You’re going to blackmail the Pet Psychic but he doesn’t know it yet because he can only read the minds of cats and parrots and not grown ass women. You’re sitting on your couch waiting to secretly tape him having sex with you. You’ve done this type of thing before. You’ve done this type of thing a bunch. Married doctors, lawyers with jealous mistresses, once a state senator. You aren’t pretentious enough to call yourself a psychic, but you’ve got a gift for seeing the future too. You can always tell when a man will stray; you can always tell when he’ll feel guilty, you can always tell if he’ll pay you to keep quiet.
You met the Pet Psychic at a bar. You recognized him from his TV show. You listened to him brag to the bartender about all the lost pets he’d tracked down over the years. When he was drunk you told him your dog Henry ran away last night.
“Can you find him?” you pleaded.
The Pet Psychic looked you up and down, his tongue darting across his lip.
“I need an item of Henry’s to commune with,” he slurred.
“Back at my apartment,” you said.
You watch the Pet Psychic press his nose into Henry’s dog pillow. If he was really psychic, he’d realize Henry’s not lost, he’s dead. Dead for six months now, nailed by a mini-van when he got off his leash. Henry’s chew toys, his dog sweaters, sit in a pile by your fridge. Your brain tells you to toss all this stuff away, but your heart hasn’t given your hands permission yet.
“Take down any lost dog flyers you put up,” the Pet Psychic says. “They don’t work for shit.”
The Pet Psychic closes his eyes, sniffs Henry’s water bowl. When you close your eyes, you can see how the next hour will unfold. You’ll cry about Henry. The Pet Psychic will put his arm around your shoulder. You’ll curl your head into his chest; arch your lips toward his lips.
When the Pet Psychic leaves you’ll watch some old videos of Henry. Maybe the one where he’s chasing the squirrels at the dog park. Or the one where he won’t stop barking at the ceiling fan.
“Don’t worry,” the Pet Psychic says as he pulls on his shirt. “I’ll find him for you.”
You watch the Pet Psychic glide down your front stairs. Tomorrow you’ll call him and explain how sad it would be if his wife received the video of the two of you fucking. You already know how this conversation will go. He’ll take a deep breath, won’t say anything for a long time. You’ll wait him out; listen to the tiny hisses that grind away in the background of the call, little clicks that remind you of metal crushing bone. Finally the Pet Psychic will clear his throat and like all the others, he’ll say, fine, okay, shit, how much.
John Jodzio is a winner of the Loft-McKnight Fellowship. He’s the author of the short story collections, If You Lived Here You’d Already Be Home (Replacement Press) and Get In If You Want To Live (Paper Darts Press). He lives in Minneapolis. Find out more at www.johnjodzio.net.