Here it is, the finale of my little fiction series. For those just seeing this now, welcome and thank you. If you’d like to read the other parts they can be found here: Part I, Part II, and Part III. Recap: Our narrator, a verbose fake psychic, on the urging of his new girlfriend (the mother of the titular daughters), has started to insert himself in crime cases in an attempt to gain notoriety and increase business (That’s a gross over-simplification, but you can read the other parts to catch up.). Let’s finish this beast.
To My Unborn Daughters IV:
The entire time I’ve been writing this to you, alone in a motel room flecked with roaches and insects of indeterminate origin, I’ve been trying to decide whether or not this is going to be my suicide note. By admitting that to you, I suppose it’s an admission that my death will not be by my own hands, at least not in the swift sense of the term. Should my liver fail or lungs collapse, that may be a manifestation of my internalized guilt, but I will not end this squandered life of mine with an immediacy. You have inspired in me a desire to continue this divine struggle.
Through weeks of asserting myself into police searches for the presumed deceased, we were contacted by Detective Mendoza–I would tell you his first name but I am ashamed to admit I never bothered to learn it. Mendoza contacted us with a need to close some cases in anticipation of his retirement. He confused talent for our carefully cultivated notoriety; derived from calling tip lines (like all other volunteers), claiming I was invited (as were all other volunteers), aiding in the search (like all other volunteers), and finding a body in a specific search area (through coordination with other volunteers).
Using our cold reading techniques and the information Detective Mendoza volunteered, we used excessive double-speak and circular logic to simply confirm his suspicions of the most likely suspect. It wouldn’t necessarily translate to convictions and we knew that, but it would give Detective Mendoza and the families he has worked with–some for a decade–a measure of closure. And in the immediate, our help bringing a temporary justice to these cases, no matter how tenuous, gave us a measure of credibility and attention from local television outlets desperate to fill time with original content.
Your mother and I were very conscious of the frayed tight rope upon which we tread, but the our desperate need to horde as much money as we could to secure your future trumped any hesitation born from credulity or integrity or regret from lying to the families of the dead.
I’m not blaming either of you. Not at all. Rather, I hope to give you insight as to why you find yourselves the product of a disgraced shameful legacy. Our exploitation of the press using sensationalistic and salacious details, the most sensuous of bait to a click-hungry media, was our hope to transform me into the ubiquitous voice of the dead, separating the gullible from their funds. With Detective Mendoza’s willingness to allow us to help clear his conscious, we “solved” nearly a dozen cases, appeared on television numerous times, held seminars and opened our business to giving thousands of desperately gullible people “closure” all in a matter of two months, before everything collapsed around us like a hastily, shoddily crafted tunnel dug out of a prison.
The national attention we were getting included attention from local and national skeptic associations, the people with whom I would agree if not for their diametric opposition to your mother and my goal of acquiring enough wealth to at least establish a base for your future success. Rather than resist and exploit this new adversary as “an enemy against the truth,” as I should have, I foolishly reached out to the head of the local skeptic society, wanting his understanding. I explained that I knew what I was doing was fraudulent. I told Felix–I used an old technique and called him by his first name, Felix, a number of times to engender trust–that all we needed was a few more weeks to secure your future and I would, at that point, appear on television at his side, denouncing the entirety of the psychic profession. To which Felix agreed. He assured me I was a hero and ended the conversation that we would meet the next day and discuss particulars over coffee.
I sat at the coffee shop that next morning, sipping my over-priced coffee alone. It was 12 minutes past the time Felix and I were supposed to meet that I received the call from Detective Mendoza. After a few choice and deserved curses flung at me, Mendoza–I called him “Dozier” but not that day–he explained that the skeptic society had spent the morning calling all of the survivors and families of all of the people to whom I provided closer and played them the tape of my confession to Felix. They also sent the recording to television stations that had welcomed me on their air.
Sitting at the coffee shop, listening to Detective Mendoza yell at me, I looked around and could see people I had helped convene with their dead, becoming increasingly agitated. People who greeted me with a smile and a handshake were looking at their cell phones then casting their rage in my direction. I slowly lowered my phone in mid-sentence and gently sipped my coffee, pretending to look at my phone while I sent a text to your mother simply saying, “You didn’t know. All my fault. Sorry.”
Loudly asking the barista the direction to the bathroom was enough cover to allow me time to squeeze out of the window into the alley, through an accompanying tanning business, and away from the world I had known. I took enough money out of an ATM to survive to this point.
From what I’ve seen, your mother performed exactly as I hoped a pregnant woman under pressures of allegations of hoodwinking the public would. She feigned ignorance and blamed me for everything, condemning my trickery to the world as I hoped she would, turning that condemnation into a profitable venture. I wish I could help her and you. What breaks my heart the most is seeing her in front of cameras and not being able to give her, or you, a hug. The effects of my decisions upon me are inconsequential in comparison to my impotent desire to kiss your mother’s pregnant stomach or witness your miraculous births.
When you read this, should my remaining friend follow through on his promise, or should the post office still exist and adhere to the future post mark I requested, it is hopefully your 16th birthday. Hopefully you will notice a strange man at your party, from a distance who seems to be teary eyed every time you glance in his direction. I can’t make contact because there are several outstanding lawsuits including charges of criminal fraud.
I hope my life of pretending to see ghosts doesn’t haunt you. Hopefully, your mother was able to access the mysterious accounts of which I assure the authorities I have no knowledge, and your lives are well despite and in spite of my absence. Hopefully, your lives are beautifully free from the uncertainties that lead to my exile. My only selfish desire that still exists is this letter. All I want in the world is for you two to understand why I’m not there and know that I love you both more than myself and I would have done it all again to secure your lives. You’re always in my mind and in my heart. Hopefully, you understand and can forgive me. Hopefully, you learn from my mistakes and don’t have to resort to desperation in this life and instead lead lives of meaning. You’ve already made my world, my life better and you aren’t even born as I write this. I love you both and I will desperately miss you every moment of my existence.
My heart is yours,
If you narrator had been a real psychic, he could have figured out what his kids thought of him while they were still in the womb.
This was excellent. You should try something like this again!
I enjoyed this a lot. Even if he was a huckster, and he (kinda) got what was coming to him, it was still sad to see his family’s world crumble because of his mistakes. Well done on the ending, and what Katy said – we hope you do another multi-part short story in the future.
Yeah this was bloody great, just so you know
This story is so similar to my life. Did you read my mind?
Foolish man, opening up about his deceit. Never admit you were wrong!
Sorry I’m late to the party, Pickleope (busy with xmas crap etc) but LOVED the ending and how you tied everything up so nicely at the end. All is now clear!
But for the next story you write — more sex, okay?
You caught me off guard – wan’t expecting a love story. Very nice, Pickleope!
You’re experimenting with a whole new genre, writing voice, tone, and all — aren’t you? Is this what happens when one goes parading around strangely naked? Applause! Keep at it. This was very cool.
<b<But how does one lead a life of meaning? Yes, I’m serious.
Aw, sniffly sniffly, that ending made me sad. And I wasn’t expecting a sad ending! This was so good. The fact that you were able to make me feel emotional gives you high marks! It really was a great, great read. I hope we are going to hear more stories!