The Tarot Series
An Anthology of Depressive Realism
I- The Magician
By: Andrew Pan
“Quote: ‘Dean Garrett is about as out of touch with his congregation as a person with dial up internet.’ unquote.” Josephine read the tweets to her boss from the illuminated screen of her out of date blackberry. “Here’s another, ‘Dean Garrett’s dog eats better than over half of his congregation or staff.’” Josephine looked up from her phone at the fat french bulldog that sat across from her. Drool spilled down onto Moe’s bowtie collar and dripped in pools on the limo’s black leather seats.
“Do you have any good tweets for me, Josie?” Garrett spoke with disinterest in his voice.
“None that really matter.” She replied looking over at her boss who was lazily draped across the back seat, his eyes unmoving from a flashing game on his brand new touch screen phone.
“Listen, Dean, if we really want to keep the camera crew in the church we need to begin gaining new followers.”
“Josie, Jesus only had 12 followers and look how it worked out for him! He’s the biggest celebrity the world has ever known!”
“He’s also dead.” Josie said cooly. “Besides, Jesus wasn’t trying to finance a beach front Miami home.”
“So you mean to tell me the Miami house is on the line here? But construction is almost completed!” This got enough of his attention to peel him from his seat and his eyes away from his phone.
“What can I say? There’s not as much money in televangelism anymore. We were pushing it when you wanted to add the tennis and basketball courts to your home in Indianapolis let alone an entirely new home half a country away. But thank God, donations came through and we got those done for you.”
“Yea, thank God. Its paid off for sure.” He said sarcastically patting his still rounding belly. He returned to his game, sliding back into a relaxing slouch.
“I just think that our best option would be to look at removing the camera crew and focus on your core congregation. If we could get them and the other satellite locations back on board with donations you could still live comfortably for a very long time.”
“And what would that mean for the Miami house in that scenario?”
“Well in this instance…” she sighed, “We would still lose the Miami home.”
“No, Josie, absolutely not! I’ve worked too hard for that house! God wants me in that house, its mine!” He was raising his voice now, like a 2 year old might when they are told they can’t have another scoop of ice cream on top of the one they already have.
“I’m sorry, Dean. I just don’t see any other way around it! The board is losing faith in us, in the show and your core watchers aren’t giving enough for us to do it all anymore.” Josephine raised her voice too and crossed her arms defiantly.
“There has to be another way.” he breathed, “We have to do whatever we can to secure this. I’m not going to let the loss of a few high donors be the reason I don’t get this house. It’s God’s will, Josie. I know it! I will have it, do you hear me? Whatever it takes!”
Just then the limo lurched sideways in a screech of metal on metal. The walls crunched around them and then the limo flipped, sending the passengers flailing about. The semi-truck that t-boned them stopped in its tracks while the limo careened off the road, flipping down a ditch and stopping with the roof wrapped around a tree.
All Dean could understand was the metal crumpling, glass shattering and Josie’s screams. In and out of blackness Dean Garrett saw the flashing red lights of emergency vehicles, a familiar bowtie collar lay on the asphalt without an owner then rectangular lights flashed above him as he was being wheeled down a hallway by strangers.
Then it stopped. It all stopped.
Then there was nothing.
Josie sat curled in the hospital chair just like she had for the 2 weeks prior. If you looked close enough you could see the red streaks left by glass scars and the discoloration of multiple bruises. Dean lay in the hospital bed day after day, unmoving. The doctors had given him something to make him sleep to hopefully speed recovery but today was the day he was to wake up. A sharp gasp woke Josie and she quickly called for a nurse as she held Dean’s hand.
“Dean? Can you hear me? Nurse, he’s awake! Dean, do you know who I am?” She rubbed his hand fervently as the nurse came in and checked all his vitals.
“Jo-Jo-Josephine?” he muttered.
“Yes! Yes!” The nurse assured them that a doctor will be in to assess everything within the hour and left Dean and Josie alone. “Do you remember anything?”
“Not- not really.” he stammered as he tried to sit up. “What happened?”
“We were in a car accident.” Josie said, sitting at the edge of his bed.
“A car accident?” he looked confusedly at her. “In the limo?”
