Pre-Dick-Shuns

Throughout the upheaval of her ego, as Flo turned her insides out and became a Medium who talks with ghosts, she’s run into some unsavory characters. Some, in fact, Flo refers to, privately, as “dicks.”

Not “dicks” like private eyes were once called in the golden age of comic books. But “dicks”, as the dictionary defines them, “mean, stupid, annoying” men. Of course, there’s another meaning, but we’ll skip over that one, because you’ve probably already formed a mental image of what that looks like.

But before Flo realized she had paranormal/ESP powers, she left the dealing with crappy people to Alvie. AA – After Alvie, she’s had to go it alone (or with the help of Others) to messing with Dicks.

Now, Flo has more to contend with in that category – making predictions, which is not her forte. Her predictions turn out to be either wild guesses or platitudes that seem to satisfy those demanding she tell them what’ the future holds.

Flo’s come to the conclusion that no body (in this world or any Other) knows what’s next – and, if they say they do, they’re either guessing wildly or making up nice fantasy stories or depending too much on algorithms.

Some times, though, she has a feeling that she’ll get the help she needs to defeat the “dicks” – but she knows by now, it’s better not to count on it. But to let it Flo.

To learn more

The Pair A’ Normals

Ever since I dipped into Psychic Land, I’ve discovered most people, circling around in my orbit, have no idea or care about The Unexplainable.

Sure, RoseEllen and Kate, from my Bridge Club, are fans of Netflix shows like “The Boo Strangers” and “Glass Caskets” – but to them, those series are make-believe.

“Couldn’t. Wouldn’t Shouldn’t,” RoseEllen piped up one day when I was delicately probing them about their beliefs in the Supernatural.

“Nah,” Kate sniffed. “I watched “The Twilight Zone” for a while, until I discovered it’s mostly the scary background music that makes it seem like that stuff is Real. It’s all Subliminal. And fake. Real is just too boring for some people.”

My investigation of their willingness to believe in the supernatural and ghosts ended quickly. We got back to talking about how the recent deliveries of tomatoes and lettuce to SweetGrass Grocery were so disappointing.

While I commiserated with them about the unfortunate produce, I waited for my bridge partner, Nancy, to come back from the kitchen where she’d been helping arrange the guacamole and chips for after our round.

Nancy gave me a look that said RoseEllen and Kate were as dull as the disappointing lettuce and tomatoes from Sweet Grass. Her look said I think I can read your mind, just like your bridge hand.

I was both surprised and thrilled that maybe Nancy was a Psi and I could confide in her about my experiences with the Apparitions.

But all that would have to wait, because the more involved I got in the unsettling events cascading around me, the less time I had for bridge. I never got to take Nancy aside to talk psychic stuff. And she was left to find a new partner to replace me and to play along side, RoseEllen and Kate, the pair a normals.

The Small Medium – Talking to Ghosts

A lot of really unexplainable things have happened to me recently. They are all related to two of my six senses – hearing and seeing. I hear sounds that come out of nowhere – including music playing on my phone, when I’m in another room, and my old music box, in the study, turning on by itself. I’ve also seen and heard objects move on their own – Alvie’s coffee cup gliding across the kitchen table; my scrabble game hurling itself off the shelf in the TV room. Sometimes when this happens, I’m in another room, alone. Except for Mutt.

I can tell Mutt sees and hears what I see and hear, because his ears perk up and he goes on a sniffing hunt looking for whatever dogs search for when something out-of-ordinary happens. His interest wanes rapidly, however. He just goes back and lays down and sometimes goes to sleep.

While I border on obsessive, looking for reasons for this and that. And, then, I remember, I’ve been chatting with Apparitions. So, I shouldn’t get bent out of shape, when an anomaly occurs, should I?

It’s not ectoplasm, after all. Nor earthquakes. It’s Paranormal.

I can’t help feeling changed by these ghostly experiences. I seem to be sculpting a new identity, thanks to the frequency of my visitants and the help they’ve given me. I may soon even think of myself as a Small Medium – someone new at Spirit-Talking. That is until I’ve been conversing for more than just a few months.

And then I might move up – to Full Medium.

Because if the shoe fits, wear it.

photo credit La Vita Moderna catalogue

The Fortune Teller’s Fortune

When I was younger, my even younger cousin and I went to see a Fortune Teller. We were curious about our futures, the way early-20-somethings are when they are about to finish college. In those days, anyway.

