Divine Guidance

There is a very thin veil between this life and the hereafter and we should not tear the veil down for personal gain. Those that dance between the veil of this life and the hereafter have a duty of care to protect the souls of the living and the realm of the spirit world.  For some it is a double-edged sword, inspiring love and hate in equal measure – sometimes with deadly results.

Chapter One

Marnie stood in the wings of the auditorium listening intently and with great irritation to the speaker on stage.  She was up next and as she awaited her introduction, she checked her reflection in a full-length mirror the set crew had not yet stored after last night’s performance.  She was happy with what she saw.  She felt confident in her smart black silk suit with a trimming pencil skirt.  The gray, silk camisole she was wearing gave her eyes the soulful look of the empathetic counselor she knew herself to be.  Her understated jewelry completed the look of a confident, no-nonsense professional.

Marnie needed these people to believe everything she was here to say.  She needed them to accept her beliefs and the myriad of truths she would share with them tonight.  She was quite confident though that some most likely weren’t going to be happy to hear the words she would speak. There were in fact quite a few people who weren’t going to like what she had to say, especially those people who had taken center stage here tonight.

As she looked through the side curtains, she saw the audience – close to 200 women and about a dozen men.  Marnie knew that they would prefer her to tell them what they wanted to hear.  Unfortunately, Marnie did not work that way.  Marnie was always blunt in her delivery and most importantly, she was authentic to herself and to the people who sought her counsel.  She would tell them what they needed to hear.

The man who was currently on stage was selling hope.  He was one of many speakers here tonight who made an absolute fortune every year taking people’s money.  He would tell them what they wanted to hear so they would get hooked on his every word — on his every prediction.  He would keep dragging them back into his world filled with half truths and twisted reality based on the hope that someday the fanciful predictions he was making would come true.  This man was what most people would call a psychic.   That’s not what Marnie would call him.  She would call him a charlatan — a low-life, soul-sucking trickster who stole people’s money and left them wanting more.

As the charlatan finished speaking, the crowd rose to their feet in awe of his talent.  This man had just told a battered woman named April that her husband would stop beating her if she sought divine guidance.  If she could just surround herself with white light each time he came home, soon her positive and giving energy would transform her husband into the loving man she truly wanted him to be.   He told her that her positive thoughts would bring positive results and that she had the power to create the relationship she so wanted with this man.  He told her she had work to do and that he would be happy to teach her how to bring positive change to her life.

“You can get my contact details at the front desk before you leave.  Call me and we can set up weekly sessions. I would suggest two appointments each week for a few months.  I’m sure we can put your life in order in no time,” he told her.

The woman nodded, smiled shyly and blinked back tears.  Marnie could see that the woman was hooked.  She was going to buy hope from a man who would sell it to her at $150 per session.

As the man left the stage, the organizer of the evening spoke into the microphone, “Thank you so much, Carl.  What truly insightful readings tonight.  I am sure the good people in the audience were amazed by the way you were able to tell them things no one could possibly know.  I do hope they take away solace in your inspiring predictions for their future.”

Carl nodded his thanks to Serena, turned to his audience, placed his hand over his heart and gave a small bow before exiting the stage.

As Carl walked to wings, he caught his first glance of Marnie readying to go on stage.  He looked shocked to see her standing there and moved cautiously toward her.

The organizer, Serena, was speaking to the audience about upcoming events.  She was telling them that a brilliant group of Angel Intuitives would be available for one-on-one readings and that a well-known medium would feature in two week’s time and that no one should miss the evening.

“Marnie, what a surprise to see you here.  Are you speaking tonight?” Carl tipped his head as he asked the question.

“Carl, I’m sure most of the people performing tonight will be surprised to see me here.  You know me.  I like to pop up from time to time to keep everyone honest,” Marnie replied, looking him straight in the eyes as she spoke.

“Be careful, Marnie.  No one here is performing.  We’re all the real deal and I don’t need to tell you how much you being here will sadden this incredibly talented group of psychics and soul healers.  These people do good work and your interference… well, let’s just say, this is not a group of people you want to upset.  Don’t make enemies of people who are far more powerful and influential than you.”

