Here’s a sample from the first chapter of the first Tarot Mystery in the series.
I lead a very quiet life, by intention. It is not yet a dotty old lady life, but I find eventfulness unpleasant.
I was content. It was late at night, dark and foggy outside, and I had crushed lemon verbena and sage leaves into a salver. The fragrance was fresh but not distracting. I was rereading Nero Wolfe, enjoying Archie and the orchids and the shad roe dinners. Mr. Brubeck was playing soothing ballads.
The fog was in—it’s pretty much always in on 48th Avenue—and the Monterey Cypresses in Sutro Park were looming shapes in the cold mist that flew past the big plate glass window. Waves boomed against Seal Rock.
Then came the thunk. It felt like a car had hit my house. Now, my house sits almost directly on the San Andreas Fault, so I am used to the occasional thunk that feels like a car has hit my house, followed by a few seconds of chink-chink-chink as the crockery rattles and the plant leaves quiver and the chandelier Fred Astaires elegantly back and forth, dancing on the ceiling.
This thunk was followed by the sound of a car door opening and footsteps scraping on the sidewalk. Damn. My house really had been hit by a car.
Then the doorbell buzzed in an odd stutter. When I reached the ground floor landing, I peered out the window in the upper half of the door. Nobody there. I stood on tiptoe and could see a long leg extending down my two front steps into the circle of front door lamplight. There was a large buff suede work boot laced onto a big foot.
Beyond the leg was a black Porsche whose bumper had taken a chunk out of the stucco beside my garage door. The house had taken a reciprocal chunk out of the Porsche.
“Who is it?” I spoke up, projecting my especially no-nonsense tone of voice.
“Please help me.” I heard it, but only just. A deep hoarse voice.
“I asked who you are.”
“I’ll call 911 and tell them to send an ambulance.”
“No!” Now there was power in the voice.
“Mister, I don’t know you, and I’m not opening the door. If you’re hurt I’ll call 911. That’s it.”
“Please. We have to hide the car. I’m not in any shape to protect you when he comes back.”
“What do you mean, ‘When he comes back’?”
“Because he will. Please. There’s no time.”
Well, there wasn’t a reason in the world to trust him, and it was late at night and I live alone, so why in holy hell did I do what I did next? What I did was, I asked myself what to do and the answer was clear: “You can trust him, Child. Let him in and hide the car.”
Here’s the thing: I read tarot cards. I don’t claim to be psychic or a witch or anything overly weird. I have just learned to trust the voice that calls me “Child.”
I pulled the front door open and the big man nearly tipped over against my legs, then caught himself with his right hand and braced himself on the carpet. He held his left arm against his side. I looked down at a light yellow oxford-cloth shirt that was almost the same shade as his mop of hair. He neither looked up nor turned to look at me.
“I’m going to let you in the garage,” I said. “There’s a room in the back we can use to check out how badly you’re hurt. I can’t guarantee I won’t call an ambulance.”
As he spoke he seemed to relax. Or maybe he was collapsing. He pulled himself to his feet, groaning as he unbent and struggled for balance. Finally he turned to look in my direction, his face shadowed as he bent forward, not making eye contact. He braced his right arm against the door frame. A dark blood stain colored the front of his shirt where his left hand pressed against it.
“Are you going to make it without help? I’ll need a derrick if you can’t keep yourself upright.” Now that he was standing I could see he was more than big; he was middle linebacker size, six-foot-six or -eight, and not frail.
“The keys are in the ignition,” he said, turning and stepping slowly into the garage, dragging his feet a little.
I pulled the Porsche into the garage. Now to see if my unexpected guest had bled to death in my brand-new guest bath. This was an event, no doubt about it, and I found it curious that it didn’t feel unpleasant.
Not at all. No indeed.