Back in the day, my voodoo mentor Earl Marlowe and I would drift around North London. Usually in a beat up old car.

But it was typically a cool car like a BMW. One time he had an old Jag, but it kept breaking down. So Earl got his money’s worth from the AA breakdown service.

Anyway, I remember us driving in that old Jag over to Wood Green, which is in London, not far from the famous Alexandra Palace. We were visiting one of Earl’s clients who live in a Victorian town house on the west side of Wood Green.

Earl banged on the door, and this attractive middle-aged West Indian lady answered the door. She had the manner of a queen, immaculate deportment, and somehow you were going to do as she said, whether you liked it or not.

She said in rather disdainful tones, “Hello, Mr. Marlowe… I see you’ve brought your lackey with you.”

She was referring to me. Well, I was only about 21 at the time, and hardly had the appearance suited to meeting a queen – or somebody who thought she was a queen.

Earl wave a hand to make sure I didn’t protest at her attitude towards me…

He then said to the queen: “You want that reading or not?”

Almost sneering she replied, “That’s what I called you over for.”

“Come on, then,” said Earl, “let’s get it done.”

So she ushered us into her dinning room, and Earl laid his deck of old poker cards on the dinning table. The queen sat down facing Earl. I sat to the side.

Earl spilled out his spread, probably nine cards. I noticed there were a lot of spades, along with all four kings. I thought to myself that would make a nice poker hand, and that the queen would have scored the pot.

The queen was big on money, and I had the impression she was involved in money laundering for organized crime.

One time previously I’d pulled her up on her rudeness to me. Her reply was, “Get used to it unless you want one of your toes removed.”

A nice person…

Whatever, I kept quiet after that. And I also sensed that Earl was wary of her and her unsavory connections.

Earl looked over his card spread, sighed, then said:

“I’ll tell you straight, you got some powerful enemies out to get you. It the four kings and they real. They coming in over the sea and gonna take you down unless you very careful. Look to me like they Russians…”

The queen’s faced turned ashen. Earl had hit a nerve. If Earl’s reading was on the money, it struck me that maybe Eastern Bloc crime barons were looking to move in on the operation she was involved in.

When Earl’s reading was done, the queen slapped a grand on the table as payment and ushered Earl and I out very quickly. She’d obviously got things on her mind that needed dealing with fast.

Not long afterwards, Earl and I heard that some heavy Eastern Europeans had moved in on some London crime operations.

A big war went down. And the Eastern Europeans were described by the underworld as “The Four Kings.”

Everybody was scared of them. At least for a while – until some other syndicate moved in.

Mostly, Earl and I didn’t do readings for people like the queen. But like Earl said, “They pay well, but they scary as hell…”

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