A Happy Medium.
Copyright 2013, 2018 by Raymond Johnson. Fourth edition.
Cover picture provided by Character Design. (www.iStockphoto.com).

Dedicated to my online forum friends Ruby, Nicki Brand and Noddy

"Here's something to think about, how come you never see a headline like Psychic Wins Lottery?" - Jay Leno.

After performing a successful show, involving speaking to the dead, a medium receives a personal request by two concerned parents who are worried about their son. However they are grossly misinformed as to his psychic abilities having no idea that his stage show is in fact fake. He reluctantly takes them up upon their request purely for the sake of concealing his secret.

This short story reveals some tricks of the trade and how charlatans take advantage of people's grief, before leading to a climatic twist at the end revealing all is not as it seems.



Chapter 1 - Throw Them A Bone

The vast crowd filling the hall stared at me, their eyes on tenterhooks, listening intently to my every word. It mattered not what I said, but the tone in which I said it, for they only heard what they wanted to hear. I wasn't a con artist, I was guiding them through their grief, letting them feel better and justifying what they felt inside. They all knew deep down I was a fraud but they allowed themselves to be tricked into false belief, it was easier for them that way.

"I have a contact," I said with firm authority whilst looking up at the ceiling, "I'm receiving a message. Yes, someone is communicating through me. They have something important to tell someone here tonight."

I walked around the stage, acting as though I was tuning into a transmitted message from beyond the grave, while the audience's eyes followed my every move.

"I'm getting a p, pete... a rus... um a ssst, t," I said while keeping my fingers firmly pressed against my forehead as I continued to stare up at the ceiling of the hall.

A woman in the audience waved her arm up in the air shaking it vigorously from side to side. She was very overweight with greasy black hair and scruffy clothing, my favourite type of person at those events. She appeared alone within the vast crowd and it was clear she was genuinely there to make contact with a loved one rather than just for an evening out.

"It's my Stevie!" She said with excitement while still waving her arm.

I quickly pointed at her as though she was confirming what I had just told her even though I never mentioned that name. The next questions asked needed to refer to him by name as to imply I had been doing so all along.

"And has Stevie passed?" I asked her knowing full well that it was a stupid question but acting as though it wasn't, for why else would she have attended the show?

"Yes," the woman said while nodding, "Just last year."

She was fairly young so it was unlikely to have been her child, and she wouldn't refer to her father by name. It was fair to say that it wasn't her brother either due to adding the word my on the front of his name while describing him, so I guessed it was her boyfriend or husband.

"And was this a sad passing?" I asked for no other reason than to force her into tears.

"Yes, very sad" she said while retrieving a handkerchief from her handbag and wiping her eyes.

I waited a few moments giving her tears chance to fully flow down her cheeks whilst pretending to receive another communication from beyond the grave as I looked up into the air once more rubbing my forehead.

"Does September mean anything you to you?" I asked the woman who was still in tears, "It's something Stevie is trying to tell me, but it's not totally clear."

She didn't respond immediately so I quickly continued to speak not allowing her to say the word no.

"October? Novem... June, July?" I quickly mumbled.

The woman nodded.

"Yes," she responded, "My birthday is in June."

I smiled at her.

"Stevie wishes you a happy birthday," I said with a smug look upon my face even though June was many months away.

The crowd roared while the woman cried with joy. She would go home happy with a warm feeling inside knowing her loved one was on the other side waiting for her, while I would go home happy with a few more grand in my bank account.

I quickly pressed my hand against my forehead again.

"I'm receiving another message," I said to the crowd before moving around the stage again, "The spirits are busy tonight. Wooh!"

The crowd gave me a round of applause.


 Chapter 2 - A Personal Request

Within moments of the show ending I hurried off stage to the sound of a roisterous round of applause. I made sure to never hang around for too long as to not allow time for what happened to sink in within the public's minds. Better they realise later that I had in fact informed them of nothing rather than while I was still around. I did however wait behind the stage curtain just to overhear the crowd as they left the hall.

"He really has the gift," a female voice said.

"How did he know about my dog?" Asked another.

"I've been to three of his shows so far and he never disappoints, he's not like those fakers, he's the real thing," said another voice.

One of the many tricks with psychic shows was to have plants in the audience in order to praise how well I did, but I found over the years I didn't need such underhand tactics. Genuine word of mouth is how news spread about me, I had no need for fake audience members who would dent my vast income by demanding a share of the spoils.

