Here is how it works: her brother brings them in. She pretends, at first, that she doesn’t see them, that she doesn’t see anything.
She has always had that look, far away and distant and from another time. When they first started this, they paled up her skin, thinking that more ghostly would be more convincing, but, after a few dry runs, they decided that that pale was too pale, and it made the marks suspicious.
The ones who don’t believe her, who think she is a scam, but a fun and entertaining one and why not pay the five dollars?, believe that she traffics in generalities, banal statements of fame and fortune or tragedy and pain that could apply, really, to just about anyone. Or they believe that she is at the head of an entire network of scam artists, which includes that chatty woman selling beads and knick-knacks down the road, and the bodega guy who sells roasted corn, the bartender in the only bar in this six block stretch, and the kid selling Coca-Cola and ice cream bars out of a white plastic cooler, that they are all working for her, feeding her information, passing along secret signals about what couple is ripe for the picking, where they are from, who they long to hear from again, what they long for her to tell them. Some of them think that she tells them only what she thinks they want to hear, stories of success or fame or happiness or fulfillment, while others think that it’s her brother who is the scam artist and that she is simply one of his pawns, that he’s pulling all the strings and making all the predictions and suckering all the tourists.
Here is how it works: her brother brings them inside. Even before any of them—the marks, her brother—step inside, she begins to write, and she writes and she writes, and when she’s done, she steps back and waits for them to ask her what it all means. She doesn’t know what it all means, but she reads it to them anyway, everything she has written. She doesn’t know where it comes from or what it all means or whether it is true or a lie, whether it makes sense to them or not, and she doesn’t care.
All that she cares about is that she will write and write, until there is nothing left, and then she will read what she has written, and that no matter what she cannot stop.
Story by Manuel Gonzales
Photo by Emily Raw
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