Guns and Rose

Yellow Mama 2019
gunsmayberoses.jpg
Art by KJ Hannah Greenberg © 2018

Guns and Rose

 

by Paul Beckman

 

 

She appeared to be swathed in her entire wardrobe, while sitting on a folding chair in front of a modest storefront on the Lower East Side, in front of two neon signs:

 

Fortunes Told.

 

Ask About Your Future.

 

 

I was slow walking the New York streets, seeing the sites, as I approached her. She stood and parted the curtain in the doorway and asked if I’d like to know what my future’s going to bring.

“Isn’t that something you should already know?” I asked, pointing at the neons.

She said, “The gun. Don’t you want to know about the gun?”

          I patted my pants pocket and walked by.

“It’s worth ten dollars to know about the gun—don’t you think?”

I turned and followed her inside. She switched off the neon lights, locked the door, and pulled a curtain closed on another doorway, exhaling the smell of boiling cabbage, as she lit watermelon-scented candles around the room.

 She pointed to the chairs around a small, round, wooden table. “The seat you pick will say a lot,” she said.

 “In that case, why don’t you pick out the chair for me?”

“That’s not how it’s done,” she said. “My name’s Rose. What’s yours?”

“Shouldn’t you know that, also?”

“I don’t know what you’re calling yourself, but your birth name was Myron.”

“That’s the name I go by,” I lied.

“No it’s not,” she said and got up and took a cigar box from a bookshelf and said, “Put your gun in here, and I will tell you all you need to know.”

I took out the unloaded, rusty .22 caliber and left the bullets in my pocket.

She dimmed the lights, put both hands on the box, centered it on the table, and moved them over the box, as she hummed a song from Fiddler on the Roof.

          “This is not a lucky gun. It was used to hold up several bodegas, and it wounded a policeman. This will only bring you bad luck, and you should have left it, when you saw it lying in the curb.”

 Rose stood, indicating the reading was over. “I suggest you leave the gun here for me to dispose of, for you.”

I paid her the ten dollars and then lifted the top of the cigar box to get the .22. It was empty.

A large, mustachioed man entered the room, brushing the curtain away, and stood with a menacing look. He had a Bowie knife in his belt and the .22 in his hand.

“I told you this was not a lucky gun,” she said. “Now give my husband all your money and your wallet.”

I did what I was told and backed to the shadows of the entry door, while reaching behind my back. “You were right, Rose, that’s not a lucky gun. It’s unloaded, but this 9mm is lucky and loaded.”

I pointed it at her and her husband and took my money and theirs.

Then I took the cigar box for good measure.

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