The Curse of Romeo and Juliet

Frankie Mitchell and Janet Evans want to be together, but their families are feuding. It’s a story as old as Shakespeare—older, in fact, because they’re Gypsies, the children of two prominent Dallas clans, and ancient superstitions guide every aspect of their lives. Even love.

She was a starkly beautiful teenager, with soulful dark eyes and long, thick hair as black as the pelt of a panther. Her name was Janet Evans, and in the late afternoon she would slip out of her parents’ house, a small brick home with signs outside that read “ESP” and “Psychic,” and drive to the Galleria shopping mall in North Dallas, where a stocky, easygoing teenage boy named Frankie Mitchell was waiting for her.

He too had slipped out of his parents’ home, which had an eleven-by fourteen-inch picture of Jesus near the front door and a rectangular “Reader-Advisor” sign in the front yard. Before backing out of the driveway, he would put his red pickup into drive and ease forward a few feet. It was bad luck, he had been taught, to go backward in an automobile before moving forward. And when it came to Janet, Frankie was going to need all the luck he could get.

Together they looked like any other young couple at the mall, strolling past the shops, stopping to eat at Bennigan’s, sometimes slipping into the back of a movie theater. Janet favored sweatshirts from places like Planet Hollywood, Keds, and long denim skirts; Frankie wore NBA team T-shirts, jeans, and black basketball shoes. They never touched, not even to hold hands. But Frankie would lean toward Janet and say that they were destined to be together. After all, they had been born on the same day: August 1, 1979.

“Our parents—they will understand someday,” Frankie would tell Janet.

“Not my parents,” she would reply. When she was with Frankie, she would pour a few drops of her soft drink on the ground, a practice she had been told would pacify the spirits of her dead ancestors. Her mother called them mulé (“ghosts”), and like so many other women in her family, Janet was said to have the gift: She could tell when the mulé were moving. It was clear, said those who knew her, that Janet was on her way to becoming a drabarní, a great fortune-teller who could earn hundreds of thousands of

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