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The Missing Panelist (A Short Story)

Updated on January 27, 2019

The Missing Panelist

"I really don't want to serve on that psychic panel," Jim Woebler muttered to himself as he approached the auditorium. That super psychic fellow from Philadelphia just plain scared him; besides, what was an English Instructor from McConnaghy State Teachers College doing on a psychic panel? It just didn't make any sense, that's all. So what if he had read Black Elk Speaks--does that make him an expert on paranormal phenomena?

Jim Woebler hesitatingly sat down in one of the panelist's chairs, and lo and behold that super psychic from Philadelphia sat next to him along with some psychology and history profs from the state college. The Philadelphian explained that he was going to do something unusual by having his panelists go out of their bodies to see what was on a certain page in a newspaper located fifty feet away.

"Damn it," Woebler thought. "I should have worn a garlic clove or something."

"Relax, fellow panelists," the psychic ordered. "Think of the happiest moment in your life."

Woebler thought and thought and thought, but every moment that he considered to be happy was tinged with sadness. What the hell is a happy moment he kept thinking to himself.

"Now think of yourself as a piece of floating cotton, very light. Think of yourself floating in air. Relax!"

Jim floated, but not in a happy moment. The audience appeared far below him, but he wasn't absolutely sure.

"Concentrate on your third eye, a ball of light, and go under that Sunday newspaper to the page that is lying flat against the table and tell me what you see."

Two psychology professors saw something blue. The history prof saw something brown.

"Mr. Woebler, I haven't heard from you!"

Jim just wondered about some fifty feet over the audience and began to worry which one of those bodies was his. The psychic asked for more details about the newspaper page and everyone answered correctly except for Woebler who was now being deliberately ignored. The Philadelphian went over to the newspaper, and sure enough the page in question contained a holiday picture of a brown tropical island in a bright blue sea.

"Return to your bodies," thev psychic ordered, and they all jerked back into their empty frames sitting in their chairs. But Woebler wandered far and high and became frightened.

"My son," a voice called.

"Yes...who are you?"

"Do not be frightened. I shall help you if you do me a favor."

"Yes, what is it?"

"Let me go to your body as I have been "dead" many years."

"Who are you?"

"It matters not. I would like to go to your body and answer some of those foolish questions down there in that great assembly room."

"But who are you?"

"If you let me go down for a few minutes, I will guide you back to your body."

"Who are you?"

"I am Black Elk of the Oglala Sioux."

"Oh, my God!"

"No, I am not God, but a humble Indian."

"No...I did'nt mean..."

"I will go down now, alright?"

"Yes, surely, yes."

Woebler's body jerked, and the scrutinizing Philadelphia psychic said that he was glad to see the English Professor got back.

"We are talking about the validity of psychic phenomena and how it may enrich daily life."

Woebler/Black Elk spoke:

"What you say my high-minded friend is too simple. That's like saying I wear socks with my shoes. Why bother saying it?"

"What do you mean, Woebler? You do not like what I'm saying," asked the Philadelphian in a superior tone.

"Psychic phenomena, as you call it, is daily life. Go to a cottonwood grove and sit and stare and you will see what those cottonwoods really are. They are not just bark and branches but spirits pointing to the source."

The Philadelphian chuckled at what he supposed was this two bit English Instructor's joke and said, "I see wise one. Do not make jest of me, for I have crushing powers."

Meanwhile the real Woebler floated above the high Rockies over tipi encampments and talked with tribesmen about the frozen waters of the Rockies that make the valleys fertile below and how the Great Spirit Tongasula teaches this. Cottonwoods follow the descending streams to the Platte and Missouri Rivers and always remind us of the source, and that is why they are sacred.

Black Elk floated up to Jim Woebler for a split second and asked him how he was getting along.

"Let's trade places, Black Elk. I love this spirit world. It has given me such happiness."

"I think you tell me the truth, son. I have fought my battle against the white man on earth years and years ago, but if you will let me return to wage battle against a new kind of power, perhaps for once I can win!"

Jim nodded his head in accord, and Black Elk instantaneously returned to the panel with a gleam in his eyes.

In a sense this story is a bit autobiographical in that I attended a paranormal workshop, but my mind did not wander to the place everyone else in the audience went to. I went to an advertisement page that had nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Black Elk Speaks

Have you read Black Elk Speaks?

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© 2009 Richard Francis Fleck


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