(Names have been changed to protect the guilty.)
“Come in Mr. Appraiser….can you read me?”
It was a gloomy, rainy day in Killeen, Texas and I had already fielded two appraisers that needed information when a third appraiser came to my office doorway during a meeting I was having with my construction superintendents. He was one of my favorite appraisers because he was a rancher and extremely friendly and we always liked to see him appraise homes because he liked us too. We could always count on his appraisals to be right on cue. This day, he felt like sticking around and talking with me and my co-workers. His name was Bob Campbell.
I think today is the day that Bob Campbell lost it a little. I had remembered that the last time Bob came in was over a month ago and he had said that he had been struck by lightning while he was baling hay on his ranch in the country so he wasn’t walking very well. That day I had been very busy and I asked if he was okay, in passing, and he said, “Yes”, but he was still really sore. I remembered thinking how strange that was and how awful that would be because I’ve been about 15 feet from being struck by a bolt of lighting and I couldn’t hear for a week, had headaches and generally felt awful for a long time afterward.
Knowing that obviously, by him leaning against the doorframe of my office door, he wanted to chit chat for a while, I obliged him much to the disdain of my co-workers. Although, now, they’re glad that I started talking to him because they got to experience one of the weirdest conversations I’ve ever had with anyone in my entire life. So it all began like this:
“Well how are you doing today, Bob?” I asked cheerfully.
“Well….I’m a little leery about being out in this rain today.” He said.
“Oh that’s right! You said you had gotten struck by lightning last time you were in! I bet you’re not feeling too well about that. How are you feeling?” I asked.
“I’m a little nervous about my ankle getting struck by lightning again. I think that I was transmitting from it the day that I got struck. Or they were transmitting to me,” he said and started looking down at his ankle and moving it around like he was stretching it out.
What? I just stared at him, looked at the construction guys in front of me (which can’t be seen by Bob) who were wide eyed with shock. I was looking from Bob to them, from Bob to them and then finally after enough awkward silence, I decided to make one of my famous comments to break the silence. I truly thought he was pulling our chain. Transmitting? What in the world is he talking about?
“Ummm…Bob. Do…you…mean…’transmitting’ as in, the ‘aliens’ were talking to you?” I said in a totally funny and condescending way. The guys cracked up a little and I chuckled a little bit waiting for the punch line of this joke.
“No, not the aliens. The military.” He said without skipping a beat.
I just sat there and again looked back at the construction guys, one of them was staring ahead with his mouth gaping open and the other was chewing on a Styrofoam cup and trying not to laugh out loud. There were tears coming out of his eyes and dropping down his cheeks. So I decided I couldn’t look at the guys anymore because my face suddenly hurt from needing to laugh. I took the bait.
“Bob, what do you mean the military was transmitting to you?” I asked slowly and quizzically because I still thought this could still be a joke. Then, the madness began. He began to tell a story that could be the plot line for the next X-files movie.
“Back in ’68 the military put a transmitter in my ankle. They realized that I had the ability to see into the future.” He stated matter of factly.
At this moment, one of the construction guys left to go laugh in the hallway and the other one was still chomping down on his cup and rocking back and forth, red-faced and trying not to make a sound.
He continued, “See, I’m part Cherokee Indian, so I naturally have the propensity to anticipate things. You should have seen me when I was playing football in high school! I could anticipate what the defense and the quarterback would do and be able to stop any play they did. My coach would always say, “How did you know they were gonna do that?” And I always just said I didn’t know. I just felt it. So I wanted to know just how good I could see into the future and predict things, so I took this test that 12,000 Cherokee Indians took and I scored the second highest score out of all of them. That’s how well I can anticipate the future.”
I couldn’t help it. I had to ask the next question, “Bob…um…are they transmitting to you now?”
Slowly and mystically he said, “I…don’t…know.”
