Spiritspeaker - Part 1
His watch read 5:34 pm as his assistant, Lacy, babbled on about the next client. She was a pretty girl, Lacy not the next client. Young and naive two years ago when she came looking for a job at the ripe age of eighteen, she no longer held such high standards. Like a giant fist wrapping around her mind and squeezing the life out of any expectations she might hold, Vince Raines opened her world to a harsh reality void of the kinds of things people blindly reached toward so they didn't have to face the truth.
Now she verged on quitting, he could feel it in the way she spoke to him--cold, uncaring. That bubbly personality rotted and withered away under his expert care and now, now she was going to leave him. Talk about gratitude. But not if he fired her first.
"Anything else?" Lacy asked, closing her notebook with a snap.
Vince shook his head. "Send him in."
As she walked away, Vince's eyes drifted over that perfect little ass. Memories of their extra-curricular activities floated peacefully through his mind. At one time, he'd had that firm piece of tail; that was about the time everything began to fall apart.
The memories would have to wait, though, because the client had arrived and any arousing thoughts squashed under the magnitude of this bastard.
He was so fat the flimsy chair for the clients threatened to collapse with a series of moans and groans. His myriad chins danced as he spoke. Sweat dribbled down the sides of his face and neck, soaking the two-sizes too small tee shirt that did absolutely nothing no protect the world from the horrific mounds of flab underneath. No wedding ring adorned his finger--surprise, surprise. And his voice, oh, dear God, his voice squeaked like a mouse trapped within the folds of that gigantic ass.
"Mr. Raines," the mammoth said, "I'm so glad you had time for me--so, so glad."
People like this repulsed Vince to such a degree that he often wondered why he bothered, since they were his main source of income. Then, he realized just how much the income was and he remembered why he put up with it.
"Welcome, Peter," Vince said. He stroked his goatee in a dramatic fashion, laying the theatrics on thick; this loser needed it bad.
Intimacy played a huge factor in getting the marks to relax, to open up to possibilities some of them might not be ready to believe. Unfortunately, the small, dimly lit room used for these meetings didn't leave space for things like breathing when the clients were fat slobs that stank from sweat and desperation.
Vince folded his hands on the table in front of him as he struggled to maintain a serene expression when all he wanted to do was retch and douse this idiot in Lysol. His slack, eager face screamed of a hope beyond hopes that the great Spiritspeaker Vince Raines could help him establish some kind of contact with a lost loved one.
Well, Vince Raines could help him establish some kind of contact with his wallet and depart with some of his soon to be lost cash.
"There are several people here," Vince said in a quiet voice, going with the intimacy some more. "I sense a deep love for you from these people and I get the impression they're related to you."
The blob ate it up, of course, why wouldn't he? Inside, he hurt; he needed someone to tell him everything would be all right and that there was hope after his abysmal existence on this uncaring world, in this unforgiving life. Sometimes, Vince wished he could be as blind as these people could; sometimes he yearned to be able to believe the crap he fed them. Then he remembered how much money he made off the masses of middle-to-lower class yahoos that couldn't afford to pay for his services but did it anyway and those idle thoughts of being clueless like them drifted to a happy place filled with high-class hookers and expensive booze.
Peter's enormous head bobbed up and down with enthusiastic endeavor. "Momma? Is momma there?"
Oh how Vince loved the easy ones that gave him all he needed to know up front. Still, he had to be careful. Cold reading was an art as much as a talent. Ninety percent of it, though, was just having enough charisma to make the mark feel comfortable enough to buy into your lame-ass story. And since he didn't know the man's mother's name, he'd have to take a stab at finding a name he recognized. Maybe Vince would hit on Peter's mother's name, then again, maybe not.
"There are several female spirits, yes. I'm getting a message about the..." he hesitated; the marks loved a good hesitation. Guys this fat generally have tried to diet before and, clearly, failed. Therefore, the diet angle seemed like a good strike. It was late in the evening, this was the last client, and Vince wasn't putting much effort into it. "About your weight. She says, it's all right that you cheated on your diet, she knows."
The man's eyes went wide. "How... how..." Peter looked over his shoulder, and then turned back to Vince, jowls jiggling like Jell-O. "It was just a candy bar, Momma. I needed my the sugar."
Vince nodded sympathetically, forcing himself to reach out and pat the thick-fingered hand rested on the table. "She says it's all right, Peter. Nevertheless, you have to try hard. You can't let temptation get to you. She's there, always, right by your side." Vince noted the man automatically assumed it was his mother even though he never said so. This was a very easy mark.
