The days after were, of course, mournful. Jim had left a wife and two teenage children. I can’t imagine what they felt. John and his wife found out from Rebecca about my experience and they invited me to dinner. I could tell them little. Although I knew something was wrong when the telephone rang, I wasn’t able to tell what it was about at the time. I got a look and a listen into another world, but only a for a few seconds. Perhaps that’s all anyone gets.
Some say the supernatural compares favorably to the elephant in an ancient Hindu parable. In that story, several blind men touch different parts of an elephant. One touches the tail, one a tusk, one an ear, and so on. None of them experiences the same thing and none can agree on what the elephant looks like. Just like the blind men and their elephant, I could only describe a tusk or a tail.
I had never really considered the supernatural before, except as a statistical matter. Was everyone who reported a supernatural experience wrong? Everyone who had a premonition, a marked foreboding, a communication from a dead relative, could all of them be wrong? I had never before paid this thought much mind. And now I, too, was a person with a claim, but at least I had a witness. Rebecca had seen my distress. I had panicked over that one call, that one call, out of dozens that had come into the office that day. Because she had witnessed what happened, I never look back on the occurrence and think I imagined it.
People asked if I felt anything religious. I didn’t feel the presence of God, or anything like that. But was it powerful enough to be God? Certainly—powerful enough to raise the dead or part the Red Sea. As for the negative: I don’t know if there is a hell, but I would not want to be on the wrong side of that power. In the world I felt, anything had been possible.
I can’t believe I alone have experienced something from beyond, and I refuse to believe that power will extinguish when I die. I can only see it continuing.
However, looking at the sun demands a price. Two weeks later, my first violent nightmare occurred. I had never had nightmares before, but this was a muddled mess, with Jim’s hunting dogs barking and the sound of shotguns going off. A man with a handlebar mustache appeared. I immediately felt he was responsible for Jim’s death. I woke up with adrenaline coursing through me, panicky and afraid. I didn’t want to discuss it, but I did ask John about the strange man I saw. John couldn’t help me. He knew no one who looked like that.
Over the next several months, more nightmares found me. They grew worse and more intense. They were never the same, but they had a central theme. I was always killing someone or someone was killing me. The nightmares wallowed in blood and slaughter. They delighted in murder. As time went by, I began to have two, three, and sometimes four nightmares in a single night. I became a wreck, unable to sleep, frightened to do so. If I tried to go back to sleep too quickly, the nightmares would often begin right where they had left off.
My brain was broken.
The nightmares waxed and waned in frequency but by April of 1990 they had become extremely severe. I sought psychiatric help and got no relief. I began different medicines, none of them helping. I wanted to flee. I wanted to run from work and run from Davis. I wanted to run to Mexico, deluded by the thought that perhaps I could outrun these terrible dreams. I remember the night before I quit John Gray.
My worst nightmare came that night. In that terror I was swinging a baseball bat at the heads of little babies. I was smashing their heads in, one by one, swinging constantly, constantly killing. This grotesque experience convinced me to do something different. I needed to concentrate solely on getting better. That morning I quit my job. I left my beloved work truck, the traveling Labrador, Penny, and the best boss I ever knew.
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