by Essa Elan
OK, so I’ve never actually known anyone to pick up a dog and bring it back home only to discover that it was, in fact, a rat. And I’ve never been chased down the highway by someone trying to tell me that there was a serial killer stashed away in my backseat. If I hear a story that happened to my best friend’s uncle’s cousin’s sister-in-law’s nephew and later
discover that it also happened to my neighbor’s dog-walker’s brother’s ex-girlfriend‘s English professor’s wife, I quickly dismiss it as urban legend.

So when Rita, a girl working at a gas station off I-75, told me about this guy named Hector ( known to her by eight degrees of separation) having his penis read, and then her co-worker, Lele, chimed in with her recount of someone named Marie getting her butt read, I got severely suspicious.

“Yeah girl,” Rita whispered as if she were telling me a secret, when I knew she’d probably told twenty folks before me, “There’s a fortune teller across the street who can read anything: a penis, your breasts, or your butt.”

“What does that mean? Like palm reading?” I asked.

“Like palm reading, but better. She says the lines along your other body parts are more intense, and she can tell you about your family, destiny; she helped one guy win the lottery.”

The lottery, huh? I looked at my watch, and realized that I was actually making pretty good time between Atlanta and Orlando, I was already well into Florida.

“Does she have to touch you?” I probed.

“Touch you? Girl, I don’t know, I haven’t gone to her. I don’t want no one looking at my big ol’ butt,” Rita said as she turned to straighten the potato chips. I could see her point, she had an ass like a $4 mule.

I decided to try this palm reader, Mama Dee, and see what she could tell me. I walked across the slow street to the building, which looked a bit shady, somewhat like a roadhouse. There was one dusty sign that stated, “Discover Your Future” in the window.

I knocked on the door as I entered to see a matronly black woman seated on a Victorian chaise.

“Come in child, and drop your pants.” She surprised me with how quickly she wanted to get down to business.

Usually, I’m highly disobedient, but Mama Dee reminded me a little of my grandma, so I was scared to piss her off, thinking she might take a switch to my behind. I dropped my pants, turned around and showed her my butt. She informed me that the shape and highness indicated that I’m energetic and high-strung (all true) and then she told me that I would come across an unexpected obstacle on my way to Orlando. She told me that when my CD fell to the car floor, to leave it and not pick it up.

“What about the lottery?” I pleaded with hope and anticipation.

Mama Dee burst into laughter, as if that were the most ridiculous question anyone had ever asked in the history of questions. “No lottery for you, child. You got other worries.”

I paid her a ten spot and went back to my car, eager to make it to Orlando before sunset. I shook my head as I realized I gave someone money to look at my butt, when in Atlanta I knew plenty of men who would gladly pay me to just see my underwear. It all seemed wrong, I’d been scammed. She didn’t even tell me anything useful, and there was no lottery for me.

I had two more hours of driving left. Miles down the highway, I began fidgeting with the radio, but nothing good was on. I decided to listen to a CD instead. As I pulled it from the holder, it slipped from my hand and fell
to the floor of the car. I was about to pick it up when I remembered Mama Dee and her warning to let it be. Just then, I rounded a blind turn of the Turnpike and had to swerve my car off the highway. The car in front of me was also skidding, as well as the car behind me. Before us was a huge accident, and two tracker trailers were stretched across the road, completely impassible.

Shocked and sweating, I realized that if I had reached down for that CD, I would have hit the trucks head on. Dang, Mama Dee was right, and who would have thought my ass could save my life?

Essa Elan is an Atlanta writer with forthcoming work appearing in Personal Journaling, CLAMOR Magazine, and Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number (2003, Beacon Press). She is editor of an online newsletter, Virgin Ink, hosted on and can be reached at

About Editors’ Choice:
Every week we choose one of the great stories we’ve received from travelers around the world and present it here as our “Editors’ Choice.” For an archive of these stories go to the Editors’ Choice link on The Flying Carpet; for more about the editors, see About Travelers’ Tales Staff.