How Not To Meet Old Friends 14

“I know you’re dead Danny,” she said to his blank expression as she put her hand over his eyes and closed them. Then as an after thought she looked over her shoulder at the twitching and writhing of the man laying an arms distance from her, every nerve in his entire body screamed to just die. Relief would not come for another hour.

She turned back to the dead Danny and said, “No more. No more am I going to say I don’t know. No more.”

The woman with no name got up and brushed off most of the dirt from the alley and stepped over the soon to be dead whispering man and took assessment. She looked at the Panzer Messer O.T.F. knife and an underground map to who-knows-where and calmly walked to the nearest street intersection and watched the hustle and bustle of New York Life. They all have names she thought and I too should have a name, every person born should have a name. This thought only held long enough to get easily bumped out by, what was the reason why she didn’t know her name? She had to find out. Maybe she was kidnapped? Just maybe she was a runaway and bumped her head and some family was terribly worried about her? Yeah, and maybe she didn’t just kill a man in the most horrible way and not care how long it took him to die. And why was it every time she tried to think beyond the cold tile floor, before the bed and the warm shower, the necklace, it would loop back on itself, change direction. What she needed to do was go back, go all the way back to that cold tile floor and bed and room. It was the only way her mind would be clear. For once she was going to do something on her own and not an automatic response. She was going to find out who she was even if it killed her.

This time when she asked directions she looked the person directly in the eyes and she could tell when it was the truth by the subtle way they looked away or to the side let her know fact from fiction. With this newly discovered knowledge she made it to East Seventy-Seventh street and in front of the glass doors of Lenox Hill Hospital. Through these doors she moved almost as if in a dream that opened her eyes and senses to a world of sights and sounds strangely familiar, yet remote, cold, and filled with liars, thieves, temporary friends and even murders and killers. Which one was she, or was she a composite of all of them? And maybe this reason to find out who she really is, is just another involuntary reaction? How could she tell? With that large load of confusion she moved through the long hallway of Lenox Hill Hospital. The clear tap, tap, tap of her shoes on tile over concrete was steady enough to attract the attention of the security guard. He watched the seemingly confident blonde New Yorker move toward him next to the elevators. Little did he know she was scanning the residents names and assessing departments as she moved along. She was taking in information, filing and storing it for instant access.

“Can I help you miss? Miss?”

“Yes, I’m with Otis,” she answered matter of factually as she looked down on the kick plate edging of the elevator.

“Otis?” the guard repeated, “Otis who? What floor is he on?”

“Otis is on every floor, and Otis is not a he, it is a what. That what carries you, the staff and all the good people who work here safely to work seven days a week. Otis is your elevator. I’m here for a routine inspection. I need to do this under actual conditions, and that means not drawing attention to myself. Is that clear security guard?”

He looked at her, then her dirty clothes.

“It’s an occupational hazard. I have to make sure you and your staff are safe. Sometimes it takes getting a little dirty.” She looked to see his reaction, but didn’t wait, “Your name is?”

“Uh, yes mam, Mathius, I’m Joe Mathius. I’m kinda new here and I don’t need any trouble. It’s my first job.” said the six foot four young man in a uniform that was made for a six foot man. His charming look faded at the confidence of the blonde woman standing before him.

“Are we clear?” she said as she pushed the down button on the elevator.

“Yes, mam,” he answered with the respect he felt due to this working V.I.P.

She stepped into the elevator and at the last moment an old woman got on with a little boy. She held the boy close, as if she didn’t want anyone touching him.

“Push five, honey” she said and waited. Together they rode in silence to floor five, then she let Otis take her down to the basement floor, only this floor was not the basement she came from.

