An Interview With Cleve Backster
At thirteen minutes, fifty-five seconds chart time, the thought entered my mind to burn the leaf. I didn’t verbalize the idea; I didn’t touch the plant; I didn’t touch the equipment. Yet the plant went wild. The pen jumped right off the top of the chart. The only thing it could have been reacting to was the mental image.
I turned my head to look at the woman on the bed to my left, and felt a jolt of shock. Carlos was bent over her and, with two hands, stretching apart the skin over her stomach. A tumor the size of a cantaloupe was slowly extruding through the opening, and the woman had raised her head to stare at the thing in amazement.
So I’m surprised at the thrill I feel as I pull into the Graceland complex. Even in this chilly rain, with just a smattering of tourists; even in this atmosphere of shameless commercial necrophilia; even so, there really is that odd elation Paul Simon captured: “I’ve reason to believe we all will be received in Graceland. . . . There’s some part of me wants to see Graceland.”
All week long at my job I’ve been telling people to eat. I’m supposed to be counseling them about HIV, talking about condoms and the needle-exchange program, but instead I find my eyes drawn to the hollows of their collarbones, to the sticks of their wrists and elbows, and I ask them when they last ate.