Prophesy

It all started innocently enough, but by the time it was over I was very rich, lives were destroyed, and three people lay dead.

“No one should ever know their future,” she said with that lovely little smile that I remember so affectionately. By the time this all developed, my mother had been dead for more than fifteen years, but I look back now, and I remember her words. She was fearful of the future and what it may hold. Her fear was rooted in her past, and it coloured everything she saw.

I’d been attending the Meditation Circle for a couple of years. I’d ‘found my feet’ again after wandering aimlessly for many years.

“Come along one night; You’ll enjoy yourself, and you might just learn something. You’re a moody bugger, Billy. You need help. Get off your arse and get your head straight.”

He was annoying, but he was right. If I didn’t do something I was going to slip back into that black hole again. I could feel it coming on.

The lady who ran the group was friendly and warm.

“Hi, I’m Trevina, and I facilitate the group. We are all equal here. It’s a Circle and no one sits at the head of a Circle.”

‘Good luck with that,’ was what I was thinking, but I didn’t say it out loud.

“Thanks for making space for me Trevina. My mate dragged me along. There are a lot more blokes here than I expected?”

“Souls don’t know if they are male or female. We just ‘are’,” she said.

“I guess,” was all I could think of as I made a mental note of where the exit was.

Trevina glided off in the direction of a bunch of middle-aged females who were clutching coffee as though their lives depended on it. We were in the middle of spring, but the evenings were still cool. Someone had turned on the heater, and the large room had an easy, comfortable feel to it. Chairs were arranged in a circle, and each chair had a different coloured cushion on the seat.

“Those cushions could tell a story or two,” said a rather tall lady. She stood almost as tall as my six feet, and she had perfectly brushed, slightly coloured hair which could not completely disguise her seventy years of life. She had a twinkle in her eyes, and I knew I had found a friend.

“Somewhere there is an Op Shop that is completely out of cushions,” I said.

“Collected over many years, I should think. Many a bottom has compressed them, and they keep coming back for more.”

“What would you say that was a sign of?” I asked.

“Perseverance, I should think,” she said.

“So what do you do here ……..?”

“Norma. We find ourselves.”

“Sounds like something someone would have said in a 70s movie,” I said.

“If you keep coming you will find out what I mean.”

“Now you have me intrigued. I was thinking about what we were going to have for supper when we eventually get out of here and now you’ve got me thinking about hippie girls in tight jeans with free love in their hearts.”

“I used to be one of those girls. It was a lot of fun at the time.” She gave me that smile that I was to see on the face of many of the people who regularly attended this Circle. Anywhere else, and I would say that it was smug, but not here. Not in this room. Here it seemed to suggest that they knew something that the rest of us did not know. They knew that the knew. Amazingly, they were happy to share what they had discovered.

I looked to see if I could find the friend who had brought me. Ross was standing on the far side of the room talking to a skinny female. She hugged him, and he walked in my direction.

“What’s with all the hugging? Not that I want to discourage females from hugging me, but I must say that I haven’t come across so much hugging since I was in kindergarten.”

“You’ll get used to it. It comes with the philosophy.”

“You haven’t walked me into some religious cult have you, Ross?”

“No, you crazy bugger! Exactly the opposite. Everyone here takes personal responsibility for the way they live their lives. They don’t live by some old man’s dogma.”

“Okay, take it easy. I was just joking. So no religious mumbo-jumbo. So what do you do?”

“We meditate and we discuss stuff. Some of the regulars are Mediums and Psychics, and they need the mental discipline that regular meditation brings.”

“Do you have any fortune tellers?” I was winding him up, but he didn’t bite.

Someone walked past us and headed for the coffee urn, and I could have sworn that they said, “That’s why you are here.”

I turned and looked at them, but they didn’t return my gaze. The person who might have said that was a short dark haired female, probably in her late thirties. She was the only female in the room who was wearing a dress; all the others were rugged up in slacks and pants.

“She’s cute, and she’s going to find that house.”

