Having too much time and money on my hands and a need to be fulfilled, I was wandering the streets of Manhattan when I decided that I would do something about my unfulfilled desires.

I called a phone number, and some shady sounding guy told me that he had to call me back because the lady I wanted to see had just stepped out. So I hung around a street corner on Lexington Avenue, smokin’ a cig and lookin’ like a sophisticated street tough, a dapper don in an expensive suit.

Who am I kidding. I played a colorful children’s game on my iPhone while I was waiting.

My fun was interrupted when I got a call back. The man told me that she was ready for me. He then proceeded to give me directions, leading me to a long staircase that up four flights of stairs, past a shady second-story spa that looked like it was the sort to give happy endings.

Out of breath, I found apartment 4F. I knocked on the door, and lo and behold: a passably attractive woman, whom I would later learn was of German and Sicilian descent, came to the door and greeted me by name.

“Hello,” I replied. I had forgotten for a brief second that I’d given my name to the fellow on the phone, so I believed briefly that she was psychic.

We shook hands, and I noted that her hands were silky soft, and warm.

“So, why are you here today?” she asked me. Part of me wanted to be comforted. I had been starved of the love and affection of a woman for quite some time, and an impulse in me was what had brought me to this pretty lady’s door.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. The corner of my mouth curled in chagrin. “I’m pretty new to this. It’s my first time, actually.” I lied.

She gave me an uncertain smile and led me, in two steps, into her tiny foyer, where she had set up a curtain to block off the deeper parts of her apartment that she didn’t want her clients to see.

“Sorry it took me a while to let you in. I had to put my cat away.” She continued to ramble on, saying something about how business men often visited her and she knew that they wouldn’t want a cat rubbing up on their suits.

We got comfortable, sitting at an angle from each other in some sitting chairs. They were relatively comfortable, if a bit cramped. Unbeknownst to me at the time, I was sitting in a chair seeped in cheap cologne, musky perfume, and cigarette smoke.

A moment of awkward silence ensued as I sat there, unsure of what to do.

She smoothed out the front of her plain black skirt, pulled on her blouse, and smiled politely at me. “I know this seems like a small space, but I like to keep things cozy,” she said, half apologizing, half bullshitting. “I think my assistant said that you had a bit of problem finding this place, yes?” I nodded my head. She chuckled. “I see my more important clients at this studio because it’s a little more out of the way, that way it gives them privacy. Some of them are celebrities, you know. And you know how they don’t like people to know their business.”

I nodded in understanding. But I smirked on the inside. Her transparent inflations were amusing to me.

“So, is this your first time?” she asked me.

“Yeah, I haven’t done this before,” I replied, noting that she was a poor listener. I’d already told her that it was my first time. It was a lie, but still. Not a good sign. “So…what do we do? What do you offer?”

The woman shifted in her seat to face me more directly. “Well, a lot of clients come to me for a variety of things…”

I looked at her blankly. She returned my look with her own: her face said that I was a complete dolt for not knowing what was on the menu. But then she caught herself and smiled kindly at me.

Wetting her lips, and putting her soft warm hand on mine, she said, “Did you come here today because you’re worried about love? Or maybe work.”

I smiled with a sigh, ashamed that my needs were that transparent.

She looked at me softly. “I can tell you have something on your mind. It’s okay though. That’s why we’re here, to take care of it.”

Again, I nodded. My mind was already traveling into my distant past as she spoke. “We can do a palm reading for twenty, a love reading for forty…” she said. I spaced out though. I couldn’t quite focus on what she was saying, namely because I was already knew what the deal was.

I opted for the full life reading for a big chunk of change, a cool hundred. I pretty much knew that I was wasting my money, but I still wanted to believe. Deep down inside, I was hoping that she would tell me something that would soothe my soul and calm my worries. I wanted her to tell me that love was around the corner.