Now available: Glass Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective. You’ll find this yarn of mystery available at all the major e-book retailers, from Amazon and Barnes & Noble to Apple and Kobo. The print edition is also available at Amazon. Here’s the synopsis:
Her psychic powers are fake, but the kidnapped girl she needs to find is real.
Zandra is an infamous “psychic” who grifts the gullible residents of her small Wisconsin town using her wits, not anything supernatural. Her skills are put to the ultimate test when the police tap her to help find a kidnapped girl.
But there’s a catch. The girl’s father apparently got away with murdering Zandra’s husband years ago.
Can Zandra put aside her grudge for the sake of a missing child? Or is this the perfect opportunity for revenge?
Read an Interview about this Novel
Head over here to Dana King’s blog for a terrific interview all about Glass Eye.
The Story Behind the Story
I’m hoping this novel becomes the first in a series. There’s certainly plenty of inspiration for it. Part of Zandra’s character is based on a “real” psychic from Stevens Point, Wisconsin, where I used to live. This person apparently slept with clients’ wallets to bring them financial luck. Of course, those wallets didn’t always make it back to their owners. This took place during the height of the recession, so this psychic’s victims were probably desperate as all hell. To the surprise of no one, this psychic eventually skipped town.
With Glass Eye, I wanted to explore what would happen if the police tapped such a “psychic” to help with a high-profile case. How long could the scam go on? And could the same skills that make someone a great “psychic,” like being able to notice little details, also be applied toward clever detective work? The idea percolated in my head for years before I finally pulled the trigger on the novel.
Zandra isn’t as evil as that Stevens Point psychic, but she’s no saint, either. Part of the fun of writing Glass Eye is the way she slips between hero and villain. That back and forth is what makes her one of the most fleshed out characters I’ve ever written.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Glass Eye. The e-book is on sale now for $3.99, which is less than the average palm reading.
Read Sample Chapters of Glass Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective
She’s obviously an undercover cop. What will it be this time? Theft by swindle? An accounting error? A parking ticket? This should be good.
Zandra sniffs out the disguise before the woman is through the door of Sneak Peak, her hole-in-wall “psychic services” business. It’s bricked in between a head shop and a defunct coffee joint in downtown Stevens Point, Wisconsin. Just a chair behind a desk in a single room. A glorified closet stuffed with too many eccentricities that catch the sunlight as the woman closes the door.
It doesn’t take a psychic for Zandra to see her latest client is failing as an undercover cop. Maybe that’s because Zandra isn’t a psychic. Rather, she’s a proud fraud, living upon the reputation of that incident at Soma Falls years ago. An incredibly lucky guess? Sure. Psychic? No.
But when the masses spray paint the words “go back to hell witch” on the side of your house and stalk your every move, you’ll settle for the psychic label. Better a psychic serving entertainment purposes than anything approaching legitimate in their paranoid eyes. Everyone knows psychics are frauds anyway. It’s an unhappy middle ground. An uneasy truce.
Stevens Point didn’t know what to make of her back then. Still doesn’t. But that doesn’t prevent people from coming into Zandra’s business. Like cops making sure she knows her place as the village crone. That’s probably why this latest one is here. A reminder to not get too uppity about that reputation from Soma Falls. But don’t walk away from it, either. What happened with Zandra and Soma Falls put Stevens Point on the map. The tourism alone is worth millions.
The creases around Zandra’s tired eyes lift into a greeting. Smize as the kids would say. Not that she’s been anywhere near hip for decades, made obvious by the oversized purple gown draped over her shoulders. It’s acned with gaudy rhinestones straight off a cheap stripper’s ass cheek. It’s all for show, just like every other trinket of sparkly nonsense in Sneak Peek. And all for sale, of course. That’s the proud in proud fraud. Not like anyone in town would give Zandra a real job anyway. But they’d certainly remind her she should.
The woman takes a seat across the desk from Zandra. As she does with all her clients, the “psychic” performs a mental checklist before saying anything. Zandra’s got it down to three seconds. That’s all she needs for her act.
Short, blonde hair pulled back tight into a small ponytail.
Fingernails trimmed to a few millimeters.
Baggy flannel shirt to cover the concealed pistol in a holster secured inside the waistband of her jeans. Right hand seated on her thigh at the ready to draw. Legs planted firmly on the floor instead of crossed or casual.
