Because I am tired, here is something from my notebook:
I once overheard Star telling someone not to get on the plane. Star was the psychic who came in to give readings at the restaurant every Monday night. Of course Star wasn’t her real name. It’s the first name that comes up in the Psychic’s handbook, I am certain. She told me once that she changed her name because she was hiding from one of her husbands—but it wasn’t George, because George was dead and sometimes came to visit us in the women’s restroom.
Star was maybe 5 feet tall, probably less. Her hair was whitish-blonde, she wore plain looking frames on her round face. I have no idea how old she was, other than she looked old to me when I was twenty-one. Her body matched her face, round like two round parts of a snow person stacked on top of one another. When she walked it was almost a waddle, her weight shifted heavily from side to side, an attribute adding to her seeming “oldness.” The real kicker was her voice. It was as if she had been given helium as a baby and her vocal chords never recovered. She looked and sounded exactly like the psychic from the Poltergeist movies. So much so that people would frequently comment on it. Each time she would look away and pretend she had no idea what they were talking about. Baloney. She knew it.
Looking back a little I have a memory of Star taking me into the women’s restroom on some crazy Mardi Gras when she wasn’t doing readings in her special corner. She pulled out her cards and placed them on the hand painted tiles around the sink. It seemed to me that the cards were mostly for effect, but I am a huge sucker for that kind of stuff, so I played along. She told me very little. What I do remember wasn’t even about me. Star gave me a few tips about my boyfriend. She said, “J Rob is going to get married and have kids someday, but I don’t know if it’s with you. He’ll also own his own house someday . . . but I don’t know if it will be with you.” Comforting, really. My boyfiriend and I had been dating for maybe six months at the time. I didn’t put much stock in my psychic.
Monday night readings were free for anyone who bought dinner. All the weirdos came in on Mondays. The believers—Star’s “regulars.” They would order nothing more than a side salad, or a shrimp remoulade appetizer and get kind of perturbed when it wasn’t filling the dinner requirement. We had to keep our eye on these regulars. Star would put people on her list and waddle around the restaurant taking each one back to her little corner between the door and the wall. I once heard her tell a woman, “He has a shotgun. You need to get out of there.” This, while my arms were loaded with plates to take back to the kitchen. Sometimes she would come out from her readings and tell us about a person who was, as she described them, a “really bad person,” and when she said bad it felt like murderous.
One day before a shift I was sweeping the back patio. Star came outside to eat her nightly ration of chicken and sausage gumbo. I don’t know why or how the subject came up, but she told me one of her husbands had slashed her open and buried her alive. She said that she had been dug up and rescued by a dog. It was the biggest load of horse pocky I had ever heard in my entire life, but I gave her credit for making up a good story, and nodded, playing along. Then, she lifted up her shirt to show a pale purple scar running diagonally up the length of her body. Not a small surgical scar, it extended from below and went up past where she held her shirt. What does a person say to that?
Star really was a crazy, no denying. Half of the things she said weren’t true, the other half made no sense at all. But, that day that she pulled me into the bathroom for the reading—well, my boyfriend is now my husband and we have two kids. I’m crossing my fingers that whole house owning thing will work out.