Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Psychic

The rain kept me indoors, and anyway, I had nowhere to go.
The city wasn't my favorite destination, but I certainly liked it well enough, particularly compared to some of the hell holes I'd been in.  The people here were open-minded enough, an attitude that pervaded the management of the company I worked for this week, and it was in the same time zone as home, so my aging body didn't rebel against the alarm as much as it might on the East coast.  But it was winter here, and that meant rain.  Lots of rain.  The locals didn't seem to mind so much; I was told that you could tell someone from out of town in the winter because they carried umbrellas.  Whether or not it was true, I just chose not to go outside unless I had to.
The hotel I was staying at was an upscale business-class property of my favorite national chain.  My frequent-traveller status with them assured me a comfortable bed and no hassles, which I certainly appreciated.  Classy as the place was, though, the mid-week entertainment at the in-house bar left a lot to be desired.  The previous night's Jazz singer had been good.  Tonight, though, it was some knock-off of The Great Karnak, complete with satin turban and gold-trimmed cape.  I sat in the back, poking at my highball with the little plastic stick it came with and thinking of Amy and the kids.
The show opened with a better than expected comedy monologue that took my mind off the rain and the thousand-mile distance to home.  Screwy get-up or not, the guy could spin a joke.  He wasn't as good as Carson had been in the same outfit, but most in this crowd weren't old enough to draw the comparison, and the schtick stuck.  After a bit, his material expended, he paused and looked at the crowd.  "Well, on to the main part of our show," he said, seeming somewhat unsure of himself.  Was that for effect, or was he new to this game?  Not sure.  He continued, "It says on the sign that I'm a psychic, but it doesn't take E.S.P. to know that none of you believe me."  A few snickers from the crowd showed that he was right about that, at least.  "Well, I suppose I should start with a good demonstration.  As you might expect, I'll need a couple of volunteers..."  He trailed off, looking around expectantly for raised hands that weren't there.  A friend of mine once described for me the art of "practicing invisibility," something I desperately tried to undertake.  Usually I liked that I stood out in a crowd, but this wasn't one of those times.
My spell failed, though, as his eyes fell on me.  "You there, in the back, bald guy with the eye patch.  What's your first name?"  Some psychic.  
"Dan," I said, hoping this wouldn't take long.
"Sam?  It's Sam, you say?"  The people at the table next to me sniggered.  I held my composure to a smile, but wanted to laugh out loud.  "That's quite a dreadful look you have about you, Sam."  Now why would he have used just that word...?  "Okay, I need another volunteer from the audience.  How about you, sir?  Will you join Dreadful Sam in this bit of magic?"  I suddenly felt cold.  That was just weird.  It took a lot to rattle me, but he just had.  Time for me to make an exit.
As I rose to leave, the psychic called, "Dreadful Sam, won't you stay and help me prove my psychic powers?"
"You'll probably never know it, kid, but you just proved it to me.  Good night."
The next morning, I sat eating a plate of eggs and hashbrowns, extra crispy, reading the sports section.  The Lakers had won again, putting them two-and-two in the semi-finals against Utah.  Saturday's game should be exciting, and I had tickets.  I contemplated upgrading to courtside; there was this broker I knew who could make such things happen.
A shadow appeared on my paper and a voice said, "Mr. Moran?"  
I looked up into a vaguely familiar face.  Where had I seen him?  Desk clerk?  "Yes?"
"I wanted to thank you for indulging me."  Indulging him?  In what?  I peered closer at him, looking into his eyes for signs of dementia.  His eyes were bright green, possibly contacts, though it was hard to say.  Ah, yes, the psychic.  I nodded a response, still crunching hashbrowns.
He seemed satisfied, and turned to leave.  "Hey, do I know you from anywhere?" I asked, curious about how he knew.  Not that he couldn't, I was just curious how.
He smiled and winked at me knowingly, "Not just yet, no," and was gone.  
You encounter strange things when you travel.  Strange things, indeed.


Blogger Dan Moran said...

Odd finding myself in a story. I'm thinking time travler from the future for the green-eyed guy.

Amy says the story only works to the degree you get the inside joke, which is ok since it's all you were trying to do -- but instead of waiting until the next morning with the green-eyed bit, "Dan" should notice this about him before he walks out of the show ... as is, "Dan" doesn't appear to get who this guy is, even at the level of "Nah, couldn't be."

5:26 PM  

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