The radio was playing Christmas music during one of the worst heat waves in fifteen years. My pale legs were sticking to the vinyl couch I was squeezed onto next to my best friend Pam, her slimmer and darker body looking unaffected by the heat.
The Three Tenors were singing Ave Maria and Pam was snuffling. I thought about putting an arm around her, but that would mean moving my body, which was sure to be a mistake. I dreaded the moment I’d have to peel myself off.
“Has someone recently told you to Go to Hell?” the radio suddenly blared in advertisement. “Lucifer wants you to Just Say No. The Fiery Pit is no place for Humans. Do a good deed and go to Heaven. Paid for by The Lord of Lies and the Stay Out of Damnation Committee.”
I rolled my eyes. The devil had certainly been turning up the metaphysical heat recently. I glanced at Pam; usually we’d have a little Go to Hell laugh and play variations of Your Favorite Deadly Sin game. Pam was still moping and wasn’t in the mood to argue gluttony over lust.
The trailer that housed Miss CeeCee Divine, palm reader and clairvoyant, was starting to feel like an Easy Bake Oven. I was about to suggest we wait outside, just to get the agony of the vinyl death trap over, when Miss CeeCee herself finally appeared.
* * * *
“Contacting spirits is iffy,” Miss CeeCee explained. “Sometimes they’ve left the worldly domain behind and they refuse to answer. Sometimes they’re angry to be interrupted from their heavenly pursuits.”
“Nana will be glad to talk to me,” Pam said, but I heard the uncertainty in her voice.
“You have the picture?” Miss CeeCee asked. Pam nodded and pulled from her pocket a worn photograph that was taken back when Pam was the sweetest little specimen of gawky girl.
Of all the things I expected, Miss CeeCee closing her eyes and taking a nap was not on the list.
“She must be tired,” I whispered to Pam.
“Stop it.” Pam frowned at me but I was willing to bet she had the same thoughts. Miss CeeCee ignored us. I wished I could join her in the Land of Nod, the heat was edging along the senses and a small escape would be lovely.
“Josephine’s here.” Miss CeeCee’s voice rasped and her eyes were open and staring at us. Pam gasped, as did I. Her eyes were a bright, Hollywood blue, not the same color they had been. She blinked in confusion, looking at us. We blinked in confusion back at her.
“Che? Eccomi Signore. Perche?”
“Nana doesn’t speak foreign,” Pam said in a harsh whisper.
“I think that’s Italian,” I murmured. “Are you Josephine?”
“Josefina, si.” The blue eyes fixed on me. “Chi cosa vuoi parlar con?”
I shrugged. “I don’t speak Italian, ma’am. Do you speak English?”
“Ecco. Awicinarsi.” She leaned forward, her hand reaching out and I moved closer. I had no idea what she was saying but if body language had anything to do with it, apparently Miss CeeCee was about to whisper in my ear: “Gotcha!”
Her hand came to rest on my forearm. Our heads came near each other, and just as she opened her mouth to speak a sound like rushing wind came from her mouth. A lurch in the bottom of my stomach and someone was screaming as the sudden cyclone seemed to hit. Damn it, the someone was me and then I wasn’t there anymore.