I used to be famous. I know, I know, you don’t believe me. I was the most popular psychic in New York City, and I even had commercials before that “Jamaican” fraud Miss Cleo proved to be a scam. (Jamaican? She was born in L.A.!) Once she gave real psychics a bad name, the business was never the same. By the time she had packed her bags and moved to Florida after that huge lawsuit, I had lost most of my customers.
I’ll have you know, I still have quite a bit of money thanks to my early success. I had a very good accountant who took care of my investments. At first I was a little nervous, when Miss Cleo’s story hit the news. Local reporters were hoping to find a big headline in hometown psychics they could defraud, but ultimately I saw the events unfolding before they could get to me and I was able to quietly fade into obscurity.
That’s why I decided to become a hermit. I pretend to be crazy, but that’s just so people will leave me alone. I live on the streets because I choose to. People who have addresses can be found by the government. They’re traceable. I don’t even use my bank account, because that’s traceable too. You’d be surprised how easy it is to survive out here. Sure, winter is brutal, but there’s lots of nice shelters where I can sleep, and get a warm blanket. There are places that give out free food, plus people throw out food all the time. Half-eaten hot dogs right on the top in the garbage can? They’re called dirty water hot dogs for a reason. The dirt is okay, you can still eat them. I do all the time.
I haven’t been to the dentist in years, but you know what? I don’t even have many teeth left. What do I need to see a dentist for? And I’m still alive, so I don’t need a doctor, I must be doing something right. Right? All I need is some nice newspaper for a bed and blanket in the Spring and Fall, and I get lots of them from the garbage too. I go in public buildings to clean myself up. Like the New York Public Library bathroom, that’s my favorite.
I know, I know, this all has nothing to do with the Mayor’s daughter. But don’t you think you need to know more about me if you’re going to put me in your book?
Okay, I’ll get to the point. I saw her one day, she almost fell on me. She wasn’t looking and didn’t see me there in bed, taking my nap between my free lunch at the soup kitchen and my free dinner at the shelter. She was nice, though. She gave me a hair brush. I guess she thought I could sell it, but I didn’t. I kept it. I treasure it, the nicest thing anyone has done for me in a long time.
She was talking about giving up on something. I used my psychic powers – I still have them, you see, they’re just a little rusty since I almost never use them anymore – and I got the sense that I should encourage her. So I told her something I read in a fortune cookie once. There’s a Chinese restaurant that throws out some really good food, and sometimes when I’m not in the mood for what the shelter is serving I’ll go see if there’s any egg rolls in their dumpster.
I told her if she gave up she’d be crazy like me some day. But that’s just part of the act. I still have to pretend I’m crazy so the government doesn’t find me and try to get my money like they did to Miss Cleo. Even though she was a fraud and I’m not, they can’t find me. Remember, you have to change my name too. In your book. You can’t call me Laocoon. Call me… Danger Man. No no wait, call me… THE Danger Man.
Don’t look me up either, it’s all lies. There was an article about me at the beginning of the war. It was a tiny article in a little-known magazine, and I was quoted saying that New Jersey will win the war. Well, okay, fine. That’s true. I said it and I meant it. And… you swear you won’t tell anyone this? Soooooo, maybe I knew that Cassandra saw the same thing I did. People didn’t believe me then, like they don’t believe her. The real reason I’m homeless is that it wasn’t a little-known magazine. It was the New Yorker. And news travels fast, and the little article was mentioned in a lot of other magazines, and I lost everything.
But I don’t want that to happen to Cassandra. She can’t give up. I allowed the bad press to run my life into the ground, and I act crazy so people are scared of me and leave me alone. But Cassandra’s a smart girl. Smarter than me, that’s for sure. She can find a way to convince the city to take this war seriously and not just rely on arrogance. I don’t know if she’s had a vision of the soldiers hiding in the horse yet, but I pray to Apollo, even though he doesn’t like me very much anymore, that he will help Cassandra before things get even more out of hand. The war has gone on long enough, and I hope that Cassandra takes my encouragement to heart and doesn’t give up… even though I did have to act a little crazy again after the fortune cookie thing so that my cover wouldn’t be blown.
This is an exercise written as part of NaNoWarmUp, a personal writing challenge in October to write 25,000 words as preparation for writing 50,000 words in November. This year I’m using the daily writing goal of 800 words to write ABOUT my Cassandra story from the point of view of other characters. In November, I hope to be prepared to start writing a new first draft of Cursed from Cassandra’s point of view, a more complete story after figuring out how other characters perceive Cassandra, her prophecies, and the Trojan War.