“In there?” I point to the double-gallery house behind him. There isn’t a sign. There’s a blue neon light in the shape of a palm in the window, and in the middle it says, ‘Palm Readings.’ Nothing else. No business name or anything. If anything, the building gives me the creeps. It’s two blocks over from Bourbon Street, so it isn’t as busy. It’s dark; the only light illuminating the sidewalk is from the blue glow of the sign.
“Look, this place has got to be legit, right? I saw a flyer at the bar,” Brandon protests.
Michelle is grabbing my hand tight and hiding behind me, peeking out from around me. “It looks creepy,” she whispers, just as the wind blows, causing the wind chimes hanging above the doorway to tinkle mysteriously.
I narrow my eyes at the musical instruments creating gorgeous high-pitched tunes, but the closer I look at them and the more my eyes adjust to the night, I begin to notice something off about them. I take a step forward, the porch groaning as I step onto it.
“What are you doing?” Michelle hisses to keep her voice low so no one inside hears us.
Doubtful, since no one seems to be here.
“How have we lived in New Orleans all this time and not done this? I’m excited.” Brandon goes to knock, but I grab his wrist before he can.
“Because locals fucking know better. Either you dive into the real shit or you don’t. Tourists don’t care,” I explain.
I keep my arm stretched out to keep Michelle behind me. Something feels off. I look around noticing no one else around. The upbeat jazz music has faded in the distance, but the cheers of drunk people can still be heard.
The clonks of hooves tap against the road, which has me turning my head to see a horse and carriage. The loud wail of the chimes rings again, bringing my attention back to the odd shapes. Are those… my eyes widen when I finally see what I think they are.
“Oh my god, are those bones?” I reach up to touch them to see if maybe they feel real, but Michelle stops me.
“Don’t you dare. If they are bones, you could catch something…”
“They aren’t real. Come on.” Brandon runs his finger over what looks like a ribcage. “It’s supposed to be spooky. Gives it the ‘real feel.’”
“Your friend is right, mon cher.” An old woman’s Cajun accent has us all jumping and taking a step back.
When the hell did she open the door?
“‘Dem bones are from a cat. Don’t worry. It was already dead. Did not want to let it go to waste.” She rings the chimes by pulling the spine that sways in the middle and runs it across the ribs to create more music.
Honestly, now all I hear are sad meows.