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The basement she stepped onto was not the basement she left from, as a matter of fact it was at least one level floor down. She waited for the elevator doors to close and then looked at the door that led to a descending stairway. It had a key lock. The woman determined to go from no name to any name looked at the basement door as an opportunity and not a dead end. She looked around at the stacked boxes of supplies, the cleaning equipment and even broken medical monitors and noticed one that had a thin toothed bracket along its edge, about three inches long. Also she spotted bailing wire that held an old crate together. It didn’t take long to use field expedience and fashion picks to defeat the pin tumbler lock in 8.5 seconds flat.Lock4b copy

With the door open she stood on the first stone step and noticed every lower step down was far older than the rest of the hospital steps, almost as if everything were built on the foundation of the past.

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Veggies 12

This time falling asleep seemed more like an eye blink and when she saw morning sun trying to work it’s way around the blacked out skylight above her, she found herself getting up and listening very close to any sounds on the other side of the wall. When it was quiet enough she moved to the hole in the wall and scooted the vanity to one side. Once she crawled through the opening and stood up in the bathroom, she surveyed all the damage the deep voice had done to the room. The stink was still there and so was the basic structure of toilet, minus the seat and lid with everything breakable scattered over the floor. The room looked like it had been picked up shaken and dropped very hard. She didn’t bother to hold her nose when she noticed her reflection in an unblemished and unbroken mirror.

The main room and Joker’s work room suffered the same fate as the restroom only there was blood on the floor, as if someone were dragged from room to room. She followed the trail to a place against the wall that had 3 bullet holes and a pool of coagulating blood and no body.

Instinctively she found the alley door, briefly looked at the broken hasp then stepped out into the alley and morning sunshine on her face. This was where the voices had come before her and they had dragged the body with them into the alley.

The woman with no name didn’t run but jogged down the alley as if it were a morning health ritual all the way to the main side walk. She stood there still presentable enough to blend with the New York crowd that kept this city clothed, fed, watered and oh so oblivious to what goes thump, thump, thump in the night.

The sun on her back felt good, like an old friend taking her for a Sunday walk by the Moscow River and the old gardens at Gorky park. What? What was she thinking, what kind of memory was that? The park, Central Park, that was where she was yesterday. What was that other memory? I was down by the river? No I…smell delicious soup. It’s just like the one I had two days ago.VeggBilboard1a copy

The woman with no name looked across the street at a hand painted sign and it had the picture of a large bowl filled with all kinds of vegetables. Above the bowl the word ‘Veggies’ was hand lettered in bubbly font. She only needed one sense to make her cross the street and walk into the tiny but cozy eatery. The air was heavy with the scent of old world flavors vying for her attention, not to be outdone by strong espresso coffee.

“I recommend the Kasha today”, said a lightly freckled and pale skinned young waitress. Her jet black hair was an unnatural contrast made worse by a thick rubber band that held it at the back of her head.

“This one,” said the newly seated customer. She pointed to a picture on the menu that had all the ingredients of her best meal.

“Yeah, I guess we still got a a pot of it left,” the waitress said not bothering to write it down.

“Wait, you wouldn’t happen to know, Danny?”

The waitress stopped then turned around and looked much closer at her patron and then made a decision.

“Danny who?”

“Just Danny. I don’t know his last name.”

“Everyone has a last name sister, even you,” the waitress answered and disappeared through the swing door to the kitchen. As the door swung back she got just a glimpse of a man with his back turned to her. He had a wallet on a silver chain in his pocket. Her mind wanted to get up immediately and walk into the kitchen, but she relaxed the urge to not follow her instinct. She was slowly learning control and maybe even timing. If she had gotten up to find out what was happening earlier at Jokers she knew that it would have been a very bad mistake. This might be a mistake also. She waited.

The waitress returned with a steaming bowl of soup with noodles and fresh vegetables. She set it down with a large spoon. Under the spoon was a napkin with a scribbled note. Meet me around back in about forty five minutes. It was signed, Danny.

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Panzer Messer O.T. F. 13

The time passed quickly because the soup was just that good and when she left her pocket was six dollars lighter. The alley wasn’t hard to find and neither was the steel delivery door with Veggies stenciled on it. When she got close there were 4 skinheads near the trash cans smoking, joking and just hanging out. One looked older than the other three, who seemed to be in their late teens. Behind all of them stood Danny.

