A horary chart, for me, was like card reading. The planets, signs and houses were symbols, and they spoke to me. Not like, “voices inside my head” kind of thing – though that’s happened before. Maybe I’ll tell you about that when I know you better.
I looked over the chart, and already I could see something. I grabbed my pendulum anyway, just for security. I folded up the paper and went downstairs to meet Nettie, who was already dressed and ready to go.
We waited outside for her aunt. “So, what’s it say?”
“I’d rather tell the family,” I said. “But how?”
“Say what you are and just show them.”
“They’ll think I’m a charlatan. Or some sort of glory seeker.”
“I don’t,” she said, and hugged my arm. “You’re just trying to help.”
“Well, I don’t want my name plastered all over the media. I’ll never be able to go back to work. Besides, I don’t do this for the glory.”
“Nonsense,” she said. “If we do this, you might not ever have to go to work again.” She saw a blue car come around the corner. “There she is.”
The car stopped and we climbed in. Aunt Wendy had silver-black hair, more silver than black, and she looked like she stepped out of a salon, her hair was so perfectly pouffed. After giving Wendy a kiss, Nettie said, “This is my friend, Tam. He’s a fortune teller.”
I put my head in my hand, swearing all kinds of blue words in my head. When I looked up, the aunt was regarding me in the back with something akin to an insect that had crawled onto her plate at a picnic. Then she turned to Nettie. “Nanette, this is no time for games.”
“He can find her!” Nettie protested. “Or at least try, right?”
I said, “Look, you can drop me off at the corner and I’ll just walk home–”
“No,” Nettie said, turning around to look at me. “You’ve got powers.”
“Nettie,” I said quietly, looking at the firm line that was Aunt Wendy’s mouth, “not helping.”
“It would be a good idea, young man,” said Wendi, “if you stay out of the way.”
We pulled up to a house that, normally, would look like any Cape Codder on any suburban street. Except this one had cars everywhere – on the sidewalks, in the driveway; the road was wide enough for one car to travel. Wendy parked two blocks away, the only available space.
We walked there, my taking up the rear, feeling out of place. Nettie was really going to present me as someone who could find their daughter. The horary chart gave me a story, but would they believe it? The pendulum – with the girl’s hair – might give me a direction.
We got to the house, and Wendy went in first. There were two uniformed policemen at the door, checking everyone who walked in and out. Wendy said that she was here to see Joyce, who I guessed was the sister. The cops let us all in.
The place was a madhouse. Cops everywhere, plain clothed and not, FBI agents, and other people gathered around in a living room area.
I couldn’t breathe. I tried to find the windows, a corner, somewhere without people. I saw a set of stairs, just a small set. I jostled my way through the crowd, gritting my teeth and trying not to hold my breath, heading for the stairs.
When I got there, there were no people, and I sat at the bottom step, trying to catch my breath. I heard a little voice say, “Who are you?”
I turned around, and a little girl about ten years old or so sat at the top of the stairs. The poor thing was sitting there in a little pink dress, her knees drawn up around her chin, and a stuffed animal in her arms. I smiled up at her, “I’m a friend of a friend of a friend.”
She tried to follow that. I knew that confused her. “Oh,” she said noncommittally. “Are you a policeman?”
“Do you know who took my sister?”
I patted my jeans pocket. Yes, it was still there. “Yes, I do,” I said.
The little girl hugged her teddy bear closer. “You didn’t tell anyone.”
“It seems like everyone’s busy –”
“There you are!” Nettie cried, coming around the corner. “Are you going to come over and talk to Mrs. Blackbourn?”
She took my hand and pulled me to my feet. “What am I going to tell her?”
“That you know who took Lucy,” said the little girl. “Please tell them so these people can go away and I can have my mommy back.” She got up, turned around and went into one of the upstairs rooms, from which I could hear a door slam shut.
“All right then,” I said, squaring my shoulders, “Let’s go see her.”