“What house? Do you know her? What the fuck are you on about Billy? You’re doing it again.”

“Doing what?”

“Never mind. Just find a seat and try not to annoy anyone.”

“Fuck you blondy. They love me here.”

“I’m not blond anymore dimwit; I’m old and grey.”

He was right. We were ‘getting on a bit’. Not exactly old, but not young anymore either.

So, the Circle settled down, and the meditation began.

Ross was right, and as the next couple of years went by he continued to be right. My mind settled down; I discovered that I could do things that most people could only dream about, and I learned to love this rag-tag bunch of misfits.

I hugged a lot of people, and I listened as the Mediums among us connected with the Spirits of dead relatives and friends. I watched the tears flow, and I saw the laughter in their eyes. I learned that I could, under certain circumstances, tell what was going to happen to people in the future. I wasn’t the only one who could do this, but I was the best.

As long as these happenings stayed within the Circle, there weren’t any problems. We all understood the unwritten rules. No lottery numbers and no bad news.

For some reason, it was impossible to read your future, only someone else’s.

Mostly, the information was vague and general, but helpful. People in the Circle loved it, and I became a bit of a minor celebrity. My ego could handle it and because I was so grateful for my deliverance from the black hole of depression I was very careful not to do anything that might jinx my luck.

If I had to put my finger on it, I would say that it all started to unravel when I switched to the daytime sessions.

Trevina ran a nighttime group which I attended, and a Friday morning group. She asked me if I would like to come to the morning group. My work schedule was flexible, so I said yes.

When we took a break for a cup of tea, I liked to sit out on the footpath in front of the old shop that was our meeting place. The building had a long and colourful history, and I’m now quite sure that its energy contributed to what was about to happen.

The group would be deep in conversation fuelled by the events of the morning and copious amounts of caffeine. I’d take a chair out into the sunlight and sit quietly with my mug of terrible coffee and gather my thoughts. It wouldn’t be long before someone would wander out and join me, but for a few moments I had the sun and the solitude, and it was wonderful.

The shop had a verandah which, in the days when it was built, would have protected the shoppers from the inclement weather that is a feature of our mountain climate.

To catch the rays of the sun I moved my chair slightly out from under the metal clad verandah and as I look back I realise that this was the final piece of the puzzle.

As the pretty lady with the coloured hair joined me and broke my solitude, I noticed a delivery van pull up. The driver got out and proceeded to open the back of his van.

“He’s going to have a hell of a headache,” I heard myself say.

Dianne, the pretty lady with the colourful hair, said, “What do you mean?”

I blinked a couple of times and tried to form an answer.

The delivery driver opened the back of his van, and a large cardboard box hit him right between the eyes. He went down hard, and a bunch of us retrieved him from under the contents of his badly packed van.

The wounds on the front and the back of his head were producing a lot of blood, and some of the bystanders were expressing their alarm.

“He’ll be fine. But in a couple of days, when the police search his house he’s going to be in a heap of trouble.”

The onlookers went quiet for a moment, and many of them were looking at me.

“A garage full of stolen white goods,” I said.

A week later, at our next Circle, someone showed me the local newspaper.

The delivery driver was arrested after the police visited him to talk about a noisy dog complaint. They had the wrong house and the wrong street, and they apologised and turned to leave when the driver’s son opened the garage door to retrieve his skateboard.

Everyone thought it was funny, but I had a sinking feeling. This premonition was way wilder than anything I had come up with before.

I took my cup of piss-weak coffee out on to the footpath and soaked up the sunlight.

When I opened my eyes, there were a bunch of people standing around me silently waiting for me to say something.

“What the bloody hell do you lot want?” I said.

“Tell us what is going to happen,” said a slightly scruffy older lady.

“You knew about the truck driver,” said a tall man in workman’s clothes.

“I’ll tell you what is going to happen. You are all going to bugger off and stop annoying me. I don’t know anything you don’t know.”

This wasn’t exactly true. As I looked at each person, I could see a scene being played out in my head.

