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The Past, the Future, and Six Dead Indians

by Laura W. Haywood


I turn on the TV to watch STAR TREK re-runs and there she is: Miss Cleo, urging me to "Caal me now." I haven't called her (my son says he'll talk to her when she calls him) and I haven't stopped at the "European Psychic," who reads palms few blocks from my house (I figure it's okay to drive on by — she knows I'm not coming). But that doesn't mean I'm inexperienced with psychics — on the contrary, I've had contact with three of them over the years.

The first time was back in the 60's, when I lived in New York. A friend of mine (who may really be psychic — but that's another story) heard of this woman and suggested we go. The woman charged a fat $5, as I recall, so it didn't involve a huge cash outlay, and we made appointments.

I was anticipating a little hole-in-the-wall shop with strings of beads in the doorways and a crystal ball gazed into by a woman with long, dangling earrings and a lot of scarves. Instead, we wound up in a very nice, beautifully furnished apartment in a high-rise on Madison Avenue. The psychic was dressed in a business suit and sat behind a desk; there wasn't a crystal ball or a Tarot deck anywhere in sight.

I had made up my mind to be uncooperative — my theory was (and is) that psychics feed back stuff they've picked up from your babbling. I gave her my name and waited. The psychic seemed a little disconcerted, but gamely plunged in. "I see you surrounded by papers," she said. I worked for a newspaper representative, and we had a closet full of newspapers in the office, but my appointment was around 5:30 p.m. — after work — and I was dressed for the work. I didn't think seeing me surrounded by papers counted for much. What office isn't full of papers? I said, "Um." After a few more long pauses — she clearly wanted me to talk and I stubbornly kept silent — she told me I had a son. I had only been married a couple of years, and we had no children then. "No, I don't," I said. "Then buy maternity clothes; you're pregnant," she told me.

Now I did in fact later have a son — about eight years later. Again, I don't think that counts for much.

Another silence was followed by, "I see you singing with a band." At that point, I lost it and burst out laughing. The only tune I've ever been able to carry was a Lucky Strike jingle that ran in the 50's. Any band that hired me would have to give concerts exclusively for the hearing impaired.

My first experience was a total bust, and it was a number of years before I tried again. By that time, I was living in New Jersey and free-lancing as a theatre critic. One of the shows I had to review was an interesting play about two sisters who worked as psychics in the 1800's. In the spirit of the production, the theatre had hired a group of psychics to do readings in the lobby during intermission, and I agreed to to a sitting. The only thing I remember about it was the psychic's insistence that, in a previous life, I'd been a Blackfoot Indian. That stuck in my mind because it surprised me; I'd always seen myself as an Apache on the warpath.

The last time I was involved with a psychic was about five years ago. We went through a period where everything that could break, did. The microwave went belly up, the VCR got zapped by lightning, the TV conked out, one car had a dead battery, the other car had something wrong with the wiring, the pool developed a leak, the toilet overflowed, the shower backed up, and-— in general — we were going broke with repair bills.

I have a friend who is deeply involved with psychic readings, and she arranged (without telling me in advance) for me to talk by telephone with a psychic in Canada. I didn't want to offend her, so I agreed to take the phone call. There was no question of refusing to feed him information — my friend had already filled him in on the situation.

The psychic was a man, who was deeply religious. Every time he made a statement, he first asked God's permission to make it. I didn't hear God answer, but apparently he did. He rambled on for some time in generalities, and then he got down to business. "The reason everything is breaking," he said firmly, "is that you have six dead Indians living in your house." I managed to choke down my laughter and, after obtaining God's and my permission, he exorcized the dead Indians. But I think he only got five of them, because a few more things broke after the exorcism.

I've named the remaining dead Indian "Shooting Bull" in honor of all the psychics I've seen.


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