“Pipe dreams,” Oppenheimer rapped his verdict.
Yes, was my thought; our experiences are the stuff of our dreams.
“When I was a night messenger I hit the hop once,” Oppenheimer continued. “And I want to tell you you haven’t anything on me when it came to seeing things. I guess that is what all the novel-writers do—hit the hop so as to throw their imagination into the high gear.”
But Ed Morrell, who had travelled the same road as I, although with different results, believed my tale. He said that when his body died in the jacket, and he himself went forth from prison, he was never anybody but Ed Morrell. He never experienced previous existences. When his spirit wandered free, it wandered always in the present. As he told us, just as he was able to leave his body and gaze upon it lying in the jacket on the cell floor, so could he leave the prison, and, in the present, revisit San Francisco and see what was occurring. In this manner he had visited his mother twice, both times finding her asleep. In this spirit-roving he said he had no power over material things. He could not open or close a door, move any object, make a noise, nor manifest his presence. On the other hand, material things had no power over him. Walls and doors were not obstacles. The entity, or the real thing that was he, was thought, spirit.
“The grocery store on the corner, half a block from where mother lived, changed hands,” he told us. “I knew it by the different sign over the place. I had to wait six months after that before I could write my first letter, but when I did I asked mother about it. And she said yes, it had changed.”
“Did you read that grocery sign?” Jake Oppenheimer asked.
“Sure thing I did,” was Morrell’s response. “Or how could I have known it?”
“All right,” rapped Oppenheimer the unbelieving. “You can prove it easy. Some time, when they shift some decent guards on us that will give us a peep at a newspaper, you get yourself thrown into the jacket, climb out of your body, and sashay down to little old ’Frisco. Slide up to Third and Market just about two or three a.m. when they are running the morning papers off the press. Read the latest news. Then make a swift sneak for San Quentin, get here before the newspaper tug crosses the bay, and tell me what you read. Then we’ll wait and get a morning paper, when it comes in, from a guard. Then, if what you told me is in that paper, I am with you to a fare-you-well.”
It was a good test. I could not but agree with Oppenheimer that such a proof would be absolute. Morrell said he would take it up some time, but that he disliked to such an extent the process of leaving his body that he would not make the attempt until such time that his suffering in the jacket became too extreme to be borne.