These aren’t traits exclusive to cops. But playing the psychic, Zandra knows it’s an odds game. Dress up a few observations about the client in ethereal babble about spirits and third eyes, then regurgitate what the client already knows in a way that seems insightful.
The odds are in Zandra’s favor this time, though. The woman’s eyes reveal the “tell” the minute she walked in. Her pupils cased the entire room, checking the corners and blind spots. It’s called situational awareness, and it’s like second nature for people in law enforcement. Civilians, not so much. It’s tough to make it seem natural, especially if you’re trying to act relaxed in front of Zandra. She learned a long time ago that eyes don’t lie. Came in handy after Soma Falls. Now no bullshitter out-bullshits her.
Speaking of the woman’s eyes, Zandra keys in on their color. Blue. Statistically, people with blue eyes are harder drinkers. Goes for men and women. Zandra read that online somewhere before she stopped paying her Internet bill at her apartment.
Do blue eyes mean this woman is a hard drinker? Does the matching gin blossom on her neck confirm the statistic? It doesn’t matter. What does is the way Zandra presents this “revelation” to the woman. If Zandra is right, it’ll seem like the information appeared out of nowhere. If Zandra is wrong, her third eye will make up some excuse and move on.
“I sense you had an appointment today,” Zandra says. It’s an old joke. She flips open a planner bound in faux leather. She smiles and winks a crinkled eyelid. Lets her client know it’s OK to laugh at the joke.
The woman smiles in response. Her two front incisors are darker than the rest. She’s a hard coffee drinker, too. Probably to offset the alcohol to get her to sleep at night. The woman seems to be in her early 40s. Doesn’t look well rested. In that case, could be in her 30s.
And if she’s drinking, then she’s probably smoking, too, although Zandra doesn’t detect the aroma. Could be Zandra’s nose is continuing to fail her. She’s a hard smoker herself. The “tell” is in her voice.
“Yes, I made an appointment earlier this week,” the woman in flannel says. The transparent pupil of the giant eye painted onto the storefront window frames the woman’s head inside the iris. “My name is Lynda. With a Y.”
Zandra notes the atypical spelling. It probably came from atypical parents, the kind that didn’t appreciate their daughter working for The Man as a cop. Family issues. Duly noted for later.
“Ah, yes. What brings you in today, Lynda?” Zandra says, her throaty voice cut, chopped and pressed like gas station jerky by years of generic brand cigarettes.
“They say you’re a psychic. Aren’t you supposed to know that?” Lynda says. She leans back in her chair, but only on her left side. Wouldn’t want to risk exposing her right side, where the concealed pistol rests beneath the flannel.
Zandra responds with a sarcastic smile. Like Zandra’s joke before, Lynda’s quip is another old trope. Lesser “psychics” would blow it off or take the jab too seriously. Zandra senses an opportunity for a good tip on top of her obscene rates.
“Maybe you’d like to talk about your family. Like how you feel you disappointed them by going into law enforcement,” Zandra says with as much deadpan drama she can muster. She watches Lynda’s eyes and body posture. Both tense up just a tad. She’s on the right track.
Zandra continues with a mangled eyebrow raised. She rubs the liver spots on her hands together and says, “Or maybe your health concerns are bothering you? Too much to drink and too little sleep. That’s no condition to be in when you’re carrying a concealed firearm under your shirt. You know you’re getting reckless and it’s going to catch up with you any day now. You’re not so young anymore. You feel your reckoning is coming soon, that things are at a head, and you want to know what you can do to prevent it. That, Lynda, is why you’re here.”
Lynda closes the gap her jaw made while Zandra spoke. Clears her throat and rearranges her face into a smile.
“People say you’re a fraud, you know. That you made that whole Soma Falls thing up,” Lynda says. Her right hand falls loose to her side, the cuff of the flannel shirt tracing the hidden pistol. It’s almost like Lynda knows Zandra’s aware of the gun, and is making sure the psychic sees the move as a threat.
Zandra notices it but doesn’t break her gaze. No sense in letting the cop take the lead.
“Are you here to talk about Soma Falls? Or are you here for you?” Zandra says, calling Lynda’s bluff. “Because you’re not the first cop to draw the short straw to come in here and try to make me admit something.”
