Once we were all seated, there were introductions. That’s when I found out that the DA’s name was Charley.
“You shoulda seen Randall drive up that afternoon, we, now what I mean is he and I and Hugo and Bart, we always had dinner at the Blue before the Friday night poker game; not George of course; he had that pretty little wife to make his dinner; he came afterwards. That evening, Randall was more animated than I had ever seen him, the way a man looks when his ship has finally come in. Giddy is the word I would use.” Hugo and Bart nodded their heads up and down in unison.
“Yes sir, he was just plain giddy, and as soon as we had settled into our booth, this exact one, he started spouting off about the fulgurite: ‘There I was driving along Copperhead road like I do every day, and out of the blue, lightning struck.’ ‘Well I hope it wasn’t out of the blue,’ I replied.
“‘No, do I look like a dolt; there was a dark cloud up there, but that isn’t the important thing. I found a fulgurite, and now my luck is going to change.’
“Going to?” Hugo inserted, addressing me as if I were Randall, “You’ve been searchin’ for a fulgurite all of your entire life; finding one is a dream come true, wouldn’t ya say?”
“Yeah,” chimed in Bart; now he was also looking at me as if I were Randall: “Isn’t that enough luck for you?”
“Randall wasn’t his normal self that day, fidgeting in his seat: ‘Maybe, but that isn’t the whole story. You see, boys, there was kind of prophecy, you know, about my future.’
“‘Prophecy! What the hell are you talking about?’
“‘You know the tales about the copper headed woman? Well she was there too sitting on the side of the road in one of those horse drawn caravans, and what a horse: fire in his eye, stamping and snorting and as black as black can be, a magnificent steed, and the caravan was a beauty, a piece of art with carved wood and painted in gold and green and red. And there were windows with curtains. Well I rushed over to where the lightning struck, and there it was lying there just waiting for me. I was stooping down to pick it up when a voice, a cool, crisp voice came from behind me: You will burn your hand, the voice said. I turned around and found her standing right there with a shovel. She looked exactly like the tales describe wearing colorful clothing, a shawl covering her head, and I suppose she was beautiful too, but in a cold way like a statue; her eyes were colder still and more terrifying than a, than a whole battalion of Nazis. I backed away, but she threw the shovel on the ground: Do you not want the fulgurite? Be careful, they are very delicate.'”
“‘Did that gypsy woman put a spell on you?'” The three of them all started laughing in unison surfing past memories in present tense.
“‘No, but she invited me into her caravan, to have my fortune told.’ Well, Randall was talkin’ much faster than usual: ‘There were steps at the back and inside, there was a small round table and chairs. I sat down; she sat down facing me: Payment first, she said.’ That’s when Randall stopped talking as if something had suddenly dawned on him.
“‘Where was the fulgurite all this time? Burning a hole in your pocket?’
“‘No, I had the whole kit and caboodle with me: shovel and fulgurite sitting on it.’
“When do we get to see it?”
“When do we get to hear your fortune?”
“‘All in good time, boys, all in good time,'” he remarked, puttin’ on some kind of air of geniality.
“Well, Randall shut up after that and wouldn’t say another word on that subject until after dinner when he and I were alone and walking to the saloon for the game. I never took part in those games; always seemed a waste, but I’m a keen observer of the human condition; that’s why I always went along. That’s why I happened to know the prediction: When the wheel is steel, diamonds turn red. Well, it sounded like a setup to me, some kind of joke on George’s part—”
“Yep, good ol’ George; nobody could get a joke out as good as good ol’ George.”
“A natural, that’s what he was, a natural.”
“—so I advised Randall not to be taken in by all that nonsense, but he wouldn’t listen, not one iota, and who knows I thought to myself, maybe I am wrong; hardly ever happens, but maybe I am wrong here. That’s exactly what I told myself, Sonny, but of course I wasn’t wrong.