A sample of the new novel, “The Chinese Crystal Ball,” Author House publishers by Dr. Pelham Mead III

It was a sunny day in Greenwich Village in New York City. John Cardomen a young Irish man in his late twenties was walking down 9th street toward Washington Square to have lunch, and relax awhile sitting on the wooden benches around the park. He was a stockbroker with a degree from Dartmouth College.

John was ready to take on the world. Life had been good to John. His red hair in a crew cut was thinning, but his health was good, and he had the energy of three men when it came to stocks and bonds. His distinct nose had a little bulb on the end, and his face always looked like he had a permanent five o’clock shadow.  John was about 6ft. 2”, and a descent college basketball player. He played on the Dartmouth team that went to the National finals a few years before.

It was November in New York City, and the leaves had already turned, and many had dropped to the ground. Washington Square was beautiful this time of the year with bright red and orange leaves on the trees. The air was a crisp 55 degrees, and the wind was blowing in John’s face. Dogs were barking and the sounds of the city were everywhere.

As he sat at a park bench, he ate his sandwich from the local deli, drank his diet soda, and reflected on how well his life was going, and particularly with his girlfriend Jodi. He decided to take an extra long walk, and go back to Broadway where he worked.  He walked south for a few blocks and looking at the Chinese trinket shops, and the rummage stores along the way. As he turned to walk east toward Broadway he noticed a rummage shop that had some great blue glass vases which he enjoyed collecting. He thought to himself, “ I have a little time, maybe I will just drop into this store, and see how much the blue glass vase in the window costs.’ So he entered the store to the ringing of bells handing over the door.

“Can I help you,” an old Chinese man asked in a thick Chinese accent. John responded, “I am interested in the blue glass vase in the window. How much does it cost?” ”For you Mister, only thirty five dollar,” the old man responded. “Wow, thirty five dollars, that is a little steep. How about twenty-five dollars?” John replied. “No, very expensive glass from China. You pay thirty dollars?” asked the old man. “OK thirty dollars seems fair, wrap it up for me please,” said John.

As he approached the cash register counter he noticed a beam of light shining from behind the counter. The light caught his eye. It looked like a glass ball of some type. John asked, “Excuse me what is that glass thing?” “ Oh, it is very old from China, you no like,” the old man added. “You not want it, many mysteries, ”the old man said. “Can I have a look at it John said?” “The old man hesitated for a minute, and then shook his head, and took a scarf off of the glass ball.” When the old man put the ball on the table John noticed right away that it was a crystal ball about 12-18 inches in diameter. “Is this really a crystal ball,” John asked?” The old man answered, “This is very old quartz from China, perhaps hundreds of years old, no maybe thousands from the Chin dynasty.” “Really,” John exclaimed. “Is it really that old or are you playing me old man?” The old man laughed, “you funny, many stories about this both good and bad.” “Some consider it cursed,” the old man said. “The last owner sold this to me years ago when I was in China, and I was warned to keep it covered at all times or an evil spirit will come out.” John was intrigued; “OK what is it going to cost me to buy it from you?” “No not for sale,” said the old Man.

“How about two hundred dollars cash, “ John offered. “OK, I will buy both the Crystal ball, and the blue glass vase, OK?” John asked.  “Yes,” said the old man, “good purchase for you. Keep the ball covered from light and dust,” said the old man.  John replied, “ I don’t believe in superstitions, but I love the clear slightly green quartz ball. It will look great on my coffee table.”  So the sale was made, and John took his purchases and headed off to work.

When John got home that evening he took the crystal ball out, and placed it on a silver tray on top of his coffee table. It looked great there, John thought to himself. The blue vase he put in his collection cabinet along with the other blue vases he had collected.

The crystal ball sat for over a month, and no spirits or evil things ever appeared. One day in December a month later, John was watching the Giants football team play the Cowboys football team on Television. The sun was shining brightly through the balcony glass doors passing through the crystal ball. A spectrum of different colors appeared on the wall and all over the apartment like a  rainbow. John did not notice at first, but an image appeared on the wall projected by the crystal ball with the sunlight as a source. It was a vague picture of a yellow taxicab hitting what appeared to be a woman. John could not believe that this was indeed an image on the wall coming from the crystal ball. He was sure he had too many beers while watching television. The image scared him for a minute, and he thought back to the old man’s gibberish about mysteries about the crystal ball. It was really weird and there must be some explanation. He dreamt about the image all night long. The image in his head would not go away in his head. 

The next day was Monday, and John was to meet his girlfriend Jodi after work at Joe’s Coffee Shop on 6th avenue and 32 St.. It was one of their favorite places to meet since it had coffees from around the world, and pastries that you could kill for. John and Jodi had first met at Joe’s coffee shop a few years before and it has always been a special place for them since. As John was crossing 6th avenue he saw Jodi coming across the avenue from 32nd street. He waved and she waved back. She was in a cute short plaid skirt, and a red sweater with the usual ribbons she always loved to tie into her dark brown hair. It was hard to see Jodi above the crowd since she was only 5 feet tall. All the men and women around her dwarfed her. The traffic light changed on 6th avenue for all traffic to stop, and Jodi stepped off the curb with a crowd of people.

