The Keeper Chronicles by Philip Solomon:
Chapter 1 - Continued.
In a pleasant corner of San Fransisco's Chinatown lies a small shop you probably wouldn't have heard of unless you're a fan of the tabloids however inside this shop lies a legend you will have heard of. Known throughout the second World War as the Thunder Woman she now goes by a kinder, gentler name.
The Tea Leaf Lady welcomes me into her shop before I even get the chance to knock on the door, alerted about my arrival not by some mystic vision but instead by a phone call that I'd made to her a few weeks earlier. The inside of her building is what you might expect from a woman nearing her one hundred and twentieth year, it's neat, tidy and vaguely smells of Olive Cooking Oil.
Having been offered a seat at a table where she must have predicted a million different fortunes, the Tea Leaf Lady sits across from me smiling patiently as my eyes are drawn to an old black and white photograph depicting the gentle soul in a younger, more aggressive persona.
"Care for a cup of tea, dear? Perhaps later. Now, I... I'm sorry. What was the question again?"
"Actually I was just wondering if you'd like to talk a little bit about what it is you do."
"Oh yes! Well my little shop here serves as my sort of 'homebase' if you will! I've had it since the late '70s and what tends to happen is someone will stumble across the place entirely by accident, or they'll feel drawn here by some mystic power or sometimes they'll just phone up and make an appointment.
Regardless they show up here at all times of the day and usually I'll chat to them for a bit in order to get a feel for who they are and then normally I'll read their futures. Sometimes they're good, sometimes bad, but most of the time they're just sort of neutral really."
"Do you have any favorites?"
"Oh! So many!"
(She takes a sip out of her teacup and looks to the bottom before smiling at the result).
"I've met so many people in my life but you'd be amazed at how many manage to stick out. I read for Elvis once, did you know that? Such a sweet talker that man... but it was after he became famous so I didn't really have that much to tell him."
(She pours another cup of tea but this time places it on my side of the table).
"I quite like doing marriage predictions, there's been a few times I've been able to tell people that whatever disease they've contracted isn't terminal, and I've been able a few times to warn people off of paths that might not have ended well for them. And I've never asked for a penny."
"That must be a nightmare on your rent."
"I'm friends with the owner! Besides, people have deemed it fit to give me the odd gift on occasion. I have Louis Finson's A Contested Caravaggie somewhere upstairs, I feel guilty for not remembering who gave it to me. An Atlantean Prince once gave me this beautiful jeweled necklace and a paratrooper I saved during the War offered me stocks in his father's cigar company so I get by alright."
"And... is it true that Keeper gave you something too?"
(There is a notable pause).
"Would you mind if we talk about it?"
"I suppose not. Sorry to dawdle dear, but I feel I should explain something first. During the War my powers worked a bit differently then they do now. Back then they were very quick so I could just look at someone or at a situation and know exactly how it was going to play out. That's why I was so good in a fight really. I could see when a punch was going to get thrown and act accordingly, but as I got older my... my powers got a bit slower and a bit different.
It would take me a few minutes to see the future, but rather than see something simple like a punch I'd see a key event in that person's future. That's why I opened up my shop, being a superhero was out of the question. The tea's just for fun really. It helps calm people and keeps them relaxed, and who doesn't enjoy a nice cup of tea?
It was... 1990 I think? I was just coming downstairs and out of nowhere, Arnold... Keeper sorry, he was sat down where you are waiting for me."
"Were you frightened?"
"More startled. I'd obviously heard about him on the radio and he wasn't wearing that dreadful armor of his, just normal clothes like we're wearing now. He waited by my table and politely asked me to read his future."
"And did you?"
"Not at first. I knew who he was and didn't want any trouble from the police, but he was... persuasive."
(Whilst speaking she begins to rub her left wrist, seemingly not noticing).
"I... I poured us both a cup of tea and he chucked his against the wall. He was angry, thought I was wasting his time. I remember he said: 'Stop playing around or you won't live another minute' and for a moment then I thought he was going to kill me. He placed a hand to my throat. That was when I saw what was waiting for him and he let me go."
"What did you see?"
And then, Philip. He told me he'd like to give me a gift. He took my hand and placed it on my shoulder so that I saw my own future."
(There is a notable pause).
"I got to see how I die. And then he left and I haven't seen him since."
"I'm very sorry. That must have been difficult."
"I've come to terms with it.
So. Mister Solomon, if you're willing perhaps you'd like me to read your cup and see what fate has in store for you?"
Cosette O'Dare, the Tea Leaf Lady passed away two weeks after this interview was conducted.
Cosette O'Dare, formally known as Thunder Woman and more recently nicknamed 'The Tea Leaf Lady' was a very prominent figure in the tomes of superhero history. Participating in the Second World War on the side of the Allies, Cosette used her precognitive abilities to great effect before retiring in the late 1970s. Until her death in the October of 2018 just after her 120st Birthday she'd made a career of predicting people's futures. Her ashes are buried at the Heroes Memorial in Washington D.C.
@tommythehitman: This geniunely sweet, a nice touching story. Good job.
This bit is a tad messy, like your brain is moving faster than your fingers (I get it all the time) "I quite like doing marriage predictions, there's been a few times they've contracted isn't terminal, and I've been able a few times to warn people off of paths that might not have ended well for them. And I've never asked for a penny."
I've been able to people? You've gone a tad awry :)
I like that she's met this world's Aquaman/Namor. More please
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