I should have known that any Seer who has to pay storefront rent, in a building facing a busy street, wasn’t into prognosticating because she wanted to help. But L and I were too entranced by the red velvet curtains and the large crystals and the incense wafting around the front room, to notice the cash box..

I don’t remember what the Fortune Teller looked like; it was pretty dark in there. But I do remember she read for L first, and then me, and spoke in a hushed whisper to both of us so that we couldn’t hear each other’s futures.

After we each paid our $15 and walked back to L’s car, we both confessed (although we were supposed to keep it a secret) we couldn’t have a future, because we were cursed. And we would need to each bring $50 each back for the Teller to lift our curse by lighting a special candle and singing a special Curse-Lifter song. And then, she could tell our futures.

Neither of us had $50 to spare, and if we did, we would have spent it on our selves, It was unanimous, we weren’t going back. We couldn’t afford to.

“What if I’m truly cursed?” L sighed.

” You’re not – well, not until you get dumped by Stan,” I said, helpfully. “And maybe that will be a good thing. You won’t have to give him $50 to keep seeing you.”

L didn’t think I was funny, so we rode, in silence, back to her house.

I don’t know about her and Stan, but the un-Fortunate loss of my $15 might have turned out all right for me, anyway. It helped me stay a dedicated skeptic about anything unexplainable – including UFOs, ghosts, TV psychics and even Dear Abby newspaper love-advice columns.

That is until some months ago, when a tragedy ripped me from my comfort zone and thrust me, high and mighty, into the Great Enigmatic of talking with ghosts. And, then, I wasn’t such a skeptic anymore.

Phantom Rickshaw

My father-in-law sent us many boxes of books after he evicted a used bookstore from one of his properties. Barry said nobody wanted the old books and he was moving anyway. He rarely called us unless he wanted something. And, in this case, he wanted to dump the books on us – and if not – on Happy House Charity.

We said yes, we’d take them, not knowing what was in the collection. But we also had recently moved and we had a study with many empty built-in bookshelves. So, yes.

As you can imagine, as we unpacked the boxes, there were only a few what we’d call “valuable” books – first editions. There were mainly books by Irving Stone, Agatha Christie, Pearl S. Buck and so on.

I was, of course, drawn to the covers on some of the cloth books. The oldest books – from the late 1800s to early 1900s – had the most beautiful covers. And, there were about eight of these old books – including one that strongly attracted me to the point I couldn’t put it down. It was “Phantom Rickshaw” by Rudyard Kipling. I wasn’t in the mood to read it, so after I admired it for a while, I placed it on a shelf with the other antique books, and quite forgot about it – until now.

I’ve gone and retrieved it as part of my research into all things “ghostly”. And I see this book, published in 1888, includes a number of ghost stories. I read a few of them, but I found myself more intrigued by Rudyard than by his Phantom tales.

I wondered – was Kipling – like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – interested in Spiritualism and Mediums?

But unlike Sherlock’s author, a staunch supporter of Spiritualism, Kipling was a steadfast skeptic when it came to mediums. But maybe he had a slight interest in the paranormal?

Reportedly Kipling was “fascinated” by the supernatural and extra-sensory-perceptions. Many of his stories touch on the unexplainable, including “By Word of Mouth, At the End of the Passage, Wireless, The House Surgeon, The Dog Hervey, The Wish House,” and more. Many more. I have learned from research “The House Surgeon” at least – may have been a story about what ghost-hunters now call “imprints” – but surely Kipling, with his extreme sensitivity and writing gift, may have intuited the ineffable.

Kipling publicly expressed his antipathy towards Spiritualism during its heyday – possibly because his sister believed herself a psychic and a crystal gazer. Others thought her mad. But maybe Kipling “doth protest too much” – given all the metaphysical stories he wrote.

I’m not done with my research on apparitions and phantoms, but I’m left with the feeling that any author who writes compelling ghost stories must have had some traction with one or more Spirits.

As, in my case. It’s quite impossible to write a convincing ghost story, unless you’ve been convinced.

Rudyard Kipling, author of “Phantom Rickshaw” and Other Tales.
I

Criswell Predicted

My friend, the writer, brought over a book they found at a used bookstore. Knowing my recent interest in Psychics and Ghosts, they thought I would find this old book interesting.

