A Halloween Story: The Medium is the Method?
“Tap, Tap, Tap….” “Tap, Tap, Tap….” Merline, the reader is shaking her head erratically, eyes closed, but seemingly distracted from her task. She’s trying to capture Joseph, the spirit who has something to tell Marvin, the “receiver.” But she keeps hearing incessant tapping — “Tap, tap, tap” — “Tap, tap, tap”.
Marvin, a 60 something looking man sits straight up, his eyes go round, his lips twitch slightly as tries to suppress the small smile that is spreading across his face. Merline texturizes Jason describing what he looks like, height, girth, watery blue eyes, purple, blue and grey plaid shirt — Really, purple? Ok, ok, Sharon No editorializing on the Medium’s monolgue. She describes a dark wood table that reminds me of the chopping block my father used in his butcher role, but all the while she hears that “Tap, Tap, Tap….”
She’s done. Her head movements are in repose, her waving and gesturing arms come to stillness in her lap. Merline opens her eyes.
She looks over at Marvin. “So . . .?” She asks?
He tells her she was “right on” in so many of the details, including that weird purple plaid shirt. But most importantly, his father was a cobbler. Every time he repaired a heel, he would hammer it into the bottom of the shoe with a series of Tap, Tap, Tap’s on each little nail. And what i thought was a butcher block was his cobbling table. Really??? AND . . .
I didn’t realize it, but I had gone to this medium training workshop on my father’s birthday.
There were 7 mediums and 7 receivers. Some readings were with the group of mediums focusing on the spirit of one receiver, as with the tapper. All of the mediums were trying to get messages from Jason, Marvin’s father.
One of them told him that he was to keep up the hard work. This meant something to Marvin whose eyes teared up. But he seemed most immersed and captivated when he heard about the “Tap, tap, tap”. I have to say, that did give me a bit of a shiver. It was a very unusual thing to hear from a stranger.
After that pretty spectacular demonstration, we were paired up. One on one — Medium and pedestrian, a passenger along for the ride, an adventure in the possible paranormal.
The etherial Anshun, an attractive tall young woman with long honey colored hair came to sit with me. In a sweet wistful voice, she asked me who I would like to contact from the other side. To just say the person’s name. No more details.
Hmmmm. There wasn’t really anyone. I prefer people of this world, but . . . “Arthur,” I blurted out perhaps a little too excitedly. She couldn’t possibly know anything about him.
He was my boss when I first graduated; then my boyfriend for a short while. AND he was 27 years older than me. I know. A little strange, but . . .
She looked dreamy, eyes lightly closed, body beginning to sway gently as if tracing a circle a little larger than her chair. She was going into some kind of trance state? She whispered, “I see someone coming into view. He’s older . . . . She was hesitating. He looks. . . uhm . . .seems kind of grandfatherly.
Her body stopped swaying; her eyes shot open. “Does that make sense?”
I was laughing inside, a bit embarrassed. “Yeah”, I say. “That kind of makes sense.”
She returns to her lowered lid, trance swaying and whispered voice . . .
“He really cared about you, was very involved with you for a time,” she continues. “And, uh . . .” she’s almost blushing. She asks uncomfortably, “You had a special relationship with him?”
“Well, yeah” I say, mirroring her discomfort.
“That kind of relationship?” she asks softly, slowly.
“Yeah, that kind of relationship”, I stammer hoarsely, agreeing again but reflecting her discomfort. I let out a little laugh to dispel some of it.
“Ohhhh, well then that makes sense,” she breathes deep into her abdomen.
“OK, he has something he wants to tell you. Annndd, I see a big green field. . . Why is he showing me this field? . . . He says, “Its ok, you no longer need to feel guilty.”
This sends me into a reverie about the day we broke up. I lived with him for a very stabilizing year that got me on my feet. Once I graduated, my parents decided to move back to South Jersey, leaving me alone in NY. I was pretty freaked out, not ready to live on my own yet, so I latched onto my boss who was very willing to take me on as his newest intern in work and love.
He was a very smart and funny and nice man. I learned a lot from him, but I wasn’t in love with him. I felt very guilty about leaving because he was so attached to me.
I remembered the green field. It was in front of the house he had rented for us in the country. I told him I had to leave and dramatically ran out into the expanse of green, crying and tripping and falling into the grass, sobbing.