“Thanks for the warning, Carl.  I am quite aware of the kind of power you’re talking about and please do remember, the truth always comes out.  Powerful and influential?  Seriously?  None of you has any idea with whom you are dealing.  Or, how many people are standing around waiting for me to take you all down,” Marnie whispered loudly. She leaned in closely to Carl, so close that he could feel the heat of her breath on his face.  He pulled back and attempted a laugh.

“You? Take us down?  Come on, Marnie.  You’re a counselor.  You counsel the battered, the dreary and the mundane.  And yes, you have psychic abilities, but you are certainly not someone any of us needs to worry about.  You could have been truly talented.  You gave up too soon.  You didn’t believe in yourself enough.  You doubted yourself too many times and your clients knew it.  Worry?  No.  You don’t worry me.”  Carl shook his head in Marnie’s direction.

“I wasn’t referring to myself, Carl.  I was referring to God.  I was referring to the Universe.  I was referring to the Divine.   To the people, the souls on the other side who are tired of you meddling and taking money from good people who need help of a different kind.  Do you believe in Heaven and Hell, Carl?  Do you?  People like you don’t go to Heaven.  People like you burn.  Get out of my way.  I’m being introduced.”

“Fuck you, Marnie,” Carl hissed, his eyes glowering.

“Not really my type, Carl.  But when I finish tonight, you will definitely feel screwed.  Ciao, ciao.  Must go,” Marnie said sardonically, smiled and gave a little wave.

“Ladies and gentlemen, our final speaker tonight is a leading counselor.  She has spent much of her career donating her time in juvenile detention centers and women’s shelters.  She’s known to many people as an Angel of Mercy, a beacon of light, and yes, a psychic.  Please welcome, Marnie Reilly.”

Marnie walked from the wings and onto the stage.  The crowd clapped and watched Marnie take the microphone from the stand.  The other speakers had worn headsets and were dressed casually in colorful clothing with elaborate crystals around their necks, multiple bracelets and rings.  Marnie in contrast was understated, professional, elegant and not what they were expecting.

“Good evening and thank you so much for the warm welcome.  I see so many hopeful faces in the audience.  So many souls who truly want to believe.  I would like to clear up one thing.  I’m not a psychic.  I really don’t like that word.  It has such a negative connotation.  When you think of psychics, it conjures up thoughts of trickery, charlatans, people who sell hope to good people like you.  I am a counselor and I have actually been trained to help you.  And yes, I am clairvoyant, claircognizance, a clairaudient and a clairsentience.  That means that I see, hear and feel spirit.  An empath picks up other people’s feelings, emotions, worries and physical pain. Essentially, I am very sensitive to other people’s energy.   I’m here tonight to listen and to understand what’s happening in your world and to see if I can help.  I am also here to let you know that there are places where you can go to get help that won’t cost you a ton of money.  Places where hope isn’t sold.  A place where you can talk about where you are now and where you want to be.  A place where you can learn about the steps you can take to turn your life around.”

Marnie turned to look at April, still in the front row, still transfixed after her exchange with Carl.  Marnie smiled and spoke softly, “April, I know that you are going through a difficult time.  I know what it is like to be in an abusive relationship.  I felt that it was my fault for such a long time.  I thought that if I changed, he would change.  I can tell you right here, right now that he is not going to change and that you need to leave the situation.  You need to walk away.  It’s not easy and it will take you some time to come to terms with the steps you need to take.  I don’t need to be clairvoyant to tell you that the situation will not end well for you if you stay.  I only need common sense to tell you that.  I have lived it and I know what I am talking about.  It starts slowly – it may be verbal abuse at first – criticism that hurts to your very core.  And then one day you wake up and you realize that it has gone from verbal abuse to emotional abuse and then physical abuse.  You suddenly realize that there is nothing left of the person you were – you are an empty shell of emotions and hurt – you feel trapped and fearful.  You think if he doesn’t love me then no one else ever will either.  April, it took me two years to get away from the man that abused me.  Two years on an emotional roller coaster.  I lost 30 pounds in that time and didn’t even realize it.  My whole world was falling apart and I couldn’t figure out what had happened.”

