Authors: Kathy LaMee
|Tansy Taylor |
Tansy Taylor: Paranormal P.I.
Tansy Taylor: Paranormal P.I.
Copyright (c) 2010 Kathy LaMee
For my family, Frank, Chris and Emma, who inspire me to try my best.
“Ms. Taylor! Get busy! Get back on your phone and earn your keep!” My boss’ voice boomed less than a foot behind me and I jumped at least as far out of my seat.
“Ouch!” That made five times in the last two weeks I’d knocked my noggin. Maybe the shelf wasn’t such a good idea; I mean, did I really need to have month-old soggy flowers on display?
“Sorry, back in sir.” I cringed and clicked my headset on. I could feel his nasty warm breath curling the hair on my neck. The urge to swat him away was insatiable. After what seemed forever, I heard his squeaky soles retreat across the checkerboard linoleum.
For the millionth time I asked myself if it was really worth the paycheck.
I decided on my first day here in hell-I mean, the Psychic Friend’s Neighborhood, that, even though I don’t agree with the shady nature of the business, the commercials have more cheese than a French cheese shop, and my boss seems to be the devil incarnate-that even with all of this - I am helping people with my abilities and therefore I would endure. I am a psychic, and not everyone can do what I do.
I sighed. Poo, who am I kidding, I need the money to pay the rent, bottom line.
I stared at my screen. The moments ticked by as I waited for another helpless soul to call for help with a cheating boyfriend or a bad investment.
I rolled my eyes-the world was ending by me not being logged in.
Beep. Beep. Beep. The familiar announcement of an incoming call resounded in my ear. “Murphy’s Law,” I muttered under my breath and pasted a smile on my face. The persistent buzzing in my ear wasn’t going away anytime soon. It had become a constant companion these past three years.
“Hello, thank you for calling Psychic Friends Neighborhood. My name is Tansy, I’ll be your spiritual guide for all of your needs today.” I picked at the hangnail on my thumb while I waited for a response. I looked around and was met with the drab tan fabric of a thousand cubicle walls. I sighed.
So this is the psychic I’d become; definitely not what I’d dreamed of at ten. For as far back as I could recall I’d longed to read minds, predict earthquakes, and maybe, if I was lucky, even talk to spirits from the ‘other side’.
These days, the idea of talking to the dead creeps me out a bit. I have this sneaking suspicion spirits or ghosts most likely appear however they were at their moment of death. Truth be told, I’m not so much afraid of the soldier who’s head was sliced off in battle as I am troubled about coming face to face with the ninety year old man who passed away enjoying a Viagra enhanced romp in the sack. I get the willies just thinking about it.
Empty silence dangled on the line; I glanced at the caller ID. “Am I speaking with Ms. Winter?”
I picked up my coffee cup; damn, empty.
I stifled a yawn. This day was dragging on and on. I checked my reflection in the four by four magnetic mirror hanging off my cubicle shelf. Tangle of reddish brown curls, check. Eye makeup-so-so. At least I didn’t have mascara smudges today. I swiped on some tinted lip moisturizer and glanced down at my computer; the call light was still lit.
“Are you there Ms. Winter?”
“Yes.” There was a squeak and a sniffle. “Please though, call me Callie.” She blew her nose and I snapped my headset away from my ear. “Sorry, I can’t seem to stop crying this morning.” More sniffling.
I grabbed at my heart; I’m a sucker for tears. “No problem Callie, take your time.” I glanced cautiously around; keeping an eye out for the Mr. Dunkan. I lowered my voice. “I should tell you these calls can get pretty expensive though.” Another sniffle and more silence. I muted my phone and sighed, then cleared my throat.
“I sense something traumatic has happened in your life.” Big surprise there, I thought. She sounded young, maybe early twenties. It was Sunday morning; my best guess was she was having ‘morning after’ remorse. “Callie, I’m feeling your call today has to do with a man.”
“My boyfriend,” she said. A whoosh of ice-cold air washed over me and I gasped, my breath caught in my throat. I pulled my sweater tight, fighting off the goose-bumps. No sudden spike in the air conditioning had occurred; this was how my psychic abilities worked. No visions or voices telling me certain things, no crystal balls, simply changes in temperature I had to interpret the best I could. Cold was bad, definitely.
