A Federal Case

Cruising down the boulevard, Denverís avenue of schemes and dreams.

Psychic Readings by Fatima
1624 South Federal
10 a.m.

A brightly colored wooden sign juts out almost to the street, enticing passersby to stop in for "Psychic Readings." But some of you already knew that. Cue creepy, metaphysical music. At the left and right corners of the sign, above a crudely spray-painted tag -- pretty much the definition of bad karma -- are the words "Adivinadora" and "Espirituista," and as I pull into the parking lot of the small, stucco building, I prepare myself for a preternatural powwow in Spanish. How do I even broach the subject, I wonder, passing two ceramic geese protecting the staircase, each clad in festive, country-fair regalia.

¿Cuanto cuesta una consultación? ¿Lee manos aquí?

Players lay their cards on the table at Bingo City.
Anthony Camera
Players lay their cards on the table at Bingo City.
Rocky’s Autos wheels and deals.
Anthony Camera
Rocky’s Autos wheels and deals.

I picture an ancient Mexican woman on the other side of the door, blind and reeking of incense. She takes my hand and leads me into a small, dark room, where she sits inside a giant seashell and begins to rock violently, channeling the ghosts of dead Indians. She starts howling in agony, gnashing her teeth uncontrollably; as the walls shake as though they'll crumble, the woman tells me awful tales of bloody battles past, battles high in the Sierras, where men suffered unjustly -- and how these querulous souls now haunt me like rain clouds, as they shall for as long as I walk the earth. Like Ryu at the end of Street Fighter, except Mexican.

Then Fatima opens the door and immediately confirms my non-psychic abilities. Because she's definitely not Mexican.

"Do you accept walk-ins?" I ask nervously, despite the fact that the board outside the door announces "Walk-ins Welcome."

"Come in, come in," she says in a vaguely Eastern European accent, though it could just be the lisp. "My fee is $40."

The living room smells of old carpet and hamburgers, which, as we pass the kitchen, I see is because a man is sitting at a table eating hamburgers. Fatima is clad in a blue sleeveless T-shirt whose designer lacked the good sense to end it at the waist and so it became a dress. It is unbuttoned to slightly above Fatima's supersensory navel, and I struggle to avoid staring at the abundance of floppy, old-woman cleavage cascading down the hallway. She glides like a slug.

We slip into a small room with a table and three giant crosses on the wall. The shelves are lined with more religious paraphernalia; strewn about on the table are numerous Ziploc bags full of crystals. Fatima asks if I would like to have my palm read or sit for a tarot-card reading. I ask what she recommends, and she opts to read the cards, unearthing a stale deck and explaining that palm-reading is more personal, but tarot sees all. Like when Oprah has a panel as opposed to one specific guest.

She splits the cards into three piles, takes my hand and has me touch each pile, making a wish out loud while touching the first two, then keeping the third wish to myself. I wish for success, then the well-being of my family, realize I probably should have done it the other way around and that I'm really a selfish prick, and keep the third wish silent. Fatima begins methodically laying the cards out in various patterns, unearthing mysterious figures like "The Fool," "The King," "The Chariot," etc.

"You're having problems at work," she tells me. This strikes me as odd, because the only job-related problem I can think of is that my work is making me hold the hand of a creepy woman on Federal, and I don't know where or how soon I can wash my hands.

"There is someone you work with who has dark hair and dark eyes who is extremely jealous of you," Fatima informs me.


"He is chunky in build."

I scan cubicles in my mind, but can't think of any beefy rivals. We move on.

"There is a woman in your life?"


"Yu recently had one but it ended badly?"

Uh, sure, why not?

"You will find your soulmate by the end of the year," Fatima declares with certainty.

Sweet! Where?

"It will be at a party or a gathering," she says, sounding impossibly vague.

A gathering, eh? Like a Klan-rally gathering, Fatima, or a crowd-of-people-surrounding-my-mangled-carcass-after-I've-volleyed-through-the-windshield-on-the-highway gathering? Meet me halfway here.

"It will be at a party," she says. "You will know it is her because she will be in a similar profession as you and you will talk about your interests."

Yes! I love talking about interests!

"You want to ask me a question," Fatima says. "Go ahead, ask it."

Unaware of what question I want to ask her, I instead ask a dozen questions, and learn that Fatima just recently moved to Denver from Los Angeles. She still operates another psychic shop out there, commuting regularly, and I think to myself that this Fatima earns pretty good money in the old psychic racket. She tells me that the money isn't bad, and that she gets six or seven walk-ins a day, plus her regular appointments. Fatima gets plenty of repeat business. Must be the cleavage.

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