By Dan Bodine
Visited my pulmonologist Wednesday. Advised him I’d googled the name of the lung disease the hospital diagnosed me with on the internet, and three different reputable sites all gave me a life expectancy of 1-2 years, post diagnosis. Was this seeking a fortune telling?
“Don’t pay any attention to the internet!” the doctor said. “You’ll find some strange things on there.” And that pretty much ended the visit…’Cept —
“Oh,” he added, “Life expectancy today in this country is less than 76.5. And you’re already past 80, so what are you worried about?”
“Yeah, I guess I’m on borrowed time already, huh?” I quipped.
But it reminded me of the summer I’d passed out of Junior High in Cleburne Tx, 8th grade going to 9th, when working on a ranch near Blum, down toward Lake Whitney, when something similar happened.
It was the day after we’d gotten paid, and I had all the money in my wallet. Around noon, eating our sack lunches, I noticed the wallet missing. Wadn’t in my back pocket.
I checked with everyone around there. No one knew anything about it. Front office did say if anyone turned it in, they’d be sure to notify me.
Riding home back to Cleburne that afternoon (went with Baldy Howard, my older cousin in high school), I asked him if he had any ideas on what to do.
He told me there was a “Prince” somebody over in East Cleburne, a fortune teller, who could probably tell me if’n I was to get my wallet back or not, with the money.
This was still during times of segregation, of course, and East Cleburne was where African Americans lived, near their school, Booker T. Washington.
That next Saturday I went over the train viaduct into East Cleburne, knocked on Prince’s door — he had a fortune-telling sign in his front yard — and told him about my plight.
Prince told me he’d be glad to take a look into his crystal ball for something, and advised his fee was $5. I agreed. Seems like that week’s pay I’d lost was $34. Gambling some to get it back, I guess.
He directed me into the house where there was a table, a large crystal ball and some candles around it, and 2-3 chairs. That first room was his office, where he worked.
And he placed the $5 bill near the crystal ball, away from the candles. Then he lit the candles, and flipped a switch near him on the edge of the table — which turned on a white light inside the crystal ball.
And then he sat down. The table was set near an open entranceway directly behind him, connecting another room or hallway of the house. Didn’t know if anyone else was home, though. All quiet.
But he asked me to sit directly across from him. I sat down, facing him.
He then arose and reached back up to a shelf behind the table — near that opening — and pulled off what looked like three pieces of white, irregularly cut table linen from it.
Mumbling some strange words then, he whirled those pieces up into the air, above that table — one at a time, so they’d fall on the side near him, away from the candles and the crystal ball.
And then he shoved them closer to the crystal ball, and he sat back down. Felt along the edge of the circular table ’til he found a switch. Which lighted up the crystal ball fluorescent white.
He then pushed his face close to that white ball, and stared hard into it — Every 10 or 15 seconds or so, using his right hand first, then his left, moving counterclockwise starting at top-right — reaching out to move the three linen pieces directly against the crystal ball, creating kind of a manger scene.
Maybe to warm the glass up, increasing the friction on it, I guess. A lone spirit’s midnight entrance into the vast darkness of the netherworld! Following the light cast by a crystal ball.
After 4-5 minutes, he then looked up from the lighted glass ball, and turned to me — his face kind of puzzled.
“I’m sorry,” he said, a little downcast. “It ain’t in here nowhere! You’ve lost it. And won’t find it.”
And then Prince reached over and grabbed the $5 and put it into his pocket. Case closed.
I thanked him and got up and left.
He spoke the absolute truth!
I never saw the wallet again. Nor the money.
— 30 —