I thought that Sadee was the most beautiful girl I had ever seen. She got the looks from her father’s Algerian side—light olive skin, extremely dark long hair, and oblique black eyes—and her Romanian mother’s temper. Petite, a little shorter than me, with a Jennifer Lopez bottom, and dressed in a way that was elegant but sexy at the same time, Sadee was a dentist at a Clinique on the first floor where Adina lived. She was my age and single.
Pressed by her parents, she wanted a family and kids, just what my parents wanted for me. But in her case, the situation was complicated—her father wanted her to marry a Muslim, while her mom’s—a Romanian. She was in the middle.
One day, while we were hanging out at Adina’s after work, Sadee told us about a “magic” gypsy woman. She’d already contacted the gypsy to make an appointment for a marriage ritual. She wanted to know why her relationships didn’t last. I was curious too; I couldn’t see anything wrong with her.
She had already gone there once, Sadee said. We were sitting in the living room, Adina smoking her cigarettes and me, with a notebook in my hand to outline a story. Suddenly, Adina looked to me, and we knew the surprise would come.
“What did you do?” asked Adina, trying to get Sadee to spit it all out.
Sadee told us that at the gypsy’s house, the woman said some rhymes she couldn’t understand, then asked her to burn three matches and then toss them into a glass of water. All three matches sank.
I raised my eyebrows and saw Adina doing the same.
Sadee was in ecstasy when she told us what it meant—someone who didn’t want Sadee to get married cast a spell on her.
I tried not to laugh.
“How could she know that if she isn’t magic?” Sadee argued. It didn’t matter to her how much we tried to convince her there is no such thing, but only God’s will. She wanted us to go with her next time, just to be “sure.”
“No way!” I said.
But Sadee countered, “Yes—you are my friend. And besides, you can find out if you will ever get married. I’ll pay for it.” It was no way to convince Adina to go, so I had to take Sadee to the gypsy.
By dawn, I was exhausted from arguing with Sadee and said, “Whatever! But don’t tell anyone who I am.”
We went there the next evening after work. I couldn’t look at Sadee in the taxi without laughing. When we knocked on the woman’s door, Sadee had a packet for her. I saw in the plastic bag a bottle of American whiskey and a carton of cigarettes, Kent, long. That was the shpaga needed to be seen immediately for our love problems. When the woman left us for a second to get more matches and two more glasses of water, Sadee made a face at me:
“You better be quiet. If you destroy the magic, I will never, ever talk to you again.” She had finished the words before the gypsy came back. It was my turn.
The woman asked me to take off my shirt, had me sit in the middle of the room on an old blanket with camel pictures on it, and started the ritual. Sadee was right. I couldn’t understand a word. The gypsy took my blouse, turned it inside out, burned a match, and turned the blouse right side out again. She burned the second match, then turned the blouse again, and burnt another match.
“You will find your man over a big water. You’ll be a professor,” she told me. I don’t remember more than that. I didn’t believe a thing, of course.
Later that night, at Adina’s, we went over every word the gypsy had said. Sadee had a talent for getting whatever she wanted, and one of her favorite things was to have us repeat everything that she wanted to hear. She kept it up for hours until Adina told her “Stop! We’ve told you a million times now. We are not saying it again, and we are done with this subject!”
The next day, Sadee called the woman again to tell her that she was ready to finish the magic. This time, the gypsy told her the price was double, and Sadee accepted. What she didn’t tell us—the gypsy asked her to buy a new pair of leather boots from Eva’s, a high fashion store, and bring her the most expensive coat she had at home as well. That was the only way the magic would work well, she told her.
Sadee almost flew to the gypsy’s house—dragging Adina and me along in the taxi—because she was in such a hurry to get the magic.
The special ritual was in the middle of the night. The gypsy made the cross sign on her chest, which unnerved Adina. She whispered to Sadee, “God has nothing to do with this woman and your stupidity!”
What happened that night was above any reasonable person’s understanding. For Sadee, it was the “magic.” For us, it was comical. The gypsy got in the car dressed in a nice fur coat and smelling like a perfume shop as if she had tried all the possible fragrances at once. She had a plastic bag with her. Adina opened the taxi’s window on our side, to get some fresh air, and Sadee asked the driver to bring us to the closest intersection of four driveways. We had to be there before midnight. The driver asked if it mattered where the intersection was. It didn’t.
When the driver finally showed us the main intersection at the Intercontinental Hotel, Adina and I were almost in tears from laughing. Sadee wanted to find another intersection less populated, but the clock was ticking, and the magic had to start in a few minutes.
The gypsy told the taxi driver to stop the car, and since there was no parking space, the man had to stop in traffic and Sadee and the gypsy got out. He found a parking place a little further down the street. We got out of the car to see what was going on. When the university’s clock ticked to midnight exactly, we saw Sadee and the gypsy going into the traffic. We got a little closer.
“Unbelievable,” said Adina.
“Believe it,” I said.
There was Sadee in the middle of the intersection, carrying something. She squatted a few times while the woman gave her instructions. The cars were blowing their horns, and we were afraid she would get hit by one. But Sadee was still there, doing squats and throwing something above her head. When the stoplights changed to red, Adina and I walked toward the intersection. I could hear Sadee chanting, “So the magic of Venus, come and warm my heart! To hell with all the black magic that was on me!” She had to do it three times each, at each of the four driveways. When she got closer to us, we saw she had a hen in her arms.
“What the heck is that?” asked Adina. Sadee was throwing the hen behind her back, and the hen was clucking. We felt sorry for the hen. Once it was over, we returned to the taxi and dropped the gypsy off at her place. Sadee asked her about the coat outside the car.
“I need to keep it one more week so that the magic will work,” the gypsy said. “Call me then.”
We didn’t talk in the car. But when we went upstairs to Adina’s apartment, we asked her about the gypsy’s fur coat. She told us the truth. I said that if she didn’t call her first thing in the morning and get her coat back, I’d call the police.
I think none of us slept that night for different reasons. However, later I heard a noise in the hallway. It was Sadee’s hen, still in the plastic bag left on the floor. The gypsy had given her the hen to make soup and eat it all by herself. Adina was ready to explode. She took the hen that Sadee threw in the air twelve times and placed it on the porch.
To this day, I don’t know who killed the hen so Sadee could make the magic soup. We asked her many times but got no answer. Adina believed that Sadee paid the custodian of the flat, but I believe that maybe she did it herself. I heard from Adina that Sadee got sick eating that soup three days in a row.
The problem was that she had to keep the bones and bring them back to the magic gypsy. Adina told me that the gypsy burned the bones and went back with Sadee to the same intersection of four roads to blow the ashes in four directions at midnight.