April was looking up at Marnie.  She was softly sobbing.  Marnie grabbed a box of tissues off the podium and walked down the steps and handed the box to April.  April took a few tissues and gave the box back to Marnie.  Marnie put the microphone down to her side, gave April her card and quietly said, “Call me tomorrow.  I will not charge you anything.  We can have a chat and if you are comfortable, we can start putting your life back together.”

April managed a small smile, nodded and quietly said, “Thank you.”

Marnie was back on stage and spoke earnestly to the audience, “Listen, folks, I’m not saying readings aren’t fun or helpful because they can be.  I give readings to my friends.  I do think that readings can be useful, but I do not believe that readings are appropriate for people who are going through critical life choices.  You need a professional for the really tough stuff.  Let me ask you all a question.  Would you go to a psychic for a cure if you had cancer?  No?  Then why would you go to a psychic when you’re depressed or in an abusive relationship?  Critical situations need serious consideration.   If you can’t find work, don’t call a psychic and spend money you don’t have.  Call a center that helps you find a job. Talk to a career counselor.  There are many free services out there.  Pick up the phone and find one.  If you can’t find one, call my office and my people will refer you to a place that will help you get on the right track.  Folks, don’t go to someone who sells hope.  Go to someone who actually has the skills to help you. Hope is a wonderful thing.  Hope can help us through the darkest hours.  However, you have to work toward finding a solution. A psychic isn’t going to help with that unless they are skilled in specialized areas like career counseling, psychology, relationship counseling, and services of this ilk.”

Marnie could hear hushed conversations in the audience.  She stepped away from the podium and walked to the front of the stage and said, “Okay.  Who has questions? Throw your hands up. Let’s see if we can find some solutions tonight.  You’ve paid for the evening.  Let’s see if we can deliver some positive results for a few people.”

A tired looking women six rows back in the middle aisle put her hand up.  Marnie walked up the aisle and gave the woman a microphone.

Marnie asked, “Can you please tell me your name?”

The woman stood up and said, “My name is Helen.  I have been raising my hand all night and no one would call on me.”  As tears started to flow down Helen’s cheeks, she took a tissue out of the sleeve of her faded cardigan and wiped her nose.

“Helen, let’s be thankful that I am the person you get to speak with then and ask away when you are ready,” Marnie said with a warm smile.

Helen choked up and through her tears she spoke. “My husband died two days ago.  There was nothing wrong.  He just died and no one can tell me why.  They did an autopsy and all they can tell me is that his heart stopped beating and that he died of natural causes.  We’d just come home from having a few drinks with friends.  I went upstairs to get ready for bed.  He went out to the yard to check that everything was locked up for the night and he died.  I was so tired that I fell asleep before he came upstairs.  He always checks the grounds and the house at night before coming to bed.  I must have fallen asleep. I woke up and he wasn’t next to me, so I went downstairs.  All of the lights were still on.  I found him just lying on the patio.  He was all crumpled up in a heap.  I’ve had a few readings and one woman told me he was poisoned.  One man told me that my husband took his own life by chewing Oleander leaves and then another man told me that he had just given up on life and died.  I don’t understand and I want you to talk to him.  Can you please ask him what happened?”

Marnie looked into Helen’s face.  The hurt and grief she could see in this woman’s face was heart-wrenching.  So much pain and suffering.  Tears were stinging Marnie’s eyes and she had a lump in her throat and her chest ached.  She could feel the pain this woman was going through and she wanted to do everything she could to help.

Marnie reached across the aisle and took the woman’s hand and spoke calmly, “Helen, I will do everything I can to help you work through your grief. Please understand, while speaking with the people we love who have crossed over is certainly possible, it is important that we don’t disturb them.  If they want to talk to us, they find a way.  It is, however, inappropriate for us to seek them out.”

Helen dropped Marnie’s hand and between sobs she shouted, “I was told that someone here tonight would be able to speak to my husband!  I was told that my husband would come through to someone!  You’re the last speaker!  You have to talk to my husband!”

