A séance has been held. That was the only way I could begin to describe the events of a recent trip to Atlantic City where I just may have participated in one of the greatest of all paranormal happenings.
Strolling by the boardwalk vendors, my friends, Tim, Vinnie, Vinnie’s wife, Bonnie and myself were somehow prophetically drawn to a neon sign-GREATEST PSYCHIC IN WORLD-MADAME OUSPENSKAYA $10 PER PERSON. My cynicism was firmly in check but Tim and Bonnie thought it was an experience we had to share before leaving the following morning. So, reluctantly I went along with it and the four of us entered the small shop adorned with peeling wallpaper and ubiquitous incense.
An elderly woman in black garb with a simple string of beads greeted us in a seemingly Russian accent, collecting forty dollars from us with instructions to follow her to a small round table with three lit candles near a wall where she was apparently brewing some potent tea. We all sat down as we took a quick glance at our surroundings.
“Please to put away your cigarette. Then we begin.” She directed Vinnie.
“Come on, you’d do it for Ravi Shankar.” I quipped, realizing I probably should keep quiet.
He put his cigarette out in a nearby saucer and Madame Ouspenskaya seemed content to continue. My friends exchanged some glances and then waited to see what was next. No one spoke for almost a minute until Madame Ouspenskaya closed her eyes and asked that we join hands. As we did so she quietly uttered some words that we took to be invocations for the beginning of the ceremony.
“Can we talk to someone’s spirit?” An uncomfortable moment passed as I thought we would all be shown the door amidst a string of Russian profanities. She quietly responded.
“Madame Ouspenskaya will try. That is what she does.” I wondered if that meant that she does it, or tries to do it. “Whose spirit?” she asked. More silence.
“I guess…” What does one say? Where do you go with something like this? My friends must have been rolling their eyes at each other. I had to get this going so we could finish up and get out.
“I guess I want to talk to someone that I could write about. I write sometimes for… well, it’s an online publication called Western Magazine Digest.” She interrupted me right there, her voice now more pronounced as though she had received something.
“I think… that someone wants to talk to you.” Really? Wow! I thought I’d have to tell her a name of someone I was thinking of. Maybe she had her own ideas.
“He rides a horse, yes?” Hey, Is she talking about who I’m thinking? “Near… a red… river?”
Woah! It seemed Madame Ouspenskaya knew who it was, or better yet, had him ready to talk with us, right there. Could it be?
“Yeah.” I responded, trying not to show obvious signs of excitement about this.
“He has grit… he has true grit, yes?” Do you believe this? She’s doing it. She’s contacting the man himself, I thought.
“Yes, Madame Ouspenskaya. Yes, indeed!” By now I couldn’t hide my exuberance.
“And he rides… tall in the saddle, yes?”
“Yeah. He does! He does!” I replied.
"His initials, they are J-W?” she asked.
She paused and proceeded with the portentous revelation. “He has something to say to everyone… all over the land.” We were in awe. What was he going to tell us?
She continued. “He says we need to remember … that even when so much is happening, that this land, America, it is strong. It is a beacon of hope and aspiration for all. Must remember our laws are good and they prevent tyranny. Also, dissent and free speech, they are good things because we make our decisions in elections. And… that we will always have freedom of religions and choices and it is a just land and those are things to be proud of and defend. We also must honor the people who defended them.”
Jackpot! We hit the jackpot… and we never even went into the casinos!
“What else? What else?”
“Nothing else.” She whispered. “But yes, he says one more thing.”
“He says when the road looks rough ahead, remember the ‘Man upstairs’ and the word ‘hope’. Hang on to both and tough it out, pilgrim.”
We walked out onto the boardwalk, speechless. We were still partly in shock from what had occurred in that place as our vacation resumed. Who would have guessed that I did the unimaginable? Did what others have tried in vain to do for so many years, actually communicate with the spirit of the one, the only… JACK WEBB! What he was doing on that horse, though, I’ll never know.
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