The little boy with the scab on his knee was going to get a puppy for his birthday, and they would grow up together. The scruffy old lady would be dead before Christmas, and no one would come to her funeral. The bloke in the workman’s clothes would find a wallet and return it to its owner intact. The owner of the wallet would, in turn, facilitate the entry of the workman’s son into a private school and the experience would lead the boy into a sad life of drugs and crime.

“Don’t give the wallet back. Stick it in the mail and don’t put your address on the package.” The workman looked at me like I had just stepped on his foot.

“How did you know about the wallet. I only found it this morning?” he said.

As I looked at him, I knew he would ignore my advice. I wanted to tell him what was going to happen, but I had a strong sense that what I was seeing was going to happen no matter what I said.

The worker looked shocked as he produced the wallet from his back pocket and held it in mid-air. I had the feeling that he wanted it to fly away so that he would not have to decide.

Things escalated rather quickly from there.

My mate could see the profit potential, and I tried to talk him out of it. I like the quite life. I needed a bit more money, who doesn’t, but this seemed to me to be against the spirit of what we had learned.

I did my best to avoid the limelight, but I knew when I looked at Ross that he would eventually work out that his ability combined with the energy of this amazing old building would produce a similar result for him and anyone else with a modicum of ability.

It got crazy and dangerous, and I did my best to steer clear.

There were a few dead bodies, as a result, but I’ll tell you about them some other time.

I’ll bet you are wondering how I became rich, especially as I mentioned that I cannot read for myself.

Cast your mind back to me sitting outside the shop in the sun before anyone knew what I could do.

Across the road from our meeting place is a shop that sells newspapers, greeting cards and lottery tickets.

I was enjoying the sunlight when I noticed an agitated young man. He attracted my attention as he stood outside the shop obviously deciding whether to go in or not. It occurred to me that he thought that this was his last chance.

As I looked at him, I could see two possible futures for him, and each one hinged on his decision. As he stood frozen on the footpath, his future was nothing but misery and disappointment ending in his death from alcohol-related complications.

Eventually, he moved towards the shop door and the pictures I saw changed dramatically. The money he was destined to win would not solve all his problems, but his life certainly improved, at least, it did for the foreseeable future.

In my head, I watched him filling out the lottery form. I quickly wrote down the numbers and, needless to say; we shared the massive amount that the lottery had built up as it had remained unclaimed for several weeks.

I have never told anyone this story, and I’m counting on you to keep it to yourself.

People get a bit crazy where money is concerned, and I like a quite life. 

The Flaming Volkswagen.

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This story is now part of SLIGHTLY SPOOKY STORIES.

I didn’t see the early 60s Volkswagen Beetle crash into the lamppost, but I certainly did hear it.

I was lost in my own little world while walking along Erin Street on one of those beautiful Spring days. 

You know the sort of day I’m talking about; the air is the same temperature as your skin, the light is golden, and all is still. 

I was walking and dreaming, and the bang was a rude awakening.

I walked over to the Beetle, which had hit the light pole head on.

The impact had compressed the front of the little car, and although it was not exactly wrapped around the tree, the front had a huge lamppost shaped dent. 

The car was compressed up to the windscreen; it had apparently struck the pole at quite a speed. 

I wondered why I had not noticed it zoom past me.

I opened the passenger side door and looked in, fully expecting to see a grisly scene. 

Instead, I saw a young man lying on the floor without any visible signs of injury. My eyes scanned the interior and noticed that his seatbelt was undone.

I stared at the young man, and his eyes opened. 

“Didn’t see any use for the seatbelt then?” I said.

The young man didn’t answer, but he did move to sit up.

It suddenly occurred to me that this model Volkswagen had the fuel tank in the front and it most assuredly had been crushed.

“The fuel tank is in the front of this thing, and I think it’s time we got out of here,” I said with some urgency. 

Sure enough, I could see smoke and a small amount of flame coming from what was left of the front of the car.

As we walked away, the car quickly caught fire. 

