Kaylie's tousled brown hair partially hides the tears crawling down her young face. "I got into a fight with my grandmother the night before she died," she chokes out. "Is she OK? Is she with us?"
"You can ask her to come to you in your dreams," the woman across from her whispers soothingly. "You can ask her to make herself present and mentally talk to her."
"I've seen her spirit once since she died. She was there over my bed," says Kaylie, wiping her tears and raising her voice. "I seen it. Everybody thought I was nuts. She said, 'It's OK, it's OK.' I seen it!"
"She does come around," says the other woman, nodding her sandy head. "When my candle flame goes up like that"--she points to a flickering candle on the table--"that's a yes answer, that she is around."
She gazes into a cup of coffee, then looks at Kaylie sheepishly. "One li'l question for you," she says, drawing the words out. "How's your husband's sexual energy?"
"Terrible," says Kaylie with a laugh.
"I'm going to be real blatant here. He's got real big balls. I see a lot of sexual energy draining out of the bottom."
In a mint green bedroom on the far south side, Jorianne, a psychic, is seeing Kaylie and eight of her friends one at a time. Downstairs, some wait their turns while others discuss their readings. "What I liked was when she asked, 'Do you wanna hear everything?'" says a woman between bites of lasagna. "I don't know if I wanna hear everything, but everything's turning up roses according to her."
"No thorns in those roses?" asks a sarcastic brunette.
"No, except some tumor she saw growing."
"Well, if she said somebody close, it could be your next-door neighbor."
Donna wears a coiled, brown I Dream of Jeannie ponytail and a black sequined shirt over her stout body. She hands her cup of coffee to Jorianne.
"Hi, I'm Donna," she says, shaking the psychic's hand.
"I'm Jorianne." They sit at a table covered with tarot cards, yellow and pink candles, and a plaster hand holding Jorianne's business cards. Her card reads "Jorianne, psychic coffee reader, adviser, and channeler." Leaning her petite frame over the coffee, Jorianne pours some cream into it, then peers into the cup.
"Is there something wrong with your car?"
"The last couple of days, my muffler seems really loud."
"I'm glad you said that, because it looks like a car part wearing out." Jorianne slides the cup over to Donna. "See?" She points at the design the cream has formed in the cup.
"Oh yeah, look at that." Jorianne closes her eyes and meditates over the cup.
"Have you been dreaming about any babies?"
"I'm not one that remembers dreams."
"Do you have kids?"
"I have a teenage son. Oh! I lost a baby."
"Well, it's a real pretty silhouette," says Jorianne. "So I know it's the spirit of the baby and it's around you....OK, who's got the problem with the breast?" Jorianne rubs her chest, her eyes shut.
"One of my friends just had a mastectomy."
"How's she doing?"
"She seems to be doing great."
Jorianne slowly shakes her curls. "You're going to be crying for somebody."
Lil is a short-haired blond with red lips, nails, cheeks, and sweatshirt. She clutches a pack of Marlboros and a lighter. Jorianne widens her brown eyes as Lil sits down. "There's intensity here. Intense. Are you like, blaming yourself for anything?"
"Kind of. I'm separating from my husband."
"Well don't you dare put yourself up on the line," says Jorianne, frowning. "OK, I normally don't do this unless it's a very unique situation but I channel, and I feel that you have real serious questions." Jorianne shakes her head. "Oh yeah! I might be leavin'"--out of her body--"my voice may change, my eyes will start to flutter. Just ask me specific questions with names and addresses." Lil nods nervously and averts her eyes. Jorianne massages her temples. "I feel like you're grieving over your situation. I feel like I want to cry. Yes." She touches her nose. "Were there addictions?"
"Yes, drugs and alcohol."
"When I touch my nose, that means drugs. I feel that you've done all you can. Are you thinking about going back to school?"
"I'm in school now."
"Hot dog! It feels good, real good." A puzzled look runs across Jorianne's face. "I feel some pregnancies around you."
"My sister is trying to get pregnant."
"OK. This summer, I feel one or two pregnancies around you. Are you still real fertile?"
Lil nods. "Caution, caution. Timing can be everything."
Lil smiles at Jorianne and rests her chin on her hands. Turning to the tarot cards Lil has laid out, Jorianne picks up a card. "This is a man around you." Rubbing her cheeks, she says, "Oh, he has a five o'clock shadow!"
"Yes," Lil laughs, "I know who that is."
Kathy walks into the room with a tape recorder and a hesitant look. She tugs at her turquoise turtleneck when Jorianne instructs her to cut tarot cards into 11 piles. "I hope I do better at this than at the races," she says.
Jorianne rubs her hands vigorously over the black table. "This is for Kathy, this is for Kathy. Is there anyone that has had numbness in the hands?"
"Yes, my hands have been falling asleep."
"Has anyone around you been unhappy in a relationship?"
"Yes, my son-in-law is separated."
"I feel a lot of pain there, like barbed wire," says Jorianne, closing her eyes as if to block the pain. "This is not a good situation."
"Mmm-hmm," says Kathy slowly, with clasped hands.
As she turns up the cards, Jorianne suddenly slaps one back down. "I'm not going to tell you about that one," she says sternly. She picks up another one. "I don't have everything totally memorized." She takes out a book. "Four of rods means financial security, it says."
"Can I show you a picture?" says Kathy, pulling a picture out of her purse. "This is my husband and myself a year and a half ago."
Jorianne rubs the picture. "What would you like to know about?"
"What can you tell me?"
"Does he like to gamble? I saw money going like that." She sweeps her hand behind her.
"Does he ever!"
"Jaw problems! I'm having a hard time opening my mouth," says Jorianne, holding her jaw.
"I hope it's not me."
"No, I don't feel it's you, it's a buildup. Does that make sense?"
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Lloyd DeGrane.