By Lucas Boulderguard
Late in the afternoon, when the sun had bake the air to a furnace blast, I relented to Clara's umpteenth text message.
CLARA: OMG, Joshua, what is going with you?
CLARA: Omg, you're being so weird
ME: just finished jerking off to the new neighbor. How's that weird?
CLARA: Omg, that's tmi. Is he hot?
ME: he's a slutty soap opera
CLARA: Omg, you gotta come see me
ME: yea, I'll stop by... AND, if you say 'omg' one more time I'm gonna fucking slap you
I knew Clara since middle school and, on any given day, she ranged between being my best friend and being a minor nuisance, whom I tolerated because she amused me. She spent most of her time at her aunt's shop, Tea & Herb, where she was known to draw out her deck of Tarot cards or her latest horoscope. And that's when the annoyance quotient went through the roof.
My biggest issue with Clara was that she was what I referred to as an evangelical hippie. It wasn't enough for her to have bullshit ideas; she wasn't happy until she was applying her bullshit ideas to your life. I believed in horoscopes in the same vain that I believed in fortune cookies—something fun to glimpse at and chuckle, not to plan your day around. Clara once dumped a perfectly fuckable, cute, handsome guy because their signs were not in alignment.
I remember it being a minor argument between us. All I wanted was for her to admit that she didn't like the guy. Maybe he was a coke addict. Maybe he was secretly into hardcore s&m. Maybe he was one of those pain pigs that were always trying to get you to kick their junk. I needed to hear that there was a rational reason for dumping Mr. Fuckables. Astrological alignment did not compute with me.
By the time I walked through the beaded curtain and a gauntlet of dream catchers to the back room of Clara's shop, she already had the incense lit and the Tarot cards waiting.
“Uh-uh. No way! Put the fucking cards away, Clara!”
She raised her head and scrunched her face. Her dumb fucking who me? “What? What's the big deal?”
“This is psychic rape! No one goes digging around in my karmic vagina without my say-so!”
She shook her head and grinned. “You're being weird.”
I pulled out a chair and slumped down. “Me? I'm being weird?”
She gave me that spaced-out look like she took a long toke and forgot where she was for a minute. “Josh-U-ah... Something's different with you. Your...”
“Don't fucking say it, Clara!” I slapped my hand against the table. “Don't go talking shit about my aura.”
She forced a chuckle and placed her hand over mine. “Alright, no auras. I took a look at your charts.”
I turned my head vigorously from side to side. “No! No charts! We can have a normal conversation. No astrology, no voodoo, no crystals, and no bullshit!”
Her smile widened. “Fair enough. Tell me about the new neighbors.”
“I don't know. They just showed up. A woman in her forties—I think she's the mom—and two dudes in their twenty. And...” The hunk and his weird yoga poses. The way he raised his fingers into the sunlight and sniffed the air. The psychopathic brother with his rage issues. The way he threw my mom's apple crisp on the porch. And the way he shouted at me, “I know about the prophecy.”
She placed the palms of her hands on the table and leaned forward. “What prophecy?”
“Oh shit,” slipped out of my mouth. I shouldn't have said anything. “You know... just—Fuck! Crazy people say crazy shit! That's how they talk.”
“But don't you want to know?” She asked.
“It's like this. Ya know how you're downtown and you see the homeless lady in the tin-foil hat?”
“Well, why don't you ever ask her about the hat?”
She shrugged. “I don't know.”
A sigh rose from my chest. “You don't ask her, because she's fucking crazy. It doesn't...fucking matter.”
“So...what's your plan? How are ya gonna deal with the brother?”
I turned my head. “I'm not gonna deal with him. I'm gonna avoid him.”
“But you can't!” She nearly shouted at me. The same tone I used on her when I got in her shit about dumping that guy because of his astrological sign.
“Whadaya mean? I can't?”
“Joshua...” she sighed. “If you're not gonna listen to your charts, at least listen to yourself.
My lips curled , my cheeks raised, and a sneer cracked my face. “I am...listening...to myself.”
She stared at me. “Are you? Because I haven't seen you like this since junior year. When you got the idea that Matt Hollis was gay.”
“Matt. Hollis. Is. Gay.”
She folded her arms and leaned back in her chair. “It doesn't matter. He's not with you. And if you handle it the same way, you'll lose this Yoga Dude too.”
“Guys like that aren't into guys like me.” I heard how weak and self-loathing my voice sounded as soon as the words were out of my mouth.
“So? You're OBVIOUSLY into him,” she said.
I shrugged. “So?”
“So, you know he needs a ride or something. Go knock on their door. Tell him you'll take him.”
I snickered. “Fuck you, Clara. You and your damned Tarot cards.” I pushed away from the table and started toward the door.
I glanced back. “Yea?”
“He's gonna fucking love you, dude. It's in your charts.”
I held up my middle finger and exited the shop.