"I'm going to speak my mind because I have nothing to lose."--S.I. Hayakawa

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gullible Finds the Twilight Zone

(No photos with this one. You wouldn't have wanted to see them.)

I was walking alongside the highway a week ago, picking up litter, when I came upon the carcass of a large brown bird. I picked it up with my gloved hand and turned it over and over, trying to identify it. It apparently had suffered extreme trauma to its head, because that portion of its anatomy was simply unidentifiable.

The whole carcass was completely desiccated, nothing left but feathers and bones. The only clues to its species were the light brown mottled feathers, the sharp talons, and a wingspan of close to thirty inches.. I thought perhaps an owl or a hawk of some kind, perhaps even a female willow ptarmigan, though the carcass seemed to have a very short, almost non-existent neck.

The next night I was once again picking up litter near that area, and thinking about that bird. Then another thought crossed my mind: I haven’t found any dead song birds this summer. A short time later I found the body of a junco.

Two dead warblers were lying in my path the following evening, as well as a dead red squirrel. The next day, a sea gull and two sparrows. Suddenly, I was back in the early 1960s when I worked as a newspaper and then a radio reporter. Odd things would happen then, inexplicable things. Occasionally, I just seemed to KNOW things.

I vividly recall walking into a courtroom once—the courts were my beat—and I suddenly knew everything that happened during the morning’s testimony. I could almost hear the voices. I’d been ignoring the other peculiar events, writing them off to coincidence, but this one got my attention.

Sometime later, during my radio days, it occurred to me that the city hadn’t seen a murder lately. The next evening found me at the scene of a murder-suicide. And one New Year’s Day I was heading home and “we haven’t had a big fire for a while” popped into my head. Two days later the biggest fire our main street had ever seen was blazing away, water freezing to the firefighter’s clothing and hoses.

That was too much for a twenty-one year old to handle. Too many such incidents scared the daylights out of me, and I began to worry that maybe I wasn’t only foreseeing these things, but could I be CAUSING them? I vowed to ignore every peculiar incident from then on, to not give them any credence. And I did, though the neighbor lady was startled that I knew she was pregnant, and employees wondered among themselves how I seemed to know certain things.

A couple years ago in an online writing class, we were given a choice of sentence beginnings to write five hundred words. I chose the one that began, “Pat knew for a long time that a clairvoyant gift was….”


The Knowing

Pat knew for a long time that a clairvoyant gift was both a boon and a curse. Or was it ESP? Or, maybe she was a psychic. Maybe psycho. Whatever, it was scary to be under its spell.

This wasn’t like the games of childhood, when she always won playing Clue with her brother and sister. She was older than the two of them and that probably accounted for a lot. Maybe it was her powers of observation that gave her the advantage when Jim made a mark on his paper after asking about Col. Mustard when they’d already eliminated the knife and the conservatory. But, this wasn’t a game at all. This was real-life-kick-you-in-the-guts Clue.

She always seemed to “know” things. She could sense what was coming, what someone was going to say. She could feel what had happened in a room the moment she walked into it. There was that time in court when she entered after the trail had been in session for over an hour…and she KNEW! She could almost hear the words that had been said. The judge had looked at her in an odd way as she stood rooted in place just inside the swinging doors.

He knew this wasn’t her usual demeanor. She usually slipped in quietly, quickly made her way to the press bench. This time, though, she had stood immobile long enough to draw attention to herself. They didn’t know she’d just slammed into a hot concrete wall, was on fire with something approaching terror.

And that whole block on Fourth Avenue had burned down after she thought there hadn’t been a big fire in a while. That murder-suicide? She’d thought about that one, too.

Was she clairvoyant? Or was she CAUSING these things?


The instructor didn’t like that much. She asked me to write something that wasn’t so “grizzly.”

Several days passed, during which I debated whether or not to post this story. Then, picking up litter again, I scraped the remains of some unidentifiable run-over mammal off the shoulder of the highway. It reminded me of this story that I had written last week. Five steps later, I found a dead finch. The next evening, three magpies and a larger bird like a spruce grouse, a snowshoe hare, and two porcupines.

It’s only been in the last couple years that I have allowed myself to consider these events. I still have no answer. I tell myself that those birds I found were there because it’s that time of summer when young birds are fledged and have fatal collisions with vehicles. There’s no way I could have caused their deaths.

Could I?