Not being able to hold things in any longer, Darrell, the construction guy that had been chomping on a cup decided to test his anticipation skills theory and yelled, “BOO!” Then looked at Bob and said, “Did you anticipate that?” and then he absolutely fell off his chair laughing. It was ridiculous because this was his chance to let everything out that he had been holding in and it was my chance too. So I started dying laughing and crying. I had tears streaming down my face. Bob smiled but he was a man on a mission. He continued his story, even though Darrell was now looking at me and putting his foot close to mouth and pretending he was talking on the phone through his ankle. I can’t tell you how hard it was not to laugh.
“So now, the government knew how well I could anticipate things and predict the future. The thing is, is that the transmitter in my ankle reads my subconscious thoughts. So I don’t even know when I’m helping people. My subconscious knows when anyone around the world is in trouble and the government is able to hear my subconscious thoughts through the transmitter and they can make a call and save the people that would have been about to die. Only bad thing is, they put this thing in my leg six months shy of being able to predict my brother being killed.”
Okay. Here it was. Proof that Bob was having a bad flashback episode or some sort of post traumatic stress. I started to feel really bad for him at this point and I asked if his wife knew about all of this and how she felt about the government being able to track him everywhere he went. I basically wanted to see if there was someone I could call who could come and help him if he flipped out here.
“Oh no! My wife doesn’t even know about the transmitter!” he stated emphatically.
“What?” Darrell asked. “You mean, we’re the only people who know about this? Is the government listening and going to kill us for knowing?” he asked, still trying to get him to talk more about it because he was having fun and at this time, recording the conversation with his phone because he knew no one would believe it.
I started trying to ask Bob questions that might bring him out of this state but he kept on going and he truly believed this stuff. Part of me believes that something like this is possible but yet so out of this world unbelievable. So, I asked him, “Bob, if they’re still using your thoughts to help people, that doesn’t seem fair. How are they going to pay you?”
“That’s a good question and when I was laying in bed recuperating from being struck by lightening, I asked the “powers that be” if my ankle was still transmitting after the lightning strike and they told me it was. So then I asked them how I would get paid for all of the lives that I’ve saved since 1968 and they said that when I reached 65, I’m 62 now, that they will count up all the lives I’ve helped save all over the world by being able to read my subconscious thoughts and they’ll pay me that way.”
Darrell and I just stared at each other and finally he had to leave. He couldn’t hold it in any longer and I heard him explode in laughter out the back door. I was in shock and trying to figure out if Bob was okay to go back out into the real world. I didn’t even know what to say to him anymore. He stated everything so matter of factly and he truly believed all of that mess. I was in a daze. Is this conversation really happening? I was trying to make sense of it all and say something to him that was rooted in the real world. So I said, “You better get on home and be safe and out of this weather. We don’t want you to get struck by lightning again.”
He said, “It would be the third time if I did. I was already struck by lightning once when I was about three years old. I was playing under front porch and lightning struck the house, knocked me out and mama found me later and woke me up. No sir. I don’t want to get struck by that again. Of course, one of these strikes may stop it from transmitting. I don’t want to get struck again though. Thirty days in the hospital is a long time and they had to take my blood every twenty minutes to make sure I had enough medicine in me.”
Not wanting to go any further with this, I told him that I needed to get to an appointment with a customer at their house and that he needed to go home and rest. He agreed and walked out the door and said, “Maybe I’m helping somebody right now. Never know. Have a good day!” And he left.
I just stood there, limp. Darrell came back in and sat down and we stared at each other with gaping mouths for a good minute until my sales partner came in from being with a customer and he sat down and looked at both of us. I couldn’t talk and the only thing Darrell could say was, “Dude! Dude! Dude!”
We finally were able to talk and told my sales partner that he had just missed the weirdest conversation ever and there were still about 4 more hours in the work day to go. I couldn’t do anything but stare into space. I was so in shock and kept thinking about everything he said. I wrote every detail down with Darrell helping me recall things. I had my sales partner take all the customers while I got over the shock of it all. As I write this, that was only two days ago. I hope that I’ll be able to write a follow-up chapter and let you all know what happens when I see Bob again. The weird thing is, Bob probably already knows that I’m writing a chapter about him.