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June 7, 2004

Psychics, Cold Readings, and Parlor Tricks

By Chris Richardson

I dont necessarily disbelieve in psychics, but I dont really believe in them either. I recently went to a local psychic who runs her business in Danbury, Connecticut. I wont give any real names to protect the innocent (or guilty, depending on your perspective).

There are no less than four psychics listed in the yellow pages of my local phone book, but no psychic I wanted to consult would be so crass as to advertise in the yellow pages. I preferred a referral, but settled for a sign (literally). The sign came on my way home from work one night I passed a small house with a wooden placard hanging out front saying Psychic Reads With Lady Ruby, the phone number was listed below. I called the number the next day.

A raspy-voiced woman answered the phone and told me she could take me at 12:30 or 1:15 the following day. She was either booked pretty tight or was clever enough to give me only a few options implying she was booking up fast. I chose 1:15 after lunch, that way I wasnt getting a reading on an empty stomach.

Whats your name? she asked.

You mean you dont already know? I thought it was funny. She obviously heard that one before.

When I drove up at 1:15, Ruby was waiting outside tending to her garden. She was in her late 50s and a grandmother (I know because her grandson made several appearances during my reading), she was heavy set, and had shoulder-length brown hair. She dressed in a white shirt and tan pants no robe or turban or enormous hoop earrings. Im sure I would have been more suspicious if she was dressed up in some new age outfit.

We sat at her dining room table no crystal balls, no mirrors, and no smoke (unless you count the several cigarettes she smoked while I was there.)

She explained her pricing plan to me. In her odd Eastern European accent she told me about the packages. You can have just the psychic reading for $45, just the tarot cards for $35, palm reading for $15 or I have a special package of $65 for everything.

I opted for the $65 deluxe plan. I wanted to be thorough after all. She asked for the money first.

We chatted for a minute, she asked me when my birthday was, and what I did for work. Then she pulled out the tarot cards and she asked me to shuffle them. Concentrate on a question or a wish while you shuffle, she told me. And then place the cards down in three piles.

I made the three piles of cards. She let them sit in front of me and then she went on to the palm reading. She told me I had a very strong life line and would live a very long and healthy life. That sounded very nice considering the number of cancer and heart attack victims in my family. She also told me of tremendous wealth I would earn later on in life. I see a lot of zeros, she said then smiled. Yeah, but where is the decimal point? I thought. 

Where do you see me making the money? I asked. 

I? I see nothing. The readings are what sees. Me, I dont know nothing, just the cards and you palms.

She also mentioned the initial D and said this person would help me legally in some way. Ive watched a few psychics on television and Ive never understood the whole letter thing. Does a spirit appear before a psychic and hold up a bid piece of poster board with a giant D printed on it? And If the spirits can deliver something as specific as the letter D, why not an entire name, like Delbert M. Dylan, Esq.? 

I asked Ruby, she told me I wouldnt understand I need to be psychic to see how it works. Trust me was the message implied by her statement.

Okay, so Ive got a long, healthy life and a tremendous wealth to look forward to and I need to be on the lookout for D. 

After about 20 minutes of our reading she squinted at me, Youre a Leo! she exclaimed, and slapped her hand down on the table.

I know, I said. I told you my birthday when we started talking.

She brushed right by my comment. Lets look at the tarot cards, she said. Tell me an important number to you.

I picked 13 mostly because many people have a hang-up about the number. She flipped 13 cards out some lay sideways across the card below it. Finally, she was ready to read. She felt some negative energy in the cards. Excellent! Finally I was going to hear the bad stuff.

I see some people being jealous of your success, but dont worry, youll overcome it, she said. I also see trouble with a woman close to you in the far future. She will be very sick.

She went on to tell me I was at a fork in my career and I would soon have to make choices. 

My reading lasted about 30 minutes and was less than convincing. She told me I could call her anytime in the next year if I had any further questions. 

I did come away with one bit of knowledge that I didnt have earlier that day: I was $65 poorer and none-the-wiser. 

If Ruby has a gift, its in making broad speculations and generalizations that anyone could make. Im not saying there arent real psychics out there, but Ive yet to meet one personally and now I feel like a fool for even trying. Buyer beware! 

Chris Richardson is a freelance writer based in Connecticut.

2014 Haunted New England Wall Calendar by Jeff Belanger photography by Frank Grace
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