I still have two cards that should not exist in my tarot deck, the vague Bits Of String and the ominous It’s Right Behind You.

I know nothing of those cards. My colleagues and I have been searching through our vast underground archives, the Museo dei tarocchi in Bologna, the Jones collection of the Marshall College wing of the National Museum, and every occult gift shop in New Orleans. None of those fine institutions granted us what we needed. Danny Delaire added to her novelty postcard collection, but otherwise this part of our quest was a failure.

As you may recall, I also took a train to the distillery that manufactures Michel Nolastname’s favourite catchpenny brandy, hoping against hope that it may glean some information as to how he met his doom.

The visit gave me no enlightenment, unless you consider the bliss of liquid oblivion to be a form of temporary enlightenment, though followed immediately by blinding pain. I did learn that artisanal swill maintains its identity as swill, but sampling it on-site in front of the friendly distillers gave it the flavour of a more complex and sophisticated swill. I feel like a more impressive person for having this experience, though it left a bad taste in my mouth.

It did not, it is important to note, turn into anything resembling the grotesque and cartoonish pancake that was Mr. Nolastname’s remains, nor did the brandy-induced pink elephant hallucinations tell me how I acquired two frighteningly nonexistent cards in my tarot deck.

Over the past two and a half weeks, I have written posts describing and explaining the cards that turned up in our reading at the beginning of our investigation. To reiterate in a more concise way:


Card 1, the card about those who ask the question, a.k.a. us: Five of Lizards Reversed. Someone’s disguise is such as success that no one knows how to help you.

Although I cannot speak for my fellow S.A.U.C.E. members, I am certainly not in disguise. At least, I’m not disguising myself to my friends. Obviously I am withholding our real names on this blog, but that is a different matter. Perhaps our dear late Michel Nolastname was disguised in such a way that we could not save him.


Card 2, the card about the subject of our question, a.k.a. Michel Nolastname: Death.

Yes. Obviously. We are trying to solve the murder of our friend. Of course the fuzzy-wuzzy Pollyannas of the world will pipe in to remind us that the Death card is about renewal and transformation. He certainly did transform, from a three-dimensional living man to a paper-thin man-shaped thing that looked like he’d been preserved in an enormous book of pressed flowers.


Card 3, the card about our goal for this reading, a.k.a. Whodunnit: The Butcher.

This sounds rather literal, and perhaps it is. The Butcher card is about destroying something for the sake of survival or comfort. How the death of Michel Nolastname could benefit anyone is beyond me, but it is worth keeping in mind.


Card 4, the card that brings up an element of the distant past that is somehow relevant to our question: The Devil

Michel Nolastname was hardly demonic, as far as we know. He was a sweet elderly man who imparted confusing wisdom onto us. Perhaps in the past someone seduced him into a dangerous bargain that only now destroyed him.


Card 5, the card that reveals our strengths, or the recent past: Six of Fish

We apparently communicate well with one another, but may need to “split up” as they say in horror films, to cover further ground and gain perspective.


Card 6, the card referring to the near future: The High Priestess

We will uncover secrets and lost knowledge that cannot be found in books.


Card 7, our best approach to the problem: Two of Octopus

Hold on tightly, though the things onto which you are holding may be opposing forces, and though they may be slippery and easily lost. We will try, Two of Octopus. We will try.


Card 8, the external influences that will affect the outcome: Ten of Chickens

One party will trust another party’s judgment because of presumed experience. We always trusted the dearly departed Mr. Nolastname, though we are quickly discovering how little we know about him. Maybe we will need to follow another wise person to get to the bottom of it.


Cards 9 and 10 were Bits Of String and It’s Right Behind You respectively. I wish I knew what they meant. I could hazard a guess, but guessing could be hazardous.


What does it all mean in the end? I do not know. What we do know are small, possibly insignificant pieces of data.

Mr. Nolastname was found as a starved and delirious adolescent by an orphanage who hired him on as their caretaker. He was not raised in that place.

He told fortunes and panhandled by the greasy spoon diner where Elsie Cabret used to work, around thirty years ago, which is how she met him and brought him into the Secret Assembly Unearthing Cartomantic Eventualities.


Our hope may be in interpreting the cards that Anais Herschel set out before we interrupted her and reshuffled. The next posts, therefore, will be the Pages, in the order that she flipped them: Page of Wands, Page of Swords, (not Page of Cups, since I already posted about it here) Page of Coins, Page of Lizards, Page of Fish, Page of Chickens and Page of Octopus.


UPDATED: The Fool card is now missing from my deck. “Did you check behind the sofa?” you might ask, or “Did you leave it in the ATM?” in which case I would remind you that tarot and debit cards are different things, and direct you to the rest of this blog for more information.

That I lost a card should not be alarming to you, especially after the shock of learning that I have two extra cards that should not exist. However, ALL OF US HAVE LOST THIS CARD. Ms. Cabret’s The Fool is missing. It is also missing from Sorina Jones’ deck, and Crystal Balque’s and Tina and Ray Moretti’s decks, and Anais Herschel’s as well. Julen Ibarra insists that The Fool in his deck must have been stolen by the New World Order, who may be implanting chips into our cards in order to track us and predict our futures without our consent.

I wish Michel Nolastname were here to share his wisdom and maybe a bottle of the worst brandy made by the nicest people. I don’t know what to do.