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The International Writers Magazine: Another Extract from 'Symphony of Fear'

Havelock Gets His Fortune Told
Dean Borok

Still holding the dregs of his drink in his hand, Havelock Jones waded through the Halloween party in the direction of the fortune teller. This guy, whose name was Reuben Steuben, was done up like the Mickey Mouse character in Fantasia, with a Sorcerer’s Apprentice robe and dunce cap made out of sun, moon and stars fabric. He was a tall, skinny kid with a hang-dog face and long hair parted in the middle, which lent to him the aspect of hound dog ears. All he would have needed was a black, wet nose to appear thoroughly canine.
He worked as a paralegal in a gigantic liberal New York law firm whose ethos was sensitivity and political correctness, where men were expected to be in touch their feminine side and the women were encouraged to be decisive and assertive. In short, it was the first circle of hell and you had to be an unnatural mutant to work there. Reuben Steuben fit in perfectly. He had the requisite snooty attitude and irritatingly affected nasal voice and mannerisms which are loathed by normal Americans from coast to coast, and have resulted in innumerable stabbings and skull concussions as a result of these misfits wandering into the wrong bars. Fortunately for him, The Barking Iguana was not one of these.

On his own time he indulged an interest in the occult arts. He had a set of tarot cards which had once been owned by Alastair Crowley and a first edition of “Lord of the Rings” signed by Tolkien. He picked up good money doing readings and channeling the spirits at parties like these. When Havelock came up, Reuben, taken aback by the smeared make-up and fake blood,exclaimed, “You look like you got hit by a Mack truck!”
Havelock deadpanned, “No, a beer truck. But I’m O.K. ‘cause it was filled with light beer.” He extended his grimy hand and commanded, “Gypsy, read my palm!”

Reuben Steuben picked up a coffee can labeled “TIPS” and shook it. The can was packed with bills and change and jangled richly. “First you cross my palm. Five bucks!”
“No problem.” Havelock withdrew a fin and threw it in the can. “This better be good!”

The palm reader took Havelock’s hand in his and examined its shape and that of the fingers. “Good hand,” he said. He bent the fingers slightly and evaluated their sensitivity and strength. “Well, you’re an artist and you work with your hands.”
“Good guess.”
“It’s not a guess. Also, the callouses on your fingertips show you’re a musician, but that’s not how you make your living. Your hand is strong and the fingers are long and tapered, denoting an artist, but it’s not the hand of a painter or sculptor. You do something in the arts.”
Not wanting to help the guy, Havelock simply said, “What else?”
“Well, it says you like women.”
Never one to resist a brutish, vulgar joke where silence would have served just as well, Havelock said, “Yeah, that’s how I got the callouses on my palm – from jerking off.”

Reuben Steuben looked up from Havelock’s palm to his face and gave him a look of withering disdain, which had virtually no effect. If anything, Havelock thought it was funny. To say that in an Age of Sensitivity, Havelock was an anachronism was to make light of the true depravity of the situation. Maybe things would have been different if he had felt economic insecurity, but working for Pops he felt he had a safe harbor, and thus was impervious to the opinion of boring twits like this. “Jus’ a joke, man.”
Reuben resumed the examination of Havelock’s palm. “You’ve lived in many countries, but your career line is unbroken, which shows that you’ve done the same work wherever you’ve lived. I would have to say that you’re some kind of designer.”
“You got it.”
“Your love line is broken many times at the beginning, but at the end it’s continuous, which means you’ve had a lot of romances, but once you get married or find a partner, you’ll be faithful and the relationship will endure.”
“Wait a minute! Here’s something funny….” Reuben Steuben leaned over closer to Havelock’s hand. His eyes narrowed to slits. He sat up straight, reached into the folds of his robe and took out a pair of eyeglasses. Putting on the glasses, he again focused intently on a feature of Havelock’s palm. Beads of sweat began forming on his forehead and his composure started to come undone. He again looked up and peered into Havelock’s face, but this time the expression of the fortuneteller had crumbled from its former aspect of self-assuredness to something approaching astonishment, and even fear.

