I have a girlfriend, a very dear girlfriend, and we’ve known each other for years (nearly 25 years, as a matter of fact, oh my!). She is the kind of woman I always aspired to be – beautiful, genuinely kind, gracious, and even-tempered.
She’s the kind of woman who, back in the days of our corporate years, would take her brown-bag lunch outside and sit with homeless people as she shared, eating only a little herself. And she’d talk to the homeless, really talk to them. She wanted to know whether they chose the life that they lived, or was it the dim reminder of a once more “normal” life? She truly is an amazing woman.
She convinced me on a couple of occasions to have lunch with her and her homeless friends, and of course, I’d go. But I went for different reasons. I went strictly out of guilt, and I knew that. I wasn’t sharing a turkey and provolone on wheat with Goo-Roo (that was really his name. “Goo” for short) because I chose to. I shared my sandwich with Goo because I knew I’d disappoint my friend if I did what I really wanted to do, which was to soak the bench with Clorox, dip the sandwich and bag in Clorox, throw them both at the man, spraying him with Clorox, and run screaming for the police. I followed my friend’s lead because, somewhere down deep where my heart lives, I knew that she was an example, for me and for so many others. She did not fear the lost or forgotten people of the street. She wanted to get to know them.
As soon as I got into my slinky low sportscar (I hadn’t had my knee surgeries yet, mind you) I plugged the address she’d given me into the car’s GPS system. Looked like I’d be backtracking into Gwinnett, but on the ‘less traveled’ side of the road, over in Buford (the Buford of 25 or so years ago). I hoped this was really important to her.
When my car politely reminded me in that computer/Betty Crocker sweet voice of hers that I had reached my destination, I looked at the sign and thought, “No. This can’t be right.” Sure enough, though, there stood my sweet friend on the front porch of MADAM ANGELINA’S. I got out of my car, clicked LOCK on the fob, and locked eyes with my friend. Had she been kidnapped? Was she going to introduce me to her birth mother? I couldn’t read her thoughts, but here we were.
We entered through the heavy black door of MADAM ANGELINA’S and yes, we pushed our way through an eerie beaded curtain. Smoke hung heavy and eerie in the ante-room, the place where Angie probably did all her psychic connecting. Now my girlfriend, then anyway, was a deeply spiritual person who was seeking something, that was obvious. She just had no idea what it was. I guess she figured that, if anyone would know, a psychic would.
Now I’ve always poo-poo’ed the notion that people can see into the future, or talk to the dear departed, but let’s face it. It’s a great racket, because who’s going to argue with you? You can't lose.
Back to Madam Angelina. She politely asked my friend and me to sit at the table as she readied herself for what was surely to be the performance of a lifetime. I tried to sneak a peek under the tablecloth when she cleared her throat. That meant that I was to stop whatever I was doing and give her my full attention. I looked indulgently at my friend, sighed, and began tapping my fingers n a wooden box there on the table. Stop THAT! Mme. Angie shrieked at me, snatching the box away from me and placing it on the other side of the table. “If I am to read you, you must be still and open,” Angie said to me. My smile melted to confusion when she said that I was there to get a reading, not my friend. “Now this,” my dad would say, “is a hoss of a different color.”
My friend and I sat across the table from Madame Angelina (let’s just continue to call her Angie for short), and she explained that we were there to get an initial reading on me, not on my friend, as she had been led to believe. I wanted to say that, if she really were a psychic, she should have known that, but I didn’t. As I said, my friend is a genuinely sweet person, so I tried to keep an open mind.
Angie began by lighting a candle and walking around the small table, trialing smoke and waving it toward my face. A psychic would have known that I have asthma, wouldn’t she? Oh well. I sat still and quiet, holding my breath for as long as I could.
Now the three of us sat around the table, and Angie asked to hold my hands, palms up. “Here we go,” I thought.
“This is your lifeline, this one tells how many children you’ll have (that should be interesting), and this one reveals your gifts.” Hmmm. I kept my face expressionless, not willing to give Angie even a shred of help. “You have lived half your life,” she uttered as if she had amazed even herself.
Really, Angie? That’s kind of open-ended. I could live to be 100, or I could trip, fall off her porch and break my neck when we leave. Either way, what she said was true.
“You are not comfortable being here and do not believe in us who see beyond.” No, I’m sure that wasn’t at all obvious.” Arms crossed, muscles tense, frequent deep sighs and glances at the clock, punctuated by errant giggles. Nope, not obvious.
“You have a husband, and he loves you very much.” True, but who would argue with that one? Like I’m going to stand up and say, “Aha! I’m married, yes, but he HATES me! Gotcha!” She was batting 1000.
“Your children bring you much joy.” Again, please.
“You love deeply but hate deeply, as well.” Yikes. That one caught me off guard. I didn’t think I hated anyone (well, with one possible exception). I squirmed a bit in my seat.
I was waiting for her to spring the “you’ve battled weight all your life” thing on me. If she did, I was leaving. That’s both obvious and frustrating to me. I was in no mood for a psychotherapy session led by a woman in a turban and a lot of cheap jewelry.
“You make a living with your words.” What? How did she know that? I glanced at my friend, sure she and Angie had chatted on the phone before I had arrived.
“You like having the material comforts.” Uh, yeah I do. Don’t you?
I can’t remember all the rest; it really doesn’t matter. I left with the same attitude I arrived with – you can read anything you want into what a psychic tells you. I can see how people desperate for answers, closure or peace could be taken in by these people. I am glad I went, though, if only for Allison’s sake. Maybe for the sake of our friendship. In the end, I couldn’t help myself though.
Angie asked me if I wanted to come back for a more thorough examination of today’s discoveries. I stared at her, trying to communicate my answer telepathically. She just looked at me and repeated herself, as if I were deaf. Still not answering her (not audibly anyway), I simply got up, pushed my chair in and left the room.
As Allison and I got into her car to leave, I caught a glimpse of Angie through the window, and she appeared to have a doll of some sort in her hands. Now I’m not trying to sound like an alarmist here, but I was sure I saw her easing a long pin into the doll’s lower back and grinning maliciously. My back has been killing me ever since. What do you make of that?
Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. Her fourth book, BLOOD IN THE SOIL, was published April 2016. It is the true tale of a crime that took place in Gwinnett County nearly 40 years ago. Her other three books are written with Southern humor. Carole often appears on network television talk and news shows, as well as on national true crime radio shows. Her books can be found in bookstores, on Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble.com, and at www.caroletownsend.com. When she’s not writing, Carole travels throughout the southeast, talking to groups about women, writing, family and living in her beloved South.