Bridget pulls the reading into a tighter formation. “We should finish during the break,” she picks up the deck of ignored Tarot cards and and offers them to Ethan.
“I don’t see how you can concentrate on that at this party,” Seven adds.
“I didn’t think this would take so long.” She answers. “This party is too fun.
Emily looks up from her plate. “Seven, don’t be rude.” She smiles at Bridget.
“I didn’t realize this party would be so intense.” Bridget answers.
“I don’t mind.” Ethan says. He takes the top card off of the deck and after Bridget places the deck on the table, he hands it to her face side down. She flips it over and places in the ninth position, to the right of the crossed cards and directly above the 8th card. It is the Tower.
“That doesn’t look happy,” Seven comments. Everyone at the table looks at him. Oh shit, did I just say that, he thinks to himself. “Sorry. I’ll shut up.”
“That’s the best thing you’ve said all evening,” Emily says and takes a drink from her soda.
“People always assume the worst with cards like this one, but it rarely means what the image implies.” Bridget explains. She smiles at Ethan. “First, this position of the reading is your inner thoughts and emotions…”
“Upon the ground.” Seven says and laughs. He bunches his brow and his smile goes flat. “I’m still thinking out loud.” No one laughs, “sorry, sorry, it is a bad, a very bad habit.”
“I will poke you again,” Emily adds and points her fork in his direction. “Shut the fuck up.” Everyone at the table laughs.
“As I was saying, the ninth position represents your inner thoughts, emotions, hidden desires, and anxieties of the future. But importantly, as you can see, you are not alone.” Bridget points at the card.
“Yes. Two of us are falling to the rocks.” Ethan says.
“Not you too.” She looks sternly at Ethan. Emily offers her the fork, but she shakes her head, no. “Those rocks are around and associated with the tower itself.” She explains. “The Tower represents the status quo, and it’s destruction just means that something new is in your future.”
“Oh.” Ethan acknowledges.
“The lightening bolt from the right is the path you’ve been on, and it destroys your perception of your progress, the crown or the status quo.” Bridget continues. “The two people, a man and a woman are falling into unknown space. They are not falling on the rocks. We don’t actually know what they are falling into, but whatever their path was, it is no longer valid.”
“Why lightening?” Seven asks.
Everyone looks at him again. “Good question.” She answers. “You’ve been in a rut in a sense and the only way out is a naturally violent or sudden change of the future.”
“So, dramatic change is a now?” Cochran asks.
“Exactly. It is neither right or wrong, bad or good; it’s just going to happen very fast and obliterate everything from before.” She finishes. Perhaps they will be together, perhaps not. They are on opposite sides of the tower, but are falling out of the fire. See starlight around him?” Bridget points at the card.
“Yes.” Ethan says.
“She’s falling out of hers, so safety and the hearth are not the right direction. The man, the prince, the king, whatever is his role; he is surrounded by positive change. Change can be abrupt or violent, but doesn’t mean the future is dark.” Bridget explains.
“I’m a little foggy on this card,” Ethan inquires. “Obviously violent change is not always the safe thing, and not necessarily a bad thing.”
“Yes, yes,” Bridget bends over and kisses Ethan on the cheek. “You’ve got it perfect. This card is about change and you should not be afraid.” She adds. “Change, even violent change, is usually positive.”
“I see.” Ethan leans backs, stiffens his neck, blushes, and smiles.
Lieutenant Inspector Cochran’s phone beeps. It’s another text from Officer Sergeant Rice with BART. “65% not long now.” And, a photo is attached to the text. Emily downloads it to her phone and opens it. Seven notices what she is doing and leans over to see. The picture is a man in a letterman’s coat with a couple of pins on its breast, his neck, and the bottom half of a face just to the tip of the nose.
Emily studies the photo for a moment and looks up. “Hum,” she says to herself. Something is familiar? I can’t quite place it? Then, her eyes scrunch up and she frowns. I thought I was off of the Fitzgerald case. Seven is watching her intently.Bridget sips from her beer and offers the deck again to Ethan. “One card to go,” she says. Everyone at the table watches as Ethan draws another card. He hands it to her face down. She flips it and sits in the 10th and final position, directly above the ninth. It is the Seven of Coins, reversed or upside down.
Another text comes in from Senior Lieutenant Inspector Randal Cummings, Cochran’s boss. “See it? 20?”
Steve McSwain creeps slowly to University Street off of I-80 and exits. I’ve got to make some time he says to his self. He lifts the GPS off the floor of the cab, reboots it, and places it on the dash. It is slow. “Work, damnit, work.” He says out loud to the device and swats on the far side. The GPS rocks back an forth on the dash a and reports, “acquiring satellite,” and a progress bar shows on the display “YES!” He shouts. He creeps up to the intersection at University, and the light is red. McSwain clicks on the GPS screen and taps to his saved locations. He picks the Amtrak station on Horton Street in Emeryville.
