(originally posted 7/18/2020)
The idea came to him as he was mowing his lawn. As he was trying to do his best to mow in straight lines while at the same time humming along with, and occasionally doing a small shimmy to, a selection of his favorite songs, at a decibel level that his phone warned him was detrimental to his long-term hearing, an enormous golden dragonfly began following him around.
Very unusual as dragonflies weren’t something that usually haunted his neighborhood. I’ll explain ‘haunted’ in a moment. It wasn’t until the dragonfly’s ten or eleventh pass that he noticed it was dragonflies. Plural. No apostrophe necessary. One giant golden one and one smaller one and they seemed to be getting very amorous as they flew around completely entwined.
“What sorcery is this?” he said under his breath.
I said ‘haunted’ earlier because his recently-ex girlfriend believes not only in coincidences but also in her ability to cause them. While she dabbled in a variety of flying insects, her specialty was dragonflies. She’d told him so on a number of occasions.
Why, he wondered, would she send a couple of her sexed-up winged minions to his house when he was busy trying to forget that she had just recently rejected his sexual advances? She knew that he had taken it hard.
That’s when he got his brilliant idea… although, to be fair, the morality of it was on shaky ground.
This girl he was infatuated in believed in all things mystical. From healing crystals and speaking to the dead to telepathy and fung shui, she thought all of it was as valid and reasonable as any science or psychology she’d ever heard. Included in all of that was tarot cards.
He, on the other hand, thought it was all nonsense. But the way she believed it seemed to him to be so endearing that he not only tolerated it, but her passion for it somehow made her more attractive.
He smiled ear to ear as his little scheme came together in his head. Had he not been pushing a mower he would have no doubt rubbed his hands together and let loose a diabolical laugh.
I thought you’d never ask.
He would get her to agree to one last date, begging if necessary. A nice goodbye where they could part friends. A pleasant meal on the nearby boardwalk. It was littered with places to eat. How could she say no? He stopped the mower briefly to rub his hands together and indulge in a quick diabolical laugh. That’s how foolproof he thought his plan was.
You see, on this boardwalk was a fortune teller. He would bring up some paranormal thing or other during the meal to set the stage and then, as they walked back to their cars, they would pass this fortune teller and he would casually suggest that before they decide to part ways for good that they should consult a higher power. He would pay, of course.
He would earnestly tell her that if the fortune teller said that they should break up, then he would never contact her again.
If, on the other hand, the reading suggested that perhaps she should reconsider and sleep with him, that she would then be duty-bound to follow through.
And here’s the part that will explain why the mower once again came to rest, allowing him to rub his hands together and let loose another diabolical laugh; he would visit the fortune teller beforehand and pay her off to ensure that his ex got exactly the reading he needed her to.
Listen, I told you right up front that the idea was on shaky ground in terms of ethics. I try not to sugarcoat things. He would argue that if you’re going to turn over responsibility for your personal decisions to the interaction of a tarot deck and probability then let the cards fall where they may. All’s fair and whatnot.
Relax a little, the story isn’t over yet.
And if you know anything about my stories, they usually never end well for the people engaged in such shakiness. Or people not engaged in such shakiness.
So everything went according to plan. He got his ex to accept his dinner invitation. He paid off the fortune teller. He positioned his bed centrally and out of line from the door, made sure there was a bedside table on each side of the bed, bought some new sheets in soothing colors, invested in some candles, and adjusted the mirror so it couldn’t be seen from the bed. He fung shuid the shit out of his bedroom.
Nothing could possibly go wrong.
I’ll inject here that it’s obvious that he cared about this girl. Feel some compassion for him if you can muster it. Nobody fung shuis their bedroom just to get laid.
The two of them walked into the cramped quarters of the fortune teller in high spirits. Both confident that the cards would make everything clear.
And they did.
It couldn’t have been any worse for him.
He was not amused. “What the fuck is this?” he thundered at the woman behind the table. “Did you forget about our deal?” The look on his ex’s face screamed “Deal?”
The woman smiled and said that she’d taken his money and done a reading on him after he left.
“You what?!” he stammered. His ex was now smiling and thoroughly enjoying the show.
“Yes. You care about this girl. Deeply. More than you realize. I did you a favor.”
“How so?” he asked, his thundering and stammering winding down.
“This girl is the kind of girl who sends dragonflies to visit suitors and jilted lovers alike.”
His ex stopped smiling.
“Now,” continued the fortune teller “If you’d like me to tell you both honestly if you belong together it will be another $100.”
They both looked at each other. He pulled out his wallet and forked it over. He and his ex both leaned forward expectantly.
The fortune teller shuffled the cards and then began to place them on the table.