Having recovered her laundered trousers, Junie Ginsburg hung upside down, swinging by her knees from a tree branch, smoking one of the rare Sagrada Lucias she had swiped from Malus’s stash. Below her the village fortune teller, an ancient old man, sat upon a colorful mat casting bones.
“You must be joking,” she said, cigar clenched between her teeth as she swung her arms to build up momentum.
The old man nodded his head and threw the bones again. He shuffled them around on the mat, recalculating his answer before responding in broken English and exaggerated gestures.
“Yes, yes! Was good! As teller told.”
“Nope,” Junie responded matter-of-factly. “Not good. No good. Wrong.”
The old man pounded his fists on the blanket, exasperated. “YOU! Red woman! Demon!” Then he spat on the ground beneath her.
Junie spoke again haltingly as she continued to swing. “Teller…told…wrong! Red woman…worth…at least…TEN..cows!”
The old man made a scoffing sound, and then began to laugh. “You fall!” he said, pointing a crooked finger at her.
At the moment she let go of the tree branch with her knees, rotating her body to land feet-first, her focus shifted to the old man’s laughter, causing her to over-compensate. She landed posterior-first just south of her intended landing spot, in a deep patch of leaf-covered mud. The momentum rolled her backward in a crooked somersault, leaving her belly-down, covered in jungle muck.
“Damnit,” she said, looking at the ridiculously expensive, mud-covered cigar stub lying before her. Abandoning it, she picked up a fistful of mud and threw it in the old man’s general direction. He dodged it and continued to laugh.
After a few sulking moments she grinned, scooped up another handful and stood. Walking back toward camp, she called out in a sing-song voice, “Oh, Mr. Lighthouse!”