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Allen Clarke Allen Clarke
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After Everything Else Has Been Said and Done


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After listening to Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I felt strangely compelled to attempt to express the inexpressible Day of Judgement.


The Fifth


    The moment he stepped in front of the glass, he knew the change had started.He remembered the words of the hag, so very...long...ago.


    " Someday, you will see..." And her words trailed off in a thick Hungarian accent. The statement hung on his ears and he was suddenly agitated at the seeming threat.
    " What is this...fuckin' Budapest?" he scorned her as if she had just stepped off the pier, fresh from the Old Country.
    " Sir, please don't mock those things that you don't understand.As I said before...you will see...it".
    " See what, you old bitch?" The words seemed buried in the sands of faded memory.He remembered tossing the tarot cards into her cold, unflinching face. She looked at him as if she understood the reckless, idiosyncratic impulse of youth.
    
    " What did you say to me, you fuck!" It was his wife.
      Immediately, he assumed the startled stance of a frightened rabbit.
    " Oh, I'm so sorry...dear! I didn't mean you, really I didn't!"
He realized it was too late to take back the words.
    " What the fuck are you thinking? Come on back to 2016, why don't you!"


    He heard her words in a fog.The memory of the hag was clear.She was ancient. She reeked distinctly of BenGay. Likely arthritic, he thought, judging by her varicosed, knarled fingers. Wrinkled and worn, and she wore a faded, purple, paisley babushka. In the dim light of her open-air tent, he could see a black patch over her left eye. What had been the cause of her injury? Perhaps an incantation of intended evil suddenly gone awry? Ha! what had it been? An unexpected backfire? Kharma was a bitch when she came back to bite your sack.
    It had been at the county fair. He had meandered through nonchalantly, thinking to check out the rides. Inexplicably, he was drawn to the booth of the fortune teller. What was her name again? Matilda? Hilda? No, it... was... Grizelda. Yeah, that was it. Damn those fricken European names! They could be so difficult to pronounce, let alone remember. And then he recalled the words of the placard hanging above her place of business. It squeaked upon rusty small chains, as an irritant. Could've used some W-D. In bold, brazen script, the sign revealed all. It read: MADAM GRIZELDA SEES ALL AND KNOWS ALL. It seemed as a postscript, but in slightly smaller letters, she had the sign painter pencil in "and tells all, for a price."


He had wanted to hear about his future. His ears were perked up to hear about positive things.He knew,deep down though that life can be a bitch. Unfortunately, life, his life wouldn't lie to him.It was pretty shitty. Lately, he had nothing but bad luck. He didn't need the doom and gloom of unforeseen complications. So he sat there under the microscope.She looked at him as though his life was an open ended confessional." What the hell am I doing here?' he half-whispered.


     "Yes, what are you doing here?" she said as she polished her crystal ball. Her long, sharp nails grated against the polished surface of the black orb.
     Her words startled him, as though he had been caught with an open girlie magazine.
     "Your clairvoyance is...surprising, Madam" He giggled. It was a nervous reaction to what he couldn't understand. It hurt him to admit it. He felt foolish and wanted to disappear. His male ego blushed. And so, he turned away to hide the pinkish glow of his boyish cheeks.


He thought it, but hesitated to verbalize it.
'I must be dreaming all this. This can't be real. Yeah...that's it! Any minute now, I'm going to wake up and this whole fucking charade is going to vanish like some kind of fucking nightmare!'
But it didn't. Vanish that is. And then as foolish as it sounds, he tried to wish it away, like some kind of disillusioned adolescent.He felt like he had some kind of mental...constipation. If such a condition existed. It all sounded so stupid, but he wasn't in the mood for laughing.


He closed his eyes and opened them. It didn't work! He couldn't simply wish her away. She was still there, ugly as...sin? She was like that zit that refused to pop !! Whoever was manipulating the strings in this fantasmagorical puppet show was toying with him. He was convinced of his unspoken allegation against the forces which decided all. And then, he began to curse fate. Or was it Kharma, up to her usual no-good! He was frothed at the mouth when his wife snapped him out of it. With a sharp cuff to his right cheek, she deftly excorcised his demon! The sudden blow stung, and it resounded like the crack of a whip. However, it was enough to bring him about-face.Then, for some odd reason, he began to laugh like a maniac! She then turned and scorned him with disgust.

" You stupid sonofabitch! Don't you know you're cracking up! Come on back to the real world!"


Six bells


"So many evil things are born out of fear. It's the imagination, you know...that enslaves and chains us to believe in fables and legends" she said, smacking her lips, as though she was savouring the sound of her words. Her sheer drama seemed too hollow to sound profound. Who knows, maybe the old croaker had lifted those very words straight off the internet. Was that such a stretch? To accuse her of such deceit?

    After all, that was just her game...to subtly persuade the gullible. Inevitably, they would leave, firm in resolve. With a smile, she would dismiss them. They had their"fix." For a time they could rest easy. It seemed that they had found sufficient reprieve from nagging, unknown factors. Not once, did they feel a twinge of conscience; delving into matters forbidden to humans.
   Most people, who saw her,treasured the art of anonymity. Painstakingly they disguised themselves to avoid being referred to as fools. They would show up by the dozens, dropping their silver on her table, bringing a glimmer to her serpentine eyes.
    Even those on the lowest level of the food chain have to eat. Her customers were something else. Bloated with ease of life, they still wanted more.They weren't satisfied to leave well enough alone. They had to take it upon themselves to feign to be as gods , perchance; to peer into the future. So, there he sat, presuming to do that very thing.. to look into matters reserved for higher beings.


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