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AFTERWORD I Want To See a Fortune Teller.. . BY DAGOBERTO GILB It was several months ago when a friendan intelligent highly-skilled Chicana professionalfirst suggested I speak to her psychic I had just arrived in Austin, and I must have looked as psychologi cally damaged as I was feeling My friend has been voice trained to persuade in smooth, comforting tones, and while my sentiment lingered over a loving altar shed assembled in memory of her deceased madrecita, I listened This psychic can reveal amazing things, my friend confided and Id be in for a special experienceso special it had to be arranged I had to be recommended Visiting a psychic isn’t the normal advice, I don’t think. I didn’t say no, but I thought it was better to settle down, to both rest more and work harder, if you know what I mean. I wanted to tough it out solito, you know? Hook into a meditative self-reliance and discipline, apply the rugged, cattle-driving, gusherspouting spirit that made Texas. I was also afraid I was going broke, and I didn’t think I should waste money. I thought my approach was succeeding, I really did, until one day a month ago another Chicanafrom Laredo but living in Bostoncalled me. She’s a friend of a friend, and I hardly know her. Still, she closed the gap between her mouth and the telephone mike, excusing herself for getting so personal, and told me how I should visit this psychic she knew. Though she always hoarded the phone number for her own selfish reasons, she thought I was someone who really needed it. For a week I pondered my condition, so obvious to everyone else. Looked deep into my messed-up self: Okay, I would go, I would spend the money. I bumped into my friend. I was feeling a little…how do I say? Like I was going to talk to a psychic, which feels sneaky, something like that. Maybe that’s only me. Anyway, I was curious: Was her psychic the same one whose phone number I now had? Not only was it, my friend wanted us to have an hour appointment together. We could take notes on each other’s reading. I wasn’t so sure. How would my future come out in half an hour? And I wanted to go alone. Then again there was the money. Half the expense now. Okay, I said, yes. After two weeks she hadn’t gotten back to me. I was feeling shaky. That sneaky psychic haze was everywhere. Why wasn’t she calling me? Maybe she sensed my un certainty, my want for privacy, my initial desire to exclude her. I felt I intuited some WHAT WAS IT SHE KNEW ABOUT MY FUTURE THAT SHE WASN’T WILLING TO TELL ME? unspoken change in her intentions. So I dialed the psychic’s phone number myself. I’m sorry I can’t give her name. I’ll just call her Senora Equis. She answered. She had an accent, though it was like everybody’s in my neighborhood. “M gave me your number,” I said. “She told me how good you were, and I wondered if you could fit me in.” “M,” she said, “M.” Though you can’t tell from this,, she repeated a different name than I gave her. “I haven’t heard from M. Where is she now?” I told her. In fact the feeling was that I had to tell her everything I knew. How she was the M from Laredo, how she’d been here, how she was going back to Boston, where she lived now. Actually Cambridge. “And what is your name?” she asked. “Dago,” I said. But I was afraid I was being too casual. “Dagoberto,” I told her. “Dagoberto,” she said, thinking to herself way out in that unknown at the other end of the telephone line. “I have been so busy, Dagoberto, I have so many appointments this week.” “Whenever you can fit me in.” I tried not to sound needy, but I wanted her reading. She took my number. She assured me she’d call back. But she didn’t. I called again. I left a message on her answering machine. I bumped into my friend. She was embarrassed. I was right. Instead of me she’d taken her sister with her. Her sister really wanted to go. And it was, she exuded, amazing. I explained that I’d contacted la senora Equis on my own. You spoke to her? she asked me. Well, yeah. She shook her head, impressed I think, I wasn’t sure. But she never got back to me, I told her. I wish I’d given her your name, I told her, because maybe she didn’t remember who M from Laredo was. My friend called her on my behalf. I heard her talk into the message machine. She gave la senora Equis my name and number. Sefiora Equis didn’t call me back. What did she pick up on that made her not want to speak to me? Did she read my doubts? Did she feel I wasn’t being serious enough? Was it because I was a man? Was it because she saw how I’d been too cheap about her labor and skill? What was it she knew about my future that she wasn’t willing to tell me? I had to leave Austin. I drove ten hours wondering and worrying about all that I didn’t know. When I got back to El Paso a card was in my post office box. It said, Listen to me! You are about to enter into a period of your life with incredible potential for vast achievements. Major wealth, good fortune and the end of financial worries are about to come to you. It wasn’t from la senora Equis, and it wasn’t addressed to me. It’d been misdelivered. Dagoberto Gilb is a writer living in El Paso. JUNE 6, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 31