I’m normal. Really, I am. I was born and raised in a small town in the middle of Ohio, in a family of four. I was on the baseball team in high school, and tried and failed to write a book four times when I graduated. Okay, there is one thing, I can’t die, but other than that, completely normal. I will die, someday, but until then, I’ll be sittin’ pretty. Some explanations are due; I know I would like some. When I was 17, I went to a psychic. Hold on, let me explain; I’m not the type to put stock in anything besides my own wit, which is probably why I keep getting into sticky situations. So why did I go? My friends and I – its been so long I can’t remember their names – had a stupid sense of humor and they pressured me into it, teasing me with the sounds of chickens. So we went in, intending to just heckle the poor old lady, but it turned out she had different plans.
The shop itself wasn’t very impressive. We had seen it a few days before on our way to school; it was about the size of a small house and was painted a sickly green color. Most of the outside had been covered in vines for who knows how long, and all of the windows were dirty, except one which was boarded up. But there was a neon sign on the front door that blinked sporadically that it was home to a fortune teller and that it was open, so we paid it a visit. Inside wasn’t much better. The lights were bright, a ceiling fixture that was flickering providing most of the light, but there were also way too many candles lining the walls, and they were all lit, which was definitely a fire hazard. The building seemed to be one large room, without any doors to other rooms within sight. In the middle of the room sat a small round table with a clean black tablecloth that draped down to the floor. In the center of the table there was a clear crystal ball on an ornate gold stand. Sitting at the table opposite us was a woman who appeared to be sleeping. She looked older than any person I had ever seen before, but with headful of long, healthy white hair that flowed down over her shoulders and matched almost exactly in color the robe she wore. The table covered everything below her torso as she sat, slumped over, so I couldn’t see if the robe had any distinguishing marks or patterns.
We walked in, laughing to ourselves at first, getting just a little nervous as we walked over and sat ourselves down. Just as we put our money on the table, the electric lights went out in the little dive that called itself a store, with only half the candles remaining lit. The woman began mumbling in a language I didn’t recognize, while the crystal ball started to glow a strange orange color, the color of a sunset during the rain I remember thinking to myself. That’s when my friends booked it. That’s also when I discovered that I have an appetite for danger, because I stayed, dying to know what was going to happen next. I watched, sitting on the edge of my seat, as she raised her head, revealing a face covered to the fullest extent in wrinkles, and eyes clouded over with the fog of blindness. She began to tell me my fortune, whilst waving her sickingingly thin arms very ominously, back and forth over her head, which she had now thrown back.
“Victor Jeffery Richmond!” She shouted, whipping her head back up and at me and using both arms to point at my body. And no, I had not told her my name. Her voice was grandiose, and I swear it was layered with another, deeper one, almost indiscernible (though obviously not, since I heard it) “You will die …” dramatic pause for effect, “in Kansas City!”
I bolted after that. When people tell you you’re gonna die, it tends to be a bit creepy even for me. For some reason I can’t to this day explain, I believed her. I believed whole-heartedly that she was right, that I would die one day, and it would be in Kansas City, and that terrified me, just the thought of death.
Looking back, I should’ve gotten her name, or at least a better look at her. I’ve gone back to that street corner in Jersey (my family and I moved there when I was ten) every few years, searching for answers, only to find the woman and her shop completely gone.
The years came and went, and I made sure not to be in Kansas City. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds. I won a lot of free trips in the mail, still do, even though I’m pretty sure there are not enough people in the world who want to go to Kansas City to warrant that many contests. And stranger still I got almost more party invitations, despite not knowing anyone that lives there. Most excitingly, the month before my twenty-third birthday, I was kidnapped. When I heard a knock on my door, that was not the first thing I thought was going to happen; nevertheless, a bag was placed over my head and I was thrown into a trunk by two men I had never met before and would never meet again. While I would eventually become used to this experience, this was my first time, and I was empowered with fear. I struggled against the ropes that made up my bonds uselessly and fumbled in the dark for any sort of safety latch or handle. After what felt like hours (and it must have been, given that at that time I lived no closer to Kansas City than ever before) I got the trunk door open by shear force, kicking against it with all my might, and leapt out onto the road, moving at a considerable speed. I broke four ribs, three fingers, and one of my shins, but I wasn’t dead, so I knew I wasn’t in Kansas City. I later came to find that I had in fact only been three miles outside of it.
That was in 1926.
I now know I was supposed to die that year. Not only did the free trips and kidnappings become much less frequent, but that’s when I stopped aging. It took a few years to notice, but I did. Eternally looking like you’re in your mid-twenties sounds like a dream come true, and it probably would be, if I looked like a super model; spoiler alert, I don’t. Think more … young Don Knotts (I really hope that’s not too old a reference these days) with slightly better hair. It’s been quite a few years since I was supposed to look this way, and the world has changed a lot since then. I haven’t, not physically at least, but everything else has. Technology has evolved to the point of sheer confusion for me, but I’m working on it. And I really, really don’t want to talk about politics.
Obviously, I’ve got a lot of time on my hand, so I’ve had a few jobs. I’ve served in all the wars America has fought over the last century, although nothing after Vietnam. At first it was because I figured America could use a guy who couldn’t die on their side, then it became a sense of duty to stop those who would do wrong in the world. At some point during Vietnam, I realized along with a lot of the rest of the country that that might also include the good ol’ U. S. of A. That was also when the military started to keep much better records, so fooling the recruiters wasn’t as easy anymore.
I never did anything else of possible notoriety, so as not to arouse government suspicion. The last thing I need is science-y types poking and prodding me with who-knows what. In the times between serving in the armed forces and since leaving it, I’ve dabbled in quite a few career fields; photography, journalism, retail, theater, nursing, farming, security and some things I can’t be bothered to remember. Right now, I’m a private eye. It’s not the job those film noirs make it out to be, mostly it’s just driving around taking pictures of unfaithful people doing unfaithful things, and although I took the job because I wanted to be one of those gumshoes, it keeps me from being bored.
So yeah, other than all that, completely normal.