The archaic lettering called me. It haunted me. Every afternoon, I passed by “Madame Toltasz’s Moroccan Parlor”. This hovel bore all the gaudiness of a porcelain Rama with a digital clock in its belly. This place exuded mystery. Nestled between a Kosher Deli and an abandoned pawn shop, it seemed eerily out of place.
She was standing near the window, hidden beside the placard of the “all-seeing eye”. Toltasz was a gypsy, a seer. To some, she was a real witch. Her eyes moved along with me, making me feel as if she were directing my steps.
“She’s going to make me late again”, I said as I stopped in my tracks and turned for the door of the shop.
“Velcomen.” she greeted in her thick Hungarian accent, “Tarot today?”
Hands nestled in my pockets, I nodded toward her corner table. Her crystal ball adorned the center of the table scarf. Tapestries and abundant strings of garlic gave her little bizarre bazaar its appeal. And its aroma.
With a grand sweeping gesture, Madame Toltasz pointed at the empty seat before her.
I sat in drawn anticipation as she shuffled her deck. She drew each card from the pile, and as she did, she made a little noise. Each squeak, or Oooh, or Aha! was laced with her dialect. As she lay the pattern upon the tabletop, I felt optimistic.
She laid my last tarot card on the table. I smiled. It looked like a pretty good one. But when I glanced up to meet her cloudy blue eyes, she frowned.
“Shit, this is bad,” she said in her best Brooklynese, her accent now gone. “Very friggin’ bad.”
I saw the panic in her eyes as she raised from the table in abject fear. The last thing I remembered was glancing over my left shoulder just as the Metro Bus came careening through the plate glass store front.