Suddenly, out of nowhere a New York City Yellow taxicab came speeding around the corner from 31st street heading south on 6th avenue. It didn’t look like he was going to slow up despite the red traffic light, and all the pedestrians walking across the avenue. The yellow cab driver suddenly realized the light was red, and slammed on its breaks to avoid the pedestrians crossing the street with Jodi. The taxi driver veered the cab to the right but the cab did not stop as fast as the driver had hoped. Several people jumped out of the way as the taxi approached and suddenly, it hit Jodi who never saw the cab coming. She was focused on John standing across the street. The cab hit her directly on. She flew up and over the car like a toy doll smashing the windshield, and then bounced onto the pavement. Blood was everywhere on the cab, the windshield, and on the road. Jodi was dead on contact. A few nearby pedestrians rushed over to see if she was still alive. John only saw the cab screeching to a stop at the light. He did not see Jodi being hit by the cab  and fly up over the hood hitting the windshield. He ran across the street now jammed with traffic in every direction to see what was going on.

A policeman who was standing at the corner of 31st street and 6th avenue was running toward the accident. It all happened so fast, and when John got across the street there was beautiful Jodi in her red sweater, and plaid skirt lying on the ground in a pool of blood.  John almost fainted. He could not believe that this had happening Jodi. Images flashed through his mind. “Oh my God, this was the scene he saw on the wall projected by the crystal ball.” John thought.  This could not be happening. This had to be a dream. How could it be?” Tears swelled up in his eyes, and he cried uncontrollably. He knelt down to check the pulse in her neck, but there was no pulse. Her blood was all over his hand. The policeman was trying to help by pushing the crowd back from the scene.

 Five minutes later a Police Ambulance arrived, and took Jodi’s body, and John away to St Vincent’s hospital. The paramedic took her pulse, and blood pressure, but got no reading. Johns was beside himself. This all seemed so surreal. This could not be happening to him or Jodi. “Oh, my God what has happened here, was it an act of God?”  Did the little crystal ball really have a vision? So many thoughts raced through his mind.

An hour later John was waiting outside an emergency room when Detective Nathaniel Green from the NYC Police department approached him. “Sir, I am sorry to bother you, but are you the victim’s boyfriend or brother?” said detective Green. “Yes, yes I am her boy friend. Her name is Jodi Greenspand, and she lives at 92 Park drive, apartment 22,” said John. His head hung low and he had a serious headache. “How could this be?” he kept saying to himself?” The rest of the day seemed like a blur. He vaguely remembers calling Jodi’s parents and sister from the hospital. They were shocked too. Jodi’s father asked a million questions which John tried to answer but his thinking was clouded and he was in shock.

The next day the police called John at home, and asked John to come down to the precinct and identify the cab driver that hit Jodi. John hadn’t slept all night. He kept thinking he was dreaming and the crystal ball was just a fake. Just in case he covered it with a hand towel. He didn’t completely believe that this glass thing had any magical power to it.  He dressed slowly that morning, and skipped breakfast, and he headed for the bus to go cross-town to the Police precinct. He was supposed to meet the Police that afternoon for a line-up with the Cab driver and others in the line. The cabbie was being charged with vehicular manslaughter that was a major felony, and could put the cabbie in jail for over twenty years. But that wasn’t going to bring Jodi back.

The afternoon came and went. He went to the Precinct and identified the cabbie that hit Jodi. He was a short stubby man with a dark beard and a faded leather jacket. After the line up the Police had the cabbie arrested and booked for vehicular manslaughter for speeding and attempting to run the red light. John went back to work afterward but could not get any work done. Over and over he tossed in his mind how this wasn’t real. No piece of quartz, no matter how old could project the future, except in comic books. He simply could not accept the fact that the crystal ball had any power at all. John thought for a moment of telling the police what he saw on the wall the day before the accident, but they would never have believed him, and he would have ended up in the Psychiatric ward at Bellevue Hospital.

Exhausted, John headed home early from work that day. His heart was especially heavy because he had to meet Jodi’s sister and parents at the funeral the next day. Jewish burials are required to take place as soon as possible, according to tradition, so both the funeral, and burial would be the next day once the coroner released the body. John was dreading the funeral and burial. What was he going to tell her parents, and sister? Was he responsible in some way? Hundreds of questions flooded his mind. When he got off the subway he walked to his apartment at Trump Towers and went up to his room on the 10th floor apartment 1033. Dinner was a frozen pizza, and a lot of scotch. After ten drinks he fell asleep on the couch, but he didn’t sleep very long. He got up every hour all through the night.

When morning finally came he had bags under his eyes, and looked like “death warmed over.” The funeral was at 1:00 that afternoon at Silverstein’s Funeral Parlor on 9th avenue. He decided to take a cab downtown to the funeral home. He arrived a little early, and took a Jewish yamaka, and put it on his head and went into the funeral home. The funeral parlor sign indicated the room to the right was Jodi’s funeral. As he entered the room, there were Jodi’s parents, Sam Greenspand, and his wife Greta, and their daughter Molly. The grandparents were there too, and many cousins. Everyone was crying. John went up to Sam Greenspand, and gave him a big hug. “I am sorry Sam for your loss and mine,” said John. “It is fine my son, it is fine, and it is God’s way,“ said Sam, in a heavy tone full of sadness. “She is at peace now,” Sam said. Greta just cried unable to say anything. Molly Greenspan gave John a hug, and just looked at him, and cried. John moved around the room hugging each, and every cousin, and the two surviving grandparents. Finally, the Rabbi arrived and before John knew it they were all saying prayers for Jodi. It all went by in a flash in his mind. He vaguely remembered getting into the hearse for the close family members. It was a short ride to a Jewish cemetery across the midtown bridge to Queens. Later it was all a fog in John’s mind. He wanted to forget this even happened, but he could not. Everyone was so kind, and understanding, but none of that would bring Jodi back.



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