Door to Door Psychic Services
summary: Elaine sells psychic readings door to door, like a religious missionary except she allegedly works for the devil instead and for only $14.99 an hour let's people know whether their neighbors are poisoning their petunia's or not.
It's a way to make a living up until Elaine encounters a stranger house and a different sort of reading.
Warning for some disturbing implications, squeamish readers be advised
It was a sweltering day out in Cherrywood County, the ground was simmering with rabid heat and even the songbirds had stopped twittering and taken refuge somewhere cool.
Elaine still had three more blocks until the car was going to pick her up again.
She gave a great sigh that would shatter the will of lesser men and knocked on the next door. Three knocks in a row and then Elaine stepped back and examined the blue shutters and white door. This whole neighborhood was all preened green lawns and parked Mezarditzis.
In most neighborhoods kids would usually be outside screeching and tossing balls around, but this one was all but quiet.
Elaine snapped her head to attention when actual footsteps came from within, and the door swung open with little ceremony. She straightened up and rearranged her shawls around her shoulder tops.
Her bangles clanked together and Elaine tipped her chin to the side in a practiced “mystical” fashion.
A tanned woman in workout leggings and a sports tank top opened the door, her blonde hair bobbed in place, and she gave a panting almost-smile. She was clearly trying to give the impression she had just been exercising.
“What can I do for you?” She said, her smile becoming a little more thin as she realized it was just a small mousy woman in too many shawls.
Elaine cleared her throat, “excuse me ma’am, I'm madame Kerryway,” she said in an airy way, “I am a psychic offering in-house fortune telling and I had a feeling this house was in dire need of a reading.” The woman’s eyebrows arched into fine points and she examined Elaine up and down. “What did you say your name was?” “Rose Kerryway,” she said simply, “professional in the Second Sight.” The woman scrutinized her once more for a long second, her brow dented in and Elaine couldn’t make heads or tails of whether this housewife would let her in or not. The woman stepped aside, “you have to tell me if he’s cheating or not.” Elaine stepped inside the house and searched the woman’s different threads of fate for something would be interesting enough, but not depressing enough, to get a big fat tip.
“Watch out for a next door neighbor.”
“Oh I fucking knew it.” It might end up being a successful day after all.
Elaine had been surprised when her handler’s decided to target a wealthy neighborhood, yes, they had more money to give, but they usually consisted of more skeptics. People who didn’t own a summer home were usually more willing to believe there was "more to all this."
Nonetheless, moms and teens and even two discerning nanny’s invited her in to try and tell them something about their future. It was an art form really, revealing one thing and not another.
Technically, Elaine was pretty powerful, but she tended to see things people didn’t like: a nasty break in their love lines around their heart, a completely snapped piece of string around their career line. People themselves often focused on the negative in their lives, and so that’s what Elaine tended to see as well.
The only problem was, people didn’t usually want to know about all that. They wanted to know about successes and love and how many followers on Instagram Elaine saw in their future. Sometimes she just did some guesswork.
The day was finally cooling as she made her way down the rest of the big houses. However, she hit a streak of bad luck as she reached the end: four houses in row rejected her.
“What do you mean psychic?” A man with thick mustache barked at her, “what about me looks like I need to be sold snake oil? I make my own damn future lady, so should you!” His face was turning red as he yelled at her. He went on about an article he read that talked about how psychic obsessions were rotting the brains of the youth.
“I’ve heard of that too, sir,” she said through her teeth, “this is a one time offer for at-risk households alone.” Technically, all houses were at risk. “And I am not offering repeat service. It's different." “Bullshit,” he flung his arms in the air, “I should call the cops on you for even ringing today, this is unsolicited you know.” Elaine backed up, “I should be on my way.” She ducked her head, “please tell your wife to careful with shellfish tonight.” Elaine scampered away from the grey house and toward the end of the block, the man slammed the door shut behind her.
Elaine checked her watch and counted stack of dollar bills she had been handed that day. She groaned as she finished- she was 200 short.
It had been such a successful outing up until the streak of rejections, four was never a good number either. Elaine studied all the trends around the world for bad luck- and four was never lucky.
“Shit.” She counted her money again and then glanced at her watch- she had thirty more minutes until the van picked her up again. And two hundred more dollars to make.
They told her they were giving her the good neighborhood that day. That she was moving up in the ranks.
