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My father once relied on clairvoyants, named Betty and Padre. This was after my mother had divorced him and completely left his life. I can only imagine how the clairvoyants’ messages seemed to coincide with his misfortune. They illuminated a world he saw as unjust, and amplified his monstrousness. He was already an ill-tempered man, whose home held a dangerous energy, threatening to burst. Once the clairvoyants entered it, all bets were off.
They promised him so much, life, fortune, vengeance. The emails piled up in his inbox, one after the other, like a sort of cathedral. A cathedral where suckers worshipped at the altar of false, empty promises.
“Your lucky star promised to intervene. You will be a magnet of luck.”
“Your financial problems are over. The angels have felt your immense pains.”
“Dark forces are obstructing happiness. Listen to me, and we will vanquish the forces.”
Of course, there was a cost involved. $100. $200. All for studies that promised to help him have communion with the mystical angels. His guardian angels, the studies proclaimed. The price for fortune rose and rose, and my father kept paying. The money was depleted, his house fell deeper into shambles, papers overflowing the living room, the dining room, the filing cabinet bursting at its less than sturdy seams. But still, he kept putting faith in Betty and Padre. They just needed more time, the dark forces were obstructing things.
“There’s scientific evidence, boy,” he told me. “Sure, some of these people are quacks, but many of them work. There’s absolute evidence.”
He kept clinging to his evidence, even as Betty and Padre demanded more money to feed the monkey. He filed suit after suit against my mother. Bad, neglectful mother, even though I was thirty. Libel. Slander. He threatened to hunt my mother down, demanded information from me. I didn’t give him shit. The suits evaporated, judges and juries laughed. Yet, he seemed to be disappearing even deeper into that rabbit’s hole. He made new girlfriends, discarded them, and filed claims against said girlfriends, claimed that they stuck their toes in his ass and forced him to have digital sex. They laughed at him again, but still he wasn’t fazed.
I waited, waited for some semblance of sanity, but he told me to fuck off.
“I won,” he growled at me, when I tried to reason with him. “I won, boy. I won.”
He kept proclaiming it, a creed. I won. I won. He kept proclaiming, even as things seemed to evaporate, his home, his money. He kept clinging to Betty, to Padre, until he seemed like the smallest thing in the world, but still he couldn’t stop, couldn’t pull back from the forces. And I could only wait, see what he’d look like once he was completely consumed.
Yash Seyedbagheri is a graduate of Colorado State University's MFA program in fiction. His story, "Soon," was nominated for a Pushcart. Yash’s stories are forthcoming or have been published in Café Lit, Mad Swirl, 50 Word Stories, and Ariel Chart, among others.