Fallen From Mercy Chapter 1

“You’re going to die in the next couple of days.”  The silence that followed almost didn’t allow the next words to enter Dan Cunningham’s ears.  “At least probably.”

Dan’s ears and actually most of the rest of him showed his half Asian heritage, though his six foot two height and broad shoulders spoke of his father’s Italian genes as well.  He knew he was handsome and his dark eyes were good at catching women’s attention as well as assessing his surroundings for clues.  None of that was helping him right now.

The small room in the back of Divine Destinations just got a whole lot smaller.  It was almost too small now to fit the two chairs, shelves of books and the heavy oak table that sat as a monster between Dan and Zoey.  Zoey was playing up her gypsy heritage with a white peasant blouse and voluminous red skirt. Dan searched Zoey’s face for some more clarity.  When nothing more was forthcoming he waved at the tarot cards in front of him.  “Is that all you can tell me?”

Zoey closed her eyes and rubbed her temples underneath her wildly curly blue black hair.  Dan normally loved it when she did that.  This time though he felt his heart sink a little.  “That’s the best I can do, she said.  “It’s like trying to read a newspaper underwater in and somebody threw a crap load of mud.”

Dan looked at the cards intently, trying to filter out the mud, but he couldn’t even see the stream.  He gave up and turned his attention back to Zoey.  “Did it have to do with the guy you told me about last week?”

Zoey began playing with the rest of the tarot cards in front of her.  “He’s there, but I just can’t see enough to tell what’s his role.”

“What do you think I should do?”

“Go home and stay away from everyone for a week.”  Zoey gave Dan a sheepish look.  Dan shook his head and stood up.  Zoey quickly reached out to grab his arm.  “Wait,” she said, “that wasn’t supposed to be a joke.”

Dan flashed her a reassuring smile.  “I know, but I can’t just disappear down the rabbit hole.  You told me it was a probably and not a definitely.”

“True, but-”

Dan took her hand in his.  “You’ve given me a chance.  I know I’m in danger.  Don’t worry.  I’ve been through worse.”

“Worse than dead?”  Zoey asked while taking her hand back and striking the “no way in hell pose” that is ingrained in the y chromosome.  “Not much worse than that.”

Dan picked up his duster and put it on.  He was too hot before, but now he was a bit chilled.  “I’ve lived through worse.  Bad enough that hell would never scare me.  Besides, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”  Dan checked to make sure his gun and badge were where he had left them.

“I hate that phrase.  Makes no sense at all,” Zoey said.  Dan pulled out his wallet to pay, but Zoey waved him off.  “I’m not going to take your money.”  Dan was about to protest when Zoey started to smile.  “But I do have something for you.”  Zoey got up and rummaged through a box in one corner of the room.  “It’s been in my family ever since my great grandfather had some problems of his own.”

Dan peered at the eclectic mix of knickknacks and weird tidbits that Zoey was pulling out of the box.  One was a purple heart that had a bullet hole through it.  Another was a small doll the shape of a clown that seemed to hurt Dan’s eyes when he tried to look at it.   Next to the clown fell a feather that looked to be made of gold, but it floated as it fell from her hand.  “What is all that stuff?” Dan enquired.

“Got it,” said Zoey pulling out her prize.  It was a small swatch of coarse brown cloth.  “That box contains the pieces and bits of my family’s collecting over the centuries.  Sometimes it is good to be of gypsy blood.”  Zoey held out the swatch to Dan.  “Here take this.”

Dan looked at the swatch, but didn’t pick it up.  It seemed to carry the weight of time on it.  “Okay, why do I need this?” he asked.

Zoey took back the cloth and opened Dan’s hand.  She laid it reverently upon his palm.  The small piece of cloth seemed warm to his touch.  It had the texture of burlap, but it seemed almost fleece like in softness.  Zoey closed his fingers around it.  “This is a part of the robe worn by Saint Jude when he was martyred.”

Dan shook his head.  “I appreciate the thought, but you know I don’t believe.  You keep it.”

Zoey didn’t let go of his hand holding the cloth.  “Please, take it.  At least make me feel better.”  Dan though about it for a minute then nodded his head.  “Thank you,” she said, “it’s the only protection I can give you.”

Dan smiled and after putting the swatch into his pocket he took Zoey’s hands and kissed them.  “You are way too good for me.  Why don’t you come out with me to celebrate Ruthie’s birthday?”

“She doesn’t want to go to dinner with the crazy psychic lady on her birthday.”

“But her dad doesn’t mind,” said Dan.

“Her dad needs to remember I don’t date customers.  The two rules of my profession are, one, don’t view for someone you love, two, don’t view for yourself.  No dating customers hits both marks,” she said.

Dan turned up the charm.  “But I might be a dead man by the end of the week,” he said.

Zoey gave him a look that could have done that deed a lot sooner.  “Don’t you even go there Daniel Cunningham.  That is not even funny.”

“You’re right, that was out of bounds.”  Dan leaned forward to try to give her a kiss on her head, but she moved away quickly to pack back up the box with the strange items.  “I could stop being a customer.”

That gave Zoey pause.  She turned back to Dan.  “You would really do that?” she asked.

Dan thought about it for a second.  “Someday I will.  What will you do then?”

Zoey gave him the most honest smile he’d seen since her gloomy proclamation.  “When you stop being a customer, then we can talk,” Zoey promised.

Dan smiled.  “Fair enough.  Wish me luck then.”  Dan headed through the silent main room with the faded travel posters on the walls promising more fun then could be had a decade ago.  Zoey didn’t make much money as a travel agent, but she had a loyal following that would go wherever she ‘saw’ to send them.

Zoey trailed close behind.  She asked, “You don’t believe in God, but you believe in luck?”

Dan paused at the door and had a short laugh.  “Luck is real Zoey, just ask gamblers and sailors.  To quote Einstein, ‘God doesn’t role dice.’  I trust the dice more.”  With that he opened the door and entered the twilight outside.  The irony of the time of day was not lost on him.  “See you next week.”

As Dan got into his infernal orange 2010 Chevy Camaro, Zoey waved at him and held back a tear from falling.  All she could think of is maybe she was breaking the rules already.

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2 thoughts on “Fallen From Mercy Chapter 1

  1. That first sentence definitely grabbed my attention. Good start. I think it’s interesting that Dan is Asian and Italian. I don’t see that combination often.
    Now I’m off to read the next chapter!

    • Thank you for your comment. I was very happy someone else liked that first line. I wanted to come up with a good hook. I hope you enjoyed the next chapter.

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