“I sense there is a distance now in your relationship.” I started picking at the flaking laminate on the corner of my sad little faux wood desk. Most likely she’d gotten too serious and he’d simply taken off.
Sobbing erupted in my headset. “Distance?” She choked out. “He’s missing, maybe even dead!”
“Oh! My!” I sat upright-barely dodging the shelf; and for maybe the third time in my life, I was at a loss for words.
“Three days ago he just disappeared. I have this horrible feeling he’s dead. I think somebody killed him. That’s why I’m calling.” More sniffling came through the line.
Oh no. Why do people always think psychics just know stuff?
“I figured maybe you could use your powers to figure out who did it,” she said softly.
Callie blew her nose so loud I thought my eardrum would shatter. Damn. I frowned.
“Callie,” I began, trying to be gentle yet logical. “I know you must really be hurting right now, but, well, I’m not that type of psychic. In fact, well, most of us here at Psychic Friends Neighborhood are intuitive psychics.” I dropped my voice and covered my handset in an attempt to be as covert as possible. Glancing around, I relaxed a bit; Mr. Dunkan was across the room reading the riot act to some other poor soul. I was safe-for the moment. Admitting we weren’t all highly talented psychics was the fast track to a pink slip.
“What do you mean? What’s an intuitive psychic?” Callie’s voice was edging toward hysteria, and the sniffing had resumed in full force. “You mean you can’t find out who did this?”
Damn, she was getting close to the edge which left me in a pickle. A ‘disconnect’ after less than three minutes would definitely earn me a ‘conversation’- really just me groveling, apologizing and maybe crying-and a power trip for Mr. Dunkan. I gulped. I lowered my head and took on a low tone, trying to keep my voice from carrying too far.
“Callie, listen to me. I can help you get centered, and get rid of some of those feelings of hopelessness you’re dragging around with you right now. Okay?”
I watched the timer in the bottom right hand corner of my screen tick by second after excruciatingly slow second.
A tiny, almost inaudible voice came through the line. “‘Kay.” Phew, she was starting to relax; a good sign. I glanced around again. Mr. Dunkan was over at the copy machine harassing someone. I rolled my eyes. I swear-I’ve never seen that man ever do any actual work.
“Let’s start with some deep breathing exercises. Take a deep breath in…. Now, let it out, all the way, till you feel like there is nothing left. I want to hear you breathing out.” I could hear her whooshing all of the air out. A couple of these and she would be able to at least get back on top of her emotions.
“Feeling better?” I kept my voice calm and even as possible, stifling a yawn in the process.
“You know, I think I actually do feel a tiny bit better.” There was a hint of surprise in her otherwise exhausted voice.
“It’s amazing what a few deep breaths can do for a person.” I smiled into the phone. “Now, I can’t help you specifically with finding your boyfriend, but, I may be able to help guide you with some other problems or questions you have.” Gad, I sounded so fake and so Psychic Friends; this was the part of my job I abhorred. Just for good measure, I stuck my tongue out in the general direction of Mr. Dunken. I truly wished there was some way I could help Callie with her missing boyfriend.
“Oh. Um, well, no, I don’t have anything else.” Her voice was flat; defeated. The timer on the monitor said we’d been talking for five and a half minutes. Eleven, no twelve dollars Callie had wasted trying to find someone to help her with a monumental task; I was doing her a complete disservice. I was a low life, a bottom feeder, the epitome of a phone scammer. My watch said I had five more minutes of my shift. I got an idea.
“Callie, would you like to maybe meet, and talk? Off the clock?” I crossed my fingers.
“Oh, well, I don’t know. If you can’t help then I’m not sure what good it would do.” Apprehension, most likely about meeting some weirdo, was apparent in her voice.
