Many years ago, while hosting a morning radio show, I made the acquaintance of a “psychic/seer” who went by the name of Dr. Ramu. I never discovered what his given name was. I would suspect his driver’s license probably designated him as Fred Smith or Harold Bargwart or some such.
Ramu had gathered a following, people who turned to him for life advice and predictions about the future. I decided I’d feature him in a weekly segment on my program.
Friday became the designated day, in the 9 to 10 a.m. hour. I didn’t want to put him in the critical 6 to 9 a.m. morning drive slot because fast pace and short-form information are what succeed with commuters. After 9, people are listening at their work desks or in their kitchens, and have a longer attention span.
Ramu arrived on the first Friday in a flowing purple robe, turban, and a melange of gold chains jangling around his neck. From an entertainment point of view, Ramu delivered. He did short but flamboyant on-air consultations with listeners, guiding them with mystic revelations about their lives.
He was an expert at divining insights about his marks and then using the knowledge to tell them what they wanted to hear. At the end of each segment, he would make predictions about things he “saw” happening in the future. Most were so open-ended that they were impossible to confirm or pooh-pooh. On the rare occasion one of them came true, he would trumpet his triumph for the entire show.
Ramu was popular and became a regular feature. I was a skeptic but ratings are ratings. One Friday, before my future-former wife and I were headed to Las Vegas, Ramu went into one of his “trances.”
“I see a roulette wheel,” he chanted. “I see the number five. Place a $5 bet on the number five.”
We hopped our cheap flight to Vegas and holed up in an inexpensive room on the Strip. Over the next couple of days we caught a couple of filthy and not very funny stand-up comics in the lounges, played the nickel slots and ate discount steak.
On our way out of the casino on Sunday morning, Betty and I passed a roulette wheel.
“Ooh, ooh,” she said. “Remember what Ramu said, $5 on number five.”
“Or,” I answered, “I could just march right into the bathroom and flush the bill down the toilet.”
“You have to do it,” she insisted. “So you can tell your listeners what happened. Put Ramu in his place.”
“Fine.” I snorted, pulled a $5 bill out of my wallet and laid it on the table.
The stick man gave me a thumbs-up, exchanged it for a casino chip, and dropped it on the five. Clickety-clickety-clickety-click. The roulette ball skipped and danced around the wheel. Finally, it hopped in the air and came down in the slot for the red five.
You could have flown a 747 into my open mouth. The roulette tender counted out $175 in chips and laid them next to my original bet.
“C’mon, let’s go,” Betty said. “That’s our rent for the month.”
A strange sensation rolled through me, a psychic electricity the likes of which I’d never felt. “N … n … no. I … I … I want to let it ride.”
“That’s crazy talk,” she said, scooping up the chips and turning toward the cashier’s window. “Let’s go catch our flight.”
“But,” I protested, “if it hits that would be …”
The stickman finished my sentence for me — “$6,300. If you leave the original bet down.”
“Ramu is a total charlatan. You said so yourself. C’mon.” Betty started pulling me away.
“OK, you’re right. We keep the money.” The tingling ran through me again. “But I have to watch.”
The stickman shrugged, spun the wheel and let the ball drop into the numbered area to begin its fateful jitterbug.
I’ll let you write the ending of this story for yourself.
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