“Acquiring satellite,” it reports again with a progress bar.
“Shit, finally,” he says to it.
“Turn right on University to 6th street, then left.” The GPS’ voice is soothing and reassuring.
I might just make it he says to himself as he rolls though a yellow light and turns. Traffic is moving steadily, as he turns left on to Addison. “FUCK ME!” McSwain yells out and bangs his fist on the steering wheel. He backs up to a queue that is two blocks long. He can see two CHP patrol cars on opposites sides of the street with an Emeryville local and an Albany local as back up. Each car has two officers. What the hell is this, he thinks to himself.
The California Highway Patrol (CHP) directs cars to pull up to the officers. After rolling down their windows, drivers are politely asked how they are doing and where they are going. A sniff and quick observation, blood shot eyes or nonrestrictive pupils are a sign of DWI or DUI. Seatbelts? All in eyesight of the officers is fair game for estimation of sobriety or other indiscretions. If the driver or passengers hesitate, sweat, or are suspicious in any way, CHP will ask for identification. No real sign or indication of intoxication from the driver, but any deviation or disgruntlement insures an ID check. It they ask someone to pull over out of the queue, CHP will run their ID, issue citations, or search with further scrutiny; but they say it’s not out of spite. The other officers back up the CHP; they watch and overlook you and your vehicle for any other obvious violations. It’s the law in California that if a trooper asks, you have to show your driver’s license.
The queue moves steadily, and perhaps, I was over anxious. Steve thinks, relax. However it is inevitable that someone will be an ass. A belligerent, petulant child will want to know who the hell these cops think they are? Why don’t they catch the real criminals? They don’t have to show my papers to anyone. Two cars ahead, an older gentleman in a suit begins tussling with the officer at the window. The outcome is always the same.
The hydra of blue arms pulls him out of his seat (no seatbelt). He’s a dumbass. He takes a swing at an officer, is immediately tased to the ground, and handcuffed. I don’t know where they came from, Steve wonders, but 4 more officers take him to a waiting white van. The trooper signals the next car to come around as another drives the car onto a side road.
It is almost impossible to subdue a hydra. Cut one head off and two more take its place and so forth and so on and on. This asshole is taken into custody or just subdued with a very expensive ticket. It’s the CHP’s discretion, but some self-righteous ass always slows the line down. I wonder what the statistics are on it? The costs? Steve thinks. He taps his fingers on the wheel.
Steve McSwain rolls down his window as Officer Williams steps up onto the Harvester’s sidestep. “How are you doing today, sir? Where are you headed?” He looks around the cab as Steve McSwain answers.
“Hello,” McSwain smiles, “I’m trying to get to the Emeryville Amtrak station to make a delivery connection for Vanilla Shed.”
“Do you have a BoL?” Officer Williams ask for a bill of lading, which describes the contents of the truck and its destination.
“Sure.” McSwain reaches over the seat to a Manila folder and sits it on his lap. He ruffles through it, and then offers the sheet through the window.
Balancing on the step while holding the rearview mirror, the trooper takes a quick look and recognizes the Vanilla Shed logo. “That won’t be necessary,” he says. “You’re a little too soon off the freeway?” The officer inquires.
“I’m tying to catch the train at this point, sir.” Steve says, “It’s going to be tight.”
“I see,” Officer Williams takes one last look at the cab, takes a deep breath, and looks long into McSwain’s eyes.
“Are you searching for someone?” McSwain asks and smiles.
“No; nothing like that. We’ve had reports of several intoxicated drivers from large parties in the area. We’re just trying to keep everyone safe, sir.” He says. “Thanks for your help.”
“Always, sir.” Steve answers and nods his head in agreement. Shit. Don’t sweat, he thinks and stiffens up. If he smelled my lunch dessert, I would already be out. Relax, relax, and breathe.
Officer Williams steps down as McSwain’s phone rings. “You’re not going to answer that are you?” The officer shouts in a friendly manner up to the cab.
“No sir. I always use hands free or pull over to the side of the road.” Steve shouts back.
“Good work. Drive safely.” Officer Williams signals McSwain to continue on his way.
Steve McSwain looks in his rearview mirror to see if the officer is watching. He pulls over to the side of the road for a moment to check his phone. It was Selena from Vanilla Shed. Shit, he thinks to himself. Did I say yes? I can’t remember. McSwain sighs and dials The Shed.
“Hello, Mr McSwain, this is Selena.”