“I don’t know what you mean,” Lynda says.
Zandra narrows her gaze and widens her tone.
“Don’t waste my time or yours. Either tell me what you, a cop, want with me or get the hell out,” Zandra says. The excess sleeves of her oversized purple gown shake with her hands.
Lynda confesses with a police badge and ID that confirms she’s a lieutenant with the Stevens Point Police Department. Turns out her first name isn’t Lynda. It’s Charlie, thus negating Zandra’s earlier hunch about the parental disappointments, but only by a little. Bullshit psychic powers can only go so far.
“A better psychic would’ve known Lynda with a Y isn’t my real name. But then again, you’re not a real psychic,” Charlie says, less guarded than before.
“Can you prove I didn’t know that already?” Zandra says. It’s another tired trick, but she needs it to keep up appearances. No one can disprove something that doesn’t exist.
“Clever, but you’re not fooling me this time. Not like you fooled the entire town during the whole Soma Falls thing. They think you’re the real deal, and that’s why they hate you,” Charlie says.
“And what do you think?” Zandra says.
“I’m not sure what you are. Maybe you’re a lucky guesser. Someone so incredibly accurate one time and one time only who went on to exploit it for all it’s worth. The greatest hero and villain this town ever had,” Charlie says.
Zandra crosses her arms. Stares into a long, heavy crystal in a bottle on her desk. The container prevents the crystal’s powerful energy from changing the DNA of anyone nearby. At least, that’s what the catalog she’d ordered it from said.
“It’s no fun being stuck somewhere between the two labels, is it?” Charlie says.
Zandra doesn’t respond. If the crystal really does focus energy, it’s beaming thoughts of her brief marriage into her head. And the brutal way it ended at Soma Falls.
“What do you want? To arrest me for something bogus like last time?” Zandra says.
“No, no, the department isn’t interested in your little sideshow today. I’m interested in something else,” Charlie says. She reaches into her pocket, unfolds a Missing Person poster and flattens it in front of Zandra.
The poster shows a picture of a pigtailed, six-year-old girl on a bike smiling for the camera. The words beneath it detail the disappearance of little Elle Carey from Soma Falls Park in Stevens Point last week.
Zandra is familiar with the story. It made national news because Elle’s father, Gene Carey, is one of the wealthiest businessmen in Wisconsin. Had that not been the case, it probably would have stayed local. Just another perk for the beautiful people in Stevens Point.
As relayed in the press, Elle rode her bike by herself to Soma Falls Park less than a mile from the Carey estate. She never came back.
“As you’ve likely heard, we’re at a dead end with this case. No ransom note turned up. No leads at all. It’s like she just evaporated at Soma Falls,” Charlie says. She pauses before adding, “Sort of like your late husband.”
Zandra huffs and lights a candle. The aroma fills the room with apple pie. Nothing supernatural about that. She just likes the smell. Relaxes her.
“You got all dressed up in a disguise and a fake name to tell me that? Of course I’ve heard about this,” Zandra says.
Charlie stuffs the poster back into her pocket.
“I didn’t want to raise any suspicions. The department wants to keep this on the down low,” Charlie says.
“Keep what on the down low?” Zandra says.
Charlie leans forward in her chair and lowers her voice.
“You got lucky one time before,” Charlie says. “Do you think you could get lucky again?”
Zandra stuffs her pockets with trinkets, props and other useful distractions before getting in the car with Charlie. What should’ve been a short drive across downtown to the police station doesn’t happen. Charlie wants to meet up at a farmhouse outside of town. Keep things discreet.
The two pass on small talk. Zandra spends her time inventorying the contents of Charlie’s vehicle. It’s not a squad car. It’s a rear-wheel drive, two-door Pontiac Sunfire. Not the most practical choice for Wisconsin given the winters, still a couple months off. A cop should know better. The car either isn’t Charlie’s or it’s all she can afford. If the latter is the case, then her credit sucks. More bad decisions, just like the drinking.
None of that’s for certain, but life is always a game of odds. Zandra’s compressed and honed her luck for years. She doesn’t roll with dice. She rolls with diamonds.
