Sunday, December 22, 10:30pm
Celeste Boudreau sat in her living room, staring out the front window in a blind haze. Her eyes were unfocused, her pupils large. Her house smelled vaguely of herbs she burned to aid her visions. Aside from a splitting headache, the forced session had accomplished nothing.
The emergency vehicles were clearing out, but she saw movement on the street. Some of the crazy Morris Sinclair fans were on the prowl once more. Their antics had prompted her to fence off her yard, using a combination of headboards and footboards from different metal beds. The front gate was made from an old fireplace grate someone had dropped in the dessert. She’d come across it on one of her walks.
Since taking Ward Preminger’s house off his hands, she’d leveled the yard, adding decorative gravel, statuettes, iridescent glass globes, wind chimes, strings of lights, colorful, whirling flowers, wind socks, banners and signs. Her chartreuse VW Beetle sat in the driveway. The vehicle was covered in flower stickers, Save the Earth and a Love a Witch bumper stickers. Her car tag read PSYCH 1. A large, chartreuse and pink sign in the window read: Celeste Boudreau, Psychic Readings!
When she got home this evening, Celeste had shed her usual attire. The diaphanous scarves and skirts were scattered on the bedroom floor in a dizzying puddle of colors. She’d dressed in a flowing silk kaftan in a bold, floral print. Dozens of polished stone bracelets and bejeweled bangles were laid in a bowl on the coffee table. She still wore her many necklaces and earrings, taking them off only to bathe and sleep. Her daily wig, a brilliant magenta, lay on the couch next to her.
She was jolted from her reverie when someone knocked on her door. It was followed by the doorbell ringing.
Celeste heaved herself off the couch and went to see who was bothering her. She looked through the peephole in the front door. An attractive Latina stood there, partially facing away from the door. Celeste saw disgust in her profile. The woman wore what looked like a uniform. To be safe, Celeste opened the door with the security chain.
“I’m Lieutenant Frio from the sheriff’s department.”
“I’d like to speak to you for a moment.”
The officer pinched her lips together and Celeste got the impression she’d better speak in more than monosyllables.
“What do you need, Lieutenant?”
“There’s been a crime. We’re canvassing the neighborhood to see if anyone saw anything.”
“I saw all the goings on. Would you like to come in? It’s getting chilly.” She made a move to close and unchain the door.
“Not necessary,” the deputy said, holding up her hand. “We’re asking if anyone saw any strange cars or people in the neighborhood.”
Celeste couldn’t suppress a giggled. “It’s spook central out there,” she said with a wave of one chubby, ring laden hand. “Everywhere you look, there’s another stranger. They’re all lurking, poking around and going through everyone’s trash. If you ask me, Morris Sinclair’s killer didn’t do the rest of us any favors. Couldn’t he have had the decency to cut up the old man and throw him in the landfill like everyone else?”
Frio frowned, blinking slowly as she listened to Celeste. “I’m sorry? Landfill?”
“Or dumped him in the desert and let the buzzards have him. Do you know they came in my yard and started rummaging through my pyramid?”
Lt. Frio leaned forward, turning her ear toward Celeste as if she hadn’t heard her correctly. “Pyramid?”
“Why, yes.” Celeste banged the door shut and unchained it.
The sputtering deputy stood with her fist raised to bang on the door. It was at a level with Celeste’s face. The chubby psychic grinned, sweeping past Frio in a fragrant floral cloud.
“Here, see?” She led the young woman to the eastern edge of her property.
The pyramid was solidly built of local stone and took up nearly a third of the available yard space. It was nearly six feet tall and covered in hieroglyphs. There was a wooden door in one side. The lock had obviously been tampered with. The plate was scratched.
“I had it built and installed last week. I must have it for my energy and meditations. I’m also putting up a to-scale replica of Stonehenge in the back. Would you like to see?”
“No, thank you. You say they tried to get into the pyramid?”
“Yes, but that nice Deputy Midget came and put a stop to it. Such a nice man. Lovely aura. It’s a nice, sunny yellow. Yours is a bit muddy, dear. With quite a dark spot at your third chakra. I can take care of that if you’d like to come back for a consultation.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I can also help with the murder investigation. I was just trying to get a reading, but there’s too much negative energy at the moment.”
“How do you know it was a murder?”
Celeste shrugged, eyes wide. “Of course it was. And that poor woman. Such a lost soul.”
“What is your name, please?”
“Ms. Boudreau, you’re going to have to come in to the office. The sheriff will want to question you.”
“Whatever for? If that man wants to talk to me, he can come here. It would be good for him to steep in the positive energy of my home. You really need to do something about your chakra, dear. It’s terribly misaligned.”
The lieutenant handed Celeste a card. “We’ll be in touch. If you think of anything else, call me.”
After taking it, the psychic gave the deputy her business card. “I shall, dear. And if you decide to get your chakras in order, call me.” She patted Frio on the shoulder.
“Yeah, you bet.”
Celeste watched Lieutenant Frio walk to the front gate. She opened it, after a little difficulty, and closed it behind her. Shaking her head and muttering, she proceeded down the sidewalk to the house next door.
Smiling, Celeste closed her front door, leaning against it with a contented sigh. “Thank you, dear. Thank you so much.” Still grinning, she went back to her meditations with a renewed vigor.