The Fortune Teller’s Tale

Of the hundreds of posters announcing diviners and fortune tellers on Rio’s walls and light poles, several point to this address in Copacabana.

At the entrance of a neighbourhood spreading over a long street, with houses that seem to have been transplanted from some ancient Rio suburb, the security guard standing by the gate seems to be quicker than I.

“Are you looking for Mother Veronica?”, he asks.

Well, I am. Is the guardian also a diviner?

” The last home. You can go there”.

The time for the interview had been arranged over the phone. I tried to squeeze the appointment into the agenda three times, but unexpected appointments forced me to cancel it.

When I called the number on the light pole these three times, the woman always insisted on rescheduling the appointment for that very same day: “Can you come today? We’ re running a promotion ”.

Every day, apparently. This left me thinking, sounded very money driven for a spiritual trip. Two black goats for the price of one? Three names in the frog’s mouth and a fourth one for free? This was not what I was looking for.

The posters that women and men involved with the hidden forces spread throughout the city have as their common denominator the famous catchphrase: “Bring your loved one in three days”, the variation being “Bring back your loved one in three days”.

To test the effectiveness of the spiritual level in bringing two people together on the material level, I should be willing to reconnect with some ex. As I do not have this type of morbid desire, I opted for a psychic who proposed only to “bring the loved one in three days” and period.

If the guy left me with with a kick in the butt, he shouldn’t come back. He left because he broke the heart or half a dozen of us in infidelities and messy business, and more I won’t say.

I barely open my mouth as I stand before the diviner and am invited to go up to a room packed with images of saints.

She leaves a trail  of smoke  that I follow towards a back room, passing by a living room cluttered with state-of-the-art appliances – including  a home theater and a plasma TV.

To enter, I squeeze by a giant black dog of indefinite breed that stretches along the way.

The altar occupies half the room. Mother Veronica answers at a small table against the wall, where a closed window prevents any ray of daylight from entering. Nor does it allow the smoke from her cigarettes, which lights up one after another, to circulate.

The cards are read.

– What is your job?

– I write.

– Hmmm, writer is it? Much envy in the workplace, I seen an envious and blond woman.

Unless my cat is thinking about stealing my job, Mother Veronica is deliberately bluffing. My “office” is my home – I am a freelancer – and the only other female around while I work is Maria, my cat. And she is black.

Mother Veronica (as she calls herself) looks at me expecting some confirmation of what she has just said, but I can’t produce anything more than a vague nod in response, a nod that could even mean that I’m going to start dancing the macarena. Determined to convince me, she continues.

– Your husband, he …

This time, I can’t resist:

– I’m not married.

– But there’s a man here, the one who lives with you.

– I live alone.

– He’s your date …

– Actually, I’m single.

– But I see four men here.

I’ve never been more promiscuous than in the fortune teller’s fantasy.

– It says here that they flirted with you. The blonde woman is jealous. You’ll have to do A Job at the cemetery – she says, charging the R $ 100 trifle for the Gothic tour.

– A Job in a cemetery ?! But why, Mother Veronica?

– To marry the right man, otherwise you can choose the wrong one.

– But I don’t want to get married, Mother Veronica!

Fortune tellers need an upgrade in postmodern relationships: nowadays, the absolute majority of marriages only happen in soap operas.

– Don’t you want to get married? Are you a lesbian ?!

– I don’t intend to marry anyone now …

– Oh, and when do you want to get married? When you’re 80 years old?

– No, but now I’m busy working …

– Is this job as a writer more important than getting married?

Mother Veronica would return to the subject of The Job at the cemetery about three times before I cut the story short, saying that writers are poorly paid.

– But you don’t even have a credit card?

After repeatedly assuring her that I had not have one, we said goodbye and I left the R $ 50 charged for the consultation on the table.

At that moment, a skinny little boy who was chewing gum when I arrived put his head inside the small dark room. He excuses himself and says that the “water bottle man” is at the door and needs to get paid. With the lit cigarette hanging in her mouth, Mother Veronica takes the money and a change from her pocket . The man with the water bottle is paid.

– When you have money for the Job at the cemetery, will you come back?

As if understanding our goodbyes, the fat black dog, who was lying with his back to the room, gets up to let me though before somebody shoves him out of the way. The diviner of the house must be the dog.

 

Translation Luise W Mello Franco

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