Studio City – Tina
I hate rushing. It makes me nervous and forgetful, and the long list of things I don’t need are the ones banging about foremost in my mind. I close the door to my car and sit still for a moment. I need to calmly look in my purse and check for money, cell phone, sunglasses and keys. I could get from here to anywhere with just those few things. Yes, all present and accounted for.
I start the engine.
Where I’m going today is a secret and that secret is making me anxious. Over and over again all morning, I had almost reached for the phone to call someone, bleed off a little steam, let loose some of this uncomfortable pressure, but my decision somehow remained firm. The Fortune Teller and I are a secret.
Helena’s psychic had been the one I’d finally had the sense to turn to when Googling “Gypsy fortune tellers LA CA” had led me to clowns, then porn sites and finally – and maybe the worst – Internet poker. Where do people find the time? I’d caught Helena’s eye long enough to impress upon her, “Not a word about this to, Alice.” Absolutely, Helena had sworn, and she’d locked her lips and thrown away the tiny key.
“A Gypsy fortune-teller near Hancock Park is my best recollection of who Bette’s artist friend had sworn by,” is what I’d told Helena’s reader. She’d laughed and wondered, if all lesbians knew each other as well? I’d almost mentioned Alice’s chart, but quickly decided against it. Some things lead to conversations you soon realize you’d rather not be having – at all.
But like The Chart proves we’re all just a kiss or a bacterial infection away from each other. Predictably, she knew the name of the Gypsy in Hancock Park, and before I’d lost my nerve my appointment had been made.
I like to be early to things. It’s just a habit of mine. It’s one thing about me that drives Bette crazy, but as a traveling companion she’s wonderful – unless we’re catching a train, a plane or a ferry – but once arrived she’s game for nearly anything. Which is how we ended up at the bullfights.
It wasn’t something I would have chosen to do while we were in Madrid, but the night before on the Plaza de Cibeles we’d caught the attention of two toreros who were not chauvinistic about their sport. This led, I never will forget, to the very next day with Bette at the bullfights.
It wasn’t what I expected, and it grew more interesting by the hour when we met, by chance, the world’s most famous matadora, Cristina Sanchez.
She was beautiful, but very deadly, very quick in for the kill. Late that afternoon, Cristina had taught us – until we’d finally gotten it right – how to dance the graceful moves of the matadora, and it wasn’t at all what I’d thought it would be. In the bullring, one misstep among the dozens in this long luring dance and the bull takes your life.
After returning to our hotel, and a wonderful dinner, we’d returned to our room and tried to remember all the moves of matadora dance.
I feel her in my arms suddenly at the traffic light, as if she’s found me – just for a moment – to send me a message. I close my eyes, and the luring moves of the matadora come back to me.
Driving slowly through Hancock Park, my breath catches, as I see the numbers match on the house to my right. I keep the car in idle. I can turn around now and never know. I turn the engine off and rest the keys in my lap, As I watch the everyday movements of the neighborhood, my exhaustion comes to me. How do I push through these things I’ve created? How do I find love again, or do I ever? Jenny’s book is stirring up too much.
Fortune teller? Fuck, yes. What was I thinking?
As I ring the bell and hear footsteps closing our distance, there is one question I must have the answer to: How do Bette and I raise a child and not make her crazy?
In LA gypsy’s are fashionable! I realize as an attractive woman in her 60’s tosses back her long dark mane and opens the door to me. Yes, there’s a scarf, but it’s Hermes and her pant suit is tailored and a dark chocolate brown. As she smiles, at the edge of her dark eyes there are the soft wrinkles of her lifetime of laughter.
A few minutes later –
“Have you ever had a reading before, Tina?” She asks as she shuffles cards.
“No, I’ve thought of it many times though.”
“How about some tea and you tell me what you’d most like to know?”
She reappears in a moment with a tea tray, and begins a preparation of the tea unknown to me, and her Romanian accent is threads through her words. “This Kluntje is the stick of white rock sugar that melts slowly as the Black Assam tea is poured over it. Next, we bring in the Wölkje, a heavy cream or as the gypsies call it, the cloud, the Wölkje. And this is added to the tea water and mixes with the sugar and brings us back to the beginning. Do you see?” She passes me a delicate and very old china cup and saucer.
“Try it now. It’s served unstirred and first you will taste the sweetness of the cream as the cloud, then the tea, the active life, your life, and finally at the bottom your taste comes to the sweetness, the rock sugar and that is the Kluntje, the land upon which you walk.” She takes her seat across from me.
“Yes,” she sips her tea, pleased with it. “Now, tell me Tina, as you drink this tea in this room where your future, present and past meet, what has brought you here?”
She reaches over to take my hand. “Concentrate for a moment more, while you drink your tea then, put your cup in my hand.”
I take a deep breath, and I hand over my cup. The Gypsy begins to read my tea leaves.
“Ah, congratulations on solving your money problems. In the West you are bred to fear the lack of it, in the East we’ve known hardship for centuries, even thousands of years. Wars. We’ve had so many wars.”
