To My Unborn Daughters, Part III: Supping Wages from the Teat of the Grief Stricken

For the uninitiated, this is the third and penultimate (hopefully) part of a fiction series I’ve been doing. Part I can be found here, and part II is here. I’ve been writing these so that they are enjoyable as self-contained pieces (hopefully) but it’s a richer experience to read the whole thing (hopefully again). To catch you up…Wait, I have to go back and read where I left off because it has been a two weeks. Oh yeah. We have a verbose narrator who is a pseudo-psychic (some would call that an oxymoron) writing what seems to be the letter of a condemned man who makes his money cold reading people. Along comes the mother of the titular daughters who sought comfort after her mother’s untimely death and instead uncovered the narrator’s ruse. Let’s resume:

To My Unborn Daughters, Part III

After exposing our ruse, and rushing out of our store cursing and teary eyed, your mother confronted me several days later. I was leaving our neon-flecked storefront on what I believe was a Sunday evening after my first wife had left to attend an art fair to sell “healing crystals,” when a crazed woman darted at me as I locked the door, and shoved me to the wall, demanding that I listen to her. Despite being unarmed, I her urgency and demeanor, coupled with my dire fear of confrontation, compelled me to comply.


As I anticipated threatening words, the more nefarious of lip movements occurred as your mother proceeded to kiss me. I apologize if this is uncomfortable to hear about your mother, but her kiss was forceful, filled with passion which lead to–well–an impassioned discussion of our relationship situations. Though I was married, our marriage was predicated on a misguided dalliances of a boy still tangled in the confusion of puberty, and had run its course. Your mother, though a decade younger, matured me, helped me see truth no matter how painful.

Thankfully, the marriage to my first wife was severed before financial damage could be leveraged upon either of us. I say “thankfully” because an adult generally ought not be held accountable for the long term implications created out of the whimsies of their teenaged brain.

Your mother stepped into the business immediately and with a savant knowledge of business. Her ambition drove us forward toward a level of attention and grandeur I had not dared to contemplate. Sadly, it was this belief in me which would prove to be our downfall.

It was her idea to create a name for ourselves–for myself really–by cultivating media attention. For weeks we worked through various scenarios: conduct impromptu readings at gatherings of the wealthy, lurk around maternity centers and parenthood clinics offering the divination of their fetus/child’s future, or making ourselves out to be heroes by helping the authorities solve cases. All options were attempted but the final would lead to the greatest notoriety.

Every day we would scour local periodicals, hoping to stumble on a case that would be open to our particular brand of exploitation. Though tragically depressing, years of supping wages from the teat of the grief stricken had calloused me to the idea of falsely “helping” the police to solve the murder of children. The death of a child is a thing galvanizes the world, and sadly, living in the center of a spiderweb of impoverished towns lead to multiple opportunities for me to be positioned as the champion of the spirit of dead infants.

Forget the umbrella guy, how about the guy with the camera? Source
Forget the umbrella guy, how about the guy with the camera? Source

Your mother found a story about a toe-headed child missing for months, presumed dead. There was a call for volunteers to help search the property for the child’s body. Your mother and I saw this as our greatest opportunity. She recruited many of her friends as did I to the point where the majority of the search volunteers were derived form the victims families and solely volunteers we personally recruited. On the day of the actual search, one of your mother’s excessively pierced friends stumbled on a shallow grave and gave us the signal. The friend and I switched places and according to the local news outlets I discovered the body through my impressions of auras and the direction of the deceased. Using that platform, I told the reporters things I overheard from investigators at the scene and positioning those as truths only the deceased would know.

Though this caused an incredible increase in business, your mother pressured me to be more proactive. On the local news that night there was a story about a blind child whose service dog had gone missing. During the report, your mother noticed the child’s dad nervously avoiding eye contact with the camera, any reporter, and his own child. Taking a wild guess, we contacted a number of journalists letting them know that the service dog was killed by the father, reached out to us from the great beyond, and buried nearby the home. An army of reporters badgered the father until he tearfully admitted to accidentally running over the dog. Those reporters then interviewed me about how I knew.

