Queen Of Wands – Part 2
“That looks ominous,” Ellis said, lifting the coffee cup to his lips. In the years they’d spent together, Tamatha surmised that very little alarmed him. His mention of the card meant even he felt the energy coursing through her.
“The Tower can be a warning of something big to come.” She chewed her lip and peeked under the honeycomb blinds on the RV window.
Outside, the sun painted a kaleidoscope of orange, pink, and blue. It was difficult to imagine the catastrophic scene on the tarot card occurring while the magic of a glittering sunrise danced before her. Nonetheless, it was there in ink and paper.
As she shifted in her seat, looking back to the card, a jolt prickled through Tamatha’s fingers. Like pins snaking through her bones, it made its way up her arm and circled her elbow. The sensation intensified, throbbing and itching deep in the ball joint of her shoulder.
Unable to keep still, Tamatha released her grip on Ellis’ forearm and shook her hands. The fiery energy dispersed, spraying the room like water droplets. Ellis couldn’t see the spray, but it sent Tamatha’s old black cat, Gypsy, careening from the back of the futon toward the bedroom. A stack of herbalism books clattered to the floor as he fled.
Tamatha glanced back to Ellis and rubbed her palms together, creating heat in the hollow space between them. “I think the tarot has more to say.” Her voice was a husky hum as she closed her eyes and lowered her chin.
Imagining the stacks of cards before her, she settled her left hand on the first one. Tamatha sorted through the cards’ energy, searching for one that wanted to speak. Finally, a familiar gentle buzz grabbed her attention, and she held still until a line of warm red energy materialized.
She slid the card out of the fray and placed it beside the tower. As she stared down at the image of a god-sized hand holding an even larger wand above a serene mountain valley, Tamatha’s brow released.
“Ace of Wands,” she breathed.
“More peaceful, though, a touch phallic for my taste.” Ellis’s tone was steady, and Tamatha snorted out a chuckle at his delivery.
“Hmm, very astute of you, my dear. Aces usually mean a new beginning, and wands depict pure creative power.” She picked up the card, looking closer as if seeing the picture for the first time. The hand emerged from a swirling bank of clouds, and a thin silver line twinkled just behind them. Had that always been there?
“So, does the Ace mean you’ll say yes this time?” Ellis’s eyes shone. He’d had enough coffee to keep up with his jokes.
“Hardly,” Tamatha said, rolling her eyes with a smile. “Sometimes, ace of wands has to do with security. Or inheritance.”
Her dark eyes cut to one side — The plantation? — but before Tamatha could twist the threads of thought together, her cell phone lit on the table beside her. With a relentless racket, the device vibrated and jangled. She sighed, picking it up. She didn’t make it four hundred and nineteen years without embracing new technology. Tamatha only wished the current inventors would consider quieter means of communication.
A number appeared on the screen that Tamatha didn’t recognize. She glanced back at the tower card, then to the ace with its single, club-like wand, and hit the answer button.
A male voice with a long drawl came through the receiver; a gulp of sweet tea at six-thirty in the morning. “Good morning. I’m looking for Ms. Tamatha Wright.”
“Speaking,” Tamatha said quickly.
“Ah, Ms. Wright. I’m so glad you answered.”
“I’m sorry, who is this?” Tamatha quirked an eyebrow at Ellis. He quietly made his way toward the coffee pot.
“This is Harvey Goodfellow. My father handled the probate of your family’s estate, and I took over his firm several years ago. The reason for my call this morning is regarding your property in Virginia.”
“Oh? Is everything all right?”
“Well, I have just received word that the keeper of your plantation, Mr. Johnson, has died.”
“Oh, dear. Johnson. How sad.” She touched the tower card with clammy fingers.
“I am very sorry for your loss.”
“Thank you. Tell me, are you aware of any children or relatives surviving Mr. Johnson at all?”
“Ehm… No ma’am. I’m afraid not. I take it you were not close with Mr. Johnson?”
“Not exactly.” Tamatha glanced at Ellis. With a full mug, he plopped onto the seat and peered over his coffee at her. Tamatha chose her words carefully. “Mr. Johnson’s predecessor was his father, and before that his grandfather, and so on stretching back to the sixteen hundreds.”
“You don’t say?” Mr. Goodfellow’s voice remained flat and dubious.
“As I understand, our families entered a unique arrangement after his ancestor’s indentured servitude was complete. They’ve faithfully tended our land ever since.”
Ellis raised an eyebrow. As far as he knew, Tamatha had always been an untethered nomad. He would have questions about the plantation that Tamatha could navigate later. The attorney on the phone, however, didn’t need the specifics of her ancient story.
“Forgive me, Mr. Goodfellow. A busy lawyer like you doesn’t have the time to listen to me chatter away.” She inhaled, glancing to the Ace of Wands. “I suppose this means I will need to make my way to Virginia to choose a new caretaker. Thank you for calling.”
“Uh, of course, Ms. Wright. There is one more new detail I need to make you aware of before we say goodbye.” The rustling sound of papers and fingers tapping computer keys came through the receiver, then silence.
“Yes, Mr. Goodfellow?”
“This may seem preposterous, given your family has been the sole owner of the land for over four hundred years, but I must inform you of a letter we’ve received. A solicitor in Newark, England, claims that his client is seeking fifty percent of your estate based on an agreement between your ancestors.”
“What was the name of the client?” Tamatha picked up the tower card. Turning it in her fingers, she examined the two people falling toward the earth.
“Winthorpe. A Lord Winthorpe, I believe.”
Tamatha always suspected that Papa made an arrangement of some kind with his sponsor, but she hoped the matter had disintegrated after centuries of silence. “I see,” she said, tapping her temple with an index finger.
“Are you and Mr. — Eh, that is, Lord Winthorpe acquainted?”
“No, but I’m familiar with the name. The family stories say the Winthorpe patriarch sponsored my ancestors’ passage to America.”
“Fascinating. The fact that you’ve preserved so much information, let alone employed a single family all these years, is astounding.” He paused, clearly bewildered by Tamatha, and she seized the opportunity.
“Well, Ms. Goodfellow. It will take some time to get across the country in my RV, but I will need your assistance once I arrive. Are the terms of our retainer still in order?”
“Oh, uh…Yes. My father left strict orders to continue operating under your original retainer agreement. Judging by his notes, he was quite impressed by you, Ms. Wright.”
“Quite. Well, then. We shall see you in about three days. In the meantime, please begin research into this present-day Lord Winthorpe.”
After saying goodbye, Tamatha released a throaty sigh and set the tower card onto a stack. She turned over the ace and placed it on top. Closing her eyes, she began to mix the cards in a counter-clockwise circle, washing the residual energy from them.
Ellis waited for her attention to return to the RV living space, and even then, did not speak first. Blessed be that patient man.
“You’ll have questions, I’m sure,” Tamatha said as a tendril of dark hair curled over her shoulder.
Ellis shrugged. “I figured you’ll tell me on the way. Oregon to Virginia is almost as far as you can drive in this country. We’ve got plenty of time, baby.”
Sunlight beamed in through the window, casting a warm citrus glow over Ellis’ green eyes. His smile shown like a cresting ocean wave. My, but he certainly was handsome. If Tamatha wasn’t careful, she might accidentally say yes this time.
Photo by Joshua Newton on Unsplash. Edited by Haley P. Law.