“I did what you people wanted. Now leave me alone!” Danny shouted over them like they were a human wall.

“I wasn’t looking for you,” she said back and then tried to get past the four in front of her. The oldest skin head reached out and grabbed her by the hair and pulled back.

“Sure, and you tell your friends about me and I end up in the sewer like Jimmie.”

“Jimmie Who?” was her answer.

“Like you don’t know who Jimmie was!” He shouted.

“I don’t have friends. I don’t know Jimmie.” she answered.

The skin head with the grip on her hair whispered in her ear. “We’re gonna make sure you never ask questions again, biatch.”

Without saying two skinheads grabbed both arms and held them behind her as the fourth one reached inside her jacket and began to fondle her left breast. His eyes were focused on hers. He wanted to see her helplessness, like he’d seen so many times before, only now it was not there. What he saw was not fear but indifference! She was not interested in what he was doing even when he dug his nail into her nipple. Crice, that would get a rise out of a dead woman, he thought.

“Danny, I came to the restaurant because of the food, and it was good. Just like you gave me.”

It didn’t matter what she said now because Danny had slammed the alley door shut with him inside.

“Shut up biatch,” was whispered in her ear and with her arms pulled back, her hair jerked hard, the skin head in front of her backed up five paces and came running at her full force with his fist all the way back behind himself and punched her deep into the stomach so hard he could feel it hit her spine. Air gushed from her mouth and the pain instantly surpassed the bad burger meal. After a while they began to take turns hitting her in the stomach, the face, back, arms and head. Then they began to argue about who was going to hit her next.

“Then use the brass knuckles,” the tallest skinhead said.

“I broke them on hitting her back too many times,” came from the shortest one.

“I’m tired. How long we been at this?”

“Don’t know, forty five minutes may an hour,” answered the one who whispered in her ear.

“Hey, where do you know Danny from?”

“Does it matter?” the whisperer said.

“Yeah, we’re here cause she got Jimmie killed and she was gonna turn Danny over to them.”

“Them who?”

“I ain’t say-in, but it don’t matter.”

“Hey, come to think of it, how do you know Danny?”

The whisperer looked around, as if he were weighing his options and exits.

“You don’t know Danny,” the shortest skin head said.

“Look, all that matters is we mess her up bad, right? Right?”

The short bruised knuckled skinhead replied, “I ain’t touching her again.”

“I gotta see my Chiropractor,” another one said and rubbed the back of his neck.

“This sucks, I’m outta here,” came from the fourth skin head. He raised his heavy leather boot to stomp her head as he did again and again before.

“Aren’t you tired of that?” came from one of the two that were now twenty feet down the alley.

“Yeah, it’s messing up my boot,” he answered and hurried to catch up to his friends moving away, talking and joking as if they had just come from the Gym.

The only one who remained was the whisperer.

“Too bad they left, now the real show begins” he said and grinned as if he finally found an animal that he trapped and could kill as pure pleasure.

PanMessT101 copy

He took from his pocket a vintage Panzer Messer O.T.F. knife and looked at it like an old killing buddy. He pressed a button on the side and it made a clear mechanical click as it’s razor sharp blade locked into place, ready for duty.

“Gramps said this blade cut a lot of throats during the war.”

Just then the steel back door to Veggies opened and Danny stood in the doorway. He looked at the damage they had done.

“Jeez! What the hell did you do?” He screamed it to the man who held a razor sharp blade to the throat of the woman with no name.

“What you wanted Danny boy” the whispering skin head answered.

“I told my friends to rough her up, not this. And who are you, anyway?”

Danny moved closer and the whisperer stood up, not to be at a disadvantage to any approach.

“I’m someone not to be take lightly,” the whisperer said grinning first to Danny and then to the pleasure he considered his.

Danny thought it was an opportunity in that moment but was very wrong. The whisperer was skilled with his grandfather’s knife and avoided Danny’s reach. He plunged the knife deep into the stomach of his intended, then gave his signature twist. He pulled out with a slashing motion that could never be repaired.

