The Three of Swords
“I see gloom and doom in your future,” she said as she revealed the card. “I could be wrong though. But it says it right here in the instructions. ‘The three of swords exists beyond redemption’.” She ran her finger under the words so he could follow.
“I don’t think you’re reading the cards right,” Mack said. He leaned away from her on the floor. “Did you set this up so you could give me a horrible reading?”
Sara adjusted in her chair and smoothed her skirt. “I told you, I really don’t know what I’m doing with these cards yet. It’s all in fun right? Nothing bad is going to happen to you.”
He poured the last of his beer into his glass then threw the can into the kitchen sink. His eyes wandered around the small kitchen, most of the space taken by their kitchen table. “Not like too much else could go wrong anyway,” he said.
“You had nothing to do with the accident,” she said. “Quit beating yourself up about it.”
His eyes had lost the hard edge of grief he fought through over the past few days. “How can you say that? All I had to do was push one button. Just the one…”
“You weren’t there,” she said. “Why do you keep blaming yourself when you weren’t even there?”
“But I should have been.”
“Nonsense. It was your day off. You deserve a day off every now and then,” she said.
“No buts, you had nothing to do with any of it.” She held his hands, her thumbs rubbed across the top of his. “Wanna try again?”
“Sure, but if the three of swords comes up again, well, I don’t know what I’ll do.”
Sara collected and shuffled the cards. Still new the cards were stiff and fought against her efforts to shuffle them. She gave up and hand shuffled them. “I hate to think that I might be infusing the cards with my energy right now,” she said. “This is a reading for you. I think it would be more personal if they absorbed your energy.”
“I thought you didn’t believe any of this stuff? Weren’t we doing this just for the fun?” He cut the cards then handed them back to her.
“Well ya,” she said. “But I wanted to give it a chance too. I may be a skeptic but I like to think I have an open mind.” She flipped the cards in the pattern displayed in the book. Without a break to examine each card as she laid them out, she finished the set quickly.
“Look.” Mack tapped his finger on the three of swords. “How are you able to pull that one out every time? I think you’re playing games with me.”
“You saw me shuffle and you cut the cards. How can I be playing with you?”
“I don’t know,” he said. “But the odds of this happening are impossible to calculate. You have to be setting me up. This card, this god damn card keeps showing up and it’s in the same place every time.”
“I don’t know what to say,” Sara said. “Seriously, you saw how we went to all the trouble this time.” She picked up the book and flipped through the pages. “There has to be something in here about this.”
“Let me look.” He ripped the book from her hands and flipped through the pages. “This can’t be right. There is no way that this is possible unless you’ve been playing with me every time we do this.”
“Why don’t you try it all on your own,” she said. Sara pushed the cards into his lap then stood up from the table.
Mack shuffled the cards much like Sara had done earlier. He cut them, then laid them out like it showed in the book. “What possessed you to pick up these cards to begin with?”
She had opened the microwave behind him and dragged a large item out of it. The tink and tonk as the item scraped across the inner plate hinted at the size of it, or maybe just the bulk. Mark focused on the cards. “You’re not going to believe this,” he said.
“Again?” She asked. She moved up behind him, her hand on his shoulder. “Hey, did you hear who it was that filled in for you yesterday?”
“I haven’t gotten all the details yet,” he said. “But I assumed it would be Bert. Not the brightest but he knows enough to hit the switches in the right sequence.” He grasped her hand on his shoulder, and their fingers intertwined.
“Try one more time,” she said. “This has got to be some kind of record.” She leaned in close and spoke the words into his ear.
He shuffled the cards again, not nearly as much as before. After he cut the deck he laid them out, same pattern. Could it be? Something had changed. A new card lay in the space that held the six of swords all these other times. Mack’s stomach did a flip when he noticed Death staring back at him.
“This is downright creepy,” he said. “What do you think this means?” He snapped his head out of the way when she bumped it with a solid object.
“Means you shouldn’t have called in last night,” she said. “My sister died when that moron hit the wrong sequence.”
“What the –“
The blast of the pistol cut off the rest of his words. Blood and brain detritus splattered across the table and covered the cards. “Change and death,” she said. “Maybe you shouldn’t have been such a slackass.”