“Helen, I don’t know who told you that but let me assure you, I would never make a promise like that,” Marnie spoke calmly and with great empathy.  “Helen, my mother once told me that there is a very thin veil between this life and the hereafter and we shouldn’t mess with it.  I have always believed that to be true and I never seek out those who have past.   I am so sorry that someone made that promise to you.”

Marnie turned around and searched for Serena in the wings.  She spotted her walking in the wings backstage.  She called out to her, “Serena, can you please come here for a moment?”

Serena peered out and looked anxiously at Marnie.  Marnie glared in her direction and made a request bluntly. “Serena, I would like you to find out who made such a ridiculous promise to Helen.”

Marnie turned back to Helen and spoke soothingly, “Helen, I’m going to ask you not to spend any more money on psychics or mediums to contact your husband.  I am going to go with you tomorrow to the coroner’s office and we are going to have a chat with the people there.  They know me there and I am sure we can find out what happened to your husband if we ask the right questions.  Helen, can you tell me your husband’s first name and how old he was?”

Helen looked up at Marnie and said, “His name is Ralph.  He is such a loving man.  He is tall and handsome and a wonderful father.”

“Helen, how old is Ralph?” Marnie asked again changing the tense to match Helen.

“He will be 92 next week,” said Helen.

Marnie smiled, reached out and took Helen’s hand again and asked, “And he’s had a good life? You’ve had a good life together?”

Helen smiled wistfully and replied, “Oh yes.  We’ve had an incredible life.  Married 70 years last week.  All of our family was with us.  We had a lovely party with our family.  Such a nice party.  Our children, the grandchildren and some friends.  We danced and sang and danced some more.  Oh, it was so lovely.  So very lovely.”

“That sounds wonderful, Helen.  Now, if you’ll wait for me to finish up, I will make time to meet you tomorrow and we’ll work together to find out what happened to Ralph.  Does that sound okay?” asked Marnie.

“Well, I did come here to talk to Ralph.  What about that?” Helen responded, standing her ground.

“You can talk to Ralph any time you like, Helen.  I’m sure he’s listening to you.  He’ll give you signs that you can understand.  You don’t need me or anyone else to talk to the people you love.  You know that.  You know in your heart that Ralph is listening and he always will be,” Marnie said looking into Helen’s eyes.

Helen nodded her head slowly and started to take her seat.  The man next to Helen put a hand on her shoulder and comforted her back into to her chair.  He smiled at Marnie and mouthed the words “thank you”.

Marnie smiled and nodded to the man, put one hand in her pocket and then reached out handing him her card.  The man took the card and gently placed his hands around Marnie’s hand and said, “We’ll call you in the morning.  Would that be okay?”

Marnie nodded her head and smiled and said, “Yes.  That would be fine.”

Marnie turned around and walked back to the stage.  Climbing the stairs, she felt a presence in the wings and turned to see Carl and a few of the other psychics staring at her.  She flashed them a smile and turned back to the audience and said, “Okay.  Does anyone else have a question?”

As hands shot up in the audience, Marnie looked up into the lights and smiled.  She had them.  They were right there in front of her and they bought what she was selling.  Not hope, but truth and the chance to make their lives better.    This is what it’s all about.  Helping people help themselves.  Helping people find their own hope.  That’s the stuff.  Hope is a wonderful elixir if it’s the right kind of hope.

Chapter Two

Marnie pulled into her garage and sat quietly with her head resting on the steering wheel for just a few minutes.  Nights like this are why I do what I do.  These are the times when I know that I have made the right decisions.  Chosen the best path for me right now.  Yup.  I’m happy.  I am really, really happy, she thought to herself.

Walking to the front door she could hear familiar sounds in the darkness and the low thumping of raccoons scampering off her front porch — the raccoons were no doubt trying to break in again.  What a mess they had made the last time.  The dog door was sealed now.  Tater had to wait now for her to get home to go outside and do his business.  As she unlocked the door, she could hear him sniffing on the other side.