And, I did.

Mainly because neither Denver nor London vanished and the world wasn’t extinguished by a giant black snake. (Although some might argue that point).

What I found fascinating was the back-story about the entertainer, who flourished during the 1950-60s. He was a friend and one of the personal psychics of Mae West (and I would be too), and an “actor” in three of Ed Wood movies, including the ghostly “Night of the Ghouls” and “Orgy of the Dead.” Ed Wood has something of a cult following these days, but Criswell has his own website (which I found both amusing and informative).

I also found it personally fascinating Criswell’ s wife, Halo, had a poodle named Buttercup, whom she believed was her cousin, Thomas.reincarnated

I don’t know if Buttercup had any psychic skills passed down from Thomas or gathered on her own. But I am a great believer in the intuitive and psychic skills of dogs – and other animals. One day, I’ll write a blog about my dog, Mutt, and his uncanny sixth or maybe even, seventh sense, and how he discovered the Apparitions before I did.

Mixed Medium

I’m rather off today. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed – that is to say, the side where Alvie used to sleep.

For the past few months, I find myself scrunched up in a tiny corner of my bed’s side, as if I were the last pencil jammed into the full pencil box. You know, the yellow #9 kind of pencil we had as kids (some of us). I’m afraid if pressed too hard, I might splinter.

I’m telling you this, because I am feeling very mixed up – a mixed Medium. And, because ever since I had a discussion about science fiction, I’m beginning to wonder about reality. Well, truth be told, not wonder, but to question.

I’ve mentally turned off my spectre receiver – like putting my phone on silent. In my mind’s eye (as I’ve read about), I put myself in a virtual bubble to avoid being contacted. But the bubble didn’t feel strong enough. Bubbles are so fragile; popped more than a few. So, instead, I erected a very nice wall, clad in stainless, like one of those expensive refrigerators. My wall has four sides, and a retractable roof, I can see through. I think I’ve done a very nice job. I feel confined and safe for the time being.

I’m telling you this, because I don’t think anybody will believe what’s happened to me. What sort of experience with Apparitions can I ever prove – unless I have witnesses? And then, even if I found some witnesses, how could they prove their own experiences? I know there is some sort of electronic equipment ghost hunters use, but even then, hunters have to prove their equipment and cameras weren’t tampered. It seems people are more willing to believe in scary ghosts, but not in helpful apparitions. And the only proof I have is my word.

It reminds me of those stories about all the people who claim to see a UFO flying overhead and their stories are discounted by all the skeptics – even when presented with “proof” from shaky videos and stories of abductions from otherwise reasonable people.

“The proof is in the pudding”, the old saying goes. But even if I served up a ghost in a creme caramel, it would be disregarded as just another confection by a spun-sugar artist.

And maybe that’s the way every body, ghosts and skeptics, want it..

Psi-Fi vs Sci-Fi

Flo and I are having a chat over Chinese Food she ordered from The Many Feathered Phoenix. I’ve never been a big fan of Chow Mein, but I don’t want to offend Flo. She’s pretty touchy these days.

I thought it best to avoid the subject of Apparitions for the time being. So I brought over a 1940’s Science Fiction magazine I just bought at the Antique Troll Shop in Springfield.

“Look, what I found the other day – another vintage Sci-Fi magazine. I so dig the art! Nothing like it these days – have a look.”

Flo was busy picking the almonds out of the Almond Chicken.

“I hate nuts, so I ordered this for you,” she said. She was so intent on nut-picking, she didn’t look up to see the awesome cover of my new find.

“But, you’re an artist – I thought you’d like to see some of the best vintage art of that era…”

“I’m a designer, not an artist,” Flo frowned, as she took a bite of chicken. “There’s a big difference. And, besides, these days I’m not interested in anything but finding out how the hell I landed in Ghost Land. Just like art and design, there’s a big difference between Sci-Fi and Psi-Fi. One’s made-up and the other’s up-made.”

She giggled at her semi-joke and then, looked up at me, with those big, green, wondering eyes. She took a few sips of the Jasmine tea that came with lunch. But, she held her gaze on me while I sampled the egg roll.

I was thinking was there a difference? Psi vs Sci? Or when you got down to it, was Outer Space, Outer Space whether outside your body or inside your mind?

