Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Some secrets are best left with the dead.


   Madame Borlae was one of the most noted mediums of the time. Claiming roots from far off Romania as well as boasting mystical powers from a possible royal blood line, she was quite the social figure. She even had regular articles about her in nationally syndicated newspapers. That was an incredible feat for any female in 1931 New York. These articles would cover her seances and contacting the dead. In this, the medium was unequaled. Able to discern great personal things about her living clients through the voices of their beloved dead. Several times she had celebrities or political figures seek her out. When they would, the newspapers would surely follow. However, the articles were not always flattering.
   James Bower was a noted journalist with a penchant for digging up the truth no matter the cost. He had sat in on one of Madame Borlae's sessions with a prominent local judge. During the sessions, she channeled the spirit of the judge's dead brother who told the judge to give up his worldly possession to all in need. Conveniently the spirit suggested he should start with the medium, which the judge did. Ever since then, James had devoted untold time and resources into proving the psychic a fraud.
   Over the last month, James had published several scathing articles about the medium. The last one exposed her true name as Jane Miller from Nebraska. Although this lowered her long list of paying clients, she still found true believers that continued to come to her for advise from the beyond. James may have been able to discover the secret of her identity, but he was never able to debunk any of her "powers" and this was wearing on him.
   Lately James had taken to more aggressive measure of exposing the woman. Over the last week, he had been able to find, and interrupt, three of her scheduled sessions with paying clients. Due to this very fact, James was surprised to receive a hand delivered letter from the would be charlatan at his office.
   The letter was almost a plea from Madame Borlae for the "war" between them to stop. The note offered  a truce of sorts, if he would come to her private home, she would reveal all the secrets to her psychic powers and medium abilities. The request for the meeting was for that very day. It was signed "Madame Borlae, Medium Extraordinaire".
   With a smirk, he grabbed a pen and crossed out the signature. He scribbled underneath the ruined words, "Jane Miller, EXPOSED FRAUD".
   "I have you now Jane!" he said to himself. Reaching for his hat and overcoat, he headed down to the street to hail a cab.
   He arrived at the very opulent home of the soon to be exposed medium. A butler ushered him into the back study after taking his hat and coat. The study was obviously a place where she would conduct private "sessions" with clients. The only seat in the room was at a small black topped table with two chairs sitting across from each other. He took the seat closest to him.
   James took note of his surroundings. The room was decorated in all dark colors with macabre paintings and oddities displayed among the many shelves. The ambiance was certainly befitting a place one would speak to the dead.
    He was soon greeted by the woman whom he had crossed swords with for so long. She entered from behind him and made her way to the table.
   "Come clean and show me how you do it!". he boldly said as she took a seat across from him at the table.
   "Patients good sir," she said as she rang a small silver bell at the table. "All will be revealed in time, but first let us have tea like civilized humans.".  The butler appeared with a silver tea set. Putting a fine china cup and saucer in front of them both, he poured their tea and disappeared back through the double door of the study, closing them behind him.
   James gave a cross look at the cup offered to him and pushed it slightly forward. "Do you think me mad? What if you poisoned it? My death would make life much easier for you wouldn't it JANE?"
   The woman visibly flinched when she heard her true name. "My dear James, I would not stoop so low as to put poison in your tea!" She reached across the table to his cup and delicately took a long sip from his. She then slid it back in front of him.
   She set back and began to enjoy her own cup. "If I wanted you dead, I would not poison you in my own house where your death could be traced back to me.".
   James relaxed and took a long sip of the hot tea. It was really good. Chamomile with a hint of honey and some other sweet flavor. He took  a second sip and sat back in his chair. "How do you do it? How do you know the things you do about your clients".
   "Perhaps a demonstration is in order?". She leaned forward and stared deeply into his eyes. In an lower, more somber tone she began," You enjoy shopping at fine establishments. You prefer to pay top dollar for imported material rather than equally suitable local fair."
   James stared back and leaned in as well. "Your butler checked the labels in my hat and coat and somehow got word to you about the origins of those garments." His tone was mockingly close to her own.
   The psychic did not show any signs of being defeated. She simply closed her eyes and tilted her head back slightly.
    In the same tone, she spoke to him.  "I foresee that you will lose a good deal of money tonight.". Her eyes remained shut.
   Again James was ready with a retort. "You entered from behind me and undoubtedly saw the bills I keep folded in a clip peeking out of my pocket." Snorting slightly he continued, "No doubt a person of your class is also an accomplished pick pocket and you intend to see that your prediction will come true before I leave your home tonight.". James sat back in a cocky manner and drained the last of his tea. He sat the empty cup down with a loud clatter.
   The sound seemed to break her "trance". Slowly the medium opened her eyes and leveled her gaze at him from across the table. "How about this then..... I foresee your death. Right here at this table, your breath will cease and you will shuffle off this mortal coil...tonight!".
   James straightened is his chair. "What on earth are you talking about fraud?". His voice trailed off and he was shocked to feel his wind pipe closing as he forced his next breath. Her only reply was a knowing smile.
   Panic set in and he jumped to his feet only to feel the room spin around him. He quickly found himself on his knees as every breath came at a greater cost.
   "You said no poison...... you drank the same tea? How.....what..... what did you do?". His tone was a gurgling whisper by this point and he was having trouble staying even on his knees. He propped himself up on one arm so he could keep his eyes on her.
   The medium had stood up for a better view of her quarry. "Dearest James, true to my word I did not poison you. The papers would have a field day if they found traces of poison in your system after your body is discovered at my home. The tea had nothing added to it except a dash of honey and hmm, oh yes! Almond extract. Lots of it!".
   James looked on horrified. He was deathly allergic to almonds! How had this woman found that out? Only he and his parents had known this and both of his parent were long dead. He had kept it to himself his whole life not wanting to show any signs of weakness.
   She continued,"What better way for you to pass on than from a silly, weak, allergy in my house? Nobody even knew you had it.". It was hard for her to contain the smile on her face. "Nobody will say a word about the circumstances and I could use the publicity of saying you were here to seek my services the night you died. Talk about irony!".
    The room seemed to get darker and he felt himself slipping away. He managed to squeeze out a single word to Jane. "How........".
    She managed a fake look of concern. "Oh dear sweet James, your mother told me all I needed to know about you.". Her tone was sickeningly sweet, "She was more than happy to tell me all about her baby boy.".
   The frown on his face revealed that James was critic to the end. "D...d...dead.. mother......long...gone". He managed to whisper. The room felt like a ship deck tossed in a storm. He was barely conscious from lack of oxygen as his airways continued to close.
   Jane smiled and reached for an object on the bookcase nearby. Firmly she set the object on the table where the dying man could see it. It was a skull. Bits of hair and dusty, paper like skin still clung to it.
   With great theatrical flare she rose to her full height and proclaimed, "I, Madame Borlae, dug your mothers bones up late last night and pulled her soul from the ever after to do as I bid! Her spirit had no choice but to tell me all, lest she suffer for all eternity!".
   Madame Borlae knelt down beside the near breathless man and took the thick money clip from his pocket. "See James, I was right about my prediction after all.". She flashed the money in his face before it disappeared into her own pocket.
   As James faded into oblivion, he could swear he saw the faint glowing apparition of  a woman standing behind the murdering thief. The ghostly figure looked exactly like his mother!
  As he slipped into eternal darkness he was sure the figure of his mother was crying......


  1. Houdini is looking at Poe like he let one.

  2. Strange..... Houdini is the one most noted for "slipping one out".


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