She took a deep breath and faced the last house on the block: a large, faceless brown one with a dead tree out front. Elaine sucked in a breath, all the curtains were drawn. She eyed the place for a long moment, it seemed well-kept at least: a neat flower bed out front was planted with an array of lilies and daffodils.
There were white shutters and a thorough paint job, a modest walkway and little squat white fence around the whole thing. A car was parked out front but it was small enough to be more of a shopping cart really.
Elaine pinched her lips together and glanced at the dead tree. The tree oozed of great age and strings of fate rounded it’s trunk like large green hula hoops. It felt like it was staring at her.
Elaine sucked in a breath, ignored her arm-hair standing on end and plodded up to the door. She knocked twice, but was interrupted on the third knock when the door swung open and a cold blast of air hit her from inside.
Elaine blinked a couple times and then stared. A willowy woman stood in the doorway, she was trim, built like a ballerina, and had a glossy, shiny look to her face. She had long braided white hair and blue eyes that stared directly back at Elaine.
“I’m Mallory,” she said shortly, “I’ve seen you walking around the neighborhood.” Her voice was silver and bubbling hot springs, forceful and sleek.
Elaine pushed her glasses farther up on her face, “I’m a door-to-door psychic salesmen.” She said plainly, she wasn’t really supposed to phrase it like that, but this house seemed like an exception. Mallory glanced up and around, almost searching for something, then she stepped aside.
Elaine glanced at the dead tree behind her and then entered the brown house, it smelled of strong incense and something woody. The AC was on full blast from somewhere deeper in the house.
“Come into the living room,” Mallory said softly, “we’ll have to be quick though.” Elaine lifted her eyebrows, “do you have an engagement soon? I can come back later.” The woman glanced over her shoulder, despite her white hair she had pale and perfectly smooth skin. She seemed older somehow though, much older.
“No, please, sit.” She pointed to a couch across from a plush green chair and a coffee table in the center of the room.
Elaine scooted onto the edge of the couch cushion and looked around, pictures perched on the walls of the house with images of woman and a dog. A TV sat in the corner next to a remote, the drawn curtains let in only a sliver of light.
Mallory sat across from her, she put her palm out. “Do you do this?” Elaine hummed, “I do aura readings.” She said carefully, which wasn’t exactly what “fate lines” were, but it was close enough.
“Oh,” Mallory looked her over, “well, tell me quickly then.” “Right, you have your appointment." Mallory gave a non-committal nod. And then a series of footsteps came from upstairs, thumping and slow. “Oh dear,” Mallory sighed, “I suppose we do.” Elaine furrowed her brow and then looked more closely at Mallory, studied her skin and the glossy sheen to her eyes. Elaine blinked until her fate lines came into proper focus. Her mouth fell open, “I’m sorry.” She said slowly, “I’m so sorry.” “It’s fine,” Mallory waved a hand through the air, “it’s over now.” “What do you need?” “Just tell me,” Mallory looked out toward the window, bolted shut and closed tightly. The smell of rosewood incense and chemicals wafted around them. “Was I going to live a good life?” Elaine looked at the spiraling strings around her. The white life line was cut in two, and so were each of the others, strangled and blunted. There was one though, red and vibrant and blooming, it reached carefully out and out and out.
“There was love,” Elaine said truthfully, “there was a great and perfect sort of love.” Mallory gave a wet, shuddering breath, though her chest didn’t rise and no tears fell from her mirror-like eyes. The footsteps creaked on the stairs up above. “Thank you.” Elaine stiffened. "Please-”
Mallory lifted her chin sharply, “you’ll have to run now.” She said factually, “run. And don’t look back.” Elaine just nodded, “I’ll come back for you.” Mallory didn’t respond, her body just shimmered and wavered in place, just as a pair of hurried steps started dashing down the stairs. “Who’s there?”
Elaine threw herself out of the chair and jumped over the coffee table to reach the door, she didn’t look behind her. She wrenched the door open just in time and flung herself into the sun. A man gave a harrowing screech after and Elaine sprinted.
She ran and ran and ran until she saw black spots in her vision, and until only one thought was left on her mind: I’ll come back for you.
Elaine found a hiding place tucked away from the world and threw off every single one of her shawls. She had three missed calls from her handlers, but she knew now she was never returning them.
She had something more to do now.
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