I followed Nettie, this time staying at her heels. People were mostly concentrated in the kitchen area. My panic attack started to come back, and I took deep breaths.
I saw the woman I had seen on TV, sitting with her head in her hands. I hadn’t run the actual abduction chart, but I could imagine that mom had something to do with it. Yet she had nothing to do with who had her, and where.
The man who had stood behind the woman on TV was standing with some FBI men in a corner, talking animatedly. “How can anybody call me if the phone’s blocked!” he demanded.
“We’re letting certain calls through,” said the FBI man patiently. “I’m sure you don’t want to be talking to a telemarketer when the kidnappers call.”
“My mother needs to know what’s going on. She’s probably worried sick – “
Nettie was dragging me to a woman sitting next to the woman from TV. “Excuse me?” she said, and I thought, not for the first time, that she had some serious balls. When the two women looked up, the woman from the TV was red-eyed and cold-faced. “Who are you?” she demanded, “And why are you in my house?”
“I’m Wendy’s niece, and I brought a friend to help.” She pulled my arm forward, dragging me forward and into her. “He’s a fortune teller, and he thinks he knows –”
The woman slowly rose, her face twisted in fury. I knew what was coming and I backed away, right into someone. I muttered an “Excuse me” as she blew up screaming, “GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! My baby’s gone and all you care about is fame! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!” Then she broke down into tears.
I backpedaled, not caring who I was bumping into, and literally tore out of that house, almost throwing people aside in my haste. When I got to the front lawn, I stood there, gasping for breath. Nettie had followed soon after, being escorted by policemen.
I looked up to see the little girl looking out the window. A few more people were escorted out, including Wendy, who did not look happy. I took out the horary chart and looked at it again. I had my story straight, I just had to tell someone. If not for my sake, then for that other little girl’s.
“Excuse me,” I said, grabbing an FBI man by the arm.
“What,” he snapped, yanking his arm away from me. “Can’t you see I’m busy?”
“It’s someone’s brother.”
“What?” He turned to face me.
“The one who took the girl. It was the husband’s brother.”
The FBI guy looked me over, and his two companions did as well. “How do you know?”
I took out the chart.
“Oh, for Chrissake,” he said, and turned away from me, shoving his hand at me. I went back to the knot of people that had been kicked out, milling about near the cars on the street. Nettie asked me, “Well?”
I shook my head. “This one of your worst ideas yet.”
“I didn’t know she was going to freak out,” Nettie said. She leaned over my shoulder. “What does it say, anyway?”
“It says,” and I showed her, “that two men have her. One is the brother of the husband – see, Saturn in the tenth house? Along with Saturn is Mercury – someone younger. The moon is in the same house, and all are in Aquarius. That means that they’re on the ocean or a lake, by the ocean or a lake.”
By this time people were gathering around me.
“The moon is going to go into Pisces, and squaring that will be Pluto, which means if they don’t find her in the next two to three days, she’s going to be dead.”
Asked one person, “No ransom note?”
“No communication. No aspects to Mercury or Gemini. Neptune is in the third house of communication, which means some sort of deceptive communication, but no real ransom note.”
Now I started getting peppered with questions. But I stayed closed-lipped about it. I watched someone sneak away to one of the cops. I kept answering “I don’t know,” keeping this guy in the corner of my eye.
When the cop went inside to bring the guy in with him, I turned to Nettie and said, “Let’s go.” I started walking back to the car.
“You should tell them,” she kept saying. Finally, I turned to her and said, “Nettie? No. I like being under the radar.”
Aunt Wendy showed up soon after. “I’ll have to come by when this is all over,” she said, giving me a pointed look, as if it was all my fault that she couldn’t stay in the house along with all the other train wreck observers.
“What’s her other daughter’s name?” I asked.
“Other daughter?” asked Wendy. “She doesn’t have another daughter.”
Then who – or what – spoke to me?