Two containers of Visine rest in the center console. One is empty, the other full. The vehicle smells of cheap, scented spray, the kind better reserved for gas station bathrooms. A couple empty boxes of .40 caliber jacketed hollow-point ammunition made by Crate 27, the type used exclusively by the police department, sit on the floor near her feet. Probably left over from target practice, but it’s sloppy form nonetheless. All Zandra needs is an empty beer can to complete the mental picture.
Zandra’s eyes fall on well-worn indentations in the center of the back seat, the only part of the car completely free of fast food detritus. The indentations roughly match the dimensions of a booster seat, suggesting Charlie could be a divorced parent or the aunt to a child. More cards for Zandra to play later.
Zandra could turn those same observational powers inward. She might note the hate clawing inside her for Stevens Point. For the people in it. For those keeping it safe and ignorant, like Charlie.
Or Zandra might analyze why her pulse raced when Charlie offered a chance to find the missing girl. Why else would she accept other than to fuck over the department that took such enthusiasm in doing the same to her years ago?
But she doesn’t turn her gaze inwards. She spends enough time alone trying to manage those feelings. To cover them up with a gaudy gown, truckloads of cigarettes and sparkling trinkets. She coats herself in these things not because she enjoys it, but because it works. Zandra’s colorful veneer settles Stevens Point’s nerves. Keeps the money coming in.
Charlie stops the car at a mundane farmhouse. Doesn’t look operational save for the house itself, stuck in time out between two deciduous monoliths.
“This is it,” Charlie says. She rolls up her flannel sleeves. “We’re meeting with Captain Fred Dobrogost, the lead for the Elle Carey case from our department.”
Dobrogost is a Polish last name. No surprise there. Central Wisconsin is an intensely Polish part of the state. It’s said there are more Poles in Chicago than in Warsaw. The trend continues up into Stevens Point and beyond.
Back in Poland, “Fred” would’ve gone by “Fryderyk” or some variation. Not that it matters now. In Stevens Point, the established “names” are all Polish. Chances are good that Fred’s family roots run deep. He’s probably well connected and well groomed. That means a cozy relationship with the big businesses in town. It wouldn’t surprise Zandra if Fred knew little Elle Carey personally through family connections. The “Carey” surname, at least in Stevens Point, is an Americanized version of “Czerwinski.” No one in the area questions the ethnic non sequitur. This type of whitewashing happened all the time for simplicity’s sake.
Zandra’s only slightly off from her initial hunch. Fred is indeed well groomed, but his outfit doesn’t match. He’s in a Chicago Cubs jersey and jeans. Another attempt at a disguise by Stevens Point’s finest. Try as he may, Zandra still picks up on the phoniness underneath Fred’s limp handshake.
“Sorry about the cloak and dagger stuff. You understand how it is, though,” Fred says as if it exempts him from the backhanded insult at Zandra.
Zandra stays quiet. She doesn’t get the feeling they brought her here to listen to her talk.
Charlie cuts in to break the awkward pause.
“Zandra and I were just discussing the Elle Cary case, and how one of Stevens Point’s most famous residents might lend one of her three eyes,” Charlie says as the three take seats around an antique table.
“Infamous,” Zandra says, her voice dry as cement. “Not famous.”
Fred clears his throat and leans backward in his chair. “Well, you’re well known anyway,” he says. “Here’s the thing, Zandra. The Stevens Point Police Department is supporting state and federal agencies any way it can with Elle Carey. To be frank, the Carey family isn’t happy with the progress. They suggested we try something different. They’d heard of you, of course, and wanted to bring you in to help. They’re that desperate.”
Another backhanded insult, but this time it yields better information. Zandra can tell Fred isn’t telling the whole story. No surprise there, but it’s interesting how he cleared his throat and leaned backward. Two traits not typically accompanied by truthful people, at least most of the time.
Zandra decides to test the theory with a yes-or-no question and watch the movement of Fred’s head. Shaking it yes or no, despite what a person says, reveals the actual answer nine times out of 10.
“The family specifically requested me?” Zandra says.
“Yes, the Carey family wanted to bring you in on this,” Fred says, although his head, ever so slightly, shakes side to side.
Zandra leans in toward Fred. “There’s no way the Carey family asked for me. Of any family in Stevens Point, they’d be the last. Unless you forgot what happened at Soma Falls,” she says. “You want to talk, you need to be truthful.”