“I’d like to say your going to end up worse than her Danny,” the whisperer said, “but I don’t think that’s possible. You’re just gonna die.”

Now he wanted to see Danny’s face up close and personal. He wanted to see death overtake him, almost feel his last moments of pain and agony before life blood oozed to the alley ground. Danny faced the skilled whisperer but was shaking his head in disbelief.

“That’s right, shake your head Danny. You’re gonna die and then I’m gonna cut her up in little pieces. Maybe I can sneak some into the soup of the day.”

Danny wasn’t interested. No, his eyes were focused beyond his attacker, almost as if dying were secondary to the most astounding thing he had ever seen.

The whisperer turned quickly and slashed with lightning speed and joined in with Danny’s disbelief.

“Mein Gott, die Toten auferstehen!” he said in clear proper German.

“To avenge,” she answered in German just as clear and just as proper. She moved not so much quickly as smoothly, as if it were a natural progression and struck the nerves on the back of his knife hand, which opened and with her other hand gracefully snatched the vintage blade firmly by the handle. This move caused her to kick with her heel the right side of his kneecap and he fell in a twisting motion that gave access to his back. She used the knife as skillfully as a seamstress and cut his jacket from waist to collar like a yard of cloth. The same swift motion brought her other hand to his back in a whipping motion. Her hand formed in the odd shape they call the devils triangle and she struck him in the spine six inches above his pelvis. The whispering skinhead fell to the ground and began to jerk violently, spasmodically as a marionette would if it’s life strings were on fire. His eyes gaped wide open and transfixed as if the pain in his body registered horrific and beyond human endurance.DevilTriangle1b

Just as smoothly she turned to Danny and helped him to sit down against the alley wall. He was loosing blood fast.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t stop him in time,” she said.

Danny looked at her from her shoes to the top of her head. “Who are you? What are you?”

“Don’t think I’m lying, but I really don’t know who, or just what I am,” she answered then briefly examined his puncture wound. The whisperers thrust was final. Nothing would save Danny now.

“Ya, know, I believe you,” he said and reached up and touched the spot on her cheek that had been crushed by a size thirteen boot, only now it was smooth and unblemished. As a matter of fact except for dust and dirt from the alley there wasn’t a single scratch on her.

“You look like brand new,” Danny said to her, now smiling and relaxed, partly sleepy eyed. “I don’t know why, but in my pocket is something that might help you find out who you are. Maybe get the bastards that took out Jimmie….and me.”

Danny shrugged as if shaking off a coat or used sweater or even a no longer useful body and looked at the woman with no name as the last thing on his mind.

For a full minute she held the lifeless body of Danny and did not feel sorrow or pity or anything remotely human. It puzzled her to feel absolutely no emotion for Danny, except that of curiosity for what was in his pocket. What could he have that would help her find out who or what she was?

She reached into his pocket and found a restaurant napkin with directions on it. There was also a note from Jimmie.

Little brother, I found a gold mine and it is right below Central Park. Can you imagine that? I’ve been stealing copper from old electrical panels in subways and found this place. Here’s the directions. Were gonna make a killing. It was signed, your brother Jimmie.

The napkin had a detailed drawing on it with an entrance that began in the sub basement on East 77th street, Lenox Hill Hospital.

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The Cendrine Tattoo 10

After the toilet flushed several times and the sound of moving furniture stopped the restroom door opened and the man nicknamed Joker stepped out and pointed to a door straight ahead with a curtain over it.

“It’s my work room.  Go on in.”
The room was small enough to be cozy, yet large enough to accommodate a folding massuse table a chair and computer and all the tools the master would need to perform skin illustrations.  He showed her designs that weren’t on the other walls, they were unusual enough to hang in a gallery only they hung off the arms, backs, and buttocks of well paying customers. Then he unlocked a drawer and took out a pair of glasses with several different overlapping lenses, all in different shades.  He switched on a black light and slowly but carefully brought her tattooed hand to the light.  He switched lenses often, all the while shaking his head and grinning wide enough to show white teeth.

