Writer - Bill Evans
All one could see on the grimy rundown boardwalk, was the hustle and bustle of dirty pigeons and seagulls aggressively chasing after anyone with a hotdog in their hand. Even “dirtier birds” abounded everywhere along the boardwalk coast line. I’m talking about the riff raff, beggars, perverts, and “future murderers of America,” lurking in every shadow and crevice. I held Clare a bit closer to me and wondered why in the hell we came to Atlantic City for vacation. I must be half nuts.
Then I spotted the sign, ‘QUEEN ISMOLDA THE ALL-KNOWING GYPSY SEER.’
“C’mon Clare let’s go to a fortune teller!”
With some reluctance and a great deal of tugging, Clare “agreed” to see the fortune teller. We tip-toed up the creaky steps and into the storefront room, as a small bell clanged overhead warning of our entry. Just then, the “Great Ismolda” mysteriously appeared from behind a hidden curtain.
Ismolda didn’t disappoint with her appearance. She was wearing a speckled turban with a glowing ruby colored jewel in its center. She was decked out in full gypsy regalia with her flowing loose fitting multi-colored silk garments and brightly luminescent flowing scarves. She could have passed for an extra in the production of Carmen.
“I am the Great Ismolda,” the gypsy queen stated with a great deal of fanfare and pomposity.
“Yeah, no shit,” I muttered to myself.
“Please come and sit.” She ushered us over to a small round table with a floor length dark tablecloth and a clouded large crystal ball perched in the center.
“I’m here to get my fortune told,” I volunteered. Ismolda looked at me with disdain. ‘I was being rude and should wait my turn’ was the kind of look I got from her. She then offered me a rock. “Thanks,” I said.
“This rock will bring good luck. Forty-five dollars please.”
“Whaaa…? No thanks.” I gave the rock back. I’ll find another just like it on the front grounds if I want a damn rock.
“I wish you luck none-the-less,” she said in mock kindness.
“How much for you to tell my fortune?”
She gave me another one of those looks, then burped in my face. “Sixty dollars,” she replied evenly.
“Ulp…that’s too much. What will twenty get me?”
“For twenty dollars, I will answer one question.”
I agree to this. I thought of asking about marriage, career, money, and then to my surprise asked: “What is Hell like?”
Ismolda pondered this for a moment, cleared her throat and began. “Hell is not a place. It is right here in your mind. Hell is the irresolute knowledge that you are alone; with no answers and no one to turn to. It encompasses all of your delusions, anger, and fears. It’s all you have when all is gone. Laugh, cry, analyze, judge…it matters not. There isn’t even a devil or hellfire to attach yourself to. The horror is…that there is nothing.”
“Bitch,” I screamed, and dragged Clare away.