When I reached my room, I reached straight for the black section of my wardrobe. It was my favorite color, but I didn’t wear solid black often as it made me look like a New Yorker wannabe. I pulled on a black skirt my mom had bought me in Taiwan. It was ankle-length, but very thin. I pulled on a matching black top, also bought in Taiwan. It bordered on see-through, but it was cute with its scooping neck and capped sleeves. The Taiwanese knew how to make clothing that kept you covered but also kept you cool—and they looked damn good, too. I twisted my shoulder-length hair into a bun and rimmed my ‘good’ eyes lightly with black kohl. I added a dark red lipstick that finished off the look. I pulled myself to my full height of five-feet five inches and gave myself the once-over. I grabbed a few accoutrements and stuffed them into a black bag. I declared myself done and went into the living room where Matt was watching SportsCenter.
“Damn, you look great,” Matt said admiringly, casing me up and down. “Do you have a broom to go with that outfit?”
“Very funny,” I said sourly, pursing my lips at him. I was in a foul mood at the prospect of talking to Kayla, and the last thing I needed was heckling from Matt. “I’m out of here.”
On the drive over, I plotted my plan of attack. I knew the only way to get Kayla to break was to go on the offensive. She was the type of woman who could thrust and parry all day long without tiring. I would have to jolt her out of her complacency in order to get anything useful out of her. I had a hunch that not only did she know who had taken her son, but she wasn’t all the eager to retrieve him. That wasn’t my intuition talking—just my gut. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that she wanted harm to come to Danny, but she was looking out for Number One. She had something to fear from the people who took Danny, and she had to make sure nothing happened to her while attempting to get him back.
I muttered a curse under my breath as I was nearly sideswiped by an SUV who was too fucking cool to use his side mirrors to change lanes, or, God forbid, signal. I blasted my horn as I wasn’t ruled by the inane concept of Minnesota Nice that dictated car horns were strictly for show. Although lately, that was slowly changing as more cases of road rage cropped up due to the changing demographics. The SUV driver glanced my way as I passed her, an embarrassed look on her face. She was yapping on her cell phone, of course, which was probably another reason she was driving like shit. Look, folks, it’s this simple. Most of you drive for shit when you’re doing nothing but driving. Adding a cell phone to the equation was just asking for trouble. There ought to be a law that cell phones can only be used for emergencies while driving. The only exception would be if the driver had a headset so she didn’t have to touch the phone.
By the time I reached Kayla’s house, I was ready to bust some heads. I had come up with a game plan, and I sent a silent apology to all the witches and psychics I knew because I was going to exploit every stereotype about them known to womankind. I was going to go woo-woo to spooky in nothing flat if that’s what it took to get Kayla to spill her guts. I’d use karma, nirvana, and Armageddon if need be, and I wouldn’t hesitate to pull out the big guns—being possessed. By the time I was done with Kayla, she wouldn’t know what the hell had hit her. If she was smart, she’d spill the beans as quickly as possible to get me the hell out of her house. I didn’t think she was that smart, and I was itching for a confrontation.
“Come in!” Kayla had a big smile pasted on her face which quickly faded when she realized that I was alone. She was dressed in a white mini-skirt that showed off miles of legs and a gold tank-top which displayed her boob job to its best advantage. She was even wearing three-inch stiletto heels—gold—in the house for God’s sake. I refrained from rolling my eyes as I stepped past her into her house.
“Where’s Matt?” Kayla asked, her lower lip pushed out in a pout. I wanted to tell her that I was a straight woman so her little-girl tricks wouldn’t work with me, but I needed to establish the proper mood from the get-go, so I let it go. Instead of answering Kayla, I leaned forward until my face was inches from hers. She jerked her head back reflexively, but I merely stepped closer. Just as she was about to lose it, I spoke.
“Your aura is gray,” I announced, staring deeply into her eyes. I could tell she wanted to look away but couldn’t quite make herself do it. “Gray with a wash of blue. That means you are hiding something. Truths within truths, under a pile of lies. Like an onion, see?” I folded my arms and glared, waiting for her to speak. I knew nothing of auras, but I was banking on the fact that neither did she. To my astonishment, she dropped her eyes, appearing to find great interest in her toes. She mumbled something I couldn’t hear, and I decided to step it up a notch. I pulled out a stick of sage from my bag and lit it before waving it around her head. I had painted my nails a dark red while watching the Twins game the night before, and it only served to emphasize what I was doing.
“Mother Earth, oh, hear me. Cleanse the impurities from this being. They cling to her like a stain on her soul. Lift the sins from this woman before it’s too late.” It was my turn to mumble as I continued to wave the sage. I half-closed my eyes, but watched Kayla carefully. Just as I thought, she was freaking out.
“What the fuck are you doing?” Kayla’s mouth had dropped open, which gave her a slightly stupid look. I was enjoying myself too much to answer, so I continued chanting and waving. After a few minutes, I handed her the sage and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I rooted through my bag again and pulled out a deck of Tarot cards. I wasn’t the greatest reader, but I was passable.
