“Don’t worry, Doc. I won’t ask her to free me.”

Armand probably said that to the doctor to rid of him from the room. A disbeliever during the spiritist’s ritual was considered taboo.

“What is your name?” the hunched woman asked, holding a pen with her unsteady left hand.

“Armand dos Santos, IX.”

She wrote slowly at the edges of the ordinary coupon bond, four to be exact. The silent prayers were inaudible but he could see her lips moving, concentration complete with every stroke of each letter.

“Can you tell me what’s wrong with me?”

He saw her creased face frowning, the almost dark brown forefinger she placed near her mouth meant he should shut up.

Armand wanted her to be quick. His impatience could not wait for the whole session to transpire.

“Do you believe whatever the result would be?” the woman whispered, her octogenarian voice sounded creepy. almost a clone of that of a witch.

“Yes, I believe!” Armand held on to his hopes of finding a cure.

She folded the paper twice, once lengthwise and then crosswise. The foot-sized porcelain bowl was minimally filled with water while a clear and thick drinking glass was at hand for later use.

She lit a match and set fire to the paper from a corner, waiting for the entire object to be consumed. As if magic, the residue was still intact which she carefully placed on the bowl before covering it with the glass.

“Do you see it?” she asked him, who neither knew what to look for nor what to say.

“Please tell me. My mind is not working properly.” Armand told the truth and a lie at the same time.

“A dog bit you. See there!” she pointed to the lower part of the glass. “A big dog with soft ears. Black.”

Armand saw the whole thing inside the glass as black with shades of whites.

“A tall man was there, too.”

The realization hit him. He knew who that man was and he owned a similar animal.

“I see numbers. Seven, seven, two, zero, one, three.”

If Armand was not mistaken, those pertained to a date. A week ago.

“Am I sick?” he asked, hoping she could give him his sanity back.

“Are you?” she asked back, her mysterious smile left nothing to be said.

Armand never felt he acquired a life threatening illness. If a dog bit him, the doctor would have readily gave him anti-rabies shots. Why the elaborate charade then?

“Obviously, you possess a good sense of judging character. Am I in danger?”

“You will be if you do not play your hand right. You are surrounded by conniving liars.”

“That’s what I suspected,” Armand said.

Before he could ask her to untie him, Doctor Aran has entered the room. He looked anxious to remove from the premises the hack he wished to have never visited.

“Pay him, Doc!”

Doctor Aran dipped his hand inside his white coat. He was stopped by the woman’s comment.

“Not now,” she said, collecting her things in a hurry. “You will do it yourself when the time comes.”

“I sure will,” Armand replied, her veiled assurance buoyed his spirits.

(to be continued)



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