WRITTEN BY: LUCY VOSS/SCORPIO
Taking a stroll through a more urban tarot tale with Lucy Voss
The Cul de Sac was originally just a cul de sac but the developers and the Town Council never managed to come up with a special name so in the end it became The Cul de Sac. It was an attractive mixed development of semis and detached houses of two, three or four bedrooms. All the houses had reasonably-sized gardens, some given over to lawns and flowerbeds, others to swings and football nets.
The woman at Number Nine The Cul de Sac lived in a two-bed house and appeared to be unattached. She was always friendly but never got close to her neighbours. At certain times of year most of the people in The Cul de Sac would invite the other residents in – Christmas, New Year, wedding anniversaries, barbecues. The woman at Number Nine attended some of these parties, contributing something she had made, or an extra nice bottle of wine, and she always helped with the boring things like collecting dirty plates and glasses. She herself did not entertain, but was so pleasant and helpful to everyone no-one really noticed they weren’t invited back. One or two observant souls noticed she never seemed to have any visitors, but then they could always have called when the neighbours weren’t looking.
No-one in The Cul de Sac knew exactly what the woman at Number Nine actually did. Sometimes she was away, sometimes she could be seen leaving early, always well presented in a suit or a tailored dress, on her way to the station. Other times she would be at home during the day. Occasionally she could be seen leaving at odd times looking as if dressed for travel, though, somehow, she did not seem to be going on holiday.
When the woman at Number Nine was at home she might babysit for the Page of Cups and the Page of Pentacles and their daughter, who lived nearby, or she sometimes went over to No 6 and helped young Cups with his sums. “I’m so grateful,” said Mrs Six Cups, “I don’t understand why he can’t understand his teacher.” “Miss Nine Pentacles explains things properly,” said the child. “I wish she taught in our school. Mr Sword makes it all so complicated.” Miss Nine Pentacles laughed. “You couldn’t,” Mrs Six Cups said, “come over every week? It would all be on a proper business footing.” “My schedule is irregular, so I’m sorry, no I couldn’t.” “What exactly is it you do?” asked Mrs Six Cups. “Your son understands numbers all right,” said the Woman at Number Nine. And she smiled pleasantly and went home.
The Queen of Pentacles was preparing to celebrate a landmark birthday. She had invited all the Pentacle cousins and the major Pentacley Uncles and Aunts. “I’ve not had a reply from Cousin Nine,” said the Queen. “Well, you know,” said the King, “she replies when she has contact, and she’ll come if she’s here.” “Yes, but,” said the Queen, “she’s been away a lot longer than usual.” “If there was anything really wrong we’d be let know,” replied the King. “Not perhaps as we’d like to be, but information would reach us. We’re the official next of kin. Why are you fussing so much anyway?” “Am I fussing?” asked the Queen. “Perhaps I just feel uneasy.”
The day of the party came and went. The Queen’s son and daughter-in-law and their now not quite so new baby attended. “Have you seen Cousin Nine around?” the Queen asked them. “No,” replied the Page of Pentacles, “I’ve been working long hours and I haven’t really noticed much in The Cul de Sac. You don’t once the clocks go back.” “Me neither,” said the Page of Cups. “Baby keeps me busy.”
Another few weeks passed without contact. “Right,” said the Queen of Pentacles, “I’m going to investigate.” “On your head be it,” said her husband. “Take the Knight with you – no I’m not coming, I think you are being foolish. And there’s no need to disturb the Pages and Baby.”
The Woman at Number Nine was making her way home. She turned the corner and saw lights on in her house. She moved forward stealthily and saw the front door was open. She retreated equally stealthily and concealed herself behind some shrubs in front of a darkened house. She took out her work phone and pressed a key. She gave a password and a coded message. Within a short while a large black vehicle with doused lights turned into The Cul de Sac and parked, blocking the road. Several bulky dark figures emerged and quietly took up positions at the front and rear of Number Nine. Two further bulky figures cautiously entered the house.
All the lights in the house went on. The headlights of the black vehicle came on illuminating the front door. One or two neighbouring curtains began to twitch. The Queen and the Knight of Pentacles were led out by one bulky man with another following. The two by the front door joined the group and marched the intruders over to a saloon car parked further along The Cul de Sac, and the Queen and the Knight were bundled into the back, followed by a bulky man. Another got in on the other side, so it was a squash. No-one said anything. Then a tall man in civilian dress got into the front passenger seat and gave the driver an address.
The Woman at Number Nine approached her house. “Sorry, Miss,” said a bulky man, “we’ll have to check everything. You won’t be able to stay here for a day or two. Temporary accommodation has been arranged, a car’s on its way.”
A few days later:
The King of Pentacles had not been pleased to be called to the local police station at midnight to pick up his wife and elder son. The Queen and the Knight had been dropped off there after an interview of two hours held in some unidentified building and conducted by the tall man who gave a name the Queen felt sure was not his real one. The King, the Queen, the Knight and the Woman at Number Nine were at Pentacle Manor having what in pentacles terms was a row.
“I’m still living in temporary accommodation,” said the Woman at Number Nine. “I’ve no clean clothes, and I can’t go home till the property has been properly swept.” “But we didn’t make a mess,” snapped the Queen, “we didn’t do any damage, we just wanted to be sure you were all right.” “How did you get in, anyway?” “The door was open,” said the Knight, “so we were more worried than ever.” “So you just walked in, without checking, you could have been attacked. Did you see anyone?” “You sound just like that man,” said the Queen tearfully. “It was awful, he just went on and on, the same questions over and over again, as if we were lying. Couldn’t you have said something?” “No, I could not. And you’ve put me in a difficult position, professionally. I’ve told you and told you, if anything happens you will be informed. Otherwise just assume I’m alive but in “radio silence” or “mobile silence” if you prefer. I’ll set up a new personal mobile account and I’ll let you have the number, but that’s all.” “No address?” asked the Queen. “No, I don’t have an address now thanks to you two.” “Well later on …….?” “Oh leave it,” said the King of Pentacles.
Two months later:
Young Six Cups was delighted with the results of his important maths test and wanted to go and thank the Woman at Number Nine. He and his mother walked over to the house. When they knocked a strange man opened the door. “We’ve come to see Miss Pentacle,” they said, uncertainly.
“Sorry, I can’t help you. I live here now.”