Continued from Case Diary >>> "CAN TAROT CARDS KILL?"

Like falling dominoes, the chain of events began with Owen’s determined courtship of Glorianna. They met at an exclusive literary society weekend on Little Palm Island in the Florida Keys. The society’s members communicated with one another via the internet, and the weekend event was announced by e mail with photograph attachments of the members. One ruggedly handsome face in particular attracted Glorianna. At the event cocktail party, she distinctly remembered Owen’s photograph during the first awkward moments when Owen bumped into her, spilling his cocktail over an expensive silk dress. Owen’s intense embarrassment and profuse apologies followed. Then came his sheepish laughter, which led to a discussion about their favorite authors and books. While they were in conversation, Glorianna happened to see an attractive, sultry, green-eyed redhead standing by the bar. The girl furtively moved to Owen’s side with close familiarity, threading her arm through his. Without introducing herself, she asked "Having fun?" in a husky voice. Owen looked embarrassed and didn’t answer. She said "I'm bored, Owen, let's go". Turning on her heel, she abruptly left the room. Owen quickly said to Gloriana "It's not what you're thinking, that was Nikki Frane, she's an old friend and sometimes I escort her to various functions. But, there has never been anything but friendship between us. Something about her personality makes most people, including me, extremely irritated." They looked at one another and laughed. Glorianna instinctively felt that Owen was sincere, and she went home believing she had met a soul mate. Soon Glorianna and Owen were seeing one another on a regular and romantic basis. 

Owen had near celebrity status as a noted scientists and author, teaching at a major university, and lecturing world wide. Glorianna was a busy executive director of a large charitable foundation located in the Tampa area. The relationship was on a fast track, and their schedules meshed perfectly together. Owen said he couldn't resist Glorianna's long blonde hair and classic profile. He was seven years older than Glorianna, and she looked up to him as her white knight, her hero, a tender lover, and warm, compassionate human being.

Deeply in love, Glorianna, was ecstatic when Owen proposed to her. The wedding ceremony took place in an historical Episcopal church with glowing Tiffany stained glass windows and gothic architecture surrounded by ancient live oaks covered with Spanish moss. When Owen and Glorianna said "I do!" it was the first time for both, as Owen said he had been a bachelor for many years, and Glorianna had never married, concentrating on her career instead. They honeymooned for three weeks in France. Upon returning to Florida, Owen’s face was alight with optimism as they shared thoughts about a bright future together.

And then the strange telephone calls began. The telephone rang, but when Glorianna picked up the receiver, there was dead silence on the other end of the line, and a "click" as the caller hung up. Often there were as many as ten calls in one day. Due to the complicated telephone system Own installed months earlier, the calls could not be traced. Owen was sympathetic at first, and attempted to soothe Glorianna and keep her from becoming distraught over the constant disruptions. As time went by and the calls continued, he began to laugh and discount the severity of the situation, saying "It must be one of my old girlfriends who just couldn't forget me". Glorianna could only look glum and dejected in return. 

The word “stalking” became part of her vocabulary. Had she rejected someone who had become revengeful, or was some crazed predator obsessed with her for some reason? Glorianna's job allowed her to work at her computer at home. Yet, it was unnerving to hear the telephone ring every five minutes, as if the caller knew she was there. The telephone I.D. would reflect "private caller" or "out of area" and her call back feature produced only ringing on the other line or a busy signal. Glorianna notified the telephone company who informed her that, in order to trace the calls, she must install an expensive pen register on her telephone line, and that if the calls were coming from a cellular phone, the effort would be useless. The calls seemed to stop in the evening when Owen came home.

One day, Glorianna opened an envelope in the mail addressed to her containing a curiously designed playing card. There was nothing else in the envelope and no return address. When she showed the card to Owen, he told her it was a Tarot Card. The next day, another similar card arrived in the mail. Curiosity piqued, Glorianna went to the local library. She learned that the Tarot Cards were shrouded in ancient legend and believers thought the Tarot could be used to tell the future. The first card she received in the mail was one of the "Greater Trumps", the "Fool", depicting a young smiling man striding forward, dressed in multistriped jerkin and leggings, carrying a long staff on which a round bag dangled. At his side walked a small tiger-like beast. Glorianna read the descriptions and combinations of cards and their meanings. But common sense prevailed, and Glorianna finally left the library, still a disbeliever in fortune telling and the occult. 

That evening, she and Owen visited a pricey nouvelle cuisine restaurant. They luxuriated in the soft leather banquettes while listening to a virtuoso jazz pianist create the perfect romantic ambiance. Glorianna looked up and was startled to see Nikki Frane in the room, green eyes blazing, long red hair framing her face. Nikki approached the table. In a menacing voice, the Nikki said to Glorianna "You stole him from me, you're a witch, I know it, I saw you walking around his house, whispering spells. You bewitched him!" Guests in the restaurant began to stare and Glorianna felt humiliated and uncomfortable. Owen stood up and said "Nikki, please don't create a scene. If you're angry and want to speak to me, let's go outside to resolve this, not here." Grabbing Nikki’s arm, Owen forcefully propelled her away from the table. Stunned, Glorianna watched them leave. She instinctively felt the encounter was no coincidence, but then banished the thought from her mind. 



