In one of those buildings, a few minutes outside of town, a group of prognosticators met every year. This was the home of Jeffrey Hollings. He and his wife kept the little house tidy even while the relentless desert aged their walls from the outside. Jeffrey's wife, Patricia, who held no psychic talent, was welcome to every meeting but let the boys have that time to themselves. “The boys” referred to Michael Lazarro, Fred Rodriguez, and Alluicious “Al” Sholston.
Michael was the youngest of the group, twenty-seven and just a few years out of Arizona State's Parapsychology Unit with a bachelor's degree. After his time there entombed in theory, he found that he could remain no longer. Incredibly gifted, he left with his degree and a certain mystique, after his prediction of an airline disaster over Phoenix fell on deaf ears as nearly a hundred passengers fell on hot sand.
Fred, seventy-two years old and a San Diego resident for sixty-five years, had never found the opportunity to become a U.S. citizen. Now a cabbie, he was happy to make a living driving people from here to there, telling them of his boyhood in an orphanage far to the south and watching the city age as he did.
Al had been a drifter for most of his life. The death of his mother and father on his seventeenth birthday had left him a history of uncertainty and loneliness. He had lived on the streets in New York, Chicago, St. Louis, working his way west, seeing the country. It was only after he realized that he could tell where the safe places to lay his head were, that he understood his talent.
The boys would meet every New Year’s Eve, each with a list of predictions for the coming year, and review their predictions for the previous year, graphing their successes. So far their 93% success rate rivaled similar groups in the east, the Bible belt (what you might call “Christian Para-scientists”), the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. The rare phone calls between the four men were only for the requisite “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Birthday”, though Fred and Jeffrey rather resented the later as old age advanced on them.