“I see a lot of skin art and most of it’s very good, but this puts you in an entirely different league.  I’ve already counted thirteen different rotating shade patterns from this light specturm, on only one triangle.  You can add a bunch of zeros and that’s about as far as I want to go.  If you really don’t know what this is, then you probably don’t know you are in a lot of trouble.”CendrineSphereLightT2ce copy

“What?”

“One more time, who are you, really?”  He asked it as if he could catch her off guard.

“I’d like to say I do know who I am, because I’m tired of telling everyone I don’t know who I am, and I don’t know anything about that tattoo or this key around my neck.”  She showed him the key and he turned it over a few times in his hand.  He noticed there were no edges on the metal and the polycarbonate end was a dull grey.  It hung from a sturdy silver chain.

“Okay”, Joker said with finality.  I don’t know about this key or your name, but I think I might be able to help you with this tattoo.  There is someone that owes me big time and I think this might qualify.”  He picked up his cell phone then steadied her hand and took a picture of the tattoo.  He dialed the phone.

“Squeek, can you talk?  Of course I know where you are, roughly.  Your going to do me a favor?  Huh, so maybe you want the guys in that room to know what is tattooed on your ass cheek?  I thought so.  I’m gonna send you a picture on your phone and I want you to feed it through Pegasus at level triple zero and see what you come up with?  Yeah, there’s a lot you don’t know about me Squeek and one is knowing about that supercomputer.  Got it, now do it,”  Joker said into the cell phone and hung up.  He turned to the woman with no name.   “Just maybe you’ll find out who you are in the process.”

“Maybe I could be one of those amnesia victims?

“Yeah, and you could have a nice little family waiting for you somewhere, in a nice house with a nice little picket fence.”  He looked at her believable expression.  ” I don’t want to say anymore, but I think not.”

“You don’t think I should have a family?”  She asked.

“Not the case.  But just let me check with my resource.  Fair enough, miss I don’t know nothing?”

“Yes, it’s fair,” she answered either by instinct or trial and error, but she understood the need to trust someone, it was necessary.

“It’s late now and I don’t want you on these streets alone.  You could hurt someone”  he said massaging his wrist.  “Just kidding, where are you staying?  I’ll call a cab.”

She mouthed the words, I don’t know where to go, and waited.

“No more stupid questions,” Joker said and led her by the hand back to the restroom door and they went inside.

“It still stinks in here, ” she said holding her nose.

“Yes it does.  I make sure the sewer is backed up, so it stays that way.”

He leaned over and lifted a pipe next to the wash basin and then scooted the vanity underneath to the side against the door.  They both looked at the crawl space beneath the vanity and saw a small but neat room.

“That’s where your going to stay put tonight, until I can find you a more permanent home.  It doesn’t stink in there, if that is alright with you?”

She just nodded her head and got down on all fours and crawled through the hole in the wall.  She looked around then settled on the small couch across from the hole.

“Cozy?”  he asked.

She nodded again.  He scooted the vanity back and left the stinking room.

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Want French Fries with that? 8

The neon sign in the window blinked in red the word American and then in blue the word French.  Either way you grilled it the waft of searing meat drifted in the air and drew people in the door along with an unnamed blonde woman like a flickering flame to a moth.RueChez1b

Rue Chez had been the brain child of a Parisian Frenchman named Pierre who came to the United States with a friend called Marcell.  The friend just happened to have the other half of the money to open the French slash American culinary restaurant that occupied East 77th street in Manhattan.  From the onset buisness was brisk and this made both Frenchmen happy for a while. But, with most buisness the customers thinned out during the lean season and that prompted Pierre to sell out to an unhappy Marcell and go into the retail buisness.

“Madame,”  Marcel said in French tinged English, “your table awaits you.”