Fred shifts in his chair. Clears his throat again. Gives a nervous grin to Charlie. “She like this with you, too?” he says.
“Yes,” Zandra says before Charlie can reply.
“Fine. No, Zandra, the Carey family didn’t request you. We did. Not because the department believes in psychics, but because you seem to have a knack for getting lucky. Maybe you can work with Charlie and give the case a fresh set of eyes.”
So it’s the police department that’s desperate, not the family. Way to try to save face.
Zandra thinks back to the last time she spoke to the Carey family. It took place through a lawyer.
“Why should I give a damn to help you?” Zandra says.
“Aren’t you tired of living on the fringes? It’s time to be the hero again,” Fred says.
Twenty-five years ago, those heroic moments after Soma Falls didn’t last long enough. Even in an age without the Internet or 24-hour news networks, the tide shifted quickly.
Zandra wants to say, “What’s so great about playing the hero?” but she stops herself. She’d had every opportunity to leave Stevens Point after Soma Falls. But she made a promise to herself the day she realized things would never be the same: ruin the ones who destroyed her one chance at a decent life years ago. Who demolished her good name. Who never hesitated to point fingers and label her. “Trash.” “Whore.” “Harlot.” “Witch.”
Even today, those same people walk Stevens Point, the disguise of their perfect teeth and smiling faces hiding the stains they launder each week by gracing the churches with an appearance. Good for them. Their warm costumes must feel great over their cold shoulders, unlike the purple gown Zandra wears.
It’d be easy enough to refuse to help find Elle Carey, but that doesn’t feel like the satisfying, knuckle-bleeding punch Zandra anticipated for all these years. Saying “no” is too easy. Not personal enough.
It’s time once again to wear the cloak of her psychic persona, to retreat into her gown and trinkets. To embrace that patronizing nook Stevens Point crammed her into and then hastily forgot. Until now. Now she would make them remember.
“There’s a child at risk. Of course I’ll help,” Zandra says.
Fred claps his hands together. They’re desk job hands, smooth and even. Not like Charlie’s hands, which bear the wreckage of abuse exacted and received.
“Perfect. You and Charlie will work together starting tomorrow morning,” Fred says. “Oh, and one more thing. This is a semi-official operation only. Sort of like a pet project, if you will. So don’t be surprised if the public doesn’t know about this until and unless you find Elle.”
Zandra hacks something dark into her sleeve and rises from the chair. Her old bones slip and slide against each other. “Of course. Wouldn’t want anyone to know you’re working with a freak,” she says.
Zandra shuffles onto the couch in her tiny apartment later that evening. Her left ankle’s acting up, as it usually does. Makes her walk with a limp after about 10 a.m. each day. Coupled with the way her neck and shoulders hunch, it’s no wonder one of the kids at the state college in town called her a troll a few years back. From a passing car, of course. The little shit didn’t have the balls to say it to Zandra face-to-face on the sidewalk.
Too bad Zandra had the last laugh. She got a good look at the car. Patterned the kid’s timetables from a dorm to class to a pizza place where he worked. She ordered takeout for lunch one day, noting the shift manager’s nametag, April.
A couple days later, “April” called a tow truck to remove a “nuisance vehicle” from the pizza place’s parking lot. A special ordinance in Stevens Point allows for such a call given the general lack of sobriety in the college crowd. The tow trucks don’t ever question it. They make a fortune off the ordinance.
Zandra wrote down the entire incident in a notebook, right down to the color of the punk kid’s shirts, just as she does for all her interactions with Stevens Point. Half of her tiny apartment belongs to stacks of files in leftover cardboard boxes. They leave just enough room for a couch, TV, bathroom and kitchen. The files took over the bedroom years ago. It’s not the best for her ankle, but the files are more important. That’s where her real “psychic powers” lie in wait.
Zandra spends the evening logging Charlie and Fred into her latest file. Uses a pen and paper as always. More secure that way. Never could trust computers.
After 10 meticulous pages, Zandra sets her pen down. She pops a VHS into its ancient player and presses play. The TV screen displays the same clip she watches every night before bed. A grainy James Randi, renowned skeptic and TV show host, places a variety of mundane objects in front of Nella Jones, a psychic noted for assisting the police. One of the objects is a murder weapon. The rest are duds.
