Lost & Found – Various Fortunes, 2001

1) Eating noodles in a red vinyl booth, we read our futures from a tiny paper scroll decoding the intricacies of the Chinese zodiac. We found out it was a good day to buy real estate and fish. We found out we would be lucky in love, but someone we trusted would prove false. We found out that our daughter’s charm and wisdom would bring the world to her door.

2) In the back of a rundown coffee shop, the eighteen-year-old seer with the golden nose ring peered at the tea leaves scattered at the bottom of a bone china cup. She told me that I would find myself on a dark road very far from home; that I would live a life both long and sad, that something I cared for very much would eventually fall from my hands and be broken.

3) From a drunk guy on the bar stool beside mine at the Cobalt, I found out that the Americans were–At This Very Moment!–gathering information about each and every one of us in the form of bar codes, and would soon be rounding up the ones who didn’t conform to certain Security Department specifications for decent normalcy.

4) On a September morning, looking into the lozenge-shaped eye of a crystal of radiant plasma, I saw the future on silver wings flying again and again into soaring concrete towers.

5) Double Fortune: In a sterilized room with dim lighting and skull-white walls, we looked at an echo chamber picture that predicted the imminent passing of an unborn son.

While we sat waiting for the doctor to appear, I flipped through an old copy of Wired magazine in which some cyber-guru was predicting that artificial intelligence and nanotech were spelling out in ones and zeros the name of the beast, the end of the human race. At the outside, he suggested, we all had about twenty-five more good years to relish our foie gras and sang froid, our unbridled greed and our childlike faith in technology, before the heavens would come crashing down upon our nappy little heads.

6) Last week, I put my head to the belly of a pregnant friend, and heard the faintest possible sound, a possibly hopeful sound, distant and fragile like a flutter of pigeon wings high up in the vaulted rafters of an abandoned cathedral; the only fortune worth believing.