotel register. I scan down the page and find five entries for today. Single names only, usually their first, sometimes only a surname. I prefer to give my clients a certain level of anonymity. Next to each name a few symbols indicate the cards drawn during their previous session. Roman numerals represent the major cards, a cardinal number and suit for the minor cards. I like to refresh my memory about the previous message given by the tarot before a client steps through my door.
I pull my gold watch from my waistcoat pocket and flip open the lid. More than an hour will elapse before my first client will ring my bell. Most have been coming to see me for years. I rarely get new clientele except when recommended by a current client. I don’t advertise. I don’t need to.
I glance over to the oak mantelpiece where Arabella smiles back at me through the filigreed silver that frames her beautiful face. Although more than thirty years ago, that day in Sicily seems like last month. The other women pale in comparison. Is that why there has been no one else for me? No other will ever love me the way you did, Bella.
Smiling, I walk over to the glass-doored bookcase that contains some of my two-hundred tarot decks. Each sits in a three-sided well, the front side open. The bottom is lined in red felt so the cards slide out easily. The box and any book that came with the deck sits vertically in a slot behind the deck. I make each deck holder myself from ebony hardwood.
I pull out a deck full of the images of Santeria, the Afro-Cuban spiritual practice. It is most suitable for my first client. I try to match each client’s belief system to an appropriate deck. This is particularly important to allow the tarot to speak in a manner that is meaningful.
Spreading the deck face down on the red felt table where I perform all my readings, I push the cards around to carefully mix them without stressing the edges as more traditional shuffling tends to. I gather the cards together into a deck again and set it to the side.
Before I start my day I must consult my personal deck. It never sits in the bookcase with the others, but has its own spot built right into my table. Under the table edge I feel for the recess and rotate the wooden door down with my thumb. The deck slides into my hand and I push the door closed again.
This year a new deck has come into my life. Its images and symbols speak to me like no other. It is the Alchemical Tarot by the artist Robert Place. The imagery, symbology and mysticism embodied in each card is unparalleled. I spread the cards face down on my table and recite my daily incantation.
“I call upon the Source to open my eyes.
Oh, Tarot, your humble servant am I.
Let your wisdom guide me.
I ask you to reveal the answer to this question one:
What challenge must I overcome today?”
I feel Hermes rubbing up against my ankle like a cat. Then I flip over two cards.
“Ah, the Ace of Pentacles, Hermes, and your doppleganger. A sign of good luck, health and prosperity. A very propitious card indeed.”
“The three of staffs. Something unexpected will befall us today, Hermes, perhaps a visit from a stranger. Calm and composure will see us through. If I trust my intuition, balance and harmony will be restored. If not, an unknown danger could be unleashed.” I reach down, pick him up and lay him in my lap. I scratch his head as he looks up at me.
“Yes, today is a new day, my enigmatic little friend.”
Praise for The Seekers
5 stars - The Seekers is both engaging and authentic
Reviewed Nov 14, 2018
Tarot cards are cleverly presented & explored in this collection of twenty-two short vignettes, set in Chicago. Curious, often compelling characters from diverse backgrounds often mingle with a mysterious Tarot reader, who some will visit or encounter during their brief but intriguing stories.
The dialogue is engaging, authentic and this paired with Chris Lemme’s colorful descriptive style, makes for a truly pleasurable journey through this collection of Tarot narratives and the intriguing people making their way, with or without any comprehension of how their destiny has been foretold.
Add a Review
What Did You Think of The Seekers?