Lost In The Crowd by Scott Wilson

There was a breeze of wind as the man entered her tent. 

“Hello, please take a seat” she said. 

It was dark in the tent, decorated with different dark fabrics. In the middle stood one round table with a large crystal ball on it and a dim lamp beside it. 

“My name is Zelda, have you come to have your fortune told?” 

The man was suited without a tie, his long black rain mac looked damp from the rain. “you’re the fortune teller?” the man asked. 

“Yes, did you not see the sign outside dear?” she asked a little impatiently. The man was only her sixth customer tonight as Tuesdays were always slow and she had not the energy for time wasters. 

“I did, and I thought, hoped you might be able to help me”. 

She was good at reading people, knowing what news they pined for, but this man wasn’t giving anything away. 

“Show me your hand”. 

He laid his left hand on the table palm up and she took it in hers 

“My goodness, you have a long lifeline” she said massaging the palm with her thumbs “and this is your heartline see?” but the man didn’t even look down, so she let go. “Did you want me to tell your future?” she asked, 

The man’s face showed some expression for the first time, he looked hurt or worried. “It’s not the future that worries me so, I think I know how that will go. I need to know the present”. 

“The present?” she asked, 

“Yes but before you tell me what I want to know I should probably tell you my past”. 

“We met in College, love at first sight. I thought she looked like an angel when I first saw her in the corridor”. 

For the first time the man’s face seemed to soften and show emotion. 

“We were married at 22, nothing too big. We were young and still trying to earn a decent wage. But that suited us, my best man was Brian who I had grown up with and her best friend Nina was her bridesmaid and with the small families we both had that was about all of our guests… happily ever after, or at least we thought so”. 

His face changed into one of pain and tears began to fall down his cheeks. “I returned from the office last Thursday…she was on the bedroom floor, naked. Blood everywhere even on the lightbulb and it gave a part of the room a pink glow”. He took a big sniff to prevent snot from dripping. 

“Brian was there too, naked in the shower, they had been having an affair. His face had been repeatedly smashed into the tiles and his skull had cracked like an egg…” Zelda didn’t know what to say about such a tragic story, this man was obviously feeling the loss badly. 

“… it turns out that Brian had a lot of gambling debts with the wrong people and the police believed they had followed him to our… I mean my house”. 

“I think I saw something in the paper about this” Zelda said “I am so sorry for your loss, have they charged anyone?” 

The man lowered his head and seemed to cry “no, they all had alibis, friends lying for friends. I loved her so much”. 

There was a natural pause and as the man composed himself Zelda asked “what is it about your present that I can help you with?” 

She wanted to help this poor man. 

“I want to know if I am safe, you see tonight Nina, my wife’s best friend, was killed…” The shock made Zelda cover her mouth and she pulled her shawl over her shoulders for warmth. 

“… brutally stabbed repeatedly and her tongue cut out”. 

“Oh my god” Zelda said from behind her closed hand 

“And you think they might be coming for you? Like they are killing his friends or something?” “I think someone might come for me if I’m not careful”. 

“Come sit closer and give me your hands”. 

She didn’t give the usual spill that she gave to most Johns; she really used her skills that had been handed down through her bloodlines. 

“You have square hands and a large forehead that means when you get the opportunity you take action…” 

“Well, I deal in trading shares so…” 

“It also means you think too fast, highly placed ears means fast thinking, and this line means you like freedom and light. You must be good at your job. This is your career line and it's powerful, see here”. 

He looked at the crease in his hands that she was pointing to. 

“Your lifeline is long so I don’t see death anytime soon, shall I do a card reading? They can be more accurate”. 

She shuffled out some tarot cards and began to tell him what they told her. “You have had a loss… this one shows your journey has not always been a good one” she turned more cards over, 

“This final one shows that you will be successful and prosper”. 

The man looked relieved, like a weight had been lifted, and even a small grin appeared on his face. 

“Thank you, you have helped me in more ways than you know” there was a sudden movement and a blade entered Zelda through her right ribcage, it went deep all the way up to the handle. 

The shock and surprise had taken her breath away and her lung couldn’t catch a breath let alone allow her to scream. 

“Thank you Zelda, I thought the police had nothing on me, you have just confirmed it”. She tried to get up, but the man put his hand on her shoulder and sat her back down. “What was I supposed to do?” he asked as he sat back beside her. 

“I had suspected something was going on for a while, so I came home early after their act. You should have seen her face, she looked happy… almost relieved, I was on her before she could even speak. I gripped her throat and squeezed. She fought but she was obviously still tired from their act. Her eyes went bloodshot like red forked lightning. Do you know I believe I saw her soul drain from those eyes. I kept my grip for another minute or two before I heard Brian singing in the shower, I had forgotten all about him”. 

Zelda was trying to fight for air as her lungs contracted and she tried to rise again so the man pulled the blade out and slammed it into her back through her left lung before pulling it back out again. She crashed face down on the table, her eyes focused on him in fear and dread. 

“Brian was easy, the first kick to his back sent him into the wall where he bashed his face and knocked himself unconscious, all I needed to do was ram his face into the wall” the man smiled at the memory “I don’t know how many times I did it but I could hardly lift my arm after its workout, maybe twenty times or so… anyway I wasn’t finished with my wife, she had pierced my heart so I wanted to return the favour… are you listening?” he pulled Zelda back up in her chair. She was making small panting noises like an Asthmatic trying to fight off an attack. 

“Anyway, the rest was easy, getting changed and cleaning up any of my tracks before alerting the police, and that would have been it I swear. Only Nina had to butt in, she had confessed of knowing about the affair and I couldn’t live with that constant reminder walking the streets, gossiping telling others how I had been treated, plus I couldn’t be sure she didn’t suspect something, so I paid her a visit tonight, I used this very knife in fact” he said looking at the dry blood on the handle. 

“It’s true what they say, talking does help and now that I have confessed I can move on, now it’s off my chest. Its fate really, I only came here to get lost in the crowd and then I saw your tent”. 

Zelda was trying to plead for help now between breaths, but it was no use. The man stood and buttoned up his coat. 

“I think this rain should pass tonight, I feel tomorrow will be a lovely day” The man then thrust his knife into Zelda’s throat, only stopping once it hit the spine. Blood hosed out like a flowing tap. 

The man slipped out leaving the ‘DO NOT DISTURB’ 

sign hanging out the front as he merged back into the small groups where he was soon lost in the crowd. 

Published in Issue #16

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