Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is ESP Real?

Professor Emeritus of Psychology Daryl Bem of Cornell University has released results of a study that indicates Extra Sensory Perception (ESP) may exist. The results have met with a little support and a whole lot of denial.

As have many others, I, in my lifetime, have experienced events that cannot be explained in ordinary terms. One experience was so dramatic that, after many years, the back of my neck still tingles when I tell the story.

Baz (the name I'll use for this story) was a neighbour and close friend. We shared hobbies and interests, and I was almost part of his family. He always had a natural, effective power of communication - he often seemed able to anticipate my actions and even my very thoughts.

Like most people in our working class district of west-end Montreal, we lived in rented one-level "flats", stacked one above the other in piles of three or four. Typically, Baz's flat was long and narrow with a single hallway.

At one end of the hallway was the kitchen and rear entrance. Along the rest of the hallway were bedrooms, with a living room at the far end and a small bedroom adjacent. In a bunk set in that small bedroom slept two of Baz's young boys.

Baz's wife Marie had a younger sister, Anne. She suffered from rheumatic fever; usually fatal in those days. Anne lived in east-end Montreal and was frequently in hospital for treatment.

One evening during one of Anne's stays in hospital I was keeping Baz company while Marie visited with her sister - a visit that meant more than an hour's travel each way on Montreal's ancient street car transit system (none of us could afford automobiles at that time).

Anne was very sick, so we didn't expect Marie home before at least midnight or one a.m.

The house was silent. The kids were long asleep; this was before the introduction of television.

Baz and I were drinking tea and working quietly on the kitchen table with a set of plans for a new racing boat he hoped to build in the spring.

Near midnight we were startled by the loud noise of something falling and glass breaking at the front of the house.

Baz looked up, a question in his eyes. Without speaking he rose from his chair and went directly to the boys' bedroom at the end of the hallway. A careful search showed nothing out of place. Both children slept soundly. Nothing had fallen.

Baz backed from the door, stood quietly for a moment looking at me without speaking. I watched carefully.

He started back toward the kitchen, then stopped and turned his head to glance into the darkened, empty living room.

Reaching only his hand around the door frame into the room, he flipped on the overhead light. Then stood there, motionless, for the longest time.

He didn't look back at me. But in a quiet voice commanded "come here and look at this."

I did, stopped beside him, and looked into the room.

Across the room Anne's photograph lay on the floor. It had fallen from the wall. The frame was twisted, the glass shattered.

Anne's face looked quietly up at us, the gentle, warm face we knew so well.

Baz made no move to pick up the photograph. I said nothing.

Then in the kitchen, the telephone rang. Baz looked at me.

"I'll get it?" It was a question.

He nodded.

I went to the phone, lifted the receiver. It was Marie.

"John?"

"Yes."

"It's Marie."

A pause.

"Please put Baz on. Anne is gone. She died just a few minutes ago."

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Another Mysterious Story

Professor Bem's Report