CAGE OF LIFE PART ONE
SETTING: SAN FRANCISCO, 1982
SYNOPSIS: PROFESSOR DAVID WILKES ENCOUNTERS AN EXPERIENCE HE NEVER EXPECTED.
From the street performer’s pantomimed routine, to the souvenir hawker selling his goods and the scruffy-bearded, long-haired jazz musician playing on the corner, she was simply known as Genea.
She was a palmist: a reader of lifelines, of futures to be. For the last four years, she had faithfully set up her stall three blocks from the entrance of Pier thirty-nine at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf to await the people it would send forth.
No one knew where she came nor went when the night’s darkness sent potential clients seeking more comfortable accommodations. She just seemed to be, like the fog that rolled in silently from the bay.
Her mannerisms and speech bespoke one of considerable age, yet she looked no more than forty. Small of stature, with black-gray streaked hair that was always in a long braid down her back. Her kind face was always smiling, speaking on occasions to passers-by in a manner suggesting she had just so many words for that particular day.
Those who managed to engage her in conversation, sensed a presence; not one that commanded or overpowered, but like a gentle breeze caressing one’s face with a warm night’s touch.
To Doctor David Wilkes, fifty-two, Dean of Princeton University’s school of Psychology, Genea would be the gateway to the inner workings of his mind.
Their tour of Pier Thirty-Nine completed; David, his wife and their two friends, Judy and Ramon Ruiz, strolled leisurely towards Garibaldi Square.
Genea immediately sensed his presence. Ahh, he comes.
“How about we go this way?” David said pointing up the nearest street. “I want to experience every nuance San Francisco has to offer.”
David’s wife looked at their two friends. “That is if it’s okay with you? If not, we can do something else.”
“It’s fine with us,” said Judy Ruiz. “This is San Francisco so lead the way.”
David smiled and put his arm around his wife’s shoulder. “Well let’s get this started. Are we ready?”
Ramon smiled. “As ever.”
They walked up the street, David enjoying every moment, letting the smells and sounds of the city wash over him. They continued up the street. Finished browsing the Oriental Antique’s Shoppe, David glanced innocently in Genea’s direction.
She smiled at him.
He looked away but it was too late.
Genea nodded. Yes, he is the one.
She watched him look twice in her direction. She continued to smile. He does feel it. He feels my minds-eye and I his. So strong is he at this distance, so full of life; I was not wrong about this one. They shall be most pleased.
David’s thoughts suddenly became vague, disconnected. He began muttering to himself.
“David, are you, all right?” said his wife.
He gave her cursory nod. “I’m fine, honey. Honest.”
“You sure? You were talking to yourself.”
“Sorry, I didn’t realize I was. No harm, I guess. Let’s move on.”
No sooner they started moving up the street did David stop and look in Genea’s direction. “Maybe we should cross the street and walk down to the corner.”
“We thought you wanted to see what’s in the Curio Shops,” said his wife.
David looked sheepishly at his wife and friends, shrugged, gesturing with his left hand. “Then please lead the way. I did…I mean…never mind, please let’s continue.”
Genea watched him walk away. He’s stronger than the others. I must be prepared. This one must be charmed slowly, unwittingly.
Finished browsing the Curio Shoppes, they crossed the street and slowly made their way down the other side towards Genea. “Oh, look David, a fortune teller. Let’s get our palms read.”
“Now why would I want to do that?” David protested. “It’s like believing in a horoscope or Tarot cards. I think I’ll pass on this if you don’t mind.”
“Honey, you said you wanted to experience everything San Francisco has to offer. Besides, since you don’t believe in it, what’s the harm?”
David looked at Judy and Ramon but found no comfort in their agreement with his wife. “All right, I’ll go, but there’s one stipulation…the three of you go first.”
“I swear, David, if I didn’t know any better, I ‘d say you’re afraid of having your palm read.”
“No, that’s not it. I just want to see how accurate she is with the three of you, that’s all.”
“All right, if you insist. Judy, do you want to go first?
“I’d love to.”
His curiosity piqued by the readings given his wife and friends, David sat down in front of Genea and laid his arm on the table in such a manner she would have little difficulty in holding his hand.
“You appear nervous David Wilkes,” Genea said softly.
How did she know my last name? She didn’t do this with my wife or friends. David looked into her hazel eyes. “How did you know my last name? No one mentioned it or are you going to tell me you knew this from touching my palm?”
© 2017, Raymond Tobaygo. All rights reserved.
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