“Hello, my little man!  How has your evening been?” Marnie spoke to Tater as if he was her best friend.  And, of course, he was. He had been her savior many years earlier.  It seemed a long time since she left that horrible man and within days had found this little ball of fur in a burlap bag while she was out for a run.  The bag was moving and Marnie thought someone had tossed kittens out of a car.  She was pleasantly surprised to find a black and white Border Collie no bigger than an Idaho potato, hence, his name.

Tater sat for a pat and then ran to get his lead.  Dragging the lead back to the front door, he sat and looked up at Marnie.  “Okay.  Give me a second to get out of these clothes and we’ll go for a quick run.  A quick run, Tater.  No faffing about tonight.  Understand me?” Marnie scolded softly.

Tater looked up at her, dropped his lead at the front door and with his tail wagging followed her upstairs.  This was his thing.  He would follow and wait for her to put her running shoes on and then they would run.

Dressed in her sweats, a t-shirt and running shoes, Marnie bounded down the stairs with Tater on her heels.  Tater hit the rug at the bottom of the stairs, the rug and Tater slid across the timber floors and ran into the wall.  Marnie giggled, gave him a pat and put his lead on him. “Tater, are you ever going to learn that the rug moves?  Silly boy.”

As Marnie opened the door to head off for their run, the phone rang.  She stopped for a second and then decided whoever it was could leave a message.  She and Tater headed out and as an afterthought, Marnie ducked back in and set the alarm.  Tater looked up at her quizzically and giving him a gentle pat on the head Marnie said, “I know.  I know.  Nothing to worry about out here. Not with my big fierce protector right here, hey buddy.  Let’s just say, the alarm makes me feel safe.  Let’s go.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As Marnie and Tater ran down the path, he moved out of the woods and walked quietly to the porch.  He had heard her say that the alarm makes her feel safe.  She must have turned it on and that would complicate matters.  Not to worry.  He could always improvise.

He unzipped the gym bag he was carrying and set it on the deck.  He took a mini flashlight out of his pocket, turned it on and held it between his teeth.  One by one he took the crystals out and set them down next to the bag.  He picked up the amethyst and studied it.  The amethyst point was brilliant.  He tucked it behind the big potted geranium near the front door.  He took the turquoise and placed it in one of the flower boxes and tucked a piece of agate on the opposite end of the flower box.  He placed a clear quartz crystal on the sill of the door and hoped that it wouldn’t fall when she closed it.  Finally, he put an Archangel Michael coin under her front doormat.

He stood back and assessed what he had done.

“Just one more thing, Marnie.  Just one more thing,” he said as he took an Archangel Raphael coin out of his pocket and placed it under the mat next to Archangel Michael.  He went back up the steps, gathered his bag, kissed the palm of his hand and placed it against the front door.

He stepped off the front porch, looked up at the sky and said, “Keep her safe.  Please keep her safe.  I’ve done what I can do.  She’s in your hands now.  Thank you for keeping watch over her.  She’s precious to me.  To a lot of people.”

He stood back and assessed what he had done.  There, Collective, do your worst.  She has so much good on her side.

As he wandered off into the woods, he could just hear Marnie’s phone ringing and quietly said, “It starts.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marnie and Tater ran around the corner of the house.  Tater barked, pulled at his lead and looked deep into the trees.  Marnie bent down, scratched his left ear and said, “No chasing bunnies tonight, buddy.  It’s time for dinner and then bedtime.”

Marnie unlocked the front door, stepped in, turned off the alarm, took Tater’s lead off and laid it in a basket, stepped back out onto the porch and stared off into the trees. It was one of those nights when it felt like the woods had eyes.  She shivered, rubbed her arms and backed into the house and locked the front door.

She could hear Tater rummaging in his empty bowl.   She called out, “Come on, boy.  Let’s get you and me some dinner.  How about we share an omelet?  Sound good, buddy?”

Tater was staring out the windows of the back door.  The hair on his scruff was standing up and he wasn’t smiling.  Tater usually smiled, but right now his eyes were focused on the shed at the back of the house.  A low growl started to build and then he was barking. Not his usual bark.  This was the bark he voiced when Marnie’s ex turned up in one of his drunken rants.

