If you think it’s easy to lug a typewriter across the country, you’re wrong.
But I don’t mind. I’m not complaining! I’m simply thrilled to have access to this wondrous new technology. My editor is, too. He was getting tired of trying to decipher my garish scrawl — especially when he had to read through splatters and spills of ink.
I’ve been spending the last three months traveling from New York to Kansas City. I began my adventures at Grand Central Station on April 6, 1897 — no fooling — at 7:54 a.m. Since then I’ve set up my Underwood on park benches, cafeteria tables, and, of course, parlor cars aboard iron giants steaming across the countryside at 45 miles an hour.
Wherever I go, people come to admire my machine. I keep a ream of onionskin paper at the ready, and as they gaze enviously at my Underwood’s ivory keys and silver strikers, they all tell me their stories.
My name is Katrushka. My English is bad. I am going to St. Louis where my new … how you say … brother-in-law will meet me. I am pledged to marry Oleg Romonikoff on August 1.
So far we have but communicated by letter. Here. This is my last post from Oleg. He reports that he and his three boys are sound. Yes, he has three boys: Leopold, he is 11. Boris is 9. And little Vladimir, he is only 2. His mother was taken on the night he was delivered.
No, I am not afraid. I have not traveled so far before, but I am ready to be a wife and mother in this new country. Oleg assures me that he has a fine house and that I may buy new curtains to my taste as soon as I arrive. I am ready.
I was born mystic. Everyone knew it, because I was born with a caul: here, you can still see where it was attached, on my ear. Let me see your ear; you have it, too! Mystics are marked for life. It’s one way we know that we can speak freely amongst ourselves.
How have you used your gift? You haven’t yet? Oh, you must.
I don’t mean that you should “use” your gift for profit. That would be slavish and ill-advised. I myself only charge five cents for my readings. Yes, I’d be happy to show you. Give me your hand.
You have the spirit of a bird. Did you know that? You’re able to hear songs in any language and relay them in your own words. It’s a wonderful attribute.
I myself specialize in hearing the voices of those who have passed. After the last war, I traveled extensively to meet with widows and bereaved mothers across the country.
There is never a shortage of those who mourn, though. I’m able to find work wherever I go.
Your father says hello, by the way.
I can honestly say that I fear nothing. I fear no man, and I fear no God. When you’ve survived as much misfortune as I have, you learn that fate will have its way, no matter what emotional attachment you have to life and limb.
When I was 5, my parents were killed in a freak accident. A wild dog frightened our horses, and my father couldn’t control the wagon.
When I was 12, I was struck by lightning out of a clear blue sky. I wasn’t badly hurt, except for my ears — they ring to this day.
When I was 18, I fell from the new Ferris Wheel in Pennsylvania. Yes, I fell from the wheel of fortune. It sounds like a joke, but it’s true. Granted, I could have been more sober when I climbed it to check the mechanism at the top, but I like to think that the whisky in my system helped to cushion my landing.
Given the physical limitations that resulted, I decided to sharpen my mind. I learned how to make most of my money sitting at tables.
My luck is generally good. So far, I’ve only been stabbed once, at a poker game in Strasburg. I played the winning card, but my assailant was convinced that I had pulled it from my sleeve. He might have been right. The details are foggy.
At this point, I’ll play any game, anywhere, at any time. Let me know when you’re ready to put your typing machine away, and I can teach you a few tricks.