Chapter 1 - The Beginning
The phone rang. It was one of those candlestick phones with the microphone on the stick and the earpiece that hung on a switch hook. Robin reached across his desk for it. His left hand paused a moment as his fingers grasped the stick. It rang again and he lifted the receiver.
“Hello Mrs. Johnson. It’s between your refrigerator and the kitchen counter. When you opened the back door a breeze blew it there.”
“Pardon?” she said.
“The deed, Mrs. Johnson, the one you are looking for. It’s between your refrigerator and the kitchen counter.”
A short silence followed.
“Yes, Mr. Oracle. I’m here.”
“Please call me Robin, Mrs. Johnson. Everybody does. Are you okay?”
“Yes. It just takes me by surprise sometimes…”
He could hear her opening drawers searching for something.
“Now where did I put that…?” She began.
“The flashlight is in the bottom drawer,” he offered.
“Thanks.” There was another small silence. She opened the bottom drawer, found the flashlight, and switched it on. Pointing it into the space between the refrigerator and the kitchen counter, she saw the deed. She fetched it out with a broom handle.
Robin waited patiently for the voice to return to the phone. He was used to the routine. No matter how many times he helped people, they still had a problem believing in his abilities. Sure, they believed in him enough to call, but for some reason they always seemed to think they had the one problem that Robin wasn’t going to be able to solve.
“I’ve got it, Mr. Ora… Uh… Robin. It was exactly where you said it would be.”
Of course it was. It always was. He was never wrong.
“Thank you so much. You don’t know how important that deed is. Without it…”
“You might lose your property in Oregon,” Robin said finishing her sentence for her.
There was another pregnant pause.
“Oh,” a small voice finally spoke. “I keep forgetting….” she trailed off.
“That’s okay Mrs. Johnson,” he said kindly. “Robin Oracle is always at your service. Now you take care not to lose that deed again.”
“I will. Thanks again, Robin.”
He hung up and put the phone back on the desk. The office was in shadows. Robin preferred working without bright lighting; it made it easier for him to relax. A brass lamp with a green rectangular shade illuminated the desktop. The desk was made of oak, as was the leather-backed chair Robin was sitting in. He liked the look and feel of real wood and leather as opposed to the modern metal and plastic furniture of today.
To the right of the desk against the wall was a wooden bookcase full of books and bric-a-brac. There were two leather chairs in front of his desk in case a client needed a face-to-face meeting. They weren’t used much because most of his clients called him on the telephone. In fact he had never met most of them. To them he was just a voice on the other end of the line.
To his left were an old leather couch and a coffee table. Directly across from the desk was the office door. It had a frosted glass pane with letters painted on it. The hall light outside shone through the pane. The writing was backwards from this view, but the reflection on the floor plainly read:
ROBIN ORACLE PSYCHIC DETECTIVE AGENCY
Robin was forty-five. He stood six feet tall and weighed about two hundred pounds in his socks. His sandy brown hair was just starting to prematurely gray at the edges. He had his stylist cut it like William Powell’s in the Thin Man series.
He always wore a suit from that era; as well as the hat. At the moment it was hanging on a wooden coat rack next to the door. He enjoyed the idea that his office looked like one out of an old forties movie.
He leaned back in his chair and surveyed the room.
Why in the world did I ever agree to this “finding” service? He asked himself. To help people, he answered himself. “Certainly, not to get rich,” he said aloud. Being a professional psychic isn’t exactly a great money making business when you are honest – especially when you are honest with your fees – but the people who called actually needed his psychic powers and it gave him a good feeling knowing that he was able to help.
There were times he had considered shutting down the service, but somewhere inside he realized that it was better that he helped them rather than having them waste their money on a phony TV psychic line. He called one once. A new client told him about it. He knew immediately that the “psychic” was really a con man who was bilking a lot of people out of their hard-earned money so he decided to scare the guy into quitting the business.
Robin called his private cell phone number and told him he knew his real name and his home address. He also told him that he not only knew the man’s wife’s name, but the name of the other wife that he deserted in Arizona without bothering to get a divorce. Robin gently explained that it would be in his best interest to quit being a “psychic” before the police arrested him for bigamy. As an added incentive Robin finished the conversation by telling him that his latest wife might “accidentally” find out about his current girlfriend if he didn’t mend his ways.
Even though, in the end, he knew the guy would just move shop to another State and start over again, he was happy he was able to stop him from scamming more money out of his present clients. The other plus was that it would take him a lot of time to get another scam going again.
Who knows? Now that I have a bead on him, I might take a look in on him from time to time to keep him honest.
No. He didn’t really regret anything. After all, he chose to open the “lost and found” telephone service. Hey! It’s better than going back to work in that greasy machine shop, he thought.
There are perks being a psychic. One is that you know what she is really thinking about you on a date. You already know where you stand so you have the advantage of not making unwanted advances. Then again, the downside is being a known psychic. He hadn’t had a date in months. Most women like to have their secrets kept secret and although a psychic of his caliber may be fine to seek advice from, going a date with one is another matter entirely.
Maybe I should move someplace no one knows me.
Not that he was famous. On the contrary, he was not well known at all. It’s just that most women want to know what a prospective date does for a living so they ask the people you hang around with when they see you someplace. Unfortunately, he was well known to the regulars at his frequent haunts, like the coffee house downstairs.
Once in a while he would go to his favorite bar for a drink, but not to pick up girls. This wasn’t so much that it was a trans-gender bar to start with – his abilities told him which girls were girls and which girls were boys – it was more that he liked the honesty of the people there. He also enjoyed watching the impersonators imitating famous people on Diva night; plus, the bartender was a friend.
The phone rang again. As he grasped the stick he thought, I’m not answering that one. That’s Emma. She calls about fifty times a day and has yet to come up with a problem she couldn’t solve herself if she would just look around a little.
“Your glasses are on your head, Emma,” he told the ringing phone. She’ll find them in a moment anyway.
The phone quit ringing. The silence would have been deafening if not for the constant buzzing in his head. He glanced at the clock above the couch. Seven O’clock, time to quit. Robin switched off the ringer, leaned back in his chair, put his feet up on the desk, and thought about how it all began.