I got the text from the psychic just a few minutes before she was supposed to meet me at the newspaper.
It read, “I am not going to make it. I fell today and am heading to the hospital.”
I was a little disappointed, but not surprised. It had been that kind of day with plans going awry and things taking a turn for the worse.
As part of my month of exploring some of the spooky aspects of the season, I thought October would be a great month to get my fortune told. It had to have been 15 years since I’d sought that out, since I’d asked anyone to take up a deck of tarot cards on my behalf.
It had all been a part of another story, which I’d barely taken seriously. I hadn’t taken fortune telling seriously, but for that story, I’d spoken to three or four different fortune tellers and wound up with three or four different results.
The thing I most remembered out of that batch of clairvoyants was I’d asked each of them if I’d ever publish a book. They’d all said yes, except one, who’d told me without ever looking up from her cards, “No.”
She’d also told me it wouldn’t be a bad idea to maybe hold off getting married or engaged, which might have been a little late.
Fifteen years and one divorce later seemed like a good time to reassess the situation. As it happened, the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Charleston was having a Psychic Fair. I couldn’t make the festival, but they’d helpfully posted a guest list of attendees giving readings, and I knew one of them — Gabriella Joy.
We were friends on Facebook.
I reached out, but I also thought maybe I ought to have a second opinion handy and contacted the Crystal Lotus Shoppe in St. Albans, where I’d met a tarot card reader a few weeks back during a street festival.
I tried to convince a friend that she needed to have her fortune read, but she was nervous about it. The reader said we should probably think about it and come back later, if we wanted.
After a couple of beers, we went back, but the store was closed.
They said they’d be glad to have me come by for a reading and didn’t mind being my second choice.
I’d just sent them a note, explaining that there’d been a change when the Gazette-Mail’s office manager, Kathy Mobley, sent me a message that I was needed in front of the building.
People could be nicer.
Sitting by a parking meter was my friend, Gabriella. She’d tripped and broken her arm by the parking meter. Her husband was on his way.
Kathy, walking to her car, had seen Gabriella sitting there and stopped.
“Two other people saw me and just walked by,” Gabriella said.
I was appalled.
She was in a bit of pain, but her husband was on his way. We kept her company for five minutes or so until he arrived. After they left, we filled up the parking meter with change, so they wouldn’t have to worry about a ticket.
It was the best we could do under the circumstances, and I felt bad for her. She’d be out of commission for at least a couple of weeks.
Interview with a fortune-teller
The next day, I met Aeson Knight, who reads fortunes and teaches at the Crystal Lotus Shoppe.
We’d met before, though I hadn’t remembered until I saw him. He’d been at Shocka-Con during my first Halloween-themed month. We had talked about ghosts. I’d gone to the horror convention to speak to some ghosthunters and struck up a conversation to pass the time.
Aeson told me he’d had the talent for seeing into the future since he was child, that the talent showed up in his family sometimes, but that he’d studied how to use it for decades.
“Not everybody bothers,” he said.
Some of the impressions and images were hard to pin down.
Aeson described it as watching a grainy movie on an old VCR stuck on fast forward. He didn’t always get everything.
“But I’m about 83 percent accurate,” he said.
Reading fortunes paid the bills, though it was a piecemeal kind of profession. He had hours at the shop, did private readings and took his cards to different summer festivals. He also did readings over the phone, booking appointments through the internet.
He’d been part of different psychic networks where people called up 800 numbers.
“It used to be so bad with the hold music, and you’d just wait and wait,” he said.
Aeson has taught lessons on his craft and other related metaphysical subjects. He’s also a host on “The Psychic Coffee Shop” podcast.
“I put in about 80 hours a week.”
People ask Aeson all kinds of things, but there are some questions he can’t answer. He can’t give anyone the winning lottery numbers in advance.
“It really doesn’t work like that,” he said.
If it did, Aeson would have cashed out and retired a long time ago.
We did the reading in his office. Aeson sat behind his desk, which looked significantly less weird than my desk at the paper, which resembles a thrift store clearance shelf.
Various framed certificates hung on the wall behind him.
I sat in the chair across from him, as if I was applying for a loan, and we began.
Aeson had me shuffle a deck of cards. I fiddled with the cards a couple of times, apologizing for being slow and awkward. I’d never been great at handling cards.
He said it didn’t really matter. Then I handed the cards back to him.
Quickly, as a man who’d had great practice, he smoothly dealt the cards out into a pattern resembling a flower and began to tell me things.
What did he say?
It’s hard to remember all that he said or the way he said it, because I was, quite frankly, astonished. The high points were that I was going through some changes, some turbulence, and that 2020 would be a big year for me.
“I see some old school manuscripts lying around,” he said. “Do you have something like that?”
I do. Over the past 20 years, I’ve written a couple of books. They’re in boxes or piles inside my house.
A couple of times, I’ve tried finding a publisher or an agent, but the cost of postage and the rejection letters wore me down. At some point with each project, I’d decided I needed to just rewrite the whole thing, and I put them aside planning to do just that.
But it had been ages since I’d picked any of them up.
I told him, yes. I had some manuscripts.
“It might be time to revisit those,” he said.
Aeson also told me that I’d started something new or was about to start something new that might be big for me, might even make me some money.
I don’t know how big it actually was or how big it might be, but a month ago, I started a happiness blog on my own, outside the newspaper.
There’s not a lot to it. It’s just a blog about looking for happiness in a place that’s always at the top of the misery index. I thought it would be fun and give me yet another reason not to clean my house or mow my lawn.
We talked for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. I asked about my job, my future, even my love life and what he told me sounded eerily prescient.
I got a little caught up in it all.
Cynically, I could say what Aeson really gave me was just solid observation with some well-worded encouragement. Lots of newspaper writers kick around the idea of writing a book. Many of them try, but few get published.
Most writers never get a book published.
Also, Aeson knew I was coming. He could have looked me up through social media and combed through that for clues, but no. Trying to make sense of my Facebook posts requires prescription medication.
As we sat there, I thanked him for the reading and explained that I’d planned to use him as my second opinion, but that my first choice had broken her arm.
I had to ask, “Why didn’t she know about something like that?”
Aeson sighed and said, “Fate.”
Something like that is like trying to predict where lightning will strike. There are always things moving outside of anyone’s vision, and sometimes these forces are trying to guide a person toward a specific destination — this includes the reader as well as the person to be read.
At least, that’s what I got out of what he was saying, which seemed kind of spooky, but good enough for October and Halloween.