Alas, a living legend of the tarot community lives no longer. Rest in peace, dear Michel Nolastname.
Two nights ago, a search party of S.A.U.C.E. members (Sorina Jones, Julen Ibarra, Crystal Balque, Danny Delaire and myself) took to the streets again, this time following the theory that came into my head as I wrote a post regarding the Six of Chickens card.
We would never have spotted his remains had it not been for his solid gold hip flask and plastic pocket watch. Both were broken, but maintained three-dimensionality. Michel Nolastname, however, resembled some human embodiment of Wile E. Coyote after a fall from an unimaginable height, or encounter with an Acme steamroller. From a distance, passersby would easily mistake him for litter. His unnaturally flat body lay under the arch of the loading zone of the old library, however, which meant he neither fell from a height of more than eight feet, nor lost in a standoff with a steamroller, Acme or otherwise.
Sorina Jones called the police. The rest of us held Julen Ibarra back as he lunged forward, reached to grab the phone from her ear. He struggled against our grip.
“Not the pigs, Sorina! They’re all on the take! They’ll narc on us to the Illuminati!”
Despite Mr. Ibarra’s protestations, Ms. Jones gave our whereabouts to the dispatcher. Ibarra settled down from a flailing rage to a simmering resentment.
“At the very least… Crystal? You got your camera? Okay, take some pics of the scene so we have proof of what it looked like before they start planting evidence.”
Ms. Balque did so, capturing as many minute details as she could manage.
Ms. Delaire too snapped images with her phone, but Julen Ibarra put an end to that.
“They hack your phone.”
She replied, “Can I text Elsie so they can stop looking?”
Mr. Ibarra agreed to this, and only this.
Elsie Cabret led her own search party with Tina and Ray Moretti (the two S.A.U.C.E. members I trust the least due to their insistence that the illustrations we associate with the Minor Arcana cards are a recent addition and therefore illegitimate) in the next neighbourhood over.
Other members S.A.U.C.E. followed other leads, some that brought them to other cities and even other countries. Anais Herschel, of course, was instructed to stay at headquarters and seek out clues online. Her response to this slight is not worth repeating on this blog.
Ms. Cabret arrived a paltry few seconds before emergency services. It was she, not Ms. Jones or any of the rest of us who found Michel Nolastname, who dominated the conversation with the police. They wrote their notes based on her version of events. On the one hand, it gave Crystal Balque a moment to quietly slip her camera into her knapsack. On the other, Ms. Cabret barely acknowledged that we were the party who found him, and based on my lead no less. I must swallow my pride, of course. This tragedy pertains neither to Elsie Cabret nor myself, but to our late friend, who they had to roll up like a crepe to fit onto the gurney.
The arch over the loading zone of the old library soon teemed with forensic examiners, framed into the scene with caution tape.
The police interviewed each one of us at the station. It is clear they suspect foul play.
When we retired to S.A.U.C.E. headquarters, we read a new spread of cards, this time in an attempt to solve our dear Michel Nolastname’s murder. To appease Anais Herschel, and because she is one of the most intuitive young taroists alive, we gave her the honour of setting out the cards.
The spread, again in Celtic Cross configuration, began as follows:
How did Michel Nolastname die?
- Card 1, representing us, the querents: Nine of Swords reversed
- Card 2, the subject or challenge of our question: Page of Wands
- Card 3, our ultimate goal: Page of Swords
- Card 4, something applicable from the distant past: Page of Cups
Ray Moretti interrupted Ms. Herschel. “You should have shuffled them more.”
“I shuffled for like a minute,” said she.
- Card 5, our strengths as seekers, or the applicable recent past: Page of Coins
Elsie Cabret stepped in. “This isn’t a time for jokes, Anais. Michel died.”
“You ****ers see me ****ing laughing here? First you leave me the **** on my own in this piece of **** of a tower”
Ms. Delaire put a hand on Ms. Herschel’s shoulder to calm her. “It’s the best place for cell reception.”
“First you don’t trust me to talk nice to the authorities, now you won’t even let me read the ****ing cards with you. I miss Michel too, you ****s!”
Ms. Herschel said more, however the phrases are entirely illegible without bombs of the F variety.
She slapped down the next few cards, outside the spread.
- Page of Lizards
- Page of Fish
- Page of Chickens
- Page of Octopus
Ms. Herschel burst into furious tears and took her leave. I volunteered to reshuffle and set out a new spread myself.
- Card 1: Five of Lizards Reversed
- Card 2: Death
- Card 3: The Butcher
- Card 4: The Devil
- Card 5: Six of Fish
- Card 6, a clue concerning the near future: The High Priestess
- Card 7, the way in which we must approach the problem: Two of Octopus
- Card 8, external influences: Ten of Chickens
- Card 9, our hopes and fears for this endeavor…
In utter shock, I flipped the card back over before my colleagues could see.
“What is it?” asked Sorina Jones.
There was nothing for me to say, no words that I could form that would aptly explain my hesitation. I told them, as steadily as I could, that like Anais Herschel I was not making a joke. I took a deep, dizzy breath, then showed them the card.
- Card 9: Bits of String
Gasps, followed by silence. There was no Bits of String card. As far as we knew, and as the Secret Assembly Unearthing Cartomantic Eventualities we ought to know, there never was a Bits of String card. Even if someone did indeed print off such a thing, it was in my personal deck, a deck that I have read at least twice a day for many years. I keep deck on my person at all times. None but I ever touched it. Any kind of tampering was therefore impossible.
With shaking hands, I flipped over the final card in the spread. As with Card 9, this too did not exist in tarot. Its name, titled in thick black calligraphy, chilled me to the brink of fainting.
- Card 10: It’s Right Behind You.