For the first time in her career, petite, forty-five year old Sheryl Valdez regretted being a chiromancer. Like the Prophet Joseph from the Bible, she had correctly interpreted a person’s future, but instead of being made a dominant ruler, she was on the run, at the moment, trying to blend in with the other evening commuters on the BART train approaching San Francisco International. Her only hope would be to grab the first available flight out of the country and then try to disappear.
“I want to know how my trial is going to go next week.”
His name was Rico Nguyen and he had been accused of being the financial manager behind the Hình Su gang, which was notorious for the flood of home invasions and mass transit robberies the Bay Area had suffered for the past two years.
“I’ve been wrestling with whether I should try to fight this in court or just get out of the country. No one else has been able to give me any input that helps me figure it out.”
He was effusive and thanked her repeatedly for the uninterrupted hour-long session, which was far more time than she needed.
What she saw was nuanced, chilling, and magical. She’d never seen a palm like his before. The divorced, childless seer could almost envision a carrion bird sitting on Nguyen’s shoulder. He didn’t have long to live, and the manner of his death would be particularly gruesome. If he didn’t leave San Francisco right away, his own family was going to murder him. He was weak. He’d make a deal with the DA naming names, giving up the gang’s finances, and money was their lifeblood.
“You should run.”
“But why? I’m just a glorified bookkeeper.”
“If you are still here in 24 hours, you will be dead.” She kept her hands under her desk in the small, out-of-the-way office she maintained in the back of a dive bar so he wouldn’t see them trembling.
“My family will protect me.”
She could hear him trying to regulate his voice, to sound calmer than he felt. Sheryl looked him directly in his deep brown eyes. “Run.”
But he didn’t believe her, or if he did, Rudy thought he could cheat fate. She should have told him that his own brother would carve him up like a Christmas goose and leave the carcass at the edge of a pier off of the Central Waterfront.
When it hit the news, she didn’t even have to think about it. Of course he’d talked, told them everything, including how he came to see her and what she told him. They’d have to figure if her gift was genuine that she knew a lot more, too much really. They were right.
She’d pay the plane fare in cash but had no choice but to use her passport. Hopefully, she’d get to wherever she was going before they could trace her.
She caught a flight to Buenos Aires. Just her luck. She could speak Spanish well enough, although it wasn’t quite the same between her father’s native Mexico and Argentina.
Sheryl allowed herself a sigh of relief after the aircraft reached 32,000 feet, but then as the fasten seat belt sign ceased its illumination and she reached for a wrinkled magazine in the seat back in front of her, she saw her hand. Strangely enough, after all the years she’d maintained her shadow career, she’d never looked at her own palm before. Turning her right hand over, her eyes went wide with shock.
In a panic, she hurriedly unlatched her seat belt and ran up the aisle, grabbing the nearest flight attendant. “Tell the pilot we’ve got to turn around. We’re going to…”
Just seconds later, United Airlines Flight 856 from San Francisco to Buenos Aires disappeared from ATC radar. The crash would later be called one of the worst air disasters of the 21st century and engine inspection and safety regulations would be radically updated as a result.
I wrote this for Wordle #213 hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie. The idea is to use at least ten of the twelve words in the list below in a poem, short story, or some other creative work. I used eleven and bolded them so the reader could pick them out. They are:
No, it’s not a happy tale, and I tried to infuse it with a little “Twilight Zone.” Let me know how I did. Oh, and I know palm reading doesn’t render such precise information, but let’s just say Sheryl was special…while she was alive.