It was an interesting little morsel of news out of New York about fortune tellers. In essence, they were not good enough at their trade to know they were going to get arrested. Go figure.

What happened was, they told customers that for specific sums (in one instance, $1,000) they could chase away evil spirits and reunite them with former boyfriends or girlfriends.

In New York, a fortune teller’s license specifies that their trade is only for “amusement” and “entertainment” purposes. Their problems came when they made offers to undercover cops.

One cop got the offer of removing evil spirits for an extra $900. Another was told that for $1,300, her wayward boyfriend would be returned.

Now there’s real crime going on in the world, and I question spending resources on routing out fortune telling fraud. I’m not even sure that people who fall for this stuff shouldn’t be charged with being stupid.

Keep in mind that people who really believe that fortune tellers can remove hexes are allowed to drive vehicles on busy streets and to bear children. In that regard, we might be in more danger there as a society than the fact that they paid someone $!,000 to conjure up their old boyfriends.

A long time ago in Atlanta — for amusement — I let a fortune teller “:read my fortune.” And sure enough, she said she could remove a dark cloud from over me for the price of $25. (You can see how inflation and time has impacted the soothsaying business.)

“You’re sure there’s a dark cloud there?” I asked.

“Very dark,” she said with a wrinkled brow.

The wrinkled brow is part of the act. If she had been chewing gum, blowing bubbles and watching a soap on television out of the corner of her eye, not even the dumbest customer would fall for that. Got to have the wrinkles. Sort of a mystic ambiance.

I said, “Good. Very good.”

And she was caught off guard.

I explained to her that we had been having a drought back home. Dark clouds generally mean rain. And I was going home that weekend and take the dark cloud with me. With any luck, our corn would come out of the wilt by the time I got back.

Obviously, she didn’t know at the outset that I was a country boy since I didn’t offer to pay her in turnips. I told her that there were many days when I was pulling weeds out of peanuts that I prayed for a dark cloud because it was a long way to the end of the row and the shade of those persimmon trees.

After regrouping her thoughts, she told me that the dark cloud over me was about evil spirits, not rain.

I told her that I knew all about evil spirits — that I had read “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn” and that I knew where to get all the necessary ingredients for chasing off evil spirits. Stump water. Bats. Dead frogs. Cow bones. Etc.

She knew after the Huck Finn thing that I was pulling her chain much harder than she was pulling mine.

In overview, I guess it’s all just a matter of perspective. Who’s the most dangerous, someone telling fortunes or someone believing in them?

I think our public safety efforts are better spent routing out sleight-of-hand congressmen, capturing terrorists and rounding up gang-bangers than cornering Madam Rose for dissolving dark clouds. And I was just wondering — on behalf of some of those aforementioned congressmen — if they ever had spells to make old girlfriends or boyfriends go away?

(Dwain Walden is editor/publisher of The Moultrie Observer, 985-4545. E-mail:

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