The Fifth Door excerpt

Mona turned next to the Devil card. Pan, obviously, in this deck. She didn’t need to check the book to recognize the horny old goat with his pipes. He had two leashed lovers on chains, and while they appeared to be dancing, they didn’t look overly pleased about it. “Ooo, bondage!” she quipped, trying to lighten the mood. She was rewarded with a small huff of laughter from her companion.

Finally, the inverted Queen of Wands. “This was Whittaker’s mother last time.”

Frieda nodded. “Mm-hmm.”

“I think…” Mona considered carefully before going on. “I think it’s her again, only now she’s expressing her opinion, rather than just identifying herself.”

“Then I’m guessing she’s not too happy about something.”

“I think you guess right. Who is this? In this deck, I mean?” She was tired of flipping pages.


“Odysseus’s queen who waited all those years for him to come back?”

“That’s the one.”

“Huh.” Mona looked at the set of four cards again, trying hard to see them as a unified message. The Queen was tired of waiting. That much seemed pretty clear. But tired of waiting for whom? Or for what?

“If Death is a door that’s stuck open…” Frieda began. She frowned in thought. “I’m trying to remember what you said the other night.”

“Maybe it’s the Devil who’s in the way?” offered Mona.

“And maybe the Ace of Swords is trying to get rid of him?”

“Or possibly the Ace is keeping the door from closing, thereby keeping another door from opening and suspending the natural progression of events—”

“Whatever those events might be.”

“—because she’s, what? Afraid of what the Devil will do? Or she’s afraid he’s on the other side of the next door?”

“Either way, one of them is blocking the door and Queenie here is getting fed up.” Frieda slumped in her seat, downed the last of her latte, and took the final bite of lemon bar. “You know, they’d all be happier if they could just have some of your lemon bars.”

Mona’s mouth curled up in a smile. “They refrigerate well, but I don’t think that’s enough to get them to the astral plane.”

“No, but it’s a nice thought.”

“It is.” They both chuckled softly.

After several moments of thoughtful silence, Mona said, “At least part of the message is clear.”

“The part about Lydia—Whittaker’s mother, that is—being sick of waiting around for whatever needs to happen to happen?”

“That, too. But I was thinking about the Death card.”

“Tell me.”

Mona shrugged. “Somehow, the door that’s stuck open, or being held open, or whatever? Someone needs to close it.”