The Great Zastropholius – Philip Zwerling
The Ohio State Fair that beautiful fall day was a raucous cacophony: children yelling from the thrill rides, carnies shouting out challenges to games of chance, and the whooshing of machines whipping up cotton candy and deep fried Oreos. Eva and Steve, strolling hand in hand down the midway, paid little attention to the noise, pausing only to look into each other’s eyes and occasionally to share a discrete kiss.
“Look, Eva, a fortune teller. Let’s give it a try.”
Eva looked up at the colorful canvas tent before them. A large hand-lettered sign advertised, “The Great Zastropholius: She Knows All, Tells All.”
“Let’s do it, Steve,” she said.
They pulled open the tent flap and found Madame Zastropholius herself sitting at a small table, a clouded crystal ball before her.
“Come in, come in my lovelies. Have a seat, and let me reveal the secrets of your lives,” she said with a heavy Eastern European accent. “All that is murky shall be clear. The future will be revealed.”
Steve could not contain himself and immediately upon sitting said, “Well, Madame Zastraseneca, tell us about our wedding coming up next week. Will it rain or are we okay out of doors?”
The seer fixed him with a hard gaze and said: ’’Zas-tro-pho-li-us, Stevie. You may call me Madame Z.”
“You know my name, oh my god. You’re psychic. But about the weather?”
“I’m afraid I see storm clouds gathering…”
Eva started in her seat. “Oh, no.”
“I see thunder…”
“Oh, my god… My dress, the cake…”
“I see lightening…”
Steve interrupted, “Screw the cake, Eva. Think of my poor mom.”
“‘Screw the cake?’ Your lard ass mother can get herself an oversize umbrella to keep dry. My dress…”
“How dare you talk about Mommy like that.”
“That’s it. I will not spend my life with a little mama’s boy.” And with those words Eva bolted upright, knocked over her chair, and ran out of the tent.
Steve watched her go and turned his attention to Madame Zastropholius.
“You saw all that terrible weather for our wedding day?”
She paused before responding. “Oh, your wedding day? No…I was talking about your marriage.”
Philip Zwerling retired as an Associate Professor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley and is the author of five books, most recently co-author of Eyes on Havana, and now lives on the Mendocino Coast in northern California.