I continued waiting from behind the stage curtain, listening intently, as a woman proceeded to speak about her dog. I was unaware that anyone had lost their dog as it wasn't mentioned during the show. I guessed I must have spoken about a dog whilst assuming it was a person who had passed, yet she still thought highly of me thinking that I had genuinely communicated with her dog. I began to wonder if dead dogs could speak.

The large crowd continued to talk to one another about what a wonderful show it had been as they made their way out. Eventually they were out of earshot but it was clear they were overjoyed by the entire experience. I made them happy and they made me happy by making me a little richer, all was well.

As I turned around to head back to my dressing room I received a shock as two people, a large man and a thin woman, stood before me. I cursed my manager Susan within my mind for not minding the stage.

"Hello," I said in the sweetest kindest voice I could muster.

The man was unshaven and had a look of annoyance plastered upon his face while the woman had puffy eyes looking as though she had been crying. I peered over their shoulders trying to see if anyone backstage was around to help me if anything got out of hand.

The man cleared his throat.

"Is there a problem?" I asked clutching my hands together.

"You could say that," the man replied with a gruff voice.

"Well if there's..." I said while trying to quickly think of a way to calm the situation whilst choosing my words carefully.

"We need your help," said the man bluntly.

There was a long pause while I pondered as to what was going on. They clearly weren't about to complain but rather sought my assistance. I smiled at them both brightly.

"In what way may I assist you both?" I asked looking at each of them in turn.

The man opened his mouth as though about to speak but hesitated, most likely not quite sure if he should make the request or not. I quickly turned to the woman beside him as to not give them time to change their mind.

"You're clearly distressed," I said to her putting on a voice of concern and holding out my palm, "Would you like to sit down then we can discuss your most important needs."

She shook her head.

"No I'm fine," she said as she wiped her left eye, "We're fine. We need help with our son. He's become a little wayward lately and, well, someone like you with your gifts may be able to help us."

Clearly she wasn't talking about someone who had passed away. Maybe they thought I had other gifts so I was going to have to fake my range of abilities just to keep them happy.

"And how may I be of service to you?" I asked.

The large man cleared his throat again.

"He's met this new girl, see," he said, "And well, she's not really his type, she's someone who's, let's just say she's of a lower class than what our son normally goes for."

"If she leads him astray there's no telling what could happen," the woman quickly said in a panic.

"Right," I responded slowly, "Well this isn't really my field of expertise, I'm not sure how I can help with this kind of problem."

The man nodded as if to agree with me.

"Yea, but you clearly have the gift," he then said, "You look at the world from a different view as to other people. If you can simply meet our son and his new girlfriend then you'll know right away if she's suitable like. You can read her thoughts. They don't even need to know what you're doing, you can even watch them from a distance and sense if she's right for him."

"Well that is true," I said whilst nodding my head acting smug of my abilities out of habit.

"So do you think you can help us?" The woman asked.

I placed my hand against my chin in the pretence I was thinking about it but was really giving them time to mention my fee. However even though my pretence worked the fees they came up with were far from what I was expecting.

"We can't pay you," the main said, "But, you know, we'll recommend you to everyone within our community."

I continued to wait to give them time to come up with another form of payment without me needing to ask directly. However they too remained silent.

The problem with my profession was most of my advertising came from word of mouth and just one person leaving one of my shows happy could mean a vast larger group of people attending the next. But bad word of mouth had the opposite effect and if anyone learnt that I turned someone down, even for the reason of not getting paid, was enough to destroy my reputation. That's why I needed my manager Sarah to sort out that kind of thing then it would be her rather than myself that got the blame.

I had waited long enough and it was clear they wouldn't budge when it came to my non-existent fee. I glanced over their shoulders again to see if Sarah was about but alas I was on my own.

"Of course I'll help," I said with a happy tone, "Don't worry about my fee, after all my gift is something I share with the world."

"Thank you," the man said with a large grin plastered across his face.


Chapter 3 - The Restaurant

It was a totally bizarre situation I found myself in and I couldn't believe how I got suckered into it. I had been tempted to fire Sarah on the spot for not being there to prevent it but I knew it would take a long time to find someone else willing to act as my minder as well as a manager.