My unraveling of the case of the dead service dog brought us more business, but that surge also tapered off after a week. However, something started to change, the seeds planted by your mother took root. In addition to our usual parade of vulnerable bereaved, we noticed a rise in those people plagued by a mysterious death.

Using our general techniques of cold reading we would record sessions and use that information to approach authorities and media with information about open cases that would “only be known” by people with inside knowledge of the case. With our newfound credibility, all we were missing was monetizing our extracurricular activities. The urgency of monetization would become more prevalent the day your mother and I had our first heated argument.

Bill Murray makes everything better.
Bill Murray makes everything better.

The argument was about something innocuous, probably about my ability to listen to strangers to fleece them but not to the woman I loved for her happiness–a standard refrain–but spawned an outburst that would change my priorities. Oh those two simple words that would erase our petty squabble and any other thought, re-prioritizing every desire and hastening our desire for monetary stability. I believe when I found out about your existence I was incensed that your mother was monopolizing our one computer, preventing my bizarre narcissistic desire to blog on an arbitrary self-regulated schedule. That concern, among others, dissolved when I heard, “I’m pregnant.” Which was followed by, “you asshole,” but the first two words were all that mattered.

As it was when I heard about your existence, I love you both more than myself. All I wanted was to ensure your stability. Now I know that was my folly. Though I want you to read this, i hope you never have to.


Full confession, I was hoping to end this story on part three but since I’m writing and posting this real time without editing, there may be some fat on those bones. Full disclosure: thank you to those who suggested plots, but there is a vague idea in mind for the ending. After watching “Lost” for way too long, I know better than to start a story without knowing an end point. The next–and hopefully final–part may come sooner than either of us is expecting.

Thank you for reading, as always.


Add yours →

  1. Many delightful verbal gems in Part III. Of course there must be a Part IV. You’re just getting warmed up, I can tell.


  2. I have used my psychic powers to see what Part IV is going to be like, and I’m thrilled about your ending.

    In other news, I realized today as I was typing in the name of your site that I might not want to check it at work. Yes, the proprietor of is concerned about the appropriateness of

    I don’t want my boss thinking I’m some kind of weirdo.


  3. Loving it so far. I’ve finally finished binge-reading & have caught up… and now I have to wait like everyone else for the next installment… That kinda sucks.


  4. A toe-headed child? Just a toe and not the entire foot? Or maybe a tow-headed child. And the father who ran over the dog–why would he avoid eye contact with his blind son? These questions should not be taken as criticism. Rather, I want to solve me some mysteries.



    • I literally heard the phrase “toe/tow headed child” a week ago and wanted desperately to use it and still don’t quite understand it. It was an impulse. And the father, that’s how guilty he felt, that staring into the milky void of his blind child’s eyes would drive him mad.
      Mysteries solved?


  5. I was so relieved this wasn’t the final part! And there’s no need to end it at part four, either. It’s a great story, and I’m happy to keep reading it as long as you are putting out parts 🙂


    • Thank you. That is very kind. I think this story needs to end. I conceived of it as a short story to test the blog medium as a platform for story telling with another, longer story in mind. Who knows, though, maybe it has legs beyond this?


  6. Based on the last paragraph, are you sure this is not autobiographical? Psychic Charlatan sounds like a pretty awesome day job.


  7. People were offering plot suggestions? Psssh, that’s like telling the cook how to make his soup!* This is a great read, and I’m glad it’s being extended beyond the originally planned three parts. He’s a fresh, fun character that’s enjoyable to read.

    *just don’t put pubes or dandruff in it and I’m pretty much good


  8. Okay – so much for my plot suggestions(smile). This is really interesting. I can’t wait to read where you land.


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