by Aubrey Beardsley
We were fortunate to be visited this past New Year’s Eve by Madame Zavosky, a medium of renown in Visalia (or was it Lebec) in California.
She follows the intermittent Grassroots Writers’ Guild blog as well as every other writing blog she can find because they help distract her from her own writing project that at present is running past 800 pages. This work Madame Zavosky titles Channeling the Mad Spirits. Madame Zavosky is depressed about her project, which has been revised a dozen times. Agents are telling her it is old fashioned, too long and has a lot of punctuation errors.
We didn’t know of Madame Zavosky’s writing ambitions when we contacted her, nor did we really care.
All we knew is that her medium services are priced within our budget (cheap). She had offered, in one of her numerous but always deleted comments on our blog, to stop in Fresno and channel for us for the price of a Macdonald’s burger.
In the midst of intense boredom, it was an offer we couldn’t ignore. Madame Zavosky arrived in her trailer a few hours before midnight. By a quarter to 12, we three were seated around a table, candles flickering.
“Who iz eet it you vant to speak with?” asked Madame Zavosky.
“Charles Dickens,” I piped up, looking at Connie. She shrugged good-naturedly as if to say, sure, I could have first pick.
“Arrrr you there, Charles Dickens?”
Madame Zavosky did that for a while, crooning and asking for the requested spirit. A few fireworks went off even though it wasn’t quite midnight yet. Kook, Connie’s boxer, lifted his head and Lila, her little dog, started barking.
“He is here!” announced Madame Zavosky. “Vat you vant to ask?”
“What does he think of ebooks?” I blurted, looking around. I knew enough about séances to realize I wouldn’t see any sign of Charles, but I hadn’t heard his voice and wondered what sign she had of his presence.
“Vat you think of ebooks, Charles Dickens?”
A premature bottle rocket went off in the street. Lila braced her legs and barked her head off for a full thirty seconds. I wondered how Madame Zavosky was going to be able to hear Charles Dickens’ answer.
“Lila, be quiet,” commanded Connie.
Madame Zavosky smiled. “He vishes ebooks were around in his lifetime,” she said. “Vat more you vant to ask?”
Connie and I exchanged glances. Madame Zavosky hadn’t used a man’s voice to answer with. No wonder she was so cheap.
“Ask Stephen King what he thinks of Stephanie Meyer’s writing,” said Connie, winking at me.
“Stephen King,” repeated Madame Zavosky, “Is he dead?”
“No, actually, he’s not,” admitted Connie.
“Ah. Thank God. That will cost you more,” said our medium.
We looked at each other.
“How much?” I asked.
“Fries and a coke.”
We thought about that for a good ten seconds. “Okay,” we agreed.
“You have land line?”
I thought she said “Land mine,” but Connie heard better through the crackling of fireworks than I did. She got up and brought back a phone.
“Okay. I call now.” Madame Zavosky looked at me. “You can let go my hand.” She dialed and someone immediately picked up.
“Stephen, are you awake?” she asked.
The street exploded with fireworks and Lila ran around yapping.
We couldn’t hear Madame Zavosky talk to Stephen King for several minutes. She hung up and we waited through the explosions. When the street calmed down, we expected her answer.
Madame Zavosky shrugged. “You think I could hear him through that noise?”
Elvis, normally the nicest dog on earth, and who had been sleeping soundly all that time near the front door, began growling.
Madame Zavosky stuck out her hand. “Money, please. I need my dinner.”
After she left, Elvis was still growling.
“What’s wrong with Elvis?” I asked Connie.
“He doesn’t like fakes,” she said.