“Yes.” she said patting his hand.
“Are you alright? Is everyone alright? Where’s Moe? Who has him?”
She sighed deeply and her eyes watered faintly. “Moe didn’t make it, Dean. I’m so sorry. But everyone else is perfectly ok, besides you of course. You gave us all a bit of a shake.”
Dean remembered the flash of Moe’s bowtie collar laying on the asphalt and a silence filled the room.
“Do you remember… anything else?” Josephine asked, as if prompting him to remember something important he had done.
“N-N-No.” he began. “All I remember is you and I talking about the Miami home and then…”
“Then what?” she asked eagerly moving closer to him with raised eyebrows.
“And then nothing. There was nothing. Not even any dreams, or thoughts, just-just… black. And then I woke up.” Josephine sighed heavily and moved back to her chair and began rifling through her bag. “What’s wrong? Did I miss something?”
“Dean, you died. Twice.” She said matter-of-factly. “You were dead in the ambulance and they revived you in the ER and they lost you for another 10 minutes during surgery. You were gone.”
Dean tried desperately to understand what had happened to him and then to also understand why Josie seemed upset with him all of a sudden.
“Oh my God.” he said, his mind reeling.
“The board met last week, Dean. The votes were unanimous, they’re closing the TV portion of the church.” She said, thumbs tapping her blackberry keyboard madly.
“What? No! Josie, we can’t do this! I’m back, we can keep it going!”
“No, Dean. It’s over. There’s no telling how long it will take you to recover from something like this and even if it was a quick recovery the fact is we just don’t have the resources.” She took a break from typing and looked at him, half sympathetic. “ Look, I tried to save it. We met after they revived you the second time and I told them that if you woke up with some type of, I don’t know, heavenly encounter then we’d have enough content for the show and sure enough the following to match. But that didn’t happen. Face it, Dean, TV churches just aren’t viable anymore.”
She sat back in her chair, continuing the long message she was composing and Dean leaned back in his bed, eyes full of tears. All he had built for himself, all the success he had made and all the dreams for the future had been crushed the moment he woke up. Then he had an idea.
“Josie, who are you emailing?” he asked turning his head to see her ferociously typing through the bars on his bed.
“The board,” she responded with a disappointed sigh. “They need to know you’re awake and that we can go forward with dismantling.”
“Stop.” Dean said. “Wait, I may have a way to save this, all of this.”
“Dean, come on, accept it! We’ve been blessed to have run this long.” she said, annoyance in her voice.
“Just listen!” He said reaching over and covering her screen. “What if I did have an experience?”
“Well, the fact is you didn’t, so…”
“But what if I did.”
“Well, when we talked about it we thought that for sure there would be a TV special then maybe a devotional…”
“Think bigger.” He said, a coy smile forming on his face.
“A speaking tour?” she said unsure of where he was going with this thought.
“You can’t be serious.” she said, finally catching on.
“Why not? It’s only me and you in this room, Josie. You haven’t told anyone else that I’m even awake!”
“It’s lying, Dean. You know, a commandment?” Josie said, pushing his buttons.
“Josie, what did I tell you before the crash?” She thought for a moment.
“Whatever it takes.” she said.
“Whatever it takes.” he repeated, a thin crooked smile etching across his face.
Josephine’s heels clacked loudly on the sidewalk as she strode hurriedly to the theatre entrance. Coffee in one hand a brand new touch screen phone in the other, her thumb zipped quickly across the screen. She finished her message just as she reached the crowd outside the box office and she slipped her phone into her clutch. Looking up she saw her boss’ name in large letters on the marquee and on either side of the box office doors were large posters with a devilishly handsome actor lifting his hands and face to the heavens with a skinny french bulldog in a bowtie collar at his heels.
The film “Heavenly Encounter(s): The Dean Garrett Story” had been sold out across the country for 3 weeks in a row. The book, which the movie is based on, had been on the New York Times Best List for 12 weeks in a row. Dean did in fact have a TV special and speaking tour but now the full potential for his story was realized.
Turns out there was a good market for stories with deathly encounters and this one had two. The market was good enough, in fact, that Dean got the house of his dreams and is working on another in NYC. And Josie was able to upgrade her phone.