James instructs Nella to identify the murder weapon. Nella puts on a show, waving her hands and handling a few items. A waiter’s friend. A hammer. An ax. She covers her bases by commenting on as many as possible. No hard hits. Just vague references to possibilities.
The last item she handled, the ax, turns out to be the murder weapon. James gives her a failing grade for not identifying it properly.
“What I do is illogical,” Nella says on the TV as Zandra mouths the words with her.
It’s not the fact Nella failed the test that Zandra watches this over and over. It’s how Nella hit on the murder weapon and may never have known it. The ax, after all, is the last object she touched. Maybe it wasn’t so much a coincidence as a failure to correctly interpret her intuition. The brain is always working, even if the person doesn’t know it.
That’s the question that keeps Zandra up at night. Maybe her “lucky guess” at Soma Falls had nothing to do with odds. Maybe, if only for a brief moment, in the intensity of the situation, her focus went inward and listened to that long forgotten voice inside. Call it psychic powers, call it intuition, it proved incredible no matter the label. And for a fleeting moment, the world thought so, too.
They’ll think that again. So help me God, they’ll think that again. But they won’t be clapping this time when I’m through with them.
The clip ends with James reading a statement from New Scotland Yard.
“There is no recorded instance of psychics solving a criminal case or providing evidence or information which led directly to its solution,” James says.
Zandra falls asleep on the couch with his words chasing their tail in her head and a lit cigarette between her lips.
“If you need water, there’s a drinking fountain in the hallway,” Charlie says the next morning from behind a desk in her office. Like yesterday, she’s in plain clothes. The pale in her face turns a shade of red at the sight of Zandra.
Zandra straightens in her chair. Her ankle already hurts. Slept on the couch funny. The pain doesn’t prevent her from noticing the term “drinking fountain.” Charlie’s not native to central Wisconsin. The correct term for around here is “bubbler.” Another notch to add to the family rift storyline.
Charlie’s barebones office is seemingly empty of further clues. But that’s a “tell,” too, in the items that aren’t present. No pictures of family. No hints of hobbies. No life outside work, apparently. At least the walls are made of glass to let the life of the police department shine in.
“I’m fine. Let’s start,” Zandra says. She stuffs her hands in the pockets of her purple gown. It’s chilly in the office.
Before Charlie can reply, a burly officer in uniform stuffs himself through the office door.
“This the psychic? Holy shit, I thought that was a joke,” the officer says and snorts. He pulls a deck of cards from his pockets. “The guys wanted me to do a, uh, screening.”
“We’re a little busy for your jokes today, Bob,” Charlie says.
Zandra turns to face Bob. Stares through him with eyes as hard and pointed as an antler shed. “It’s quite alright. If you’ve got the time to make yourself look like a jackass, I’m happy to oblige,” she says.
“Oh, oh, I gotta get the guys for this. Wait here a sec,” Bob says.
Charlie grumbles and sips her coffee while Bob fetches his “guys.” He takes his place in the office again with a trio in tow. They jockey for position to see Bob’s deck of cards. He holds the cards out of Zandra’s view and gives them a sloppy shuffle before drawing one, taking care to not let Zandra see. The small crowd nods in approval. Bob stuffs the card back into the deck.
“You know how this works, right? Tell me what card I drew, psychic lady,” Bob says.
“I’m a psychic, not a magician,” Zandra says.
“Same difference. You got the card or not?”
Zandra already knows the correct answer. She saw the card in the reflection off the office’s glass walls, but she still owes them a show. It’s no more or less a performance than the one the officers put on every day. The real power comes in how they’re perceived by others, not the way they dress. Perception is reality. That badge is as powerless as Zandra’s crystals until enough people agree those things have meaning.
Zandra figures Bob is about 45, meaning his great-grandfather is dead. The last name plated onto his uniform, Debski, is Polish, meaning his lineage likely goes back to the early days of Stevens Point. Occupations, especially in law enforcement, have a tendency to pass down through generations.
“In good time, my dear Bob. First let me tell me you about the spirit of your great-grandfather. He’s standing right next to you, child,” Zandra says with a wave of her hand. “He worked in some sort of public service role, right?”