He threaded his way through the lunch crown in for the specials that mostly came with fries and a deli pickle.  The American fare seemed to dominated the French cuisine and Marcel had always felt slighted and this reflected in him as a snooty waiter.  The very hungry but well mannered woman was seated at a tiny table that was much too close to the kitchen, but space was at a premium; pack-um in, get-um out.  Marcel handed her a menu with pictures of American food on the left and French food on the right.  He turned to leave and noticed she looked up the American side and down the French side.

He said, American trash in French, with a smooth and haughty look upon his face, looked around,  no one noticed, then added, “Perles aux pieous de l’espece porcine,” loosely translated;  Pearls at the feet of swine.

The newly seated customer didn’t look up from her menu, but replied in perfect French.

“L’amore est une torture reciprol.”

The Frenchman’s eyes blinked twice then he said in English, “She quotes Proust!”

He walked away thinking about how much he said really went unnoticed in the restaurant and was very careful with his words that day.

A young waiter with tattooed arms and ear piercings came to the blonde woman’s table and she pointed to a picture of a huge burger deluxe with a side of chili laden fries.  Inside of ten minutes he came back with the order and she had her first rock solid meal in;  she didn’t know how long.  Half way through the three cheese, onion, bacon and chili burger her stomach decided to say that enough is enough and everything that went down came rushing out with a gut wrenching moan.  Some of the chili even came out of her nose.  The same young waiter came rushing over to her and helped hold her hair out of the putrid mess, until she was through.  He came back with a bucket and mop and had it cleaned up in no time.

“You pretty much need a cast iron stomach to keep that stuff down.  Maybe that’s why I’m a vegetarian.  Kinda funny in a place like this.”

“Uh, huh,” was all she said.

“Yeah, what you need is something that don’t rock the boat, but gets you to the other side.  Just a minute, I’ll be back.”  He came back later with a wooden bowl and a large thermos.  From the thermos he poured out hot soup.

“Don’t tell Marcel, but this is what I have, it’s my lunch but I got more.  Try it.”

She looked at him then the name tag ‘Danny’ on his apron vest.

“I really didn’t know what to order, so I guessed.”  She took a cautious sip from the bowl and it agreed with her.  The rest went down naturally along with oriental vegetables and noodles.

“I’m called Danny, what’s your name?”

“I don’t know,” she answered and fought the urge to tip the bowl up and get the last drop.

“So were playing games?”  Danny said, now on the defensive.

“No games, I don’t know.”

“Okay, miss no name.  How’s the soup?”

“It’s very good and won’t come back up.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Danny said, then took the bowl from her tattooed hand.

“Cool, that’s a sweet tattoo.”  He looked it over one way, then the other.  “Man, the detail in this is amazing.  Where did you get it?”

“Uh…”

“Let me guess, Inksters in the Village?  No, not with that kind of detail.  Ya-know it almost looks different from different angles.”

She pulled her hand back slowly and looked at it closely for the first time and he was right.  It almost looked like it were three D with the detail becoming too fine to see properly.  All of it fit between her first knuckle and thumb.

“Salleys skin art?  He shook his head, “I don’t think so.  Maybe, I’ve got it!  It’s Joker’s work.  Yeah, and if it isn’t, then he knows who did it.”

Danny the busboy waiter fished a wallet attached to a chain from his back pocket and produced a dog eared business card.  It had a colorful jester hat mask on it and in the four corners were the words; Tattoos, Skin Art, Piercing, and branding.

“You gotta see him.”

