Strange cases abound in the world of the paranormal (as its name suggests). But when the researchers of these topics hear about “the strange case”, we all raise our eyebrows and tense our nerves. Because we all know what case we are referring to, although none of us has the slightest idea of what it’s all about. Some of us think that it is something related to the UFO phenomenon, or a Poltergeist, or a mixture of both. Others believe that we are talking about a ghost and a haunted house. Others think it has to do with some psychic or physical ability or of some other kind. And there are those, among whom I number myself, who believe that everything revolves around the bad relationship that Mrs. Laura Williams keeps with her shoe cabinet. Nobody agrees. That’s why we baptized it with that name: “the strange case”.
The first episode related to “the strange case” took place in 1984 in Cincinatti, Ohio. On the night of February 4, Cincinatti was affected by a general blackout that lasted two hours and twenty minutes. When the light returned, it had brought “the strange case.” All investigators of the paranormal, all investigators of the pseudonormal and even all investigators of what is not quite that normal, we all took the first train to Cincinnati. The Mayor had called a press conference for that same afternoon. I don’t remember a more crowded press conference in my long career as a researcher of the paranormal. They even had to set up the Cinergy Field (the Cincinnati Reds stadium) to accommodate all the researchers attending the press conference, with the consequent discomfort that had to endure the players of the two teams that, at that same time, were playing a Major League Baseball game.
The Mayor did nothing but confirm our suspicions: “the strange case” had taken place during the blackout. But since it happened in the dark there was no way to know what it was. After listening for more than three hours a whole string of vagueness, I returned to my hotel to try to fit the pieces of the puzzle. In all my trips I carry with me a two-piece puzzle: the mental effort that involves helps me concentrate and think clearly. When I finished the puzzle after an hour, it was clear to me that this was not just “one of the many” among the thousands of strange cases that occupy the researchers of the paranormal. We were facing “the strange case” par excellence. Nobody had ever faced such a challenge, and I had no intention of confronting it either. But one can not run away from “the strange case,” as one can not run away from himself or from Mrs. Laura Williams if she dares to persecute you. So when I came back to New York I did it with “the strange case” on my back. The first thing I did was rush to find the toilets at the airport because I had endured the urge to urinate since I left Cincinatti (the door of the plane’s toilet was blocked and there was no way to open it even though we tried it with an ax). Once the bladder was discharged, I walked calmly to my office while in my head I was thinking about “the strange case” trying to figure out what the hell it was. From my office on 32nd Street, I contacted my informants. Polgrave did not know anything. Santos knew a little more. And finally Bolsworth, in whom I had placed all my hopes, only knew that the little that Santos knew was false.
Discouraged, I went to Barry’s bar to have a whisky on the rocks, but the rocks had run out. Meanwhile in my mind “the strange case” was taking on ever more colossal proportions. I could see in the mirror how my facial expression was becoming that of an idiot. What made me stick my nose into paranormal phenomena? I was so good investigating divorce cases! If that witch of Laura Williams and her stupid shoe cabinet had not interfered in my life! While I was at the bar missing the rocks in my whisky, I watched television: in all the channels nothing else was ever spoken of. There were the experts on duty talking at length about a case they did not have the slightest idea about. It was laughable. That night I couldn’t sleep a wink because of “the strange case” and of a wire from the mattress base that was stuck in my back.
And that’s how twenty-four days went by! Twenty-four days of uncertainty, until little by little “the strange case” began to deflate itself like a soufflé… and ended up vanishing into the nothingness from which it had left.