That’s only an educated guess. It’s why Zandra didn’t say the great-grandfather was a “police officer” outright. “Public service” usually means “government employee,” but it could open up to almost anything. A volunteer. A role at church. A generally charitable person.
Bob delivers on the meathead persona Zandra pegged him for. He buys right into it.
“How did you know my great-grandpa was a cop?” Bob says. His frat boy smirk is no more.
“He told me,” Zandra says.
The gaggle behind Bob goes silent. Even Charlie’s jaw drops just a little, although it’s quickly filled with coffee.
“Are you being serious right now?” Bob says.
Zandra doesn’t break her stare. “One hundred percent,” she says and pulls a folded piece of small paper from her pocket. “He told me to give you this.”
Bob hesitates to take the paper until his “guys” egg him on. He unfolds it and looks over lines of scribble.
“Two of clubs,” Bob says. He sends Zandra a gaping, incredulous look. “How did you do that?”
Zandra smiles out of the corner of her mouth, but it’s not for him. The satisfaction of knocking over a dunce never gets old.
“I didn’t, child. The spirits have their ways,” Zandra says. “Know that your great-grandfather is watching over you. He’s proud of you.”
Bob still looks stunned. “Wow, I, uh, I don’t know what to say. Thanks, I guess,” he says before leading his silent comrades out the door.
Zandra turns back to Charlie. Hopes the officer didn’t notice her hand working the pen inside her pocket.
“Really? The dead cross back into the world of the living to do what, look at a deck of cards?” Charlie says.
Zandra keeps her act going while the momentum is still strong. “You’re not from central Wisconsin, are you? No husband. No kids,” she says.
Charlie shows Zandra her palms. “Guilty. Born and raised in Minnesota. And I’m here all by myself, just like you.”
More information for Zandra’s files.
“No, not just like me. We’re plenty different. I see spirits. You see parking tickets,” Zandra says.
“Are there any spirits around me right now? Maybe they want to reveal the brand of toothpaste I used earlier this morning,” Charlie says.
Zandra probably could if she focused long enough on the tiny, chalky stain on Charlie’s sleeve. She opts for something grimmer instead.
“There used to be spirits around you. They left after something troubling came up,” Zandra says.
Charlie hides her reaction behind a coffee mug. “Now that you’re good and warmed up, care to get started?” she says. She sets a photo down on the desk. “How about asking gramps about this?”
The photo’s similar to the black-and-white poster Zandra saw earlier. Elle Carey smiles from behind the handlebars of her bicycle, except this version is in color. The color keys Zandra’s eyes onto something she missed before: Elle’s shoelaces are missing from her left shoe. The detail is barely visible in the angle of the shot, but it’s there.
A timestamp in the lower corner of the photo indicates the camera snapped Elle minutes before she went missing.
“Gramps says we need to find her pink shoe,” Zandra says.
Charlie raises an eyebrow. “Oh, really? A shoe,” she says.
“I don’t enjoy repeating myself,” Zandra says.
“We’ve sent dogs in to scent Soma Falls Park more times than I can count. They didn’t find a shoe,” Charlie says and stands to stretch. She paces the office.
Zandra cranks the psychic persona up a notch at the risk of her more realistic abilities. It’s a gamble to buy her time, to focus. She doesn’t want to spend the day with Charlie. She’ll get better results doing things her way. Alone.
“The shoe must’ve fallen off at some point. And now there’s an imprint on it, a memory. It’s like a psychic breadcrumb I can use for remote viewing,” Zandra says. She hobbles to her feet. Thinks how terrific a hot bath back home would feel for her bad ankle.
“And how do we go about this remote viewing?” Charlie says.
Zandra hacks something into her sleeve. Holds it there and wheezes.
“There’s no we about it. I must have total focus for my remote viewing. I’ll work it alone after I find the shoe,” Zandra says and starts for the door. “We’ll talk tomorrow.”
Charlie moves to block her from leaving.
“You can’t just leave before this even starts,” Charlie says.
“Have a little faith, child,” Zandra says.
Later, beneath four inches of bubbles and six of hot water, Zandra wakes from her concentration and opens her eyes. She knows how to find the shoe.
Read the rest by purchasing Glass Eye: Confessions of a Fake Psychic Detective from your favorite e-book retailer.