“I have some bad news. The train has made up time, so where are you?” She asks.
“Damn, you’re not going to believe me, when I tell you. I just got stopped at a sobriety check point.” He answers.
“Already? Seems kind of early?”
“I’m never going to make it.” Steve says then wonders if the Samoan brothers followed him off the interstate. Shit, I hope not, he thinks to himself and looks again in his rearview. There is no sign of them.
Selena sighs and is quiet on the other end. She holds the silence, waiting.
Emily shifts in her seat and types out a reply to Cummings’ return to the office. ”10-4.” It’s standard, old school, cop-book talk for yes, but it has same number of characters.
“The Seven of Coins, reversed,” Bridget says, “ is the summation of all influences of this reading.The cards together cast a possible future.”
“Okay.” Ethan replies. He looks at Seven, waiting.
“I’m not saying shit here,” Seven blurts out. “I see coins and my name.”
“The image on Seven of Coins reversed, means that all though positive change with a little upheaval is in the air, be sure and check yourself, so not fall through it complete without any self-awareness.”
“So, fight the change?” Ethan asks
“No. Change is inevitable, and potentially catastrophic.”
“Catastrophic?” The pitch in Ethan’s voice rises.
“No, sorry, I guess I mean tumultuous. You know, quick and extreme, but not necessarily bad.” Bridget repeats.
Inevitably, “catastrophic, how can Seven,” Seven points at himself, “and coins be a bad thing?”
Emily nudges him and raises her fork. Her phone beeps again.
”See the questioner is resting his chin on his staff contemplating, staring at the bush and its fruit. The coins can be physical gains or experience. His legs are open, so be open to what you have gained in the past. The green bush is upside down on the right; your riches or experiences of the past should not be totally ignored. One coin has fallen to the ground to the left, to the future where we all must go; so contemplate the changes coming, but don’t forget what you have gained or learned in the past.” Bridget interprets.
Ethan smiles and nods his head. He listens as he maintains eye contact.
“Overall, your outlook is change.” She gestures at various cards as she continues. “We’ve seen that something traumatic has awaken introspection in your life. She points at the Chariot, the Fool, and the Knight, all reversed. You’ve had an encounter and it has reawakened passed desires and signposts to your progress. Bridget motions toward the Lovers, and the Queen of Wands, and the Ace of Swords. You’ve stalled a little, and your friends, new and old, will help you complete the changes in your path or re-energize old plans. There are new people in your life,” Bridget smiles, touches the Lovers, and bats her eyes, “and they may be the spark of new energy and a new way.”
“@75%, +speed. Full n hour.” Lieutenant Inspector Emily Cochran reads the text from Sargent Rice with BART. A photo is attached and she opens it. Her phone beeps.
“Busy tonight,”Seven says. “I thought you were off except for paper work?”
“Embrace the change, even if it is dynamic and intense.” Bridget continues. “But, don’t forget everything that has gotten you to this moment.” She points at the Seven of Coins, reversed. Don’t forget your plans, your relationships, or your gains. Keep them in mind as you work through it. And know, that you are not alone.”
Lieutenant Inspector Cochran’s phone beeps again. “20?!?” The message is from her boss, soon to be chief, Senior Lieutenant Inspector Randal Cummings. Emily ignores Seven.
“Is everything okay?” Bridget asks Emily.
Emily opens the photo attachment. The nose is complete and all it lacks is hair and eyes. She is quiet in thought. Where have I seen this?
“It’s this horrible case, we got kicked off of, the Fitzgerald case. Her boss is hot to blame me for a murder.” Seven says.
“MURDER, whoa?” Bridget replies.
“Yes, some girl got thrown on the trac…” Seven’s breath is knocked as Cochran punches him hard in the diaphragm.
“How horrible.” Bridget shutters. “Would you like a reading?” She collects her cards and begins shuffling them loosely.
“No. I am going to have to go in a minute. Maybe some other time” Cochran smiles, looks across the table at Ethan, then back to her phone.
Blood drains out Ethan’s face. He pants and sways in his seat as a bead of sweat forms on his forehead. It can’t be he thinks to himself and looks directly at Cochran studying her phone. He turns his head to the left and up then to the right and up.
“Are you okay?” Bridget turns to him and grabs hold of his arm.
Joel, Ethan’s friend who brought and introduced him to Bridget, returns to the table. “I’m going to become a clown.” He announces. His face is fully painted and every one looks up at him.
“Welcome back, the Argonauts.” Bixxter bellows, claps, and points at the band. “Could I get a few clowns up here for some clowning around, and non-clowns, feel free to dance. They play another Tom Waits song. Bixxter sways, skips, silly walks in place to the syncopated rhythm of Big in Japan.