•THE TOOLS• Canon 5D Mark 2, 24-105mm 1:4 lens. Photoshop CS5
Psychic phenomena…paranormal occurrences…extrasensory perception…call it what you like, it all boils down to the same thing. At one time or another we’ve all see or experienced something that defied explanation. Consider if you will the shocking story of an event that occurred in Southern California over seventy years ago. Like a lot of men during the Great Depression of the 1930’s Twenty four year old Joe Milner was in search of a job. He was a recent Stanford University graduate with ambitions of become a sales representative. He knew he would need a car to do the job, but with only three hundred dollars to his name he knew his options would be limited. He was in a bar one night discussing his car dilemma with some friends when a well dressed stranger approached him and said, “I couldn’t help but overhear you, and I think I have just what you’re looking for.” The two took a walk outside and the man said, “well here it is son, and it can be yours for only three hundred dollars.” It was a long, powerful looking blue convertible coop with masculine black wheels and a gleaming chrome grill. Joe thought to himself, “Imagine that, a 1932 Stutz Bearcat just waiting for me to take ownership.” When he asked the stranger why he was selling it he said, “I’ve made a lot of money lately and you might say I’ve traded up” then he gestured to the other side of the street where a chauffeur stood next to a new Rolls Royse Silver Cloud sedan. “What a break”, Joe thought, “the Bearcat is mine.”
The next day Joe drove the big inline V-8 up to Sacramento to visit an old buddy who said he might have a lead on a job. Cars have a way of boosting a guy’s self-confidence, and there was something about driving that car that left Joe feeling more energized and alive. That night the two old friends were talking over dinner when a piano player in the restaurant started playing and upbeat jazz tune. Joe was tapping his fingers on the table when he noticed the glass next to him was moving slightly back-and-forth in rhythm with his hand movement. Puzzled and bewildered, he raised his hands with his fingers pointing to the glass when to his amazement it moved to the other side of the table. When he looked down, he noticed that each piece of silverware in front of him was bent and pointed in the direction of the glass. Joe’s friend had his eyes on the piano player and didn’t notice what had just happened. When he turned back to Joe he said. “Hay man, you feeling alright? You look like you just saw a ghost?” Joe shrugged it off and said, “it must have been the drink I had”, and he stayed low-key for the rest of dinner. When Joe got back to his friends apartment and was getting ready for bed the temptation to reconstruct the event was too much to resist. While in the bathroom he noticed a pill bottle on the sink. He moved his hands toward it and in his mind imagined it moving. It not only moved, but rose from the surface of the sink.
Joe was an opportunist. If this newly recognized power was for real, what could he make of it? The next day while driving the Bearcat up Highway 1, his mind was spinning with fantasies of fame and fortune. Joe had a soft spot for gambling, and with a newfound ability to control moving objects; perhaps the dice could roll consistently in his favor. And boy did they ever.
Day after day Joe and the big Bearcat speedster were cruising the West coast from Santa Barbara up to Seattle. By night Joe was hitting the backrooms of every bar and gambling joint around. Within a month he had racked up over a million dollars in ill-gotten gains and secured his ticket to the high life. Expensive suits, diamond rings, and ten-dollar cigars were the persona of the man with the magic fingers. And now that he had real money, he could buy the car of his dreams, a 1937 Type 57 Bugatti. The Bearcat would have to step aside for the glamorous Italian touring car. He sold the Bearcat to a mysterious man who said he was working with the traveling carnival that was in town.
A couple of days after the trade was finalized Joe felt tired and drained. A long vacation seemed like the remedy for a man who had been burning the candle at both ends. He loaded the Bugatti on a luxury liner bound for Europe where he would spend the next two month driving it from Rome to Berlin and to Monte Carlo, spending his new found wealth with reckless abandon along the journey.
Upon his return to the States he was determined to pick-up where he left off. But this time there would be no magic, and chance would regain control. He lost his fortune as quickly as he made it and became a broken man. After a couple of years of despair he was reading a Life magazine when he noticed a headline that read, “ California Magician Mesmerizes audiences with astounding feats of levitation and mind control. There was something familiar about the magician in the photo and Joe sensed that they had crossed paths. Then his jaw dropped as he noticed in the background the big headlights and long blue body of the machine that drove him to riches. It was the Stutz Bearcat with a slightly upturned front bumper that made it look like the cat that just swallowed the canary.