I’ve been a carnival junkie since I was a kid. There were a lot of them back then, and my mom was into them as much as I was, so she always took me to every school carnival in the area. I loved the rides and the games and the weird stuff.
Gypsy fortune tellers were nothing but fancily dressed manikins in a glass box. You put in your money and a card came out with your fortune. So to my disappointment, they weren’t real.
Mom also took me to Riverview Amusement Park, Chicago’s version of Coney Island (which I also loved when visiting relatives in New York). It was nearly a two hour haul to get to Riverview. The train downtown, the rapid transit, then a bus.
But it was as exciting as it got because they had high excitement rides like roller coasters, six of them!
(The wooden rollercoaster here is the Coney Island Cyclone)
I almost fell out of Riverview’s Silver Flash that didn’t have proper restraints for little kids. Mom caught me when I was nearly halfway off the ride. That did not squelch my enthusiasm for rollercoasters.
Riverview had a midway complete with games and barkers and kewpie dolls…and really weird stuff. A human freak show—the four-legged girl, the armless wonder, the mule-faced woman. The one that freaked my young self out was a woman who had the bottom end of a baby coming from her stomach. I didn’t know about conjoined twins at that age. I doubt many people did.
What Riverview didn’t have was a live fortune teller, at least not when I was there. I had to satisfy myself with another colorfully dressed manikin in a glass box.
When Rebecca York and Ann Voss Peterson and I decided to write our Gypsy Magic serial novel set in the Louisiana bayou country, we wanted to start with a carnival gypsy. A real gypsy.
It was all over now. Her only son, her beloved son, was condemned to death. For a crime she knew he could not have committed.
She gathered her strength for what she must do. From the pocket of her long skirt the old Gypsy pulled the bandanna with the objects. The pen. The crumpled paper cup. The metal tack. None was of great value. But they held the power she needed. For each had belonged to one of the people she was going to curse tonight.
Her hand clenched the pen. “Justice is blind,” she whispered, then joined the curse with the name of Wyatt Boudreaux. “Love is death,” she intoned as she crumpled the paper cup in her hand and said the name of Garner Rousseau. Finally she picked up the tack and said, “The law is impotent,” linking those words with the name of Andrei Sobatka.
Pushing herself erect, she stood and shuffled to the edge of the bayou, smug in her satisfaction that she had evened the score.
We had a great time with the carnival background and three cursed heroes. Would they ever be able to end the curse and find happiness with the women they love?
Each of these compelling stories ends with an HEA for the hero and heroine. But only the full set will finally get to the bottom of the murder mystery. Be sure to read them all!