I was teaching Sociology of Religion at Florida Atlantic University, and I invited representatives from various religious groups to speak to the class: Pentecostal, Eastern Orthodox, Buddhist, Muslim, Neo-Pagan. For the New Age, I contacted the Center for Spiritual Living in Fort Lauderdale, and they sent me Raphael.
At least, I assumed that's why he and a friend appeared at my house one evening, and said "Hi, I'm Raphael, and this is Jordan. You called for us?"
I stood in the doorway, speechless, stunned. Raphael was a Cute Young Thing, in his twenties, a few inches shorter than me, with a nondescript physique but a face I can only describe as angelic: bright, shining, ever-smiling, mesmerizing. I can't find any pictures of men that even approach his brilliance. Jordan was a Cute Young Thing, too, but I can't remember what he looked like.
Finally I managed to stammer, "Hi...hi, nice to meet you." I held out my hand. Only Jordan shook it.
I invited them into the house and offered them sodas. Raphael asked for his with a straw.
Then I noticed that his arms were hanging down limply from his shoulders. They were paralyzed!
Jordan chose an easy chair and buried himself in a Tom Clancy novel. Raphael began talking, I assumed about the tenets of his religion. It was standard New Age stuff -- matter is an illusion; all of life is spirit; we have lived many times before. But I was fascinated.
"Was I gay in all of my past lives?" I asked, surprised that I had come out so easily.
"Probably not. We're all gay, straight, male, female. But we're surrounded by the same people in every life, Want me to check?"
"Press my hand against your Svadhishthana Chakra -- your abdomen."
I lifted up my shirt, took his hand -- surprisingly, it was warm, not cold -- and pressed it flat against my abs. "This guy just wants to feel me up," I thought.
"No, that would be the Muladhara Chakra," Raphael said with a bright laugh. "Your crotch."
Had he just read my mind?
"What does touching that tell you?" I asked. "How much I like you?"
Raphael began to blush a little. "Ok, I've got something. I see you as an old man. Very old, wearing overalls. You are fascinated by a new invention." He paused. "Um...called a magic lantern. I never heard of that -- do you know what it is?"
"Early films in the 1890s were called Magic Lantern Shows," I said, shocked. But then my inner skeptic kicked in. There were posters from old movies on the wall -- obviously he surmised that I was a movie buff in this life.
I didn't care. Raphael was the hottest guy I had ever seen! I couldn't take my eyes off him. I had to get him alone, away from the stern, Tom Clancy-reading Jordan. "Can you read my future, too?"
"Yes, but for that, I need to touch an object of yours, something that you've handled often."
"Sure...um...let's go into the bedroom, and I'll find something."
I was still holding his hand. I led him into the bedroom, and pressed his hand around the Kensington Runestone that I got in Alexandria, Minnesota when I was a kid. "I see that you travel quite a bit," Raphael said. "I've never been outside the country."
"Someday I'll take you to Paris," I said. Then I felt my face burning. I had said too much.
"You're going to Paris yourself in a few months, I see."
"You'll get an opportunity there. A job offer, maybe. But don't take it."
"Are you kidding? I'd give anything to live in Europe!"
"No, you won't be happy there. We need you here in America."
It was a warm, innocent kiss, like they show on first dates on tv. But it didn't stay innocent. I became more aggressive, pressing our bodies together, pressing my hand against his crotch, unbuttoning his shirt...
His body stiffened, and he pulled his face away. "Wait, wait," he murmured. "It's too soon."
"Oh...sorry," I said, heavily embarrassed. "I thought..."
"It's ok." I helped him button his shirt back up. "We'll see each other again. Let me give you my phone number. Do you have a piece of paper?"
I put a scrap of paper on the desk, and watched while he took a pen in his mouth and deftly wrote down the number.
Then he kissed me again, briefly, and yelled out to Jordan that it was time to go.
Alone in my room, staring at the phone number, I started thinking.
2. Raphael's arms didn't work. He must do things with his mouth and his feet, with Jordan as supplemental assistance. I tried to imagine how he dressed, ate, brushed his teeth, went to the bathroom. And as the boyfriend, the supplemental assistance would be my job.
I didn't call the next day. Or the next. Or the next. The phone number stayed on my desk, staring up at me.
On Sunday, I planned to go to the services at the Center for Spiritual Living and surprise Raphael. But I lost my nerve.
The phone number stayed on my desk for a long time. Then one day it was gone. Maybe it evaporated.
It's been 12 years, and I'm still kicking myself for letting the Psychic get away.
Well, maybe in my next life.
By the way:
1. Raphael was right: a few months later, in Europe, I met a guy at the Horseman's Club who invited me to stay. Except it was a small town in the Netherlands, not Paris.
2. I didn't realize it until later, but Yuri was in his room the whole time, and he didn't hear a thing.
3. In the Catholic Church, the archangel Raphael is the patron of the handicapped. His feast day is October 24th. Just before Halloween.