From the Sky - Part VII

"You are Carmella's nieces?"

She pointed out each in turn, and said their names.

"And you," she said, pointing slowly to Paulie. "You are Ernesto's son, Paulie. You don't believe in what I do. And you do not believe in curses, do you boy?"

"No," Paulie said defiantly, and his sister's faces reddened. "It's all just a bunch of junk."

"What happens in this world happens, whether you believe it will or not, boy. I only move a curtain aside so we can see through a window together. Do you understand, young man?"

Paulie stood his ground, staring arrogantly.

“School starts soon, doesn’t it my little man? And you don’t want the summer to end. You don’t want to go back,” said the fortune teller. “There is a large boy there, you see him on the basketball court. He steals from you doesn’t he?”

Paulie's eyes softened, a hint of doubt creeping in.

"He comes to you, with his friends around him. He takes your money or the pastries your sisters packed in your lunch box."

Paulie said nothing, but his sisters, who knew nothing of this, looked stricken.

"You must fight him. He is soft in the middle this big boy. Soft. Don't strike at his face; the belly is his weakness. Here," she said, touching her hand to her stomach, "One blow, quick and sharp. You will win and he will never bother you again."

"But there are four of them," Paulie protested.

"He is the center. They stand with him because they fear him. If he falls, they will fear you instead. They will scatter like autumn leaves in a stiff breeze."

"But he's twice my size!"

"That means nothing," she said, dismissing his protest with a half-wave of a bony hand. "When he falls, he falls for all of them. Remember that, boy."

The fortune teller looked them over, shaking her head.

"I will see you only because of Carmella. There is no time to waste. Ernesto will soon notice you are not back from church. Come in," she said, holding open the door. "Come with Madame Béatrice. I will move aside my little curtain and show you this woman who troubles you so deeply."

The Fortune Teller...

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