She sends me a look you might give a naive older child. “You will be fine. There is work for you in movies, and other support for you is nearby.” She nods her head, “Just don’t worry and get bad wrinkles thinking about it, that is not your true issue in this life.”
“In this life?”
“I’ll make a recording for you?”
“Okay, Tina close your eyes and concentrate on your child. You have a question about her and she has a message for you.”
“Her name is also, Angelica.”
“So she says. Angelica, the messenger.”
“I’m separated from her other parent, her other mother, and I worry. . . she loves us both – so much.” My voice catches. “We’re a very beautiful, but very fucked up family.” Tears sting my eyes. “I apologize. On the other side of Melrose we talk this way.”
“Think nothing of it.” She brushes my curse away. “How’s your broken heart? You’ve had a few, haven’t you?”
“Better? I guess. I just don’t know what to do with it. Where to go with it? Do I just wait and let the days and weeks pass? Or do I try to date?”
“You’re pretty. Dating for you would be no problem, but who is the person you truly want to see you? Is it your child one day when she’s older? Or someone you haven’t yet met? Or someone you already know?”
“Yes, I would like to know. Please.”
“This person has a reckless, passionate side that runs away from her. Definitely a her. But I don’t think she’ll hurt you again like you suspect. . . but she could hurt others though.” She looks up at me, “Is this the one you love? This passionate, dangerous one?”
“For a long time, yes.” I say softly, and her eyes wrinkle at their edges.
She pushes a deck of Tarot cards toward me. “Let’s get to the bottom of this, shall we? Shuffle to your heart’s content, and then cut them into three stacks and place them back into one.”
The old worn edges of the deck feel soft and the cards in my hands feel uncommonly warm. My mouth feels dry, as she fans them out on the table face down in front of me.
“Pick twelve. No, today you pick thirteen.”
From around the fan shape I collect thirteen cards, and place them in front of her. “Very good.” She closes her eyes, and when she opens them again – they are brighter, more golden than brown.
I watch as she makes a circular design that fills the table between us. In the middle she places the last two cards face down. “Just relax. You don’t need to be afraid.” She reveals the first card in the center. The Princess of Disks.
“This is you, Tina, in the middle of your world that the cards will reveal around you.”
I lean in to get a better look. The card in the middle shows a nude maiden, the Princess of Disks, her hair long and golden and her belly a swollen pregnant disk.
“Relieved! I’m thankful to say.”
“Good, hold onto that thought because at the bottom of the circle, at the feet and foundation of your card’s place is the past.” She flips over a card that has wands blocking the way and fields going to waste in the background. The next card has flowers that look like cups but they are spoiled and putrid with a scene that shows wine that could be blood spilled across a checkered floor.
“Do you want me to do a reading about your sexual abuse?”
A warm cloth is over my eyes and there’s a rooty, earthy scent. My eyes flutter open and I’m in a darkened room lined with volumes of books and candles burning and more musky curious scents come me.
“Where am I?” I try to raise up, but her hand on my shoulder presses me back.
“You’re okay, but you hit your head. Sore?” She adjusts the cloth on my forehead and under it I do feel a rising lump.
“Ouch! What’d I hit?” I try to remember.
“The side of the table, but not too bad.” She dabs another deeply earthy smelling balm on my welt and places the warm cloth back across my forehead.
“Tell me what happened. Nothing can hurt you here.”
The corners of my eyes drip with tears. “I didn’t know it was wrong.” I manage to say very evenly. “It was my older sister, my only sister really. We were practicing her kissing with boys.”
“This scent, do you like it?” And a fragrance unlike anything I’ve ever smelled envelopes me. My nose says not peaches, or Tupelo honey but sweet with the turned earth of fields and a warmth of the sun. My mind calms, my shoulders, then my arms and finally, my fingers relax.
“See how you can lie down on this patch of warm sunny earth?” Her hands smooth a warm blanket over me. “Breathe now like you would as a child who’s spun down onto the ground to watch the clouds roll by.”
I drift and follow the smells of summer and find my breath.
“And when you were with her were you laughing? Was it playing?”
“It was a game. She liked this boy, Danny. I played him and like she wanted him to, I kissed her.”
“And then you began to sleep with her in her room or yours?”
“That was after the party,” I say drowsily. “When we drank all the leftovers from all the drinks that came back to the kitchen on trays after my parent’s party.”
“A long white taper from the candelabra she handed me to. . .”
“And at night you became the young boy?”
“Yes, at night I became, Danny.” I can’t stop a surge of panic, and I begin to cry. “I was . . . too young to feel those things.”
“Yes, for anyone so young.” She takes my hands and in her eyes I see endless compassion. “And you’ve never told your dangerous one, have you?”
“And mostly for those reasons.”
“What are you most afraid of? That she’d do something dangerous to your sister?”
“Oh, she wouldn’t stop with my sister. She’d burn everyone’s fucking house down.”
The next story is titled, “A Spell on You” http://wp.me/p4AUvc-5U
The Gypsy’s love spell in action, and in surprising ways.
The L Word, Bette Porter, Tina Kennard, #thelword, #betteporter, #tinakennard, The L Word,