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Bizzare and Unusual 9

She stood on the sidewalk and looked at one hand and it had 8 dollars left from the orignal twenty, then she looked at the other hand with the business card.  The Jester hat in the middle of the card had green and red stripes with bells hanging from the sides, it reminded her of….something?  But, what was that something and where was that something?  Why did she find it so hard to remember anything from her past.  She could remember exactly everything on the resturant menu all the way down to the publisher, but she couldn’t even remember what she had for dinner yesterday, or breakfast the day before. She turned the card over in her hand and read the handwritten words Joe Kerr master illustrationist, 9th avenue and 39th street.JestHat1abc

It took almost 4 hours to get to her destination, give or take at least two wrong directions.  Asking directions in New York pretty much brands you as a tourist and the young looking blonde woman in the smart fitting suit fit that to a T. It was a long distance, and at the end she was weak and exhausted when she stood on the side walk before a tiny sign with the Joker logo above a shop that was sandwiched between a pawn shop and a rare books dealer.  By now all the daylight had begun to fade earlier and she squinted  to seen the sign clearly, but this was it.

When she opened the door a small bell did it’s ‘Ting-a-ling’ job and startled the man standing behind it.  He smiled a glossy eyed smile, that had to do with the traces of accidental white powder on his face.

“Why don’t ya knock,” he said crossly.

“Why don’t you listen to the bell.” she answered just as cross.

The man was not used to getting it back the way he threw it out and he looked a little closer at the young woman, then said the second thing that came to his mouth.

“You got a point.  What can I do ya?”

She handed him the card and he looked it over as if it were only one of so many; a collectors item maybe.?

“You Joe Kerr?”

“I could be,” he answered and ran his hand over the back of his neck.  His lanky frame had old and new tattoos on both arms and a few that peeked over his Grateful Dead tee shirt collar.  One had the jester hat on it.  She noticed it.

“Yeah, he did that one for free,” the man boasted, ” the rest cost a lifetime.  No, I’m not him but close.”

“Fuck-you,” came from behind a closed door in the small shop.

“He’s in there” the tattooed man whispered to her, “go right in.”

She opened the door, closed it, then turned around.  In front of her was a man approximately the same build and color as the other man but with very few tattoos.  Approximate, because he was sitting down on a toilet with his pants around his ankles.  He was reading a magazine. He looked up.

“Ohh, the smell” She said and covered her nose.

“You want roses you go to the flower shop,” he answered, then as an after thought, “The sewer keeps it ripe in here.”  She turned to leave.  “It’s a little late for that, what do you need?  Let me guess, you want to surprise your boyfriend with a butterfly or a dam Unicorn on your sweet shoulder.”

“No, no butterfly, boyfriend or Unicorn,”  She answered flatly.

When she brought her hand up to her nose again, the seated man noticed her tattoo.  Now he was serious as an empty wallet in a hold up.

“Come here,”  he said.

She came closer to the man on the shitter and he examined her tattooed hand.  He was interested alright.  “Where did you get this?”

“I don’t know,”  she answered, then pulled her hand away slowly.

Joker, or at least the man born Joe Kerr smiled as if they had met on a sunny day in the park. “Don’t con a con, where did you get this?” he said with the attitude of a man being offered a chance at buying a poorly done Mona Lisa.

“That’s why I’m here in this stink hole.  I…don’t…know.”

Joe Kerr looked off to one side then back at the pretty blonde woman in the tiny washroom toilet.  He was thinking.

“Come closer,” he said and motioned with his finger.  She leaned her head down and she was face to face with him just before the back of his right hand tried to lay waste to the jaw line of her pretty face, only now it wasn’t there.  She matched the speed and intensity with all the grace and skill of a Gung Fu master.  In mid motion her fingers parted in the middle then followed the slope of his wrist to his hand, twisted hard then pulled down.

“Arrrg, ” was all Joe Kerr could say through clenched teeth.  She actually was not that interested in what she had done so easily until he said,  “And I suppose you don’t know where you learned that either.”

She let go and answered, “No, I don’t!”

“Get out, ” he said back.

“Okay, I’ll leave and won’t bother you again.”

“No, I mean wait outside.  You mind if I have a little privacy.”

“Sure, yes, I’ll wait outside.”