I remember feeling calm and relaxed but also realising that the accident had happened near to the front of the house that I grew up in. 

When my mother died, more than a decade ago, we sold the house to a young couple. 

I was walking down this street because it had been so long since I had done so but did not want the young couple to think that I was spying on them. 

I felt a hand on my shoulder, and it was the young man who now owns the house.

“Hi, how are you? Why didn’t you come in and say hello?”

He seemed to be more interested in me that the flaming wreck.

“Oh, it’s that ‘impossible hour of the day’, and I did not want to intrude.” 

He seemed satisfied with my excuse and turned to walk back to his house or possibly to watch the fire.

Meanwhile, the young driver had gone back to the car to retrieve a book. 

He returned to my side, and we walked off down the street. 

We didn’t speak because it seemed unnecessary.

 

“So, while this was all going on, how did you feel?”

“Strangely calm and confident. I was a little bit embarrassed at being discovered by the house’s owner, but I felt like I’d talked my way out of it.”

“How long has it been now?”

“A little over three years.”

“You know that it wasn’t your fault. don’t you?”

“So everyone keeps telling me.”

“You sound angry.”

“I am a bit. I feel like I should be doing better.”

“You are.”

“I know I am, but it’s all too slow.”

“You told me that the nightmares have stopped.”

“Only to be replaced by these strange little adventures. Admittedly, this one was not without its upside. It left me feeling dreamy and calm, and instead of drifting away, it stayed with me for the rest of the day. Do you have any idea what it all meant?”

“None at all, but even if I did, your impressions are way more important than mine.”

“So why are they paying you all that money?”

“Beats me.”

“You’re just trying to wind me up, aren’t you?”

“Just a little bit. I must have some fun. It’s incredibly annoying listening to people talking all day long. I need to shake things up a bit. Otherwise, I drift off.”

“Bloody hell! I’m suffering, and you’re bored? If I were paying the bills, I’d sack you.”

“Ah yes, but you aren’t paying the bills, are you? And besides, you have made some progress, and they are unlikely to take me off your case because I’m the lowest bidder for these contracts, and the lowest bidder always wins.”

“You are honest; I’ll give you that. Honest and annoying.”

“You forgot handsome.”

“Now I feel sick.”

“I’m sorry, you’ll have to feel sick on your own time because our time is up.”

“Not even a single comment on my ‘flaming Volkswagen’ dream?”

“I’m sorry, our time is up.”

“I have to take a bus and a tram to get here. I have to wake up at an ungodly hour because your brain-dead secretary seems incapable of getting me an appointment any later than 8 am. I negotiate the morning peak-hour traffic to cross Collins Street, arm wrestle the one-hundred-year-old elevator and sit in your delightful wood-paneled outer office while your recently deceased secretary files her nails. Every time, I ask her why my appointment does not start on time, and she tells me, every time, that I will have to wait because you have a very important client in session. What am I, chopped liver? Pickled herring? Why am I forced to wait every week?”

“Because you are one of my contract clients and he is a private, fee-paying client. It would take four of you to equal one of him. So you wait.”

“Again with the honesty. Couldn’t you lie to me just once? A small lie designed to make me feel better?”

“If you started feeling better, there would be no need for me, and I would have to fill your 8 am appointment time on a Tuesday. That would be not only annoying but also inconvenient. You wouldn’t wish to intentionally inconvenience me, would you Mr Volkswagen?”

“The name’s Wilson, not Volkswagen.”

“Sorry, that just slipped out. A bit of a Freudian slip, no doubt. There you go. A bit of high-class therapy via a Freudian slip. Value for money that. Not that you generate that much money.”

“Why do you accept patients from them if we are so annoying?”

“I need the money, of course. I have overheads. My children go to private school. My wife likes beautiful things. I have a mistress who likes beautiful things.”

“Aren’t you worried that I’ll use your honesty against you. I could blackmail you because of your mistress. Your wife wouldn’t like it. I could tell her what you said.”

“What do I care. You’re nuts. No one is going to believe you.”

