Alli walked down the street at night. Long shadows. Post no bills. The wind lifted old pieces of newspaper up and held them in the air like ghosts, before dropping them flat on the ground, as if the moment of flight had never happened.
But Alli wasn’t paying attention to that. In a leather jacket, Alli walked past chain-link fences, along the overpass, and over a tumulus of fallen leaves. She was on her way The Gem.
It was easy to miss. The building was slung low, hunched, almost sinking into the ground. A single, white neon sign depicting a diamond was the only symbol that indicated where she was. Alli opened the wooden door, with a square of stained glass at eye-height.
The juke box was going at a muted volume. The creaking fan spun at a lazy speed. Heads hung low, discussions hushed. The aging barkeep slowly wiped the counter down with a soft cloth.
Alli ordered a martini, with a lemon peel. Marta, sat on her usual stool, wearing her flowered hat, stirring her mint julep. She came to the bar to read.
Kaan appeared on the stool next to her, also in a leather biker jacket, and a wife beater. Alli sipped the martini, “Do you have your gear?”
“Sure do,” Kaan said pulling a cloth-wrapped bundle from her leather jacket.
“Let’s go over there,” Alli gestured. They slid into a booth, ducking beneath the low-hanging ceiling beams.
Kaan unwrapped the item in the red cloth. It was a deck of cards, the Rider-Waite Tarot deck. She shuffled the deck and dealt seven cards, face down. From those seven, she pushed the last three forward, “Past. Present. Future.”
Alli eyed the cards and then looked up at Kaan, “Go on.”
Kaan flipped the first card: “Knight of Swords. Dashing off toward adventure. Careening toward danger. Loyal, but contending with many forces, buffeting winds. True?”
Alli nodded and took another sip of her drink.
“Second card, the Star. Liminal card. One foot on dry land, the other on water. A card of selflessness. Also, a card of internal re-awakening. True?”
Alli nodded for Kaan to continue.
“Final card. King of Cups. A sensitive person. An adviser in high places. Contemplative. Pensive.”
Alli, again accepted the card, folding her hands.
“The transition is from land to water, from the frenetically bellicose to tranquility and self-awareness.”
“It’s a good narrative,” Alli said.
“But you’re not at peace,” Kaan replied.
Alli looked down, studying the whorls in the table.
Kaan leaned back, into the black upholstery, “It takes two to break up. You will wonder what you could have done better for a long time. But the truth is you couldn’t have done anything better. You haven’t lost anything, because you never gained anything in the first place.”
Alli looked up at Kaan, with more hostility than she meant to.
“It’s going to take a long time to understand that it wasn’t your fault, that you need to stop blaming yourself. Ultimately, you must forgive yourself.”
Alli also sat back, exhausted – even though it was only the beginning of the night.
Kaan looked around, and caught sight of Marta, in her yellow hat, “Is she always here?”
Alli looked past Kaan, following Kaan’s line of sight, “She’s been coming here for twenty years. Every night, same seat.”
Kaan looked back at Alli, “Must be a good spot.”
2) Michael McDonald – “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)”
Vanilla: Forgettin’ (based on “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” by Michael McDonald, of the Doobie Brothers)
3) Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins – “What a Fool Believes” (Live)
slosylove: Da Hauntings
Duett: Running Scared