I felt awful about hurting him, but had to leave before I was lost in his world with none of my own. We were both crying so hard that snot was running down both of our faces, seriously. I know that sounds disgusting and histrionic, but there it was. Seeing my upset, he pulled back his emotions, helped me up and let me leave. I knew I had broken his heart, but had to choose my own life over his. Always felt guilty about it.
. . Twenty years later, he called me to do a research project for him. It was a little awkward, but he was married to his 4th wife, who he claimed to adore. I thought it was ok. It was a project on Catalina bathing suits; Focus Groups where women were shown a rack of suits as part of the project for their feedback. In focus groups, there are two rooms separated by a one way mirror, where those in the back can watch and listen to what’s happening in the front room. Clients sit in the back, observing, taking notes, munching on M&M’s, while the moderator — in this case me — runs the research session in the front.
At one point, I got a note from the backroom where Arthur asked me to have them try on the suits. I was flabbergasted. He wanted to put up a screen in the room, have them go behind and change and come out to show us how the suits fit. Is he kidding!!!
These were not Sports Illustrated models who would be comfortable flaunting their bodies… well maybe one might have liked exhibiting herself, but the rest were normal figured flawed 30’s — 50’s bodies like most of the rest of the world, who would have probably been mortified. More importantly, I was!
I began to remember that he WAS kind of lecherous and began feeling angry. I let him and the other men in the backroom know this was highly inappropriate and proceeded with the research as it was planned.
I was judgmental and huffy and felt like punishing him, justifying why it was for the best that I had left him so many years ago.
And, then the shocker, the bomb drop. As we were ending the project, wrapping up the report a couple of weeks later, one of the people in his office let it slip. Arthur was dying. He had stomach cancer. There wasn’t much time left. I wasn’t supposed to know, but . . . she thought I might want to. I didn’t know what to do, say, how to react . . . Really? Oh God, how awful. I realized, this was his way of seeing me one last time and saying goodbye, without trying to get me to feel sorry for him.
New guilt on top of the guilt of hurting him so many years ago; Guilt for judging him; Guilt for realizing how important I must have been to him for him to create this bogus venue for saying goodbye with his dignity intact. I never said goodbye formally. Never acknowledged that I knew he was dying. I just sat with the sadness and guilt of being indignantly angry with him as part of our last encounters.
And, there I was in this room with Anshun telling me he said to drop the guilt.
Remember I said it happened to be my Dad’s birthday? This man smelled like my Dad. I always think that we have our own tell-tale scents, but he smelled just like my Dad. Weird, right!? It actually got in the way of being close to him, because I was always aware of our age difference AND how he smelled like my Dad. So it was probably no coincidence that I thought about inviting him into the psychic room on that day.
We all did some debriefing about our experiences, medium and receiver and then we switched. This time I was paired with Janine. She’s the one who hosts the meetings. I have a feeling of trust with her even though I’m only a highly skeptical, partial believer in all of this. I had given Anshum a name and then might have been subtly communicating through my face and eyes information that could lead her one way or the other. Hot? Cold? Hot? Hotter?
So when I was paired with my friend, I got brave and still forgetting what day it was asked Janine to invite my father into the space. Janine is a medium AND a very entertaining channel who sings to you in an ethereal voice.
She immediately started intoning, “Oh my darling daughter . . .” HA! I was NOT even close to being my dad’s darling, so I was very suspect, and kind of laughing to myself. But she kept chanting. Dad in Jenna’s melodic voice told me how sorry he was for not being there for me. He kept apologizing in various versions while I drifted in my mind.
If he really was here, he SHOULD be apologizing. He was a very difficult father and person; Always moody and retreated or unpredictably explosive. I was terrified of him most of my younger life.
Uh oh . . . my peripheral vision is picking up a male presence.
It’s him, Ugh.
Tall, Dark and Weird who I now call TDW. He magically appeared when I was in crisis with my BFF a year ago and now periodically this apparition of sorts visits me in different bodies. No one else can see him but me and my Shih Tzu, Stewie.
AND he’s Smirking.
Janine’s channeling is droning in the background as her body undulates sinuously in her seat, eyes closed, totally absorbed in . . . something..
I whisper, in an annoyed voice, “What are you doing here, now?!” He’s wearing black jeans, black boots, a black biker T-shirt with a silver Harley on it and a condescending look on his face. He sounds like the Texan again. Versus the sophisticated European vampire that often alights.
“Ah came to protect you from all this nauseatin’ goo.”
