Kreative Kue 307 asked for submissions based on this photograph:
“So Trevor, old boy. How have you been lately?”
“You are talking like we don’t share living space. You know how things have been lately.”
“I’m just trying to make conversation while we wait.”
“Yeah, well, don’t bother. Those humans will be in there forever. Or at least, it will seem forever.”
“What goes on in there.”
“See that horseshoe?”
“Yes, I do now.”
“That is a sign of luck.”
“And what does a sign of luck mean?”
“We’ll be lucky to get out of here in less than two hours.”
“Why do you say that?”
“See that beaded curtain?”
“Once a human goes through a beaded curtain, it is like the brain is wiped clean.”
“I still don’t understand.”
“Inside beaded curtains are all kinds of weird things. There’s tea to drink.”
“That doesn’t take long.”
“Cakes to eat.”
“Yum. I could do that in a second.”
“Leaves to read.”
“These people finish their tea and then look at the dregs at the bottom for guidance.”
“Like sniffing a fireplug?”
“I suppose. They put their nose in it and get all up in the leaves.”
“I know I need to get my nose all up in things to get a read on them too.”
“Also, there are things.”
“Yes, shelves of things. Useless crap like soap and those smelly sticks.”
“I remember we ate a couple of those. Mom kept yelling about her defusers. I thought that maybe there would be an explosion.”
“I remember that too. Pretty funny. The most feared of all items is a scarf or hat the gets put on for a picture.”
“A picture of the humans?”
“No, you dolt. A picture of us.”
“See my pose.”
“Imagine some hideous scarf or bunny ears.”
“The horror, the horror.”
“Yes. You describe it well. Was that your Marlon Brando voice?”
“Thanks. Been working on that. Why don’t we just take off?”
“Whhhaaaattt? We were given the command ‘wait.’”
“So it is just a word.”
“Don’t be a fool. Behind that word is all the things we hold dear. Kibble, treats, ear scratch, belly rub, fetch, delivery person barking—”
“Okay, I get it. We will stay till our hinnies hurt. I just hope the hat and scarf thing is not in the cards.”
“You want to play a game of cards?”
“Sure, which one?”
“I’m thinking of a card. You tell me which one.”
“The three of clubs.”
“Nope. That’s not it.”
“Hey wait a minute.”
“You are too quick for me. It was the Ace of Spades. I’m thinking of another.”
“Queen of hearts.”
Strings in the beaded room divider were whipped to the side in a rude swipe by the man entering Lady Philomena’s room. Her head whipped away from her book to see the man with an angry face above a suit.
“I want a refund,” he said.
Lady Philomena’s brain processed the sudden arrival and demand. The man wasn’t one of her regulars. The face was a bit familiar. A one-timer.
“I said I want a refund. You give those, don’t you? Isn’t this a respectable business?”
“You came in a couple weeks ago,” Lady Philomena said as she stood up. “You came in for a card reading.” She couldn’t remember his name.
He snickered. “Now you’re correct. Some fortune teller you are. You can tell the past, but not so good with the future, are you?”
“I’m not a fortune teller,” she said. ““I give readings with Tarot and palms and astrology.”
“Oh, come on. You bill yourself as able to tell people what their future’s are gonna be. What’s with all this hocus-pocus stuff, then?” The man waved at the room beyond her desk, a room with burning incense, candles, star charts.
Lady Philomena said, “I’m not some birthday party magician, if that’s what you’re trying to say. All of this is to help my clients calm down and get in the right frame of mind for their readings.”
“And my reading was way, way off base. You had me thinking something good was gonna happen when I drew that card, that tentacles or whatever. The one with the chick in the garden. It said I’m supposed to hit the big time.”
His name appeared in her mind: Cameron Novak. When he came in for the reading, he had lots of swagger. Likely to cover up insecurity. If Cameron was as confident as he projected, he wouldn’t have come to her. Cameron had said a friend suggested that he get a reading. Cameron had said he was passed up for a promotion. He wanted to know if he should stay at the company or look elsewhere for a job. He was impatient to get the “big bucks” (his phrase). So she had asked Cameron pick five cards to assemble a money spread. When she had explained one card in particular, his swagger had ballooned.
