Fanny Fae rubbed her eyes and put aside her reading glasses. The night had been long and if she didn’t get any sleep, the nagging pain in her back would become excruciating again. ‘Why do I always drive myself like this?’, she wondered. But, deep within the depths of herself, she knew that she had to push. Dr. John Riengold and the FBI had come to her her in order to find out more about a series of crimes with strange occult overtones Fanny had enjoyed a reputation of having the knowledge and experience, but the black candles, birds left crucified in strange places inverted with both the markings of Santeria and Vodou, none of it made sense.
Everyone she had ever met seemed to think that her line of work would be so much more exciting than it truly was. Somehow, she mused, people’s Hollywood-influenced ideas about what being an occult expert” was all about, and the reality of that didn’t quite mesh.
Maybe it was a chance to see the handsome doctor more often that made her take the assignment rather than her expertise and the promise of lucrative consulting fees from a government agency. He had kind eyes and a heart that was wide open. It was too easy for someone in his profession to cut themselves off from their feelings. Reingold seemed to use the profession as a means to open others up to their grief and offer closure.
“Frances MacKay, please, a familiar voice said on the phone.
“This is Dr. Riengold, have I gotten you at a good time?”
“Sure, Fanny said softly, “Please you can call me Fanny. You know, I am always delighted to just have a reason to talk to the M.E. . “
“You won’t be so happy to hear from me, I am afraid,” he said.
Fanny gripped the phone and eased back into her chair, preparing for the worst, “Why is that?” she asked.
“It’s the new head of the department, Fanny,” he said, “You know how these rightwing, neo-conservative assholes are. The guy seems to think we should be bringing in priests rather than….”
“Don’t tell me,” she sighed, “they object to having an actual Witch on this one.”
“Yeah,” John Riengold’s voice was quiet, he seemed almost more hurt and disappointed about the situation than Fanny herself was.
“No problem,” Fanny said with a forced cheerfulness, her heart in her ankles, “I’ve got a thousand clients who need my help right now anyway. It isn’t like this was my only paying gig,” she lied. The truth however was that for the moment and the foreseeable future, it was.
“So…..” his voice hesitated, “Will you have dinner with me?
What was this, a consolation prize? It was obvious she wanted to see him. But she was not looking forward to forced smiles, and insisting that she pay half her bill so that the good doctor Riengold wouldn’t think that she was struggling. Dinner…maybe some dancing and sex afterwards? Sex…GOD DAMN! When was the last time she had any of that? Not since Douglas – not since he was killed. Could she ever be with another or would she freak out like she did last time?
“No,”she said at last,“ I really have to finish this other project,”she said.
“Another time then?”
Fanny hung up the phone and heaved a sigh. Nothing was going right. Nothing. She wrestled internally about whether to go out on her own, or stay home and netsexxing with her new online lover in Australia. Nothing appealed to her, not even the possibility of Simon writing his titilating words in just such a way that she would touch herself, imagine it all, just as she had with Douglas. He had been the perfect husband, the perfect ritual partner. The magic that they wove, it was something beyond magickal. She never dreamed that it could have ended, and when it did, part of her had died along with him.
Better to go to sleep, she thought. She rose from her chair and stumbled down the long hallway toward her bedroom. In a small blue unmarked bottle she dispensed out two large capsules that she had filled herself with an herb concoction of her own making. Between the lotus and opium, she would be out cold. It was much better to sleep.