She left the bathroom and wandered the tattoo parlor looking at the walls.  Multi colored  dragons spewed flames in all colors and skulls mingled with wizards and demons only to be upstaged by blood red hearts with daggers in them and hearts with daggers out of them, all could take their place in some surreal art gallery. This was the altar of a master illistrationist.  Little thoughts began to creep into her mind now.  Who am I and who is he to know what I will do when I don’t know what I will do?  I don’t even like tattoos; I think?

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Readings Enter Here 7

As she looked over the crowd of people all around her she saw a sign with a single open hand on it with symbols in ancient Latin around it.  She read them and the English words Tarot readings at the top.  As the woman with no name opened the door below the sign several bells jangled overhead.  Once inside the room she smelled the muskyness of old books old furniture and heavy drapes that shunted the outside world like an unwanted guest.

READINGS HERE

“You are seeking answers?” came from a woman near the back of the room.  She wore a gold sequined scarf on her head that matched the large earings dangling from her ears.  The flairy dress she wore had enough colors to cover the entire light spectrum and then some.  She spoke with a heavy European accent that got thinner and thinner the more she talked.

“So what brings you into this humble place…..abode?”

“I read the sign above the door.”

“Tarot?”

“Yes but the Latin too.”

“Good in school huh?”

“I don’t remember,” the unnamed one answered.

“Me too, four kids later, I shoulda studied.” She looked around the room and then realized she was losing her mark. “So you come for a reading from the great…Tonja?”

“Reading?”

“Hey, how bout if I let the Tarot do the talking, okay?”

“Okay”

The great Tonja, pulled a brand new deck of Tarot cards from one of the glass display cases behind her and began to shuffle them.  She spread the deck out on the top.

“You gotta touch-em to make it work,”  Tonja, not the great Tonja said.  Almost all traces of her thick accent was gone.  Now she was just another upper east side Gypsy.

She laid her hand on the deck and quivered.

“They say it’s someone walking over your grave.  So, what do you want to know?”

“Everything.”

“Okay, here’s how they fall.  Humm, oh you are definitely on a journey and it has been a very long one. The next cards fell.  Oh, I see.  It says here…are you lost?”

“Yes”

“I mean, you are lost, yeah, your lost,” the great Tonja was back.  Even she was interested now.  “Oh, there’s more.  Now this card means, let me think, you will meet a man.”

“Who?”

“No names in the cards.  But, he is almost as mysterious as you are.  Yet, not a true enemy.”

“I’m not…”

“This is interesting.  He seems to have a secret.”

“What secret?”

The great Tonja looked at her mark, started to answer, then turned the next card over.

“I see happiness for you.  Yes, happiness,” She said.  She was relieved to bring good news to this one.  “Oh, the hanged man turns up now.  You are between two worlds and know not witch one you belong.”

“But, who am I?”  the mysterious woman asked.

“You are…”  She turned the next card over and they both stared at a card with a boney skeleton and a deep eye socked skull of death on a white horse.  Tonja, not the great Tonja looked up at the woman across from her.  “I’m sorry, ” was all she said.  Her point was clearly understood.

“Is there more?”

One card lay unturned.  They looked at each other until the mark said, “May I?”

Tonja could only shake her head.  The card flipped easily in the hand of the intended.

Now the Great Tonja gasped.  “That’s impossible,” she said then began reaching for books on the shelf behind her.  “Well, maybe I didn’t read them right, and I didn’t finish the entire course yet.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I’m only a temp.  The real Madam called in.  But, I usually don’t have a problem.”

“What does it mean?”

“It means  that you are…born?  Or maybe reborn.  I’m not sure.  Are you the one who cannot die?”

“What?”

“Forgive me, it’s an old gypsy tale.  I don’t know why I even said it.  Tell you what, this one is  on me, no charge.”

According to the cards the one who died and was reborn began to speak, but the growling sound from her stomach rudely interrupted both of them.  That was Tonja’s cue.

“Save it, get something to eat.”  The ungreat Tonja said, as she wisked the woman dressed in the smart black pantsuit to the front door and put her on the other side with more questions than answers, with a very hungry stomach that searched for an aroma in the air from across the street that made her mouth water.

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