“Pick a card,” I demanded, holding the deck out to her. I was counting on the fact that she didn’t know the proper protocol of Tarot reading, including asking the goddess to bless the reading and cutting the deck three times. I sent another silent apology to witches and wizards everywhere, but now was not the time to be a stickler for authenticity. I was going for maximum effect which included brevity. Kayla didn’t move, looking at me as if I were crazy. “Pick a card,” I repeated, my voice growing in volume. We were still standing in her front hallway, and the smell of sage was overwhelming. Kayla picked a card and handed it to me. It was The Tower, number sixteen of the Major Arcana, and my favorite card. I put on a serious face as I gazed at the card. “This is a warning, Kayla,” I said, holding her eyes with mine. “The Tower represents total destruction of the old. Everything you hold dear, your thoughts, your actions, your beliefs and perhaps the people you love will be destroyed.”
“No!” Kayla cried out, her voice anguished. Far from being skeptical, she appeared as if she were absorbing every word I was saying. I held up a finger to indicate silence as I pondered the card some more. I didn’t have to look as I knew everything there was to know about this card, but I knew it gave the situation more gravitas if I took a second look.
“It’s a good thing, Kayla,” I added, lowering my voice to a whisper. “Once you let go of the old, let it be demolished, the phoenix will arise from the ashes. The only way to be free is to let go of everything.” I thrust the deck at her again, keeping The Tower out of the pile. “Pick another card to see how you can accomplish what needs to be done.”
Thoroughly cowed, Kayla picked a second card and silently handed it to me. By now, she wasn’t questioning what I was doing which made my job a hell of a lot easier. The card was the Princess of Wands in all her glory. It was the perfect card, really, as it espoused letting go of fear. I could tell that under Kayla’s bluster and seductive poses that she was afraid of something. As long as the fear was greater than her love for her son, she wouldn’t speak. I had to convince her that her fear was causing her to make the wrong decisions, but what could I say that would do the trick?
“Kayla, may I come in?” I finally asked. I deemed it the right psychological moment to take a quick break. Kayla nodded and let me into her house, leading me to the same living room. She had cleaned up somewhat, most likely hoping that it would impress Matt. I sat on the couch, indicating that she should sit in the hardback chair. She lowered herself onto it, clearly preferring the couch to the chair. “See your card?” I waved her card at her, waiting until she nodded. “This is the Princess of Wands, and she’s here to tell you to let go of your fear. You think by keeping silent, you’re protecting yourself. Well, you’re not. The people you’re dealing with are not honorable, and they wouldn’t hesitate to put you out of commission if they could, even if you do keep silent. Once you talk about what you fear, the fear loses its power. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but you have to talk.”
“I can’t,” Kayla said desperately. “If I do, he’ll ki—” She clamped her mouth shut, but I understood what she’d been about to say. If she talked, he’d kill her. That was what she feared, and she couldn’t see that he most likely would kill her regardless. I put the deck back in its velvet pouch and tucked it away in my bag. I pulled out the big guns—my runes. I showed her a few of them, but kept the majority of them in the velvet pouch. I always carried the tools of my craft in velvet—they preferred it to any other fabric. Kayla’s eyes widened at the sight of the iridescent stones. “What, what are you going to do with those?” Again, I didn’t answer as I took the sage from her that she was still holding. I waved it over the runes, muttering a prayer at the same time. I handed the sage back to Kayla who held it with disdain.
“Pick one,” I commanded, holding the pouch out to her. “Hold it exactly as you took it out of the pouch.” Kayla drew out a rune and handed it over to me. She was beginning to look at me as if I were a deity, which was exactly what I had in mind. “Kano Reversed,” I commented, feeling the tinge of excitement that I do when things fall into place. “Kayla, you have essentially picked the same symbol. This rune corresponds with The Tower, which you drew from the Tarot deck. Things are dying all around you—you must give up the old.” I held the pouch out to her again, and she grabbed another rune. After glancing at it, she frowned.
“There’s nothing on it.” She handed the rune to me, thinking it was a mistake. I took it reverently as it was the most important rune of them all.
“Kayla, this is Odin—the unknowable.” I couldn’t believe she had chosen it, but it must have been what she needed. “This rune signifies a possible death—but it doesn’t have to be a physical death. Your deepest fears will surface, but you must trust yourself to leap into the void. It is in this moment when you must decide if you want to live or die.”
“I want to live,” Kayla said passionately, tears streaming down her cheeks. I took the sage from her and crush it out in the ashtray I noticed on the coffee table. I patted Kayla on the arm before sitting back down. I didn’t feel too guilty because I had read the cards and runes pretty much as they were with just the slightest interpretation. Subconsciously, she must have been tired of living the way she’s been living, which was why she drew the cards and runes she did.
“Then you must tell me everything.” I kept my voice even because there would be nothing to gain by raising my voice at her. Kayla nodded her head several times like a little girl. She looked ten years older than she really was, but she was finally willing to talk.