Then he did something extremely peculiar. He examined his own hand before turning back to Havelock’s, as though trying to evaluate a comparison. Finally, he released Havelock’s hand as though letting go of something unclean. He sat back in his chair and stared intently into Havelock’s face, saying nothing.

The silence between the two men was further accentuated by the mad, raging racket continuing all around them.
Havelock finally asked, “So….?”
No response. Reuben Steuben just continued to silently glare at him. Finally, after a seemingly interminable pause, he simply said, “Nothing.”
“Get the hell outta’ here! I know you saw something! You’re shakin’ like a leaf.”
“Nothing. I saw nothing.”
“Look, my friend, you’re not coming clean with me. You saw something in my palm that really blew your mind, and you’re not telling me what it is. This ain’t right. What did I pay you for?”

Reuben Steuben carefully withdrew his glasses and replaced them in his pocket. With the resigned air of somebody wishing to relieve himself of a nuisance, he simply stated, “Frankly, it seems to indicate that you’re going to commit murder.”
“Oooh, now I know you’re crazy!” Havelock looked at his own palm. “Where does it say that?”
“It’s not one thing. It’s a combination of factors….”
“And what’s that business of you looking at your own palm? What’s that all about?”
“That was just for comparison purposes.”
Havelock just laughed. “Boy, are you nuts! I never hurt a fly. Once I racked up my car to avoid hitting a squirrel. I seen some whack jobs in my life, but you really take the prize! They ought to take away your fortune telling license.”
“So, who am I supposed to kill?”
“That, I couldn’t say. But I do know you are a dangerous maniac, or you will become one. If you take my advice, you’ll get out of New York before you end up on death row.”
“Why? If I get out of New York, will that change the lines on my hand?”
“Maybe if you go live in the woods somewhere, where there’s no one else around, you’ll take out your deviate tendencies on some poor, helpless forest creature. It would be bad, but maybe you could avoid trial and execution.”

This guy and his phony, snotty little ersatz snob accent, his grating, condescending manner and the monstrous moralizing line he was relating were really starting to get Havelock’s goat. Havelock finally told him, “You’re killing me with this lame act of yours. Why don’t you do yourself and the world a favor and go jump off a bridge or something, you twinkie!”

At this, the kid’s eyes popped out of his head. He turned white as a sheet and seemed to blanche. It occurred to Havelock, and not for the first time, how fragile these New Yorkers were. Oh, they could dish it out, but they completely fell apart when you talked to them directly or tampered with that delicate house of cards construct that they laughably referred to as their ‘ego’. Havelock stormed away from the guy’s table and out of the bar. “Whatta jerk!” he exclaimed.
He jumped in a taxi. As the cab sped uptown, Havelock realized that he had left his rubber knife at Reuben Steuben’s fortune telling booth.
© Dean Borok January 2008

The Passion of Nino De Jesus
Dean Borok
(extract from 'Symphony of Fear')
Niño de Jesus frequently had marveled at the fork lift truck on his way to work and one day, when the proprietor had left the gate unlocked, he snuck in for a closer look. Climbing up the ladder on the side and peering into the control booth, he noticed that they had left the key in the ignition. After all, one might reason, who would steal such a monster? Only a crazy man!

Mayor Keynes In Punta del Este
Excerpt from novel in progress "A Symphony of Fear"
Dean Borok

No smoking gun was ever discovered with the mayor’s fingerprints on it, and as the flood of nebulous accusations and innuendo cascaded daily in the newspaper and media reports, he ceaselessly insisted that he was the victim of a right-wing smear job

Ghostal Regions
Dean Borok
(Extract from 'Symphony of Fear')
The world of dreams is an eternal infinite universe inside each person... driven by the unformed expression of neurotic impulses and sexual repressions of the dreamer,

More New Fiction in Dreamscapes


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