Tommy stopped me as I walked into the alert barracks and said he needed
to talk to me -- in private. I was surprised to see him. He had just finished
his week on alert and should have been going home. He must have waited for
me. I was even more surprised when he led me into one of the vault-like
rooms where we studied top-secret documents and closed the door. What could
be that private?
With no preliminaries at all, he turned to me and asked, "Ben, what do you know about demon possession? Is there such a thing?"
"Well, psychiatrists talk about split personalities and different self-identities ..."
He cut me off. "No. I don't mean that. I mean, can a person be taken over by a separate entity ... a different person altogether?"
It seemed odd that he would drag me into a security vault to talk about a subject like demon possession, but I answered as well as I could. "There are cases in the Bible where that seems to be exactly what is meant. Why?"
"Because I think my wife may be possessed by the Devil."
He came on so straight it jarred me. Clumsily, I tried to make light of it: "Oh, yeah. Sure. Sometimes I think my wife is a little devil, too."
But he wasn't kidding. He grabbed both of my shoulders. "Ben! Come off it! I need help, and I don't have anyone to ask but you!" There were tears in his eyes.
That sobered me. I suddenly remembered he was in my barracks room one night when a few of us were discussing that topic and how it is dealt with by the various religions. "OK," I said, "Tell me."
He said his wife was normally a quiet person, shy and modest, but sometimes she changed into a swinging bitch and went downtown and raised hell for two or three days at a time. These episodes started about a year ago, and were becoming more frequent. He thought she might be possessed because she became suddenly and totally different, and because she had no memory of anything that happened during those episodes. Could I do anything to help?
I didn't know what to do, and told him so. Inwardly, I was skeptical; it sounded like the "other person" might be an aspect of her personality that she normally repressed. But I said I would think about it and pray about it, and let him know what I thought.
He seemed relieved. We went our separate ways. He went home to spend three days with his family before his next flight. I went to the briefing room and sat down with my aircrew.
That night I lifted up in prayer a simple question: "Father, what about Tommy's wife?" A thought came into my mind -- a multi-faceted concept that unfolded like a flower and became several thoughts. I wasn't sure whether this was an answer to prayer or something generated by my own subconscious mind, but these thoughts explained why and how this type of possession occurred. There were two things Tommy could do about it, in two separate steps.
The next day I called Tommy at his home and said I had something for him. He said, "OK, go ahead."
I said I had prayed about it and these thoughts seemed to come to me: His wife's body was being controlled by another entity during those episodes -- not The Devil or even a devil, but a ghost who wanted to have "fun and games" without the consequences. After she did what she wanted to do, she released the body and let his wife take the consequences. The way to deal with such an entity was to make her face the results of her actions: not let her get away with what she was doing.
Tommy said, "OK ... I think I see what I have to do."
"After you have done whatever this is, that you see you have to do, call me, and we'll talk about the next step."
Two nights later, about 10 pm, one of the guards came to my room and said I had a visitor at the alert barracks gate. It was Tommy. I walked out in the parking lot with him, and we sat and talked in his car. He had quite a story to tell.
About 7 pm that evening, his wife suddenly stopped what she was doing, swayed back and forth, put one hand to her forehead, sat down on the sofa ... and changed into that other person. Her whole posture and facial expression changed suddenly and drastically while he was watching her. Most of all, her eyes changed. When she looked up, the person behind the eyes was not his wife.
She jumped up from the sofa, ran into the bedroom and locked the door. When she came out, she was dressed for a party. She picked up her coat and purse, and was headed for the door when Tommy stopped her.
"Who are you?"
Her answer made his spine crawl: "Oh ... so you know me."
"I know you're not my wife."
"So, what are you going to do about it? I'm going to have some fun, and there's nothing you can do to stop me."
She started for the door again, but he blocked her path. Then he told her what he thought of her and what she was doing to his wife. He called her a thief and a cheat and a coward. He confronted her with everything she had done while she was in control of his wife's body -- and what it had cost him and the children.
She was not impressed. She said he might be able stop her now, because he was bigger than she was, but she would just take over again when he was away.
He said he would have his wife locked up, if he had to, in order to make sure that she didn't have her fun at his wife's expense.
She turned coy and tried to seduce him: "I'm a lot more fun than SHE is. Why don't you leave that drab little mouse where she is, and keep me? I can make it pretty exciting for you."
He shouted in her face; "No! I don't want you! I want my wife. You're nowhere near the woman she is!"
She broke down and cried. She said he was not being fair, that she had a right to live, too -- as much as his wife did.
He replied that she had no right to take what was not hers, and that he would give her no peace until she went back where she belonged and returned his wife to him. This went on for some time.
Finally, she cried, "OK! OK! If you really don't want me, and you aren't going to let me have any fun, I won't come out again." And she collapsed on the floor as though she were dead.
It took him several minutes to revive her, but when he did, the woman in his arms was his wife. She got up, rubbed her face, smiled at him, and started wiping the table just she was doing earlier. She even picked up the conversation they were having then, right where she had stopped when she seemed to feel dizzy.
Tommy waited until he was sure she was herself. Then he got in the car and drove to the base to ask me about "step two." It was more pleasant than "step one."
I explained the rest of those thoughts as well as I could: Three types of people are most vulnerable to possession: those who dabble in the occult, those who receive ghosts that pretend to be The Holy Spirit, and those who abdicate control of their bodies to escape the life they are living. His wife was an example of the third type. Therefore, "step two" was to help his wife find some ways to experience more joy and more self-respect, so she would find her life worth living. He should initiate whatever he saw had those results in her, frequently, regularly, in small doses, and encourage her to initiate them herself, as necessary for her spiritual health.
In his own quiet, straight-forward way, Tommy nodded and said, "Yes. I'll do it." I went back in the alert barracks and he went home. Not long after that, he was transferred to some other base, and I didn't see him again for almost five years.
In August 1966, a few days before my permanent change of station from Pease AFB to Holloman AFB, New Mexico, I stopped at the Officers' Club to cash a check -- and there was Tommy. He said, "Ben! Are you still here?" We briefly swapped histories. His aircrew had just landed a few hours earlier, to deliver some cargo. They were leaving again the next morning. I remembered our last meeting, but several people were standing nearby, so I couldn't say much. I only asked, "How's your wife?"
He looked at me, straight and steady, for some little time before he answered. "Still good." We nodded to each other, and smiled. I cashed my check and left.