A Suggestion of Spreads for
The Charles Dickens Tarot
The Tale of Two Cities Spread
Number of cards: 1
As preparation for this spread, it is advised the Querent spend a few years binge drinking. When he/she has hit rock-bottom, the Reader pulls one card from the deck and places it in England. This card is “Charles Darnay”, and represents everything the Querent should be but isn't. Next, the Reader takes a Xerox or a Polaroid of the card and places it in France. If this proves difficult, the Reader can quickly make a sketch of the card on a croissant. This is the “Sidney Carton” card and represents everything the Querent was but no longer is and could be but isn't. With a standard household razor, slice the original “Charles Darnay” card in half. This may seem reactionary, reductionist, or even a little silly, but nevertheless it will find its way onto the public school syllabus.
The Barnaby Rudge Spread
Number of cards: 78
Carefully shuffle the entire deck, but put off the actual reading for 5 years. When you have the Querent exactly where you want them, take all the cards and throw them at a Catholic. Calling yourself Grip and using clipped and cryptic speech, rearrange the scattered cards into the shape of a cross and set them on fire. The Querent may wish to make arrangements with a taxidermist to have the Reader stuffed.
The Bleak House Spread
Number of cards: 13
The Querent carefully chooses 12 cards from a pile of a dozen cards the Reader has already chosen. The Querent then proceeds to construct from them a house of cards. Repeatedly asking the Querent what his or her question is, the Reader places the 13th card face down. This is the “Answer” card, which is to be revealed under no circumstances. Instead, soak the card in rum and mineral spirits and place it next to an open flame.
The Martin Chuzzlewit Spread
Number of cards: less than expected
Take the cards and sort of move them around in a vague and unconvincing way. Have the Querent choose a somewhat unlikable card and send that card to Missouri. Other things happen in this spread, but the bit about Missouri is the only thing anyone will remember. If the reading is a success, the Querent will contract malaria.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood Spread
Number of cards: that's a secret
This spread is best done late at night, or when the reader is exhausted. Have the Querent choose 2 cards – one from The Charles Dickens Tarot and one from The Wilkie Collins Tarot. The Reader should speak in a stereotypical East Indian accent and be moderately racist. Meanwhile, the Querent should recline on their side. If there are any T3s in the house, now is the time to take them. If there are no T3s, cough syrup and a poppy-seed bagel can be substituted. This is the half-way point of the reading, so stop and get on with your life.
The Oliver! Spread
Number of cards: 1
The Reader - ideally, an anti-semite - gives the Querent an empty bowl to hold. In it, the Reader places a card face up. The Reader says nothing. When the Querent expresses curiosity, the Reader knocks the bowl from the Querent's hand and throws them out into the street. There, a song and dance routine takes place with lovable ragamuffins and, sadly, Davy Jones.
The Little Nell/Oscar Wilde Spread
Number of cards: 1
The Reader asks the Querent to choose a card. The Querent places the card face up on the table and the Reader proceeds to berate the Querent in an exceedingly dry manner. This can go on all night, or as long as the absinthe lasts. With the Querent at death's door, a memorable snide aside about the Querent's long-awaited demise is made by the Reader from Newgate Prison and/or a men's lavatory.
The Mr. Plornishmaroontigoonter Spread
Number of cards: 10
The Reader shuffles the deck and places a card face down on the table. The Reader flips over the card, invents an idiosyncratic nickname for the card, and blames the Querent for the many ways this card disappoints the Reader. The Reader goes on to do this once every year for the next 10 years. The Reader may choose to forbid some of the cards' marriages or disapprove of their career choices generally, but eventually the Reader must demand the cards discontinue all relations with their mother.