"It's been so hard," Peter said. "I'm so alone--"
"She also says that you have to keep your eyes open, she knows how you struggle to find someone that loves you. She says there's someone out there for you, you just have to be patient. She says to remember, Peter, remember to look for the red. Does that make any sense?"
"The red..." Peter whispered. It was a calculated guess, red was general enough that it could have some meaning to the man, but it might have been the wrong guess. The folds of his fat face scrunched as he tried to place meaning to this message.
Vince needed to pounce before Peter thought too hard. "I get the feeling she wants you to keep a close eye on the red. There's something very special about this color to you something that holds a deep meaning."
Enlightenment! Peter blinked, surprised; he no doubt found some place in his pathetic life to fit the meaning of red Gee, who couldn't? "A woman I work with--the jacket she wears to work every day is red!"
More hope for the hopeless. Vince smiled knowingly, nodding to Peter.
Inside his office--an immaculate creation formed from the money taken out of the pockets of those poor needy souls less fortunate than him to have a clue in this world--Vince stood in front of the full-length mirror located behind and to the right of his desk and admired the greatness that beamed back at him. Tall, lean, and handsome to boot--if only he were gay, he'd surely date himself. A tight pair of black jeans showed off his monster package while a simple white dress shirt clung delicately to his chest, buttoned straight down the middle with the collar neatly folded down. Stroking his goatee and then running a hand through this thick, madly sexy brown hair, Vince winked at himself and grinned.
The grin faltered when Lacy stepped through the archway reflected in the mirror. A heavy travel bag thumped to the ground. This is it, he though. She's really going to leave me. That bitch wouldn't do this to me.
Through the massive bay window covering a majority of the wall behind the desk, the setting sun cast a red hue across the room. For the moment, Vince just stared at her young face in the mirror, willing her to change her mind and stay where she belongs.
"I'm through," she said. So much for willing her to stay.
"You can't do this." For someone with enough confidence to convince thousands upon thousands of people that he was a "psychic," Vince found this simple interaction sapping the life from him. How hard was it to say, "Fine get the hell out of here whore?" Not that hard, actually, he'd said it before, several times. Then again, he didn't love the women he'd said that too, either.
"Are you going to stop being an arrogant asshole and perhaps show the tiniest bit of compassion for the people you are so thoroughly ripping off? You don't have to answer, because I know you. God Himself could come down from the heavens and slap you around, Bob--" Vince cringed. He hated his real name. "--and you wouldn't believe it was really Him."
Fine, go to hell and get out of here whore. The words swelled up inside of him, but no mattered how hard he tried to push them out, they wouldn't come. Trapped in his throat, the words melted into something else. "I need you, like the summer needs the--" A bad habit is so hard to kill.
"I fell for the old using-song-lyrics-as-your-own-romantic-bullshit two years ago. I'll call you once I get a new address so you can send me my last check."
The only thing worse than not being able to tell her not to go was the one defining struggle with this entire relationship: not being able to tell her how he felt. Things had gone sour, yes, but that didn't make him love her any less. Here was a smart, beautiful young woman that had cared about Vince at one point. Naturally, he ruined that by being himself. Who didn't want to see the grand reality around them? He honestly thought he was doing her a favor by destroying the illusions that gave so many people a false sense of security; never once did he stop to think just how many people live their lives happily ignorant to the embittering facts of life.
"Wait--" Vince started to say.
"I won't tell anyone about you. I have enough decency to honor my agreements. Look at me."
Sucking up a breath and rearranging his face to look nonchalant, Vince turned around and gazed toward the young woman. "What?"
"The only thing that will destroy you is you. You're building up a massive about of bad karma here and when I say massive, I'm warning you. Someday you're going to wake up and the world is going to revolt against you so hard, you're going to wish you decided to become that lawyer instead of doing this. Because, darling, a bottom-of-the-barrel-ambulance-chasing lawyer has better karma than you've accrued."
Vince rolled his eyes and smirked. "Yeah, whatever."
Lacy scooped up her bag, gazing at him one last time. In that idle moment, their eyes meeting, Vince felt the power of her belief in what she said. Maybe he just imagined it, but he felt sure she was truly sorry for him and what would pass someday. Bad karma? Please. Vince didn't believe in karma any more than he believed in Santa or God, and the fact that she still believed in it, even after these couple of years together, disappointed him.
As she turned to leave, Lacy cheerfully spoke over her shoulder. "And, Vince, that sock in your pants, not fooling anyone."To be continued...