“Nauseating?” “That my father wants to finally apologize?” I ask indignantly.
“Ya think that’s yaw Dad?”
I, I stammer, “I don’t know! But it’s relieving to hear it anyway.”
“Hhmmph” He snickers. “That’s cheap.”
“That’s all you need, is some spiritualist telling you Dad is sorry.” He snorts. “Now, that’s really rich.”
“Well make up your mind. One minute cheap, the next rich!” I go into sarcasm as a defense.
“You think he’s all sorry and healed because he’s now in spirit? That’s just too . . . ridiculous for words, girl. Stories made up by you living types who are trying to get a life, but have no idea about reality.”
He snickers at me again.
“Stop” “Why are you ruining this for me,” I whine at him.
I realize that my face is flushed in annoyance and embarrassment at the same time. I never had the courage to consider my parents were actually reachable after they died and here I was taking a step towards allowing my feelings to be expressed when Magic Man appears to ruin it all.
What if it’s just my imagination? What if this is all hokey and I’m using it as an avenue to letting something go. What’s wrong with that?
As I was sitting in the mediums meeting, it occurred to me that my denial of death, that it won’t happen to me was really the horrible thought that when I die I would have to see all the dead people who had tortured me in life — in particular my crazy grandmother, my mom and dad and assorted other unpleasant types that I didn’t want to associate with.
He drawls, “Well, relax. You’re not going there. That’s their destiny. Yours is much more interesting and you have a lot to do here before that anyway. WE have a lot to work on, right here.”
“WE?” I ask suspiciously, “Aren’t you just a figment of my imagination?” And then I have a little giggle to myself. I can’t use the word figment without wanting to say Fig Newton. I’ve always done that. I know, I digress to silliness at the most ludicrous moments.
He chuckles. “Yeah, it is a silly word.”
“Hey, Stop reading my mind!”
“How can I read your mind, if I’m just a FIG Newton of your imagination?”
“You are soooo condescending”, I sneer indignantly.
“Doesn’t matter”. He’s all elegant and professional now, transformed into an English gentlemen? So I take him more seriously? “I’m just here to keep you company on your journey and help to insure we get some things straight. And, we can have some fun in the meantime.”
I pretend not to pay attention and focus back on Janine who is now saying that she has a message from Daddy for my sister. “He says to tell your sister that he’s sorry for being hard on her too.” I find myself bristling. Hard on her?! She was his little angel!!! But, of course, he couldn’t or wouldn’t let me think I was special to him, even for 2 minutes! He’d have to bring golden child back in!
TDW is back to casual drawling. “See what ah mean? You need me. He’s still trying to get his act together. But it’s an act. Trust me. Don’t bother. It’s his journey. Yours is another, with me here right beside you.” He’s sitting on one of those fold up chairs that he brought out from a back room, long legs extended onto Janine’s lap. She doesn’t notice.
“Would you take your legs off of her?” I hiss at him, trying not to interrupt Janine’s trance. “That’s just disrespectful! And…, wrong!”
He’s behind me now with his hands warmly resting on my shoulders. “You’re right. ah’m sorry. We can talk later. Just don’t get all soupy about your father. He’s still the same guy that has nothing for you, dead or not.”
Then I hear and see Janine. She’s smiling at me and talking, asking me a question that I can’t quite make out, “Sharon, are you back?” “Back?” I ask?
“Yes, you were murmuring something in what looked like a trance to me. Are you ok? Did your Dad say anything?”
I avoid the question. Instead, “I just realized, it’s his birthday today.”
“Ohhhh, no wonder his energy was so strong.”
I didn’t know what to say. And I like her and want to be supportive of her entertainment factor. She’s really adorable when she “channels”.
She persists. “Did he say anything important? They usually want to tell you something when they come in that strongly”.
“He said he was sorry. He called me his darling daughter.” I mumble.
“Ohhhhhh. That’s great. You know you’ve opened Pandora’s Box. He’s going to be coming in all the time now”, she says with a self-satisfied smile on her face.
Ugh. I think to myself. What else will he want me to tell my adorable little sister?
I think I can hear “Tall, Dark, and Weird” snorting in the back of my mind.
I awake from my musings. Is this imaginary man going to keep bothering me? Is TDW my new best friend or my nemesis or a mixture of both? Am I losing my mind or finding something about myself, within myself, a new aspect of self? Good question.