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The Devil and Ann Miller

Fate Magazine March 2005

"I met the devil," Ann said as we lolled around the campfire that evening, meals finished, dishes done. Ann always was an unusual one. She claimed she had been left with a bunch of gypsies in upstate New York when she was an infant. Or maybe she had been taken by them. She really didn't know what happened or even her true age and birthday. None of the past seemed to bother her. In fact, she seemed to enjoy it "The gypsies teach their girls to read the cards and to read tea leaves." Therefore if true, it was not surprising that Ann always had a poker deck with her, and she had a tea cup which more often bore more whiskey than tea.

I had seen Ann read the cards. Ann told the person what lay in store for them and what to avoid. "But if I see death, I never tell," Ann said to me about a million years ago. I was just sixteen. "It's about time I read your cards," she said and handed me a deck of cards. "Shuft1e the deck three times." Then she had me split the deck into three pile~. She went through a lot of time with the ritual, the laying out of the cards. She made a lot of faces-serious, puzzled, even silly.

"You're going to be an English teacher."

"No way!" I taught English for thirty years.

"You are going on a very long trip, farther than you could imagine."

"No way!" The army sent me to Korea. "And when you marry, stay away ITom the flowers."

My first wife was Rose. Rosie found someone new while the army had me in Korea. The second wife happened to be Lilli. I figure Lilli doesn't count. But if she spelled it Lily I'd really be in trouble according to Ann's old prediction. "You'll have two children." Two girls.

On another occasion I dragged an army buddy to my parents' home in Elizabeth, just three miles ITom New York City. He was ITom Seattle and had never seen New York. We were going to do the town.

Ann just happened to be visiting Mom and Dad also.

"Suppose I read your buddy Cliff's cards while you clean up for your trip to New York," Ann said, pulling out her deck of cards. When I came back downstairs, Cliff was a basket case. "What did you tell her about me?" he said. "Nothing. I had no time to say anything. You know that."

Cliff admitted that he knew I could not have told her anything beforehand. "What did she tell you?"asked.

"Amazing! She gave my street address, my parents' names,.my sister's name, and described my house as if she was there. She told me about the white picket fence we have. She even told me about my blue Ford up on cinder blocks in the garage."

"I didn't know any of that stuff Anything else?" Cliff allowed that there were some other things that Ann told him.

Cliff never told me any of those things, but he clearly upset. At least I knew that Ann did not tell him he was going to die. She never told anyone a thing like that, like dying.

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