“Remember that old cartoon, “Spy vs. Spy” in Mad Magazine. Well, I think it sort of relates. Sci still fighting Psi – and, will keep discrediting it until there’s laboratory proof it exists.’

Flo looked almost dejected, so I quickly added, “But maybe there’s hope. Once upon a time, nobody believed we’d put somebody on the Moon – that was sci-fi – and then, look what happened.”

Yeah, I guess,” Flo put down her chopsticks and broke open her fortune cookie.

“Your truth is stranger than fiction,” She read aloud, and we both had a laugh.

I

HOTEL CLAIRVOYANCE

Flo has discovered when you dabble in ghosts and apparitions, you open a gate to all things mystical and paranormal. This leads to one of those roads more or less well-traveled – depending upon who’s taking the journey. In Flo’s case, it’s a short excursion.

“You can take a quick trip and wind up at The Ghost Motel or you can take a longer voyage and stop at The Hotel Clairvoyance,” Flo mused.

To me, that Hotel sounded like the song by The Eagles, but Flo just ignored me when I mentioned it. She wanted to tell me a story. And, shortly after she finished her second glass of Dunsmuir, she began.

.”The other day, I went to the library. While I was looking around in the antique books for one on Ghosts, I ran across a book, called “Clairvoyance.” A small book, by somebody named Leadbeater, published in 1899. It didn’t seem to be about ghosts, but I took it off the shelf, anyway.

“If it wasn’t about ghosts, why did you care?”

“I dunno. I guess I was drawn to it – even though it was dense, like a text book with no pictures.”

She added, “I looked at the chapters – nothing on Spirits, so I gave it to the librarian, who was watching over me to make sure I didn’t put it in my purse. I wasn’t especially in a hurry to go home, so I wandered over to the computers, and typed in the name of the old Clairvoyant who wrote that book. Maybe, I thought, a guy with the name, ‘Leadbeater’ would be more interesting than his book.

“I found out in the late 1800s, Leadbeater actually had some experiences with ghosts! He was fascinated by them. If he read about a haunted house in the newspaper, he hurried over to the house, went in, and conducted his own search. Mostly, he never found any spirits or ghosts – but sometimes, he wrote, he saw signs and ‘convincing evidence.’ And then he wrote about a young Medium he sat with and how he saw his silk hat spin around on a levitating table.”

“Wow” was all I could say, as I watched Flo head for the bar cart for another glass of scotch. My exclamation was both about the Leadbeater ghost story and my amazement she was drinking so much before the 5 p.m. cocktail hour (as she put it).

“Hmmmmm, shouldn’t we go out for an early dinner?” I suggested, but Flo didn’t need to be clairvoyant to see why I was asking.

“Not the least bit hungry,” she said. “Apparitions have a way of stealing my appetite and making me real thirsty.”

Tag Along With Me

When Flo told me she was thigh-deep in learning everything she could about Mediums and communicating with The No-Longer-Livings, I suggested she take a break from scanning all the droll articles, paranormal websites and fiction non-fiction and dig into some Shirley Jackson stories.

I suggested Jackson, because Flo, like Shirley, has her Uggs in two worlds – that of  wife and mother, and, then, again, believer in the paranormal – including ghosts – real and written.

I happened to have a copy of ‘Come Along With Me,’ a collection of Jackson’s short stories, including her most famous story, “The Lottery.” The book was edited and published by her husband after she died in her sleep in 1965 at age 48. Perhaps now she is most  easily remembered for her chilling novel (and adapted movie), The Haunting of Hill House”.

Since Flo was determined to find out why and how she’d developed a talent to chat up Apparitions,  I thought Jackson’s book, Come Along With Me,  might shed some light on how fictional Spirits operated. This was a guess on my part because I’d had the book for many years, but never read it. But from poking around reviews, I knew the general geist of the stories.

Then, to my great surprise, I read some articles on the title (unfinished) story, ‘Come Along With Me,’  It revolves around the main character, Angela Motorman, who becomes a Medium (like Flo) after her life changes dramatically.

You’ll have to take me at my word that suggesting Flo read one of my books, I never read, is a synchronicity – something bigger than a chance coincidence. What are the odds this book would include a story starring a Flo-like character?

Flo and I fall on the side of people who believe Synchronicities are “messages” –  tiny, little peeps – clues something Bigger Than Us is operating in this realm or even that suburb.

Call it what you will –  and Tag Along

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