Several more weeks passed. The telephone calls continued. Owen downplayed the confrontation with Nikki. He swore Nikki was not sober, and that nothing would ever come of her empty threats. But Glorianna was worried when another mysterious envelope arrived in the mail, addressed to her. Inside was a sheet of paper to which three Tarot cards had been taped, a Skeleton, a Hanging Man, and an Angel. Glorianna suddenly felt cold. She knew from her research that the Skeleton symbolized death, the Angel was the Angel of Judgment, and the Hanging Man meant self sacrifice. The Hanging Man held between Death and the Angel meant there was no escape.

Glorianna asked herself if the cards were sinister omens or a sick joke. Deciding she would no longer be a victim, she made a frantic telephone call to L.B. Ryan, who was not only her attorney, but an old college friend she felt she could confide in. "I need a restraining order, now, immediately!" Glorianna gasped into the receiver. Hearing the panic in Glorianna’s voice, L.B. replied "Wait a minute, slow down, what's wrong." Glorianna began relating the chain of events leading up to that moment, voicing her fear that the sender of the Tarot Cards must be Nikki, that she was being stalked by a delusional psychotic. While voicing skepticism of Glorianna’s fears over the Tarot cards, Spencer said he would begin the process of obtaining a restraining order. He warned her there would be a hearing at which Nikki would probably be present, that Nickki would be furious when served with a subpoena for the temporary injunction hearing, and that Glorianna should be cautious about her safety. Glorianna’s reply was “I don’t care, I don’t want anymore surprises in the mail, or worse! Do what you have to do.”

The rest of the day was routine, even though Glorianna felt startled each time the telephone rang. When Owen came home later that day, she showed him the newest envelope containing the Tarot cards, but Owen scoffed at her fears. Hurt by Owen’s callous attitude, Glorianna decided not to disclose her meeting with L.B and that she was applying for an injunction against Nikki.

The next afternoon, Glorianna was shocked to discover the balance in her savings and checking accounts was zero. “There must be a terrible mistake!” she thought. Suddenly the front door burst open and Owen stormed into the house, his face contorted with rage. He was a completely different person than the man she thought she knew, transformed by anger into a madman. Glorianna cowered as he loomed over her, fist raised. “You had an attorney serve Nikki with a subpoena for hearing! What do you think you’re doing? Owen bellowed in his fury, followed by incoherent cursing and violent gestures. Glorianna thought her racing heart would leap from her chest. Owen grabbed her and with powerful arms put her into a choke hold. She began to lose consciousness. 

At that moment the doorbell rang, and there were foot steps in the hallway. A friendly voice called “Hi Glo, just stopping by, don’t worry about asking me for dinner!” Owen released his hold upon her neck and Glorianna collapsed to the floor and began taking deep breaths. It was L.B.! L.B. instantly assessed the situation. He looked at Owen and asked “What’s going on here? Glorianna are you alright?” He lifted Glorianna to her feet but she couldn’t find her voice, and shook her head from side to side to indicate an emphatic “No!” L.B. quickly maneuvered his tall frame between Owen and Glorianna. Owen, purple with anger, glared at L.B. and yelled “This b _ _ _ _ served my best friend with a subpoena to appear in front of a judge! Now I’m going to prove to her it wasn’t a smart thing to do!” L.B. gave Owen a sardonic glance and said “Well, I’m the attorney who served your friend with the subpoena. Nikki, isn’t that her name? She’s been stalking Glorianna. Actually, her name is Nickki Dubose, also known as Nicole Dufrene, and about ten other aliases.” Owen began to stammer something inaudible, and then was strangely quiet. L.B. continued “Yes, that was clever scheme, sending Glorianna threats through an occult medium such as the Tarot cards, keeping her off balance and unsure, playing on her fears against all common sense. Of course, you and Nikki had foisted this scam upon your unsuspecting victims many times, you are professionals at this game. While Glorianna was being victimized in one way, you victimized her in another, stealing her identity, spying and hacking into her online bank accounts and sequestering the funds offshore. You and Nikki both served prison sentences for identity theft and grand larceny. You shouldn’t be so cavalier about where you leave these. This deck of cards was found in your car trunk.” When L.B. held up a deck of brightly colored Tarot cards, Owen bolted for the door, only to find two armed policemen waiting. 

Glorianna , sobbing and gasping for breath, was stunned “How did you know?” she was finally able to whisper. With a grin on his face, L. B. said “ I made some inquiries about Owen. The events you described were simply too convenient. I surmised Owen must have some connection with Nickki. Research proved I was right. Owen and Nickki are famous for perpetrating elaborate cons and schemes on the unsuspecting. Their previous transgressions followed them to Florida. For years, they’ve been in and out of court and jail in several other states.” 

Glorianna whispered “I guess you are my guardian angel, like the one on the Tarot cards.” L.B. smiled and said, “I believe the Tarot cards in themselves have no power to kill unless in your mind you are convinced they can, or unless there is some evil human intervention. Deep down, your common sense was always telling you this. And, by the way, you’ll need a good divorce attorney. Do I qualify for the job?” Glorianna could only clutch her bruised throat and manage a weak grin.

© 2006 by All rights reserved. 
The Tarot cards pictured above are the familiar Rider deck. 
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