Chapter 4

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Zandra's luck indeed changes inside the Target. Her next mark, a couple of retired simpletons perusing vacuum cleaners, cries at the suggestion their deceased son's spirit still visits each night. What else could the light tapping from inside the walls of their bedroom be?

She didn't work hard to garner the info to make the revelation. The couple blurted out the question, "Are the taps in the wall at night our dead son trying to communicate?" All Zandra needed to do is say yes. Cue the tears.

That's what a camera crew will do to people. It establishes trust and legitimacy, barriers I normally would have to break on my own. How many people believe something only because a celebrity, friend or politician says it? Regardless of how much they might deny it, people crave authority. "Freedom" is only the power to choose a master to give them a sense of direction in a fucked up world. The truth is there is no truth, only spin. The world is make-believe, controlled by the ones you allow into your imagination. Trust at your own peril.

A more honest version of Zandra might suggest the aisle with pest control products instead. They're receiving visitations, expect they come on four legs.

People tell themselves lies all the time to get through day-to-day existence. How is this any different?

Chris approves with a thumbs up before they move on from the couple. The Target employees do a good job of keeping the crowds from blocking the aisle, but a few fans break through. They hold out pink shoes from the footwear department for Zandra to sign. It's morbid, but she obliges them with a black marker kept in her pocket. It's the prop that counts now.

After a few selfies, Chris ushers Zandra and the crew into the sporting goods section. A young man in his 20s browses camping gear. He seems a little startled when Zandra and her entourage show up.

Zandra sizes the young man up as Chris wrangles signatures for the paperwork. There's an exceptional bulge in the lower right part of what could be called his "gut." Unlike a typical spare tire around the waist, it doesn't match with its partner on the left side. It's almost like someone made a cut above the right side of his groin and stuffed in a grapefruit.

A concealed handgun? Legal, yes, but no. It's too obvious. Most of these concealed carry types like be more discreet about it. So what's in there?

Zandra's answer comes in the form of a medical alert bracelet around the young man's wrist. Even from a distance, she can make out what it says.

He's a kidney transplant recipient. Lucky guy. I bet he feels a little guilty about it, too. Only natural.

"What's your name, child?" Zandra says after the man finishes with the paperwork. She nods to Chris to start filming, stealing what she hopes is a sly glimpse at the signatures. "It starts with a...W, correct?"

"Yes. It's William," he says. Almost looks embarrassed to be talking with her.

That'll change soon enough.

"William. That's a good, solid name. But there's something that bothers you, isn't there?" Zandra says.

"You're not bothering me, I guess."

Zandra smiles at William's quick wit. "No, child, I mean in your life, not right now. You live with a burden that weighs heavily on your mind," she says.

Now William seems a little more engaged. "What sort of burden?" he says.

"Someone did something for you, child. Something important. You think about it often. For as happy as you are about it, you still feel guilty. It's a hard thing to deal with," Zandra says. She locks eyes with William so he knows she's not looking at the bracelet.

William pauses. Raises an eyebrow. "Are you talking about the kidney transplant?" he says.

Bingo.

Zandra wants to turn to Chris and make sure he's not missing their conversation. She can almost hear him smiling.

"That I am, child," Zandra says. She places a reassuring palm on his shoulder. "Celebrate this second chance at life. It's the best way to honor your donor."

Zandra deliberately leaves the door open on whether the donor is alive or dead. Transplanted kidneys can come from either side of the six-foot divide, provided the organ is healthy.

"Then why'd she have to die in that car crash? That's what I don't understand," William says. He's getting a little moist around the eyes. "Yeah, I'm grateful and everything, but she was killed by a drunk driver. She had a great life going for her, and then some asshole killed her. To top it off, he walked away without a scratch. Why should I celebrate that?"

Wasn't expecting that one. Time to pull from one of the hippie-dippy inspirational books that sell so well at Sneak Peek.

"Because out of that tragedy, she gave you the ultimate gift. You might never know the reasons why, but that's what makes the mysteries of life so beautiful," Zandra says.

She pats William on the shoulder again, attempting to end the conversation. He's not having it.

"You know what would be beautiful? If they cut a kidney out of that drunk asshole instead of that woman. I'd sure sleep better at night," William says. "I hope he goes to hell."

"Hell is a horrible place, child. I wouldn't wish anyone there," Zandra says. "Believe me. I've had to deal with dark spirits before."

"Even more of a reason to send him there," William says. He brushes Zandra's hand away. "I think I'm about through talking with you about this."

"Blessings, child. Be strong," Zandra says so the crew can hear. It'll make for a nice ending to this scene during editing.

"Nothing we can't handle in post," Chris says after they move on from William. "I do need one more shot. And lets make it really good."

They head out for another department, but William isn't finished with Zandra yet.

"My medical alert bracelet," William says from across the aisle. He points to his wrist and holds it up for Zandra to see. "You saw that I was a kidney transplant recipient."

Shit. Thank goodness the camera is off.

"I had no idea you had such as bracelet, child. Not something I normally look for on men anyway," Zandra says, doing her best to act natural.

"Don't 'child' me. You're a fraud," William says. He marches up to Chris and shows the bracelet. Chris ignores him, so he shoves his wrist in front of Zandra's nose.

"I'm no fraud, child. Would this camera crew be following me around if I was a fraud?" Zandra says, directing William's hand away from her face.

"I don't know. Let's find out," William says. "How about you go in cold with your next reading? I noticed you looking me over while I filled out that paperwork. Real nice trick you pulled there."

Chris sticks an elbow between William and Zandra. "I think we're about finished here. If you don't relax, I'll get security to see you out," he says.

Zandra just smiles in response. She fetches a camo bandana from a shelf and wraps it around her eyes. "That won't be necessary, Chris. I'm up to the challenge," she says.

"Seriously?" Chris and William say in unison.

"Seriously. Get the camera rolling, Chris. I'll do this blindfolded," Zandra says.

"If you can pull this off, I swear we'll be in a bidding war with the networks," Chris says under his breath to Zandra as they head toward the clothing department.

One step ahead of you, Chris.


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