The Hippie Gypsy
James and Jerry were old friends, but more than that too. They had been fighting crime with their super secret superpowers for ages, working retail on the side as a cover. Who would suspect people who rang you out at the store led such double lives? It was perfect.
The two of them would wander about at night, their superhero costumes in brilliant colors hidden beneath their street clothes, ready to spring into action and don their masks at any sign of real trouble.
One such night, they were wandering in an old part of town and turned down a small alleyway. They passed a garden shop with a miniature garden out front, and a shop whose door was covered in neon signs: Palm Reading, Fortune Telling, Tarot Cards, Psychic Readings. Jerry smiled and stepped up to the door, as the OPEN sign glowed luminously.
James rolled his eyes, “Those people are all fakes you know,” he said, but Jerry was not dissuaded.
“Not all of them. My grandmother traveled with a gypsy family for a while when she was in Europe and said there were a lot of things she saw that simply could not be explained away,” he shrugged, pulled the door open, and stepped inside. James followed reluctantly.
“Well, don't expect me to fall for it,” he said, lowering his voice, sounding almost reverent, which was amusing since he was a nonbeliever.
Colorful cloths hung over the lamps, softening the light, and the edges of the open room were lined with shelves. They had varying items on them, ranging from boxes of different types of tarot cards to incense and crystals in several sizes. As the two stood waiting, one more uncomfortably than the other, there was movement in the back room.
“I'll be right with you,” the voice of a young woman called out, with a surprising lack of accent. Most places like that, the women who ran them faked an accent if they didn't have a real one. Interesting.
When she appeared, the woman's age and appearance both were startling. She couldn't have been more than twenty, and she was dressed more like a hippie than a gypsy, but the knitted shawl with long fringe could have gone either way.
“What can I do for you?” She asked, amused at the mixed reactions she got, pale blue eyes twinkling.
“I wanted to get a reading if it's not too much trouble,” Jerry smiled easily.
“Sure thing. Crystal ball, tarot, or palm?” She tipped her head to the side curiously, her jet black hair swaying.
“Crystal ball. I have heard the same thing from palm for ages now and I had a tarot reading not too long ago. I'm curious about the distant future and what it holds,” he answered, and she ushered them back to the smaller room behind the main one.
She gestured to two chairs on one side of a small table with a cloth draped over it, and as the two sat, the woman went to a shelf with varying sizes of crystal balls, and retrieved the largest of them all.
When she sat and closed her eyes, she said calmly, “You must close your eyes and clear your mind. Think about what it is you want to know of this 'distant future'. Your future wife? How many children you will have? Where will you live? Picture the object of your desire, clearly.”
She waited patiently for Jerry to do as she asked, and James rolled his eyes. They should be out, watching for trouble, using their super speed and strength for good, not wasting their time. He was about to stand and say as much, and go back outside when the woman added, “You are a part of this now, James. You must stay until it is over.” She hadn't opened her eyes, and he hadn't moved. His eyes widened and he sat back in his chair, eyebrows raised. They hadn't given names.
“Do you have it?” She asked, and Jerry said yes. “You may open your eyes and gaze with me into the ball,” she said quietly, leaning forward, searching within its flawless form.
James saw nothing, but when she told them she saw dark clouds, fire, and danger, Jerry nodded fervently, insisting he saw it too. She saw death all around, and escape for few. Jerry would do what he could to save as many as he could, but he would have to save himself eventually.
It would tear him up inside to leave behind people he loved, but there would be nothing for it. If he wanted to live, he would have to find and board the vessel called Deliverance. Jerry nodded solemnly.
She continued on, saying the road would be long and hard from that moment on, but he would find purpose, doing what they always did, helping people, saving them. He and his partner in fighting crime. The two of them would just have to find another way to go about doing it.
James' eyes widened yet again at that. She knew. There was no way for her to know. But of course, her talk of the world as they knew it ending had to be a mistake.
He had brushed it off, laughed about it. But the day came when nuclear holocaust forced the human race to the stars, and James and Jerry boarded a vessel called Deliverance to escape their dying world. They did continue to save people, though super speed and strength were both useless out there in the black.
Reminiscing one afternoon, as though it were possible to tell time of day out there, Jerry laughed, “And you said gypsies weren't real.”
“I still say she wasn't a gypsy. She was a hippie, just one with a talent,” he snorted and continued repairing his bright purple suit. It was, after all, the only one he had left.