My cell rang and I flipped it over. The number was a Vegas area code, but it was an unknown number. That pretty much split the chances of who it was, between a junk call and someone with my business card. I turned the phone on speaker as I wrapped the last wire.
“Hullo?” a high-pitched voice asked.
“Hi, you looking for the Cross Roads?”
“Yeah, I got your card from Darla? My name is Juanita.”
The waitress at Flo’s was passing my card around. Interesting. “Hi. Did you need a reading? Or some help?”
“Darla said you do guidance walks? I’m in a bad place. Really bad. There are people…” Juanita’s voice wavered. I got that particular twinge that told me she truly needed my help.
“Hold it there, tell me in person. Meet me at the Swap tonight, say around five and you can tell me your troubles. Then we can make a date for the walk. I like to do night work”
There was a pause, but she didn’t reply.
“You know where the Swap is?”
“Yup, I’ll be there.”
“Did Darla discuss my consulting fee…”
“She said, fifty and a key? Like, any key?”
“As long as it opens something, it’s perfect. See you later.”
“Don’t thank me now.” I trimmed the ends of the wire and reached for the next set of charms.
I’d sold ten of my twelve charms before six, and gotten two potential clients. Plus, someone slipped me a key when they weren’t looking. Fortunately, the trace on it meant I could give a little glimmer of shiny goodness back to the person who’d left it for me. Extra special, because I didn’t have to do anything for it. I was rolling up the velvet charm display pad, when the glimmer of a presence behind me tingled through me.
“Hey, I’m Juanita. Sorry I’m late.”
I turned slowly. I’m not sure if I was expecting anything in particular, but Juanita was about the height of a pre-teen with jet black hair and big eyes. Her sparkly spandex skirt and heeled booties were an odd choice for the Swap, but hey, Vegas.
“Hi, I was closing up. Let me get this locked and then we can take our walk.”
“Sure. Can I help?”
“Not much more to do,” I said stuffing the roll into my satchel. “Grab an end of this table, and we should be set.” We tipped the folding table onto its side, sending the clamps down the tubular metal at the same moment. The resounding clang tingled through me as we folded the legs. Omens were something I never took for granted. It wasn’t clear now, but I’d be looking for the direction.
We leaned the table against the wall. With everything secured, I reached up and grabbed the edge of the gate. The metal rolled down with another resounding grate. Too many arrows toward a dim light. Something big was up. The metal sounds blended together in my head. Juanita was being targeted by something she had no resources to deal with. There was no point in telling her. She was scared enough without knowing that nightmares weren’t all imaginary. I locked the padlock with a key corded around my wrist.
We left the cavernous Swap building. The parking lot had a bunch of cars were lined up to get to the exit.
“You got a car?” Juanita asked.
“No, you?” She shook her head.
“Guess we’re walking.” Which honestly suited me fine. There was nothing I liked more than being out under the night sky. I breathed in the cooling Vegas air and headed west.
We walked three blocks from the swap and she still hadn’t talked. I stopped under a streetlight. “Tell me your troubles. Did you bring…”
“A key, and the cash. Yeah, here,” Juanita handed me a key which flashed silver in the artificial gold glare. I tucked it into my pocket along with the five ten dollar bills.
“You have my full attention.” We began to walk again. I was heading towards my place, but it didn’t really matter where we were going. The destination would change before we got there. Omens never make things easy for mortals.
“It’s hard to say this.”
“Spit it out, it doesn’t get easier, I can promise you that. The longer you hold it the harder it is to get it out.” For once, I was actually curious as to what she was going to say.
“Really huh, yeah. Hadn’t thought of it like that. Okay.” She took a deep huffing breath and then let it out.
“I killed someone, I think. I mean, I don’t know, and it’s eating me alive. I need to know, but I can’t ask, or someone might get wise that I was there.”
“And where was that?”
“The London. On the strip. A swanky suite on an upper floor. I was one of the hired girls. You know, to please and entertain? But if they slip you a little extra you give them options? There were pills and booze all over the place. We were in the bedroom. I think most people had left. But the guy. He just stopped…”
“Yeah, like he went all limp and stuff. I climbed off him, but he was out cold.”
“Was he breathing?”
“No. At least I don’t think so. I was scared. I called 911 from his phone with that emergency thing. Then I left.”
“You fled the scene of a possible death?”
“Yeah. And it’s weird because wasn’t anything on the news. I’ve been watching the internet and TV, but there’s nothing.”
“Maybe he didn’t die?” Mortals meeting stranger than life beings wasn’t commonplace. Their perceptions were unique to that human experience which I could never truly have.
“He was a weird guy. Insisted on keeping his gray hoodie on. I didn’t like him, but I didn’t want him to die.”
Tears dripped down her cheeks.
“Hang on, we don’t know if he’s really dead. Let’s find out. The key you gave me what does it open?”
“The back door of my mom’s shed. Is that okay? I mean, Darla didn’t say…”
“It’s fine.” I slipped my hand into my pocket and closed my fingers over the key. But I already knew the answer.
“He’s not dead.”
“What? How do you know?”
“I just know. He passed out, when he came to, the were paramedics there. He sent them away and the hotel hushed it up If you want to know, he goes by Frankie Swan and he’s playing the high table at Razz’s Casino tonight.”
“Oh my god. Really? He’s not dead? Thank you so much. Like, that’s amazing. I didn’t kill him.” Her pace quickened, as if a weight had been lifted.
“I prefer Goddess, but you are welcome. Anything else?”
“Not unless you want to come to Razz’s with me.”
“Actually,” I glanced at my watch. “That sounds good.” I hit the Uber app on my phone. I was looking forward to having a little discussion with Mr. Swan, or Jack, or whatever name he was going by tonight.
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