Hot Read (Story by Risa Peris)

It was an easy gig. Talk to the dead. See the future. Children go missing and I reach out to the parents. Or I get invited to a party and read palms. You will find love. You will get married. Oh, by the way, can I clean your chakras for an additional $150. Stress is blocking your life force. I also have an ad in the Hollywood Weekly and a storefront on Sunset I share with a gypsy family. The daughter was lazy and I did the readings during the day when she would rather watch soap operas. I made a living as a psychic. Barely. What I wanted was a gig on TV. Maybe Ellen or Dr. Phil or Dr. Oz. I had a few connections with publicists. On a Monday morning, one of them called.

“Can you do a cold reading on camera?”

“Of course, of course. How much does it pay?”

“Three thousand. Take it or leave it. I have other psychics I can call.” The producer’s assistant was harsh and hostile.

“I’ll take it.”

“I thought you might.” I knew she was smirking.

The next day I went to the studio. I spent an hour in hair and makeup. Then I went out and greeted the host. Meggy. Morning with Meggy is what the show was called. She talked to me calmly about my gift. My talent. My con.

“Shall we focus on the audience?”

I stood up. “Is someone missing a child? Maybe a child you lost through death or disappearance or even marriage to a bad spouse?” Several hands raised.

“I see. I see.” There was one woman crying. She was very emotional. I zeroed in on her. I kept asking her questions and it turned out her daughter was kidnapped. I took a chance. “You’re daughter is in heaven. She looks down on you. She wants you to be happy and let go of the pain. I can feel her presence. Her voice is very strong to me. She wants to go into the light but she wants to make sure you are okay.”

From the corner of my eye a young, dark-haired woman stood up with a smile. “I’m her daughter. Her only daughter. I was never kidnapped. You should be ashamed of yourself.”

I looked at the old woman and she was now laughing. I looked at the host, Meggy, and she was laughing.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen,” said Meggy. “Being a psychic is hardly an exact science. You really shouldn’t take advantage of people.”

My face was hot with embarrassment. I was still on camera. What was I going to do now? I saw an unhappy future sharing space with the gypsy family. I was burned. I could never reach out to anyone ever again.

Meggy touched my arm to lead me off stage and my mind sizzled. “You’re daughter is in Argentina. Patagonia. She married a German. She thought you were a terrible mother.”

Meggy’s face fell. I left the studio and began to plan how to keep getting more clients. About two weeks later, I got a phone call from Meggy.

“I found my daughter in Patagonia. How did you know?”

“Sometimes you just know things.” Meggy invited me back to the show to apologize.

How did I know about Meggy’s daughter? It was a hot read. A day researching everything about Meggy and placing some international calls gave me power. I’m good at hot reads. Just not cold reads. Oh well. We all have our talents.


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