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Simply the Best

Kathryn Lively

(This story also appears in the short story collection The Girl With the Monkee Tattoo)

Three minutes before Lorena could freely turn over the closed sign hanging on the front door, a very tall and clearly distraught young woman burst into the small parlor and gasped for air. Lorena, sitting in the plush red velvet Queen Anne chair facing the front entrance, had finished shuffling her tarot cards and intended to slide them back into their tattered box. She glanced up at her visitor, who inhaled sharply as through she’d run a great distance to get here. One glance at the woman’s four-inch heels—black and sparkling with silvery glitter sheen—told Lorena her feet would no doubt swell like balloons this evening.

The woman—milk-white with dark eyes and red-glossed lips—wore an equally blinding mini-dress, a thousand sequins positioned to form a design of Marilyn Monroe’s pouting face. A broad pink feathered hat designed to resemble a gigantic Hostess Sno-Ball completed the ensemble and concealed all but a stray wisp of brown hair curled around one ear. In her right hand she held something that Lorena couldn’t make out, what with the way the woman swayed in place.

She regarded Lorena with a scowl. “Why the fuck do you look so surprised?” she demanded. “You’re a goddamn psychic, you should have known I was coming.”

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