by Steve Gergley  

Okay so who here has recently lost a spouse, or a parent, or a brother, or a sister, or a best friend, or, you know, someone very special to—oh, so a good few of you have. Okay. So I’m getting a very powerful—actually can you guys raise your hands again? And keep them up? Okay. Who here, out of everyone with their hands up, has lost a mother or a father? Or a brother? I’m also getting a brother vibe, something from an office, a cubicle, phone—the phone was very big in this person’s job, very important, always talking on the phone to, you know, clients and…other people who talk with the—yes, you? Miss? Red—no behind you, her, yes, third row, next to the woman with the—yup, red top, it looked like that sounded familiar to—I’m getting a very strong phone vibe from you. They were always on the phone, doing business, making arrangements, everything over the phone, very dedicated to their job. Finance, uh uh uh business, frequent business trips and—father. I’m hearing—he’s pointing me in your direction, father, mother, fath—mother, mother? You recently lost your mother, correct? No, not you, miss, I’m talking to her right next to you. What’s that? You raised your hand because you’re her mother? Oh, so then it’s your mother I’m hearing. So it’s Grandma who I’m hearing. That makes a lot more sense now. Your mother worked over the phone. She was a…telephone operator, secretary, lots of correspondence over the phone. Years ago. Before she retired. And very strong. A very strong, opinionated woman, correct? Much like yourself. No, no, not—yes, I’m talking about your mother, your daughter’s grandmother. Well if she was a very shy person then that’s someone else’s mother I’m—who here recently lost their mother? I’m getting a very strong mother feeling on this side of the—very strong-willed woman, very loud, which I can attest to since she’s yelling in my ear right now, but that’s okay, I don’t need to hear out of that ear anyway, I don’t—yes! In the back, you recently lost your mother. Yes, yup, I’m getting that on my end too, always on the phone, doing business with—yes, her girlfriends, charity events, fundraisers, very active in the community, and…the knee. Knee problem later in life, arthritis of the knee, tendonitis, right knee, right leg, various maladies on the right side of the—yup, yup, left eye, detached retina, exactly, that’s exactly what I’m—I found her Mom, she’s doing great, doesn’t look like she’s a day over twenty-one, she’s—you hear that Mom? She loves you, we all—can you say that for me one more time, hun? Just so she can—as loud as you can now…and there she is, Mom. There she is. I found her. It’s your little girl. She loves you, and she misses you, and she’s just so glad that you’re—oh! Oh honey. Oh darling, you’re so sweet, you didn’t have to come all the way up here just to give me a—no, thank you so much, thank you for letting me—oh honey, I—you’re welcome, sweetie, I love you too, darling, you’re so—thank you, thank you, baby. I’m just so thankful I can use my abilities to help a wonderful person such as yourself to—excuse me, sir, sir—yes, you in the, no sir, yes you, with the phone, you’re not allowed to film this. You’re not allowed to—no, no, no, excuse me, if you would just—no, absolutely not, you are not allowed to film this, and yes we did notify you about that, it was printed in black and white at the bottom of the release form you signed before being let into this auditorium at the beginning of the—well that’s simply not possible because my security wouldn’t—no, no, that’s not—no, Victor and his team would never let anyone inside if they didn’t sign the—okay, okay, that’s enough, thank you for the enlightening—Vic can you get this guy out of—excuse me? Not that it’s any of your concern, but I need the release form for my own safety, okay? For my own financial and legal safety. Because without it, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do. Without that, I wouldn’t be able to—okay well, you can stop right there now. You think this is the first time I’ve been heckled? You really think that? You really think that in seventeen years of changing lives, and and and making connections, and reuniting grieving families with their dearly departed that I’ve never—hold on, Vic, hold on. No, you know what? You can let him keep the phone. No, I do. I want him to film this. Because I’m sick and tired of being attacked, and of being vilified, and of being painted as some kind of criminal when all I’m trying to do is make a living and help people to—no actually, you’re the charlatan, sir. You’re the criminal. Because you signed a legally binding release form which you are now breaking. Which is a crime. So actually, you’re the only one in this entire room who is breaking the law. So now you can—what? What does that even mean? Cold reading? Confirmation bias? So I’m reading books in the freezer now? So I’m confirming your bias? Your bias against giving closure to all these wonderful people who’re in pain, and who’re grieving for the loved ones they’ve lost? Is that the bias you’re talking about? The bias you have against seeing other people find peace in their lives? Because if that’s the bias you’re talking about, then you know what? I guess I am guilty. Because if you’re so bitter, and so…angry about your own failures and shortcomings that you feel the need to come here and harass me, well then—oh, Mary Mother of God. Listen up, jackass, I don’t have to prove anything to you. Okay? There’s a reason that I’m up here and you’re down there, understand? And it’s got nothing to do with spirits or ghosts or magic or anything else like that. Okay? It’s called hard work. And that’s something you clearly don’t know anything about, since you’re here with a a a video…recorder trying to destroy me instead of doing something on your own. Hard work. That’s what got me here. Nothing else. Now do you know what it feels like to be a twenty-two-year-old girl, living on her own on Long Island, two kids to feed, no job, no high school diploma, no college degree, no boyfriend or husband to help out, with thirty-seven dollars in the bank? Hmm? Can you even fathom what it’s like to find yourself in a situation like that? Crunching on blocks of dry ramen noodles each night for dinner because you can’t afford a pot to boil them in? No. Of course you can’t. There’s no way you could even imagine what that’s like. And you want to know how I got myself out of that situation? You want to – oh screw you. Con artist. You’re the goddamn con artist. You’re the thief. I got myself out of that situation with hard goddamn work. That’s how. I spent years talking to people, watching them, studying them, observing the tiny intricacies of facial expressions and body language, tone of voice, all of that stuff, in order to better understand, you know, uh uh uh their uh…similarities with their dearly departed loved ones who I come into contact with on a—you know what? You can get the hell out of here now. I don’t need to explain myself to a parasite like you. Vic can you—yeah, yeah, whatever you say, jackass, I’m a parasite, you’re a parasite, we’re all parasites, let’s do the hokey pokey. Thanks so much for coming out tonight. Drive safe now. Really, I mean that. Because that’s the last thing I need, having you coming back to haunt me. Oh my goodness. I need that like I need a hole in the head. Okay. Woo, that was fun. So. Who here has recently lost a brother or a sister? I’m feeling a strong resonance on—raise your hands now—a very strong resonance on brother. Brother, brother, anyone lose a—hands? Brother, sister—anyone? Very strong-willed, water, I’m seeing water, very athletic, very big on water, loved the water, always outdoors, lots of hiking, swimming, loved the water, lots of fishing, watersports, lakes, ponds, anyone? Brother, sister, maybe a relative…cousin, nephew, loved the water, always drinking water—hands? Anyone? Anyone?

Steve Gergley is a writer and runner based in Warwick, New York. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in A-Minor, After the Pause, Barren Magazine, Maudlin House, Pithead Chapel, and others. In addition to writing fiction, he has composed and recorded five albums of original music.