Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Halloween 2016: "Of Cards and Dog"

Jenna stormed out of the library and made a quick turn to go through the park. It would be five miles to Paulette’s house and it was going to be five miles in shoes made more for dancing than a long walk, but Jenna didn’t want Sam to know where she was staying. Sam and her husband, Nick, were two people she didn’t want to see again for a while, even if deep down inside Jenna knew she might have to rely on them again, and soon, if Paulette didn’t take her in. Jenna knew once the photos of last night’s party spread across social media she might get fired, that is, if the DUI didn’t push her supervisor into terminating her employment flat out. Jenna knew Sam wouldn’t follow her on foot; it was hard to tell the two were sisters as lazy as Sam had turned out to be.
The wide and meandering walkway in the park gave way to a much narrower sideway in town. Jenna checked her phone and it was still dead, Jim had cut that off, too. A few minutes on the computer in the library confirmed he had gotten into her accounts, credit cards, FB, and everything else, and shut down all her resources. She stopped to catch her breath and realized she had nowhere to go if Paulette wasn’t home; Jenna hadn’t memorized one number in her now dead phone, didn’t have a charger, and hadn’t showered since right before she had left last night. Two more miles, at least, Jenna thought, and walked on.

“This,” Jenna declared aloud to the chilly morning air, “is the ultimate Walk of Shame,” as she surveyed the last block of her journey. The sidewalk gave up at the curb and to road to Paulette’s house was lined by tall weeds. Jenna took a deep breath and trudged forward, dew seeping into her shoes and soaking into her party dress. One hundred yards later she arrived at Paulette’s house; a very old house with a wraparound porch and a high-pitched roof. She had been here only once, to drop Paulette off from work when they closed early for a storm, and had stayed for tea, but Paulette was technically her employee at work so Jenna felt comfortable being work friends with her and leaving it at that.

There was a very large black dog on the porch who was sitting near the door and Jenna froze. The thing was the size of a pony! The dog didn’t move or growl or even so much as blink and Jenna wondered if she was about to be eaten. But as she knocked on the door the dog merely sat there as if it were waiting for some command to be pulled into action.
“Jenna!” Paulette said as she opened the door, “This is a surprise!”
“How did you know it was me?” Jenna asked.
“Your footsteps are as unique as your fingerprints.” Paulette replied, “Uh, would you like to come in? Tea?”
“Yes, and I have to tell you I’m here to ask a favor.” Jenna walked into the house and realized it was exactly the same as she had seen it a couple of years ago. Nothing had been moved or changed.
“You need a place to stay.” Paulette answered. “Come in, take off those wretched shoes. There’s a bathrobe hanging on the back of the door in the bathroom, first door on the right, leave your clothes outside and I’ll toss them into the washer. I’ll put tea on.”

Jenna looked down at the drain while she showered. The smell of cigarettes and beer and a night of sitting in jail were being washed down that drain, even if she couldn’t see it, she knew she would smell better after the water had washed her clean. She was very careful to put the soap, the shampoo, and everything else back exactly where she had found it. Jenna looked at the person looking back at her in the mirror and sighed. Jailed twice in six hours, a DUI, thrown out of her house, and without an identity, yes, this was seriously bad.

“And they took you to jail, again?” Paulette asked incredulously.
“I lost my purse.” Jenna explained. “I didn’t have any way to prove I lived there. My temper got the best of me so they took me in. Sam came back to get me out, again, and that’s another long story. We went to the library to see if I could get any of my credit cards reissued and sent to my work address and found out Sam had lifted one from me last night. She used to post bail but she also bought the twins some shoes with it this morning, and got her red neck husband a bait box. They went to IHOP on it, too. About three hundred bucks worth of damage.” Jenna sighed.
“Any chance those kids will survive Sam?” Paulette asked.
“I’ve been supporting them since they were born.” Jenna said. “They’re great kids as long as Nick isn’t around.”
“So about last night.” Paulette changed the subject abruptly.
“Jim and I got into a fight over me giving Sam money to help feed the twins.” Jenna sighed deeply. “I went out with Sam and Nick, I know, I know, and anyway, I got drunk, made out with this guy Nick knows named Cleve, I think they’re related, photos were taken and posted online, Jim saw them, went off the deep end and packed my stuff up in boxes and put it all on the porch. He killed off my phone, all my cards, everything, then I got a DUI om the way home, lost my purse and all my ID, so when I got home Jim had tossed me out and I couldn’t prove I lived there. The cops took me in for trespassing.” Jenna laughed. “Other than that I had a great time.”
Paulette didn’t answer Jenna but instead fell deep in thought and was silent. Jenna sipped her tea and waited. Finally, Paulette said, “Let’s do a reading and see what the cards tell us.”

Jenna had seen Tarots before, but this deck was different. There were five cards which were Star cards, a set that came into later, and then what seemed a full deck with different symbols.
“The star cards are slightly larger,” Paulette said, “if you’re wonder how I know. I laid out a pattern of future, past, and the now. Describe to me what you see.” Paulette implored.
“The first card has two snakes entwined, but it’s upside down, and the one next to it has three circles, they’re interlocked, the fourth card has four swords pointing towards the center.”
“Hmmmm” Paulette said. “Curious.”
Paulette place four more cards on the table. “Your star cards.”  What do you see?

A red one facing me, a red one next to it, and the next two are both blue.” Jenna replied.

Again, they sat in silence. Paulette finally said, “I know your address and your name. If we have to we can call the police and explain to them what happened and you have me as a witness. I’d give Jim the night to cool off. I’ll cook some spaghetti, it’s damn good comfort food and it goes good with wine. Stay here for the night, and we’ll go see Jim before work tomorrow and maybe he’ll be more willing to give you the access codes to the door, and if not, we’ll talk to the cops again.”

They drank wine and ate and Paulette talked about the cards, and why the large dog never moved and why the cards would fall where they would depending on who touched them and why they were touched. Paulette went to bed early but Jenna stayed up to drink the remainder of the bottle. She fell asleep on the sofa and had dreams of being chased by the dog, who caught her and tore her into pieces.

The next morning, they called a taxi and it pulled up to the house where Jenna had been twenty-four hours prior. There were two cop cars parked in the driveway and two more parked along the curb. A cop came out to talk to them and Jenna recognized him as one of the cops who had taken her in the day before. A detective joined them and Paulette suggested they both call work and let someone know they both would be late.
“What happened here?” Jenna asked.
“Ma’am, someone murdered your ex-boyfriend.” The detective explained. “He was slashed to death.”