I've reacquainted with an old friend who I have not seen or talked to in 30 years. He was turning 50 this year and I decided it was time to contact him. Then the strange things started to happen.
I won't give you the play by play, but rather tell you a story about my "talent" for strangeness or whatever you want to call it.
It starts back in the early 1970s when I first met my friend. Strange coincidences began to occur then with some regularity and I had the occasional premonition. It was all very cool. It was, after all, the 70s and this kind of thing was part of the ambiance of the times.
I was attending a small Catholic college in Brooklyn Heights. In I think my sophomore year which would have been circa 1972 I signed up for an elective course called The Religion of the Occult. It was taught by the chair of the Theology/Religious Studies department - a brilliant teacher who always made his courses fun. He filled us with convincing conversations, discussions and readings about all forms of supernatural studies and he even had a guy who was a self-professed Warlock serve as a regular guest speaker. Well this guy, Mike, was one of the strangest guys on the planet - even for 1972. He had had that special experimental stomach surgery to help him lose weight and had already lost hundreds of pounds. But the remaining flesh hung from his body like an old coat. He also had rather prominent facial features, prematurely thinning hair and, like all self-respected warlocks, was always dressed in black.
One day after class, Mike pulled me aside and told me he had something important to tell me. I went along with the flow even though I sensed something creepy was about to happen. Mike moved closer and told me I had "it." The "it" was not defined. Further questioning by me could not bring about a definitive answer. I was simply told, I had "it." I thanked him and tried to leave. Turns out Mike needed to "test" me to confirm his hunches about "it" and we made arrangements to meet outside this remote storage room located behind Founders Hall later in the afternoon. The storage room was home to a derelict baby grand piano and the general accouterments that one would find in a store room located behind a stage - theatrical lighting equipment, sound equipment, etc. Mike escorted me into the room and closed the door. Then he turned off the lights. I imaged I was going to be raped or murdered or both, but it was the 70s and there were always interesting things happening.
"What do you hear?" the ephemeral, mystical voice spoke. Mike tended toward the melodramatic. It must have been something they taught in Warlock College.
I listened carefully. All I could hear was the sound of the air coming out of air conditioning duct in the ceiling.
"I hear the A/C, Mike."
"Listen carefully." Mike didn't sound happy.
A few minutes went by and the AC was still doing its thing. Sorry, as much as I wanted to hear them, there were no voices from the dead or other celestial creatures calling to me, just the steady scouring sound of air moving through a ceiling vent.
Mike tried a different tact.
"What do you see?" Again his spooky voice just barely audible.
I looked around and all I could see was the thin strip of light leaking under the door to the storage room from the outside corridor.
I told Mike I could see the light. He seemed disappointed. I figured I was failing the test. I better try harder or I was going to be send to warlock detention.
"Tell me, John...what do you feel...?"
I figured rape was now imminent.
"I feel cold, Mike" I stated the obvious. I was standing below that damn AC unit and it was blowing cold air on my head.
Minutes later we were back outside in the corridor, my virginity intact.
I'm not sure I passed the Warlock Test that afternoon, but lately I been thinking Mike may not have been too far off.
To be continued . . .