“It’s not tentacles,” Lady Philomena said. “It’s the Nine of Pentacles. And, yes, with your question about wealth, it was a fortuitous card. But the Tarot doesn’t provide exact answers. I use my skills to translate what the cards could mean for each client.”
“Fortuitous? Ha!” The nasty laugh was spit out of Cameron Novak’s mouth. “Not even close! I’ve applied to lots of jobs, and nothing’s come back. Then I thought maybe the card meant I’ll get quicker riches. So I went to the casino. I’m a really good poker player, but the cards didn’t come my way that night. I lost big instead of hitting it big.”
“And that’s why you want a refund,” Lady Philomena said.
“Well, golly fuckin’ gee, aren’t you a genius?”
“I don’t give refunds for readings,” she said. “You got what you paid for. It’s not my fault or the cards’ fault that things didn’t turn out the way you wanted. The cards offer guidance to help you make decisions. The Nine of Pentacles didn’t promise a big payday for you immediately.”
“What the hell does it mean, then?”
“You might earn more money later,” she said. “Maybe your job applications are taking some time, and you’ll get one of those jobs. Or you might meet a lady — not a chick — who will help you realize wealth doesn’t always mean money.”
Cameron let loose another nasty laugh. “You’re tryin’ to give me wishy-washy advice on becoming a better person? This is too much. Just give me the refund.”
“I already told you, I don’t do that. It’s on the sign.” Lady Philomena pointed to the sign on the wall above the desk, next to the sign that she accepted major credit cards. As her arm swung and she pointed to the door, her bracelets jingled. “Now please leave, or I’ll call the cops.”
Cameron Novak glared at her for a few seconds. A well-dressed guy whose attractive face was twisted in anger. He shook his head and left, again whipping the beaded curtain.
Lady Philomena listened to the beads clack together, and watched the strings settle back into place. Cameron had filled the room with negative energy, and that wouldn’t do for her later appointments. She lit one end of a sage stick waved it around the room.
The next day, as further cleansing, she brought her dogs to spend the day with her. Pickles and Sally mostly behaved when clients were there. They loved sitting in the sun, and their joy made the room overflow with kind energy.
My effort was:
“Any idea what this is all about, Ulysse?”
“Dunno, Trev. Boss Man said to sit here, sit still, sit quietly, look scary and keep guard. That’s what he said and that’s all I know.”
“Why did he ask us to do that? We’ve never had to before.”
“I told you; I don’t know.”
“You’re the oldest – and you reckon you’re top dog, so I expect you to take a leadership role in this. See what you can find out.”
“Boss Man said to sit here, sit still, sit quietly, look scary and keep guard. Nothing in there about running around for more information.”
“So bark to attract his attention.”
“You bark if you want. I’m following orders.”
“What’s going to happen if we don’t obey?”
“Try it and find out.”
“You. You’re the oldest.”
“And I didn’t get to be this old by not following orders. Just be patient. We’ll find out when the time’s right.”
“When, O brother of mine, have you ever known a Jack Russel to display patience?”
“When you’re waiting for a lizard to appear through a crack.”
“Food and the hunting instinct. I’ll bet I could even go on point if I had to.”
“So pretend this is a hunting situation.”
“That’s silly talk. Hunting and guarding are two different things. Anyway; if they wanted guard dogs, why on earth did they get two terriers. Terriers aren’t guard dogs, terriers are diggers, hunters and highly intelligent companions.”
“Says the Boys Book of Dogs.”
“Have you read it?”
“Don’t be stupid. Dogs can’t read.”
“So how do you know that’s what it says?”
“I have my ways— Ey Up! Boss man’s coming. What’s he got in his hand?”
“That’s his camera. Look at the way he’s pointing it at us!”
“What’s it do? Is he going to kill us? Does it take our souls like some people say? What’s that click noise mean?”
“Thanks, Lads. That’s all.”
“You know what that means, don’t you, Trev? That means we’ve been sat here like lemons for the last hour just so he can take a photo to put on his bloody blog!”
On to this week’s challenge: Using this photo as inspiration, write a short story, flash fiction, scene, poem; anything, really; even just a caption for the photograph. Either put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org before 6pm next Sunday (if you aren’t sure what the time is where I live, this link will tell you). If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be appreciated, but please do also mention it in a comment here.
Go on. You know you want to. Let your creativity and imagination soar. I shall display the entries next Monday.