“Fair point. 8 am next Tuesday?”

“Yes. And this time, try not to be late.”

.

Enjoy my work. Then buy me a coffee?

Enjoy my work? Then buy me a coffee?

Seen Better Days

Seen Better Days

My neighbour owned this car for a number of years until she drove it into a creek. It turned on it’s side and she nearly drowned. It was a beautiful old Morris Minor. Early 1950s. Her and her boyfriend had cut the top off it and turned it into a soft top. The wreck sat in her front yard for many years and bits and pieces of it were sold off to restorers. It was removed just recently but fortunately I got this shot a while back. In case you were wondering, yes she did find another one and yes it is a soft top. Late 1940s this time. These ‘Morries’ sound great and the riding experience is visceral. Unfortunately this neighbour is not speaking to me at the moment see here, and here for the reason.

A Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum.

He must have hit the road quite hard.

I heard the car hit him and I heard the crowd gasp but by the time I turned my head he was trying to get to his feet. As befits a surreal moment like this, he was looking on the ground for his sunglasses. It was pouring rain, the sun had set but he still had his sunglasses with him. Despite the darkness it was not a lack of light that had contributed to this scene. It happened outside the Forum Cinema; brightly lit as most cinema entrances tend to be. The rain definitely had something to do with it as did impatience and a possible desire to not get too wet.

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To get from the Forum to ACMI* (which you would probably have to do at least once if you are a dedicated MIFF* attendee) you have to walk away from your intended target and navigate two sets of pedestrian lights (both very slow to react) or you could do what many people do and cross the road directly. I’ve done it a couple of times during the festival but in daylight, when it was not raining and not during that vicious time know as ‘peak hour’!

Even in my younger and braver days I would not have attempted this particular crossing under these conditions, but this bloke did and there he was picking himself and his sunglasses off the road.

As he got to his feet I watched his body language to see what condition he was in and I guess the throng of people around me were doing the same.

As he straightened up, sunglasses in hand, he looked a little unsteady. The traffic had stopped but this was ‘peak hour,’ that time of the day when reason and compassion is thrown to the wind.

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As the seconds ticked by he seemed to be trying to make up his mind what he should do next. I wanted him to come back onto the footpath and sit down but he decided to continue his original course! His chances of making it across the first time were slim but now they were non existent. As if to prove the point, one of the cars in the waiting line pulled out onto the tram line and narrowly missed him. Fortunately, he got the point and stopped but now he seemed really confused and it occurred to me that I might have to go and get him but it also occurred to me that the situation was getting more dangerous by the second as the waiting cars were likely to take off without warning and I would have to cross three lanes to get to him. For those few moments he was still safe but it was likely to go pear shaped very quickly.

At this point the guy in the little white car (which I’m assuming is the one that hit him) began gesturing to the pedestrian to get into his car. He got the message and slowly came around to the passenger side and very, very slowly got in.

The watching crowd breathed a mental sigh of relief and we all returned to normal time. I say ‘normal time’ as these things tend to play out in what appears to be slow motion but in fact everything moves at normal speed but in what feels like compressed time.

But at least we had a reasonably happy ending and a large number of people, mostly queueing for cinema tickets, got to see it play out.

Every story needs a good ending with a bit of reality thrown in so here we go.

As the stunned, sunglasses toting pedestrian climbed into the car the car behind him started blowing his horn and he kept blowing it. He was obviously in a hurry, there was no need to worry about a slightly crumpled pedestrian, he needed to get home.

Most likely he was afraid he would miss the beginning of Big Brother.

It seems to me that the media likes to focus on incidents that appear to show that the general public does not respond in an emergency. This hasn’t been my experience, and I was reminded when I read this article in ‘The Age’, my city’s newspaper. http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/quiet-care-that-the-news-misses-20130208-2e3vi.html

* ACMI is the Australian Centre for the Moving Image.

* MIFF is the Melbourne International Film Festival, it’s also the second oldest established film festival in the world.

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