It was the following day after meeting those two people wanting me to spy on their son and I was sitting alone in a restaurant waiting him and his new girlfriend to arrive. I was having to disguise my features wearing a stupid fluffy wig and thick glasses. I could only imagine what would have happened if any paparazzi caught eyes upon me.

On the table in front of me was a small glass of red wine which I tried to make last for as long as possible while gently stroking at its base with my fingers. I intended to drink up within moments of the son and his girlfriend arriving then make up a story for his parents. They had informed me of his name, Matty, and his general appearance but that was about it. I guessed they expected me to know more based upon my psychic gift but it would have been far easier if they gave me more information to begin with.

The moment Matty and his new girlfriend entered the restaurant it was clear why his parents had requested my help and I almost laughed at their prejudices. Matty was white, and tall with strong handsome facial features reminding me somewhat of a military man. His girlfriend on the other hand was black and her ample body weight wobbled on her chunky legs. I continued to watch as Matty and his girlfriend made their way over to a table. Matty was the perfect gentleman and pulled out a seat for his girlfriend letting her sit before him. The wine waiter hurried over to them while they ordered.

For a brief moment Matty's girlfriend turned around adjusting her seating position and briefly caught eye contact with me. I glanced away and sipped my wine.

Physically she was fairly attractive, not perfect but not too shabby. She had a nice cleavage too which she wasn't embarrassed to show off. As to her smile, demeanour and personality I had no idea, but it didn't really matter, Matty clearly liked her and that was all that mattered.

I gulped down my wine then licked my lips. I had done what I was requested to do and it was time to leave. I would simply make something up when I met up with Matty's parents and fake that somehow I sensed that the relationship would last.

I looked up as Matty and his girlfriend started laughing at a shared joke. It was obvious they loved one another and also obvious as to the reason why Matty's parents didn't approve.


Chapter 4 - Approval Rating

The night was drawing in as I left the restaurant and headed for home. I removed the silly wig and glasses as soon as I left then calmly headed down the high street towards the car park. There appeared to be a foggy mist in the air that gave a chill down my spine. The light from the streetlights appeared to flicker within the mist as I continued down the street. As I turned the corner and proceeded to walk down the next street I realised I had taken the wrong turning and was lost. Rather than being next to the car park entrance I found myself to be beside an old wall made of stone. I decided to simply turn around and head back the way I came.

To my right was an old fashioned street lamp giving off a hazy white glow of light rather than the usual yellow. It may have been a modern street lamp in the guise of an old one but even so I found it unnerving. I never felt them appropriate in a modern town and they were never bright enough.

As I continued back along the street two people turned the corner ahead of me and to my astonishment I recognised them both as Matty's parents. Clearly they had decided to do a bit of snooping of their own to keep an eye on their son, either that or they were intentionally looking for me, but I couldn't understand why they were impatient for my opinion. The moment they saw me they hurried in my direction while I gave them a fake smile in return pretending to be happy to see them.

"Hello," I said to them both holding out my arms as they grew closer.

The large man nodded his head while the woman smiled back at me. The mist behind them appeared to swill and the air began to chill.

"Greetings to you," the woman said, "Have you seen our son?"

"I saw him and his new girlfriend at the restaurant where you said he would be," I replied.

"And?" The man quickly said.

I looked at him then the woman at his side. I wondered if I should give them an honest opinion or not. In my line of work I always told people what they wanted to hear and I suspected Matty's parents didn't approve of his choice of partner, but in this case I decided to do the opposite. It wasn't what they wanted to hear but what they needed to hear. I just hoped they could accept it.

"You've nothing to fear," I said with a bright look about my face, "I sensed only love shared between your son and his girlfriend. She has no ulterior motive, no hidden past and no secrets she is trying to hide. Her heart is pure. I can't say if their relationship will last but as it stands at this moment they are both blissfully in love."

There was a long pause as my words sank in. The woman's face then lit up and the man started to nod.

"Thank you," the woman said, "Thank you so much, that's all we needed to know, that has he's made the right decision. We'll tell all our family and friends what you've done for us, you're a good man. Thank you once again."

"We can finally rest now that our only son has found happiness," the man said with joy in his voice.

They both calmly stepped to one side and continued walking down the street, directly through the stone wall, and into the graveyard beyond.

I smiled to myself and calmly continued towards the car park. The problem with working for ghosts is they never had any money, and I'd rather live as a rich charlatan than a poor genuine psychic.



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