“I know meeting up with some crackpot that works for the Psychic Friends might be a bit out of your comfort zone. Believe me; I’m not sure I’d want to meet up with me either. But, I promise, I’m a mostly normal person.” There was a little chuckle from the other end of the line so I kept going. “I think you might find it refreshing to talk to a stranger about what you’re going through. It gives you more freedom to examine your ideas than trying to talk to friends and family who might be quick to dismiss what you have to say. You can totally let loose with me and not worry about what I might think or how I’ll treat you later on. Make sense? Plus, I’ll buy you a drink to cover the cost you’re getting charged on this call.” I really did feel bad, and while it wouldn’t totally make it better, it might make both of us end our day on a more positive note.
“Well, okay. My mom and sisters have been swarming me the last couple of days and I feel like I can’t even breathe. It’d be nice to get out of the house for a bit.” I heard the weight lift off her ever so slightly, even with just this little bit of encouragement. Warmth swaddled me and I knew this was the right thing to do.
We agreed to meet downtown at one of my favorite martini bars. Living in Portland, Oregon provided many different options when it came to nightlife, and I loved it. I was from a tiny Washington town in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. I left home when I was twenty-two on the premise of going to Portland to attend college. After only one quarter I decided I wasn’t cut out for school and applied for my current position at PFN. While the pay isn’t great, I have a good schedule and decent benefits. It’s worked for the past three years.
I checked the clock on the wall, it was always a tad slower than my own watch, no matter what I did. It was now officially quitting time. I logged myself off the system and peeled the headset off. One of these days it was not going to budge-I was beginning to feel like a cyborg with an implant. Not a good sign.
Mr. Dunkan glowered at me from across the room and glanced at the clock. His lips drew tight and it appeared that his mouth had actually disappeared. I shuddered, and then forced a smile and waved. “Good night Mr. Dunkan! Have a fabulous weekend.” Yay! Not only was it quitting time, but it was quitting time on a Thursday night, which was my Friday, since I worked a four -forty work week. I packed my stuff up and looked at my watch. I desperately needed to head to the ladies’; I’d consumed at least sixty four ounces of coffee today and the dam was about ready to burst. I stretched, trying to get my shoulders to come down from my ears.
Becca, my work buddy jumped up from her cubicle, scaring me just enough to make me pee just a bit and smack my knuckles on the metal partition.
“Ugh, Becca!” At least I’m wearing a panty liner, I thought.
“So Tans, where you off to? Want to stop by Henry’s and grab a beer?” Henry’s was a frequent after work spot of ours.
“Not tonight Becca, I’m meeting someone.” I grabbed my purse from the drawer and turned my cell on.
“Ohhh, you have a date? With some new bloke right? Not that skeez Jimmy, you are off that right?” Becca spoke in a mixed up dialect-I still hadn’t quite figured it out-part Australian transplant and part inner-city. She had come to Portland when she was in her early teens and lived a rough life on the streets with her drug addicted mom. She tended to drift towards styles that were a bit on the eccentric side and her long straight hair changed shades and colors about as frequently as I changed my nail polish. Today it had a hint of purple and was done in about a hundred cornrow braids.
Jeez no, Becca! I’m totally done with Jimmy, he was a total ass. In fact, I’m off of men for a while after the last three bozos. I’m meeting a new friend for a drink.” At least I thought Callie might be a new friend. Not that I necessarily needed a distraught girl as a new friend. My mom was always quick to point out that I collected broken people like some people collected injured animals. I guess it was a hazard of my unique abilities, I could feel when people needed me, and I felt obliged to help.
“So you really are done with Jimmy for good this time? You aren’t just telling me that because you know how much I can’t stand him?” Becca looked at me from under a crooked eyebrow.
“Yes, I’m definitely done with him-for good. I took him back once, and all I got was a nomination for dumbass of the year.” I had been blind, trying to fix Jimmy, one of those broken people I’d picked up, but he was messed up beyond understanding. Adorable, with a cute little dimple in one cheek and floppy blond hair he made a habit of flipping back in a sexy come-hither way. I was a sap no matter what he’d done or what tall tale he was telling. I’d fallen for him hard. I discovered, however, that he apparently didn’t feel like a whole man unless he was screwing at least three different women, preferably two at a time; as I’d found out in a most unfortunate experience when I surprised him at his place on his birthday. He’d decided to go out and get himself his own present in the form of twins. I rolled my eyes just thinking about how stupid I’d been.