Except from Murder by the Mile
Edwina Rivers turned over the Tarot card. She drew a deep breath. The same card again. She looked across the crowed living room. Three times she had drawn it and in three different spreads.
Usually her cards weren’t that literal. Oh, they were always correct, as she had told many people who cast doubts on her abilities, but sometimes a person’s destiny was confused and dark. That was hardly the fault of the cards.
And she had a healthy dose of skepticism about Tarot herself. Not that she would share that with anyone, but she knew how easy one could twist events to meet the predictions of the cards. However, she also knew the cards could tap into the greater reality of the universes. Not always, but sometimes she felt ... power ... flow through her. Then she could turn the cards with certainty, knowing the universe had chosen her to be its vessel.
That certainty filled in a way no one else – certainly not her son – could ever understand. She felt she had much in common with the Catholic mystic saints, despite rejecting their parochial-based religion which denied the power of the feminine soul. As she had explained to the odious Father Kramer when she saw him and stupid Bliss Fowler at the Free Fair last September.
She looked down at the table where the cards still lay in the Celtic Cross. She had used a simple three card spread first, then moved to the five card – which she called the Star – and, after pulling that card again, had used the Celtic Cross, her most reliable and trusted Tarot spread.
Her good friend Cynthia Ferryman had called her and told her about Cyrus Fowler about an hour ago.
“I knew you’d want to know immediately,” Cynthia said breathlessly, as if she had run to tell Edwina. That was how Cynthia always talked, but Edwina found it annoying today. “After all the bad things he did to you.”
Edwina decided to chose the better karmic path. “Don’t speak evil of the dead,” she said. “Cyrus is facing his debt on the Wheel of Life now. I will light a white candle and pray he grows from his death experience so that he can return as a better being.”
“Of course,” Cynthia said. Edwina could hear the disappointed tone in the other woman’s voice and grinned. Cynthia enjoyed a good spiteful conversation better than anyone she knew.
“Naturally, he will have much to answer for,” Edwina said. “We must encourage the universe to show him mercy.” But not too much mercy, she thought.
Cynthia and she talked a few more minutes about various town scandals, but Cynthia wanted to talk about Cyrus and Edwina, strangely enough, found herself not wanting to discuss his death. She felt a cold chill every time she thought him hanging himself. Cynthia hung up eventually, leaving Edwina strangely unsettled.
She paced her overcrowded house, dusted a few crystals, re-arranged the books by her computer. She needed to be working on an article for her webpage, but she couldn’t concentrate. Finally, she pulled out her Tarot cards. They often calmed her, but not this time.
The cards aren’t literal, she told herself again. She let her eyes wander over the spread again, the various positions denoting challenges, the past, goals, destiny, and so on, but the 10th and final card was for result. The ultimate outcome.
She reached out and took the card. Three times she had drawn it. Three times in three different spreads. Her hand trembled.
“I deny this,” she said firmly, addressing any powers heeding her words. “I deny this once, I deny this twice, I deny this trice!” The ancient counter charm didn’t comfort her. She could still feel doom slinking around her house, leering at her.
She lit a bundle of sage incense and put on her hematite and bone necklace, which had been blessed by Cherokee medicine man. After a moment, she added several other necklaces and two amulets. She started a CD of Tibetan chants. She tried to meditate, but a terrible thought keep intruding.
Three times she had turned over the card known as The Hanged Man. And she knew – the way she knew gravity existed – more people were going to die.
Excerpted from Murder by the Mile. Copyright 2013 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. No copying in any form is allowed. Thank you for reading.