Chapter 17

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"Any reason why I'd receive this?" Chris says and opens a leather attaché case. He pulls out a sheet of paper and slides it across the desk to Zandra. "I would've forwarded it to you, but you don't have..."

Zandra cuts him off. "I don't have e-mail. Yeah, yeah, I know."

She holds the piece of paper up and looks over the paragraph Chris printed off. Her expression sinks the father down the page her eyes read.

Dear Chris Wolf,

What a pleasure it is to write to you! I'm excited to share with you a bit of news from my neck of the woods! I hope you are as thrilled to be reading this as I am to write it, too!

You see, I'm a big fan of the show you're working on, Cheesehead Medium, starring that delightful clairvoyant, Zandra! How can this be, you ask? The show hasn't even been picked up yet by a television network, right?

Well, I'm a big fan of Zandra, and I've been watching her star rise for some time! And I found out something quite peculiar! See, it occurs to me that someone with her abilities must be tapping into a supernatural source! I've found that source, and I believe it's, oh, shall we say, VERY natural! One hundred percent all-natural, USDA organic, grass-fed, non-GMO, gluten-free psychic powers, to be exact!

You obviously have much to lose should this Cheesehead Medium program go belly up before it even has a chance to swim! Which is why I encourage you to write me back! With what, you ask? Why, with your payment information, of course!

You're free to refuse, but know that I will pull another string with your leading lady AND continue to use these irritating exclamation points in my future communications with you! Go ahead, ask her about the fingers! Note my typing! Exclamation marks! I'm telling the truth!

In case you're one of those dumb Hollywood types who can't understand nuance, allow me to repeat your options! You can either pay me and keep your show, or you can not pay me and I'll absolutely destroy every shred of Zandra's credibility!

The choice is yours!


Oh, Come On, Did You Really Think I'd Put My Name Here!?

P.S. You go to the police about this and I'll narrow those options down to one!

P.P.S. Tell Zandra hello and that her daughter would like her fingers back!

Zandra looks up from the letter at the man who holds the future of her celebrity in his hands.

"Well?" Chris says.

"People have accused me of lots of things. This isn't anything new," Zandra says while her mind ticks away at the way the e-mail is written.

Dvorak's typos are missing, but that's because this wasn't written on a typewriter. The grammar mistakes aren't as pronounced, but computers probably fix that stuff automatically. It'd be a hoax if not for the bit about the fingers.

"What do you want to do?" Chris says.

"That depends on what you think of me," Zandra says. "Am I a fraud or the real deal?"

Chris takes his glasses off and rubs the bridge of his nose between his fingers.

Liars sometimes touch their noses. Lying increases blood pressure, which can make the nose itch.

"I'm not here to pass judgment about you," Chris says. "But know that I have funded wrapped up for shooting, editing and pitching. There's no room in the budget for paying your reputation's ransom. If you want to pay this person off, it's up to you. I'll help make the transaction, of course."

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