The Fortune Teller Dream

The dream began in a small house. It seemed (these things are not always spelled out in dreams) that the house belonged to a family member. I was staying with them, along with my wife, as part of a visit. Not a large house, it was crowded with people, but the atmosphere was pleasant. The dream took place in the living room, which had green shag carpeting.

We were preparing for a visit, or inspection. I’m not certain which. A woman was present who was a councilor or adviser; I wasn’t certain of her role, but she was authoritarian.

This was happening in the morning. The inspections were due in hours. Someone unfamiliar was asleep on the sofa under a blue sleeping bag. I could only see the dark hair on top of their head.

We were all wondering in soft tones, “Who is that?” And answering, “I don’t know. I’ve never seen them before. They arrived last night.” Coming into the room and hearing us, the woman finally explained that it was son. “Don’t mind him. He needed a place to sleep for the night.”

Oh, okay. We all accepted that without question. A young ginger cat was running in and out, bringing in mulch and leaves after it rolled on the ground or something. Talking with the others, I said that I was going to vacuum the cat and get the dirt off of it. After I caught the cat, I started vacuuming him. He tried to run away, but then he started enjoying the process. I thought that he had realized that I was cleaning him as he turned to let me access different places with the vacuum nozzle.

The woman’s son awoke. Vague introductions were made. Tall and unshaven with short black hair, he looked liked he’d been living rough. He had some appointment, he said, and would be leaving soon. He seemed withdrawn and subdued. He and I spoke, small, friendly exchanges. I was curious about him, pumping him for more details. He finally, hesitantly, attempted to explain. He would do it with cards.

He said he was a fortune teller. He drew cards out of his pocket. They were made of torn newspaper. “I’m not allowed to have real cards,” he said.

Why? I had to ask. “It’s complicated,” he replied.

Meanwhile, he’d dealt the cards into three piles. I was a little bewildered, because I thought I only saw three cards. They didn’t have markings, but newspaper columns and ads. “No, there are more,” he said. “You can’t see them.”

Sure, I thought, humoring him. I said, “Oh, is this three card Monte?”

“No,” he said. “I do fortunes. I read fortunes in cards.”

I went to pick up a card to examine it, asking him if I could as I reached for it. “No,” he replied, putting a hand out to stop me. “You can’t touch the cards or bet on them. That’s against my terms.”

“Your terms?” I was trying to understand what he meant.

He seemed embarrassed. “The terms of my sentencing, and parole. I’m not allowed to have real cards, bet on cards, or let others bet on them. Nobody can touch my cards, because that would make them real cards. That would…” He seemed to search for words. “That would give me. Power.”

I was like, “What’s that mean? What’d you do? What happened?”

He said, “I’m going to tell you your fortune.” He picked up a flimsy newspaper card and looked at it.

The dream ended.

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