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AARPing the Artist

13 Nov

“Your name, sir?”  The front desk clerk at the Holiday Inn Express did not look up from his screen as he asked.

“Ruben Esquire.” Ruben responded. All was going well with Ruben’s holiday away from fame. So well that he began to feel a little neglected and added, “The artist.”

“I’m sorry, sir. What did you say?” The clerk did raise his eyes to Ruben this time and examined his face. A little thrill of excitement went through him. “Just like the first time I was recognized on the street,” he thought.

“I am Ruben Esquire, the artist.” Ruben bowed his head to graciously accept the praise he knew was coming.

“Oh. Okay. Cool. Would you like to use your senior citizen’s discount today?” The clerk was now looking back at his computer registration screen.

Ruben, feeling a bit more of his full forty years than he’d ever wanted said, “No. That’s okay.”

In the Shop of Woo

26 Jul

“So. What do you charge?” The woman put her hands on where her hips used to be. Plaid golf shorts, three kids and the time it took to turn brown hair to salt and pepper had worked to round her frame. Kristina thought she was spritely for an old woman.

“It depends on the depth.” Kristina answered while using the natural moisture of her hands to pick up grains of sand from the shop counter. “I can do a basic chart for fifty and go up to a very in depth chart for three hundred. That one comes with a written guide I will provide for you, and another free consultation in case any questions arise after the first.”

“I have a website right here.”The sprite held out her smartphone.  “It asks for my birthday with exact time and the longitude and latitude of my birth location. How is what it will give me for free any different than what you charge fifty dollars for?” The sprite had turned into a harpy.

“Listen, I have to work here to make a living. Nobody can make a living anymore with astrology because people think websites can do it all.” Kristina lifted her arm to indicate the shop around her. When her hand reached the end of the sweep, the broken end of the hourglass on the counter scratched and drew blood. As she pressed the scratch of one hand with the other she looked like a very sincere beggar.

“The website can’t do it all? What can you do that’s better? I hope your hand is okay.” The harpy turned into an innocuous  crone and Kristina softened.

“I can help you with your relationship with your mother for one.” Embarrassed by betraying herself and revealing her gift, Kristina avoided eye contact and looked at the counter through the awkward silence that followed.

“Okay then.” Said the crone. “Three hundred is the top of the line then?”

Kristina finally made eye contact and was relieved to see the deep wrinkles around the crone’s smiling eyes. “Well, yeah, but since she’s been dead for, what, twenty years at least, I’ll cut you a deal for half.”

Through the window outside of the shop two women inside could be seen carefully shaking hands.

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