Marnie hit the light switch and watched.  She couldn’t see anything, but Tater could.  She had sensed something out front too, but thought she was imagining things.   Maybe not.  Maybe she wasn’t imagining things.  She stood looking out the back door with Tater standing next to her.  He calmed down in a few minutes and lay down in front of the door, looked up at Marnie and smiled.

“Okay.  Suppertime, little dude.  Suppertime,” Marnie said as she walked into the kitchen to make the omelet.

As Marnie cracked the first egg into a bowl, the phone rang again. She looked toward the hall where the phone sat in its cradle, looked at Tater sitting patiently waiting for his dinner and decided whoever it was could leave a message. It was late, she and Tater were hungry and she would call back tomorrow.

She placed half of the omelet into Tater’s bowl and put it aside to cool.  Tater wasn’t terribly patient when it came to food.  He would gobble it up steaming hot and she didn’t want him to burn his mouth again.  Lesson learned.

Marnie poured herself a glass of juice, buttered some toast and plated up her half of the omelet.  Tater was getting impatient, so she poured a bit of milk over his omelet to cool it off and set his bowl on his mat with some fresh water.  Tater ate quickly, drank his water and turned to wait for Marnie to finish so he could have her leftovers.  There were always leftovers and he knew his bowl would have more in it in just a minute.

Marnie stood at the counter picking at her eggs and nibbling bits of her toast.  She took a drink of juice, pushed the plate away and looked out the window.  She took her plate, scraped the rest of the omelet and toast into Tater’s bowl, rinsed the plate and popped it in the dishwasher just as the phone rang again.  She wondered who could be calling at this hour.  It’s late.  None of my friends would call me this late.

She let the phone go to message bank and then picked up the phone, dialed into message bank and listened.  What she heard made all color drain from her face.  Hair stood up on the back of her neck and her arms.  She hung up the phone, rested her head and back against the wall.  She breathed out, pushed herself off the wall, and walked back to the kitchen and turned out the light. She stood for a moment in the darkness – the memories that phone call brought back unnerved her.

She hugged herself tightly and let out a sigh and called out to Tater as she walked to the stairs. “C’mon, Tater.  It’s bedtime.”

Tater ran to the stairs, slid across the hall on the rug, got his bearings and ran up the stairs behind Marnie.

Marnie stopped at the top of stairs, raced back down, set the downstairs alarm and ran back upstairs.  Walking down the hall to her room she stopped, looked out the window and thought to herself, Shit.  What have I started?

9 comments

  1. Hello Shari, I am Tom Halpin, Tim’s Uncle. This was a good read and I’d like more. My wife Marcy and I are big John Sanford fans along with other suspense story writers. Looking forward to meeting you! Take care, Tom

  2. From the moment I started reading this book, I could feel tension and knew that something ominous was about to happen. It got me hooked early as I wasnt sure what was going to happen…. or when it would happen but I was pretty confident it wasnt going to be pretty.

    I had a soft spot for Detective Gregg who I would describe as a man’s man who has a sensitive side but isnt always comfortable showing it! I loved his mannerisms, his sayings and his general ability to be a typical bloke!. He often made me smile.

    Shari’s descriptive writing allows you to easily visualise what you are reading and yet be on your seat while you do…. knowing that something is about to happen. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

  3. What a great read!! Good characters and a plot that keeps you guessing. Can’t wait for the next book.

  4. Loved this book from the minute i started reading. The suspense had me hooked and i couldn’t put it down, it definitely didn’t disapoint. Hope there is not too long a wait for the next book.

  5. Definitely a cut above your average murder mystery.
    Murder, romance and a wisecracking heroine with a psychic edge – the suspense hooked me in from the first page. The body count kept rising and I couldn’t put it down.
    Can’t wait for the next book.

  6. From early on in the book I was hooked and couldn’t put it down. There’s a great mix of suspense, intrigue and mystery. I can’t wait to read the next one…it better come out soon!

  7. LOVED THIS BOOK. Danny made me smile alot, I told my boyfriend how awesome he was and he laughed.

    It was so easy to visualise what was happening and what the characters looked like.

